positive masculine role model in chief

via tapped: [Some] say that men who realize the limitations of traditional machismo are at a loss for role models in contemporary America. But I do think one of the most hopeful developments for American masculinity is the election of Barack Obama. He’s an intellectual, a father of two girls, and the husband to a smart, driven woman who was once his boss, and who has had a career of her own. (He also loves sports!) Here’s what Barack had to say about his marriage to Michelle in 1996, and in particular about taking the time, continuously, to get to know her:

…there are times when we are lying in bed and I look over and sort of have a start. Because I realize here is this other person who is separate and different and has different memories and backgrounds and thoughts and feelings. It’s that tension between familiarity and mystery that makes for something strong, because, even as you build a life of trust and comfort and mutual support, you retain some sense of surprise or wonder about the other person.

Tags: obama gender men

love is just hard, ok

From where I sit, romantic life appears pretty rigid. Everyone twentysomething I know — whether they’re gay or straight, feminist or traditionalist, urban or suburban — seems basically involved in the same pursuit: Finding someone they feel able to love and settling into a life with them. Is the path to a deep, soul-satisfying contentment with another human being complicated? Sure. But was there some time when it wasn’t complicated? A lot of the people I know find themselves depressed when a coveted partner eventually rejects their advances. None of them, however, blame it on Betty Friedan. Mismatched affections were not invented in the ’70s. Loneliness is not a product of liberation.

So color me unconvinced that my cohort faces some uniquely opaque moment in the grand history of male and female relationships. I’d guess that the guys rationalizing their romantic failures today by invoking changing gender roles were the same guys rationalizing their romantic failures because women just wanted rich guys, or bad boys, or sissies, a few generations ago. Love is complicated, but it was ever thus. The excuses might change with each generation, but the feelings do not. (ezra)

Katie Reyes’ two-run single in the top of the sixth helped Vancouver, British Columbia, rally for a wild 14-13 victory Tuesday over Ramstein Air Force Base, Germany.

Little League president Stephen Keener and other longtime tournament officials said they could not recall a girl getting the game-winning hit before in a World Series game. “I was excited. I was shaking,” the quiet, 13-year-old girl said about going to the plate for her big hit. She finished with three hits and three RBIs.

so when is her gender testing scheduled?

gender testing is the nazi’s fault!

The watershed year for the paranoia behind men competing in women’s international sporting events is 1936. Nazi Germany wanted the Berlin Olympics to be a political showcase for the Third Reich. They set the goal of surpassing the 21 total medals Germany won in the 1932 Los Angeles Games, and one way they sought to do that was sneaking their ‘supermen’ into the women’s events.

To accomplish that goal, the Nazis forced Hitler Youth member Hermann Ratjen to live and compete for three years as Dora Ratjen.

While Nazi Germany did lead all nations in winning 89 total medals and 33 golds at the Berlin Games, one medal they didn’t get was in the women’s Olympic high jump. Ratjen finished fourth in the event. At the 1938 European championships in Vienna Ratjen did set a then women’s world record of 5 feet 5.75 inches in the high jump.

Dora was busted while traveling in Germany after the European championships. While wearing feminine attire Ratjen was spotted at a train station with five o’clock shadow on his face. A doctor was summoned, and the truth about Dora’s actual genitalia was revealed. Ratjen was barred from competing in international athletics and went back to his life as Hermann.

Hermann Ratjen told his story in 1957, then faded from the spotlight until his death in April 2008. (transgriot)
"Usain Bolt is a phenomenal athlete. He is fast, way fast and humble too. My problem is not with Usain Bolt. Caster Semenya is fast, way fast and it would seem, too, that she is a phenomenal athlete. But first, apparently, she has to prove herself “entirely female”. The problem is she could be “entirely female” and still have an advantage over her competitors because her body produces more testosterone than they do. She could have something like PCOS. She may have none of these and just be really fast. My problem is that she has to prove it, whereas Usain Bolt just is."

No-one questions Usain Bolt — Hoyden About Town

Tags: sexism gender

what is a gender test anyway

there’s been some buzz recently about a caster semenya, an 18-year-old south african runner who may be asked to undergo “gender testing” after she “burst onto the scene by improving her personal bests in the 800 and 1,500 by huge margins.” (espn) putting aside the issue of whether semenya’s times indicate a problem, i was extremely curious as to what happened in a gender test. what do they do? how do they decide?

even when they were first introduced by the international olympic committe (IOC) in 1968 as a response to increasing use of anabolic steroids, the tests were seen as intrusive and humiliating. this is because initial tests were simply physical examinations, where doctors would poke and prod at genitals.

later, the IOC switched to a chromosomal test, which can be done with mouth scrapings: two X chromosomes meaning female, and XY meaning male. but “the method proved to be unreliable, since it’s possible for a biological male to have an extra X chromosome (XXY) or a female to only have one X chromosome.” according to some estimates, these chromosomal abnormalities occur as often as 1 in 1,000 people.

the next step was a blood test to determine the presence of SRY, a gene on the Y chromosome that instructs the developing fetus to activate the gonads to develop into testes instead of ovaries, and to produce two hormones to develop male sex organs and destroy what would turn into female sex organs. if the SRY gene is present, the doctor checks to make sure it’s functional and not mutated or disabled.

however, “the SRY trigger isn’t the only factor in developing maleness, and even cells with a working SRY gene can end up living in the body of a functioning female. A dysfunction in any of the many later stages of male-female development, triggered by a number of other genes that play a specific role in gender distinction from the womb through adolescence, can affect the genetic, chromosomal and physical traits that any man or woman possesses.” [edited to note this is quoted language, i would prefer “even a person with functioning female sex organs who identifies as female can have cells with a working SRY gene.”] so even a positive finding of a functioning SRY gene is insufficient to conclusively determine gender.

there’s additional problems when these tests come up with conflicting results - external genitalia indicates female, but there’s a Y chromosome with a slightly altered SRY gene. and it’s unclear how gender identity fits into this, or whether it matters at all as what gender the person has been identifying.

there’s a great simulator available where you can step through the gender testing of a hypothetical athelete and decide how you’re going to reconcile conflicting test results. (it also gives much more detailed info on the SRY testing, etc.) i found it very interesting to see what determined my judgment was primarily that the athelete had self-identified as female, while another friend reached the same judgment because going with external genitalia made the most sense to him. yet another friend really struggled with the idea that there wasn’t a single test or factor that would conclusively indicate male or female.

for me, the lack of any 100% clear non-conflicting blood test does a lot to reinforce my ideas about the non-binary nature of gender and even sex. sure, most people will fit into male or female pretty well - i imagine if i ran these tests on myself, they would all agree that i’m female without any conflicts - but there are a significant number around the edges which challenge the idea of fixed binary categories.

[edited to add: this does not address the issue of transgender individuals at all. there are specific IOC rules for athletes who have undergone sexual reassignment surgery, but they are distinct from these gender testing rules applied to cis-athletes.]

Tags: gender science