Thursday, August 20, 2009

why pink and blue annoy me

Interesting article in today's New York Times on Caster Semenya, a South African runner who won gold at the world track and field championships in Berlin but who is being gender-tested because she was 2-seconds faster than the rest of the runners (though she did not break the world record) and it seems, she just doesn't look female enough.

First of all, let me get the wordplay out of my head: Her name is Semenya and I want her to be from Kenya. Okay. Thank you. Moving on.

Two quotes from the article were particularly fascinating:
It turns out genes, hormones and genitals are pretty complicated,” Alice Dreger, a professor of medical humanities and bioethics at Northwestern University, said in a telephone interview. “There isn’t really one simple way to sort out males and females. Sports require that we do, but biology doesn’t care. Biology does not fit neatly into simple categories, so they do these tests. ”

Dreger...said the doctors could examine genes, gonads, genitalia, hormone levels and medical history. “But at the end of the day, they are going to have to make a social decision on what counts as male and female, and they will wrap it up as if it is simply a scientific decision,” Dreger said. “And the science actually tells us sex is messy. Or as I like to say, ‘Humans like categories neat, but nature is a slob.’ ”

Nature is a slob. That's my kind of science.


Menchuvian Candidate said...

Did you see this essay?

Epiphenita said...

No, I hadn't. That was great. Alice Dreger is right on.