South African Runner

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South African runner

South African runner

Scientific efforts to verify the sex of a South African runner

The subject of intercourse before a big race (or a little one) is believe it or not - on the Internet! What a surprise. I have read some pretty revealing revelations about sex - to have it or not, before a race.

South African male runners are told by their coach that sex before a race was not a good idea - that to build up aggression through abstinence will only enhance speed.

Running is great for your emotional health. One study found that women who ran an average of just 12 miles a week for six months reported less breast tenderness, bloating, depression and stress. It's thought that the feel-good endorphins released during a run ease these symptoms. Running can also provide a welcome boost during the menopause, a time when women's sex drives tend to drop. One five-year study followed 27 women through the menopause and found the only factor that seemed to affect a woman's sexual satisfaction was exercise - the more they exercised during the study, the greater their sexual satisfaction.

Another story of sex identity uncertainty, discovered by the ultimate postmodern philosopher Michel Foucault, shines a light on how the way we think about sex and gender has changed over time. Foucault found and republished the diary of Herculine Barbin, who, like Caster Semenya, lived into early adulthood as a woman, only to be examined and declared to be a man. Barbin, who was born in the first half of the nineteenth century in a small French village, grew up in a cultural context that was still primarily medieval—she started her life in a Catholic orphanage and attended a convent school. We assume that the Middle Ages were grimly repressive times where individual freedom was squashed by the rigid moral codes enforced by church dogma. But Foucault, in his introduction to Barbin's memoir, tells us that this wasn't so. At that time, individuals whose genitalia were ambiguous at birth were not considered monstrous or perverted because they violated the principle that every person must fall into one sex/gender category or another (that happens later). Medieval social structure was based on caste or class, which meant that your assignment to a specific class (the one you were born into) was irrevocable but your assignment as male or female wasn't necessarily so. As Foucault explains, “it was a very long time before the postulate that a hermaphrodite must have a sex—a single, a true sex—was formulated. For centuries, it was quite simply agreed that hermaphrodites had two.

Having a single sex identity—male or female-that aligned with your gender identity as appropriately masculine or feminine, just wasn't that important. Hard to believe, I know, but true. Foucault, who has dug into the historical details of the transition into modernity with the patience of an archaeologist, acknowledges that persons of indeterminate sex sometimes were executed in ancient and medieval ...
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