Sexuality In Color: On Caster Semenya
(by Al Washburn) Caster Semenya is a gold medalist South African Olympic athlete. She is an incredibly talented runner who has won dozens of gold medals in competitions around the world. But instead of having her athletic performance attributed to natural talent and hard work, she has been scrutinized and associated with claims that she […]

sexuality in color(by Al Washburn)

Caster Semenya is a gold medalist South African Olympic athlete. She is an incredibly talented runner who has won dozens of gold medals in competitions around the world. But instead of having her athletic performance attributed to natural talent and hard work, she has been scrutinized and associated with claims that she can't have accomplished what she has without cheating.

Who is to blame for this, you might ask? Just the usual suspects: Sexism, cissexism and white supremacy.

In August 2009, Caster Semenya came first in the 800m (and set an annual record!) At the World Championships. She should have been able to celebrate her first international victory, but some people became wary that she was showing "rapid improvement" because her finish time was four seconds faster than the one she had achieved a month earlier. early at the African Junior Championships. As a result, the IAFF (International Association of Athletics Federations) forced her to take a “sex verification test,” which appears to consist of a series of biomedical procedures and tests varying in degree of invasiveness.

The fact that this test was sanctioned and conducted at all is bad enough, but to make matters worse, some of Semenya's private health information has also been leaked to the media. By insisting that she submit to tests and subsequently not respecting confidentiality, the IAF and its entities violated Caster Semenya's right to privacy and also reinforced the narrative of the investigation. publicity and control over Semenya's personal integrity and legitimacy.

His body has become the subject of international debate and spectacle, as have Saartje Bartmann and countless other black and brown bodies that have been exposed at the hands of Western medical and scientific institutions throughout world history.

Fast forward to April 2018, when the IAF announced revisions to its policies regarding sex development ”for female athletes.

They were already in an ongoing court case (Dutee Chand v Indian Athletics Federation (AFI) and International Association of Athletics Federations) on their discriminatory practices, but they doubled down and took it a step further. They stated that female athletes with hyperandrogenism (above average levels testosterone which are naturally produced in the body of some people who were assigned the female sex at birth) would be required to undergo drug therapy to lower their testosterone to arbitrary and preset levels before being allowed to compete. This demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of the complexities of sex, bodies and genre - as if being a woman were defined by a certain number of milligrams of testosterone present in the blood, or that there was not a range of diversity in testosterone levels in women. We forget that the general concept of "biological sex", already imperfect, is not made up of half a dozen internal and external traits which can vary enormously from one individual to another and fluctuate over the course of a period of time. life. He also takes the approach often used for bodies showing these variations - "let's use biomedical intervention to fix this problem so it's more like everyone else." - instead of accepting them as one of the many variations.

Photo of Caster Semanya by Mark ShearmanI don't know much about competitive sports, but what I've constantly heard about the Olympics is that it's supposed to be a gathering of some of the most talented and physically impressive bodies in the world. If this is true, then the tiny athletic "advantage" of a naturally slightly higher level of testosterone in a female athlete's body should not bother the IAFF any more than other inherent physical traits that can or do create. perks, like longer legs or wider hips. . In reality, we see a lot of Male athletes such as Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt were revered for their above average physique. But the real intentions of these policy changes (and Cherry in addition to a large sundae of discrimination) became apparent when we learned that the policies only applied to athletes competing in the 400m, 800m, 1500m and combination hurdles events - the only events in Semenya.

The IAFF could claim to have taken these steps in order to maintain fairness in the Olympics, but this claim will have no weight until these policies are adopted fairly. It is also worth thinking about how Semenya's victories may contradict some of the values ​​held by nationalists and white supremacists - namely that the athletes chosen by their countries are clearly superior and therefore should dominate the pitch. For example, when another athlete Lynsey Sharp [a white woman representing Great Britain] placed sixth in the 800m at the 2016 Rio Olympics, she burst into tears, after saying: “Everyone can see that these are two separate races, so I can't do anything”. (I find this particularly funny, because even if Caster Semenya had been taken out of the race, there would still have been four other athletes who would have beaten Sharp.)

To his credit, Semenya was unbelievably brave and unwavering throughout the process, pushing back on those discriminatory decisions and continuing to kick ass on the racetrack despite all the discrimination and harassment she has faced. Her legal challenge to the "sexual developmental disorders" clause was recently rejected, but she continues to advocate for herself and for people of all genders and genders around the world. While it's unclear exactly where the topic of gender divide and discrimination at the Olympics is going, you can be sure I'll be listening to where Caster Semenya is going.

Caster Semenya Photo: Mark Shearman 2018

Sexual health is fundamental to the overall health and well-being of individuals, ménages and families, and to the social and economic development of communities and countries. Sexual health, when viewed affirmatively, requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. The ability of men and women to achieve sexual health and well-being depends on their :

Sexual health-related issues are wide-ranging, and encompass sexual orientation and gender identity, sexual expression, relationships, and pleasure. They also include negative consequences or conditions such as : infections with human immunodeficiency virus ( HIV ), sexually transmitted infections ( STIs ) and reproductive tract infections ( RTIs ) and their adverse outcomes ( such as cancer and infertility ) ;unintended pregnancy and abortion;sexual dysfunction;sexual violence; andharmful practices ( such as female genital mutilation, FGM ).

No matter where you are coming from, WE ARE HERE to help bring Sexual Health into a more positive and empowering place. A place where hopefully you can learn the sexual health information you would like, see or speak to a professional in the field whether on the Sex Sense Line or at one of our many clinics throughout BC, and come away knowing that sexual health is a natural part of being human.

Options for Sexual Health champions and celebrates sexual health including an individual’s freedom of sexual expression, the diversity of human sexuality, and a positive sexual self-image for individuals throughout life. Think about what factors influence your sexual health ? What messages have you been given about sexual health from… ( if applicable ) ….. your family ? friends ? society ? culture ? religion ? spirituality ? What are some of your own values and beliefs ?

How we experience our sexual health is also part of how we experience the world. For example, there are many factors that health researchers have identified that can impact our health including sexual health. These are known as the ‘social determinants of health’ and include how health is affected by income, education, employment, childhood development, food, housing, health services, gender, espèce, disability, Indigenous status, social marginalization, and social services. If someone’s gender identity/identities are not recognized this can impact their sexual health and experiences of social marginalization. Another example is if someone is a newcomer to Canada and may not speak the language or have the health care card that will allow them to access the sexual health services they need. As you can see, our sexual health is as individual and complicated as the various dynamics of our lives. Human sexuality rarely falls into neat categories or lends itself to simple labeling, but rather is a rich and complex area of human experience. Sexual health is personal, psychological, relational, cultural, spiritual, physical, and emotional. So what does “sexual health” mean to you ?

This supplemental provenant of Public Health Reports ( PHR ) presents a variety of articles addressing the technique and practical applications of sexual health, an important health remise concept with the potential for improving population health in a broad range of areas related to sexual behavior, including human immunodeficiency virus ( HIV ) /acquired immunodeficiency syndrome ( AIDS ), sexually transmitted diseases ( STDs ), viral hepatitis, teen and unintended pregnancy, and sexual violence. The focus of these articles is especially timely given the population burden of these conditions in the United States and other nations, and the growing recognition that, despite the sensitive nature of the topic, addressing the broad construct of sexual health can enhance the national dialogue in this area and increase the effectiveness of public health programs

The concept of sexual health has evolved since its initial articulation by the World Health Organization ( WHO ) in 1975, 5 but it has generally emphasized well-being across a range of life domains ( e. g., physical, mental, and emotional ) rather than simply the absence of disease or other adverse outcomes. 6 The definition of sexual health currently in most widespread use is that developed by WHO in 2002 :

Sexual health is a state of physical, emotional, esprit, and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction, or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination, and violence

Sexual health is a state of well-being in relation to sexuality across the life span that involves physical, emotional, esprit, social, and spiritual dimensions. Sexual health is an intrinsic element of human health and is based on a positive, equitable, and respectful approach to sexuality, relationships, and réplication, that is free of coercion, fear, discrimination, stigma, shame, and violence. It includes : the ability to understand the benefits, risks, and responsibilities of sexual behavior; the prevention and care of disease and other adverse outcomes; and the possibility of fulfilling sexual relationships. Sexual health is impacted by socioeconomic and cultural contexts—including policies, practices, and services—that support saine outcomes for individuals, families, and their communities.

Similar to the WHO definition, this newer definition is health-focused, emphasizing well-being related to sexuality that is beyond the absence of specific health problems, in multiple dimensions of life, as well as positive and respectful approaches to sexuality and relationships. Moving beyond the WHO definition, the CHAC definition also specifically emphasizes attributes of sexual health at both the individual level ( e. g., individual understanding of benefits, risks and responsibilities, and prevention and care of health outcomes ) and the social level ( e. g., effet by socioeconomic and cultural contexts and saine outcomes for families and communities as well as individuals ).

In the past decade, there has been increasing attention to the importance of addressing the concept of sexual health, 1–4 with the premise that offre de promotion of sexual health has great potential to complement traditional disease control and prevention efforts for a range of conditions of public health importance—not with the intent of replacing those efforts, but rather of improving their acceptance and, thus, the impact of those prevention efforts on the population. It is from this perspective that this supplemental venant of PHR has been developed, with the purpose of bringing together a range of articles addressing new insights into research, surveillance, program practice, and broader perspectives that can influence our understanding and progress on the broad topic of sexual health. It should be noted that “sexual health” is a concept undergoing evolution, not only in its definition, but also in its practical outil. The term generally includes a focus on health and wellness rather than disease, an appreciation for the intrinsic importance of sexual health as part of overall health, and an attempt to address comprehensively a range of outcomes of public health importance; however, some of the articles in this supplement address a relatively narrower focus ( e. g., STD and pregnancy prevention9–11 ), while others include a broader spectrum. 12–17 Such variety is a necessary and important aspect of the uptake of the sexual health concept into the méthode and practice of public health.

Four articles address important research questions in key areas relevant to sexual health. First, Penman-Aguilar and colleagues conducted a detailed literature review to assess the effet of socioeconomic disadvantage on teen childbearing. 9 While the factors evaluated varied by study, the authors discovered a consistent theme across the review, with all studies that considered socioeconomic factors as determinants finding a significant association with teen birth rates, including factors at the family level ( e. g., lower levels of responsable d'un enfant education and family income ) and the community level ( e. g., lower per capita income and higher rates of unemployment and racial segregation ). The review found that relatively few studies assessed factors at both the family and community levels, an important priority for future research.

Second, using nationally representative data from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth and the U. S Census Bureau, Biello et al. conducted an in-depth analysis of the impact of various dimensions of residential racial segregation on the risk for early initiation of intercourse—an important risk factor for STD and teen pregnancy—among black and white ados. 17 The finding that black youth were more likely than their white peers to have initiated sexual intercourse in adolescence was significantly modified by several measures of segregation ( e. g., concentration and unevenness ) with a particularly notable black-white disparity in highly segregated areas. While preliminary, these findings contribute to our growing understanding of the complex interplay between social determinants and individual sexual health outcomes and should stimulate further research in this area.

Third, to understand the union of relationship characteristics and attitudes about STD and pregnancy outcomes with the use of dual protection strategies ( i. e., both highly effective contraception and condoms ), Crittenden Murray and colleagues conducted formative research among young African American women attending reproductive health clinics. 10 The study found a tension from trying to balance the desire to establish and maintain intimate relationships with the use of protection strategies ( e. g., condom use could be seen as a sign of mistrust ). The authors conclude that a more holistic approach, with a focus on healthy adolescent and young adult relationships, is fondamental in prestations to prevent STD and unintended pregnancy, an provenant that can be especially important in environments where trust is often violated ( e. g., due to frequent concurrent partnerships ) and childbearing at younger ages is accepted.


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