Your Weekend Reading List: NO GIRLS ALLOWED
Scold founder Tiffany Vann Sprecher wrote an essay for Salon about the absurdist rhetoric of dressing to visit prisons. Obviously it is perfect in every way, and if you read one thing this weekend, this should be it.
Speaking of the complex rhetoric of performing gender, Deadspin has an essay about Caster Semenaya and the policing of woman-ness in athletics:
Sports reporters have found ways of dancing around what this is. That’s why you’ll see the word “fair” in so many headlines about Semenya. Sports Illustratedwants to know “Is it fair for Caster Semenya to compete against women at the Rio Olympics?” The Telegraph insists “Caster Semenya competing at Rio Olympics 2016 is not fair on anybody.” The Guardian dubbed her a ticking time bomb. Malcolm Gladwell put it bluntly that “people need to understand that an athletic competition has to have rules; otherwise there can be no competition.”
See, ladies, this is just about fairness! About leveling the playing field! About following the rules! Geez, women, calm down. We’re trying to make your races more fair for you!
And fivethirtyeight also weighed in on the necessary arbitrariness of drawing a line between "woman" and "not woman":
At Chand’s Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing, accomplished British runner Paula Radcliffe testified in favor of the hormone limit, saying that the rule fell under similar regulations “designed to ensure success is determined solely by talent and dedication, and not by ‘unfair’ advantage.”
But what is “unfair?” Radcliffe also possesses extraordinary talent, and it’s hard to tease out and compare the boost that different advantages confer. Her marathon world record has remained untouched for more than a decade. Radcliffe herself has faced allegations of doping, abetted by aculture of doping that has made every performance suspect. Sex testing creates a similar atmosphere of suspicion, but the difference is that dopers are deliberately cheating. Hyperandrogenic women are simply competing with the bodies they were born with in the gender with which they identify and belong.
Of course, it's not like this is anything new--Longreads also has an in-depth history of Stella Walsh, a women's track star who, after her murder, was discovered to be intersex.
Meanwhile, Sara Benincasa is over at Medium to explain Why Am I So Fat?:
Anyway, I just handed in the screenplay and it was not stained with butter, but that’s because I sent in a pdf and a Final Draft file. I’m sure if it had been a paper copy it probably would’ve been drenched in fat. I worked really hard on it. I tried to do my best, typing with my Vienna sausage fingers, which I am constantly tempted to eat.
I'm just wrapping up a week at the beach with my in-laws and my baby. We are all covered in sand and full of crab toast. Yesterday I was coaxed into visiting some hellscape in Delaware colloquially known as "the outlet malls", where I briefly descended into insanity and was tempted to buy my baby a pair of Nikes off the clearance shelf because when you make Nikes tiny, they become so, so, cute. Then I looked at the massive line and the hordes of tax-holiday shoppers I would have to navigate in order to obtain the tiny Nikes, and sanity was restored. Guess what, guys? You can get them online at the same (still too high!) price.
Here is another little story about the Nike outlet. A girl about eight or nine years old was looking at the shoes on the clearance rack next to me and pulled out some grey shoes with visible springs on the heels. "I wish they had these for girls," she said. "Will those fit you?" I asked. "It doesn't matter," she said, "they're not for girls."