In 1968, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) implemented sex testing for female athletes at that year's Games. When it became clear that testing regimes failed to delineate a sex divide, the IOC began to test for gender --a shift that allowed the organization to control the very idea of womanhood. Lindsay Parks Pieper explores sex testing in sport from the 1930s to the early 2000s. Focusing on assumptions and goals as well as means, Pieper examines how the IOC in particular insisted on a misguided binary notion of gender that privileged Western norms. Testing evolved into a tool to identify--and eliminate--athletes the IOC deemed too strong, too fast, or too successful. Pieper shows how this system punished gifted women while hindering the development of women's athletics for decades. She also reveals how the flawed notions behind testing--ideas often sexist, racist, or ridiculous--degraded the very idea of female athleticism.
Pieper takes on the complex and infinitely important topic of sex testing in women's sport with fresh insight and a measured hand. In the process, she deftly unpacks how attempts to 'control' sex are continually fraught with elements of sexism, gender anxieties, and geopolitical tensions. This is an enlightening and necessarily disturbing analysis."--Jaime Schultz, author of Qualifying Times: Points of Change in U.S. Women's Sport
"Sex Testing is the first comprehensive account of the various sex and gender tests that sports authorities have devised from the 1930s on for female athletes. It offers great documentation of significant developments, well-written throughout, accompanied by incisive, penetrating insights as to what is going on below the surface in the world of women's sports. It is a stellar, informative read that public libraries should acquire. It is certainly, above all, a scholarly resource that colleges and universities should purchase."--ARETE
"Sociology of gender scholars will find the book of interest given its historical evidence of the ways in which sex testing reflected 'larger cultural perceptions of womanhood' in the twentieth century."--Gender and Society
"Pieper does an exceptional job of detailing the history and methods of sex/gender testing and of connecting the phenomenon to larger sociological issues about appropriate physical activity for women... Essential."--Choice
Pieper's well-written and carefully crafted narrative and analysis provides enormous insight into a topic previously unexplored at such depth."--Sport History Review
"Chock full of terrific research from primary sources. . . . Pieper's message comes through loud and clear: sex testing is a political act. It is about enforcing gender norms, not ensuring fair play."--Women's Review of Books