Monday, December 18, 2006

But how do you pass?

Is gender a yes or no question? Well, if, like me, you were a total hippie and graduated with a double degree in journalism and gender studies, you probably acknowledge the fluidity of one's sexual identity; however, if you're an official from the recently concluded Asian Games in Doha, it's a little more cut and dry.

As in the case of Santhi Soundararajan, whose silver medal in the women's 800 meter race is in jeopardy after she "failed" a "gender test." This will be an interesting case to watch unfold; as of now, the story has a lot of shock value, but little information to substantiate the confounding details.

For example, a gender test involves a board of doctors, a gynecologist, and physical and psychological exams, but what exactly are they testing for? And what does it mean if one fails? Did they find a penis, and, if so (the larger point), are we nothing more than our genitals? Even if one wants to hold sporting competitions that separate the sexes, how far can the regulation of athletes go? Must we really air these personal struggles to a gawping public, always looking for the next big scandal?

As much as I dearly love the media -- and depend upon it to feed my blog -- sometimes I question the business. I have no illusion that the journalists are purposely attempting to meddle in this person's life, and I understand that occasionally, one buys into the idea that all information is good information. But I simply can't see how the international media masturbation is fruitful in any way in this case; of course, I'm not urging media being censored, I'm simply asking if it's always necessary to disseminate story after story when simple questions can't even be accounted for. Next week (theoretically), a story will come out saying that the person "passed" the gender test after all, whatever that means, but will hundreds of newspapers, Web sites, blogs carry this clarification?

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