A recent photo essay poses the question. “What is it to be masculine?” Philadelphia photographer Chad States photographs his subjects in the poses and settings they find most masculine. He finds his subjects using craiglist and leaves his ads gender neutral so that women and transmen feel free to reply. While there are some interesting responses, sadly the philosopher, naked but for socks, reports that he is masculine because “I abandon women after taking their love.” Another of the men says he is masculine when he “dominates in his field of study.” Cool though that the project includes transmen, who notably sound less stupid.
As you’ve probably heard, an 18 year-old S. African woman won the 800 m at the world championships. But that’s probably not the way you heard it. You probably heard that her gender is being questioned because she “looks like a man”. I think there are lots of tricky issues about sex in sports: this is one place where we really see the problems that result from having a variety of accepted definitions of biological sex out there in the world: e.g. genitalia and chromosomes, to name the two most frequently used. But, of course, we’ve got *no* reason at all to think there’s even a tricky issue in her case, and I’ll bet it’s no fun at all to be a teenager who has accomplished what’s undoubtedly a lifelong dream only to be confronted by people saying you look like a man– and accusing you of cheating.
Being a pedant, though, I’m going to call attention to something else. I’ll bet those tests they’re now doing on her are not actually tests of her social role. (Thanks, Jender-Parents!)