International sports star Genoveva Anonma revealed that she was asked to strip naked to prove her “womanhood” in front of World Cup officials. Not only was her personal torment mortifying, but it further opened the once closed-door on sports and their debate of gender and power when it comes to female athletes.
Such a thing as “gender-testing” actually exists and it is when female players undergo procedures that either “determine” their sex or decrease any high levels of testosterone because their prowess are deemed too strong to be of a woman. This usually comes to the forefront when under-performing teams and players, jealous of the success of their female rivals, go to the ebbs of their jealously and accuse these players of looking masculine or men posing as women, making it easier to compete and get around rules and regulations. Anonma is just one of a handful of female athletes that experienced some form of humiliation in declaring their gender, and recently the African Cup winner shared with BBC radio about such an incident that took place in 2008:
“I have had it very hard since playing in Africa and in Germany. People have said, I’m a man. I don’t know if I look like a man. I’m used to the accusations. I’m used to people abusing me. Speaking badly of me, or insulting me. It started in 2008 in Guinea at the African Cup when I was a top scorer and the best player of the tournament. The only test I’ve had was in Africa when I was asked to take all my clothes off…they had just stripped me naked after I had won a World Cup…I had to take my clothes off in front of the CAF members. The president wasn’t there but the members of the CAF were. I was really upset, my [mood] was very low, and I was crying. But over time, I got over it.”
As read by the BBC anchors, who sympathized with the talented footballer, this happened because Anonma’s rivals opposed her strong presence and talent as a woman. She has yet to receive an apology. Before her, another international headline of gender-testing controversy was the questioning of Caster Semenya, a South African runner who won the gold media in Women’s 800-meter in 2009. In the media, doctors claimed that they still couldn’t determine her gender and claimed that she may actually be intersex, with just slightly more outwardly female attributes than male. Her mother defiantly declared that Caster was a girl on television.
In America, gender-testing has not been of great concern, but these terrible, international episodes encapsulate (regardless of location) how a patriarchal society tries to belittle women in power or of great talent. In this case, there’s also the prejudice towards those who identify with being asexual, transgender or are sexually and physically ambiguous.
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