What makes a woman a woman? The International Association of Athletics Federations may not be able to answer that question, but they can tell you what makes a woman not a woman, and that’s high levels of testosterone, reports Jezebel.com.
Ever since Caster Semenya, 21, made waves in South Africa by winning the 800-meter world championship, the idea that women with traditionally masculine characteristics were not feminine enough to compete against other women has been at the forefront of many people’s minds:
“These kind of people should not run with us. For me, she’s not a woman. She’s a man,” said Elisa Cusma, who lost to Semenya in the race. The IAAF agrees with her assessment and have claimed that women like Semenya have an “unfair advantage” and must undergo hormone therapy prescribed by an expert medical panel. If they do not undergo treatment then they can not compete with other women.
“More muscle mass, easier recovery and a higher level of blood red cells,” said Dr. Stéphane Bermon, coordinator of the IAAF working group on Hyperandrogenism and Sex Reassignment in Female Athletics.”
Semenya no longer looks as masculine as she used to, forced to conform to the strict regulations that have made her a softer, more accepted version of womanhood. According to the Toronto Star, she’s “almost unrecognizable from photographs taken during the height of the controversy.” And it doesn’t end with her.
The International Olympic Committee is currently in the process of “policing femininity” for the upcoming London Games. Semenya will be there, performing with less strength and now considered a “normal” athlete — not an extraordinary as she used to be. This development leads to the question: What is a woman? Is it merely a vagina? Breasts? Curves? Are we not more than our estrogen and testosterone levels? While many men willingly take steroids to become stronger, athletic organizations have made it illegal for them to do so. Yet, a woman deemed too “strong,” is openly forced to change who she is just to exist in the box created for her.
I don’t know about you, but in my opinion, this is a giant step backwards in the battle for women rights.