Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Semenya cleared to race

What seemed like endless tests and discussions over the gender of South African runner Caster Semenya have apparently come to an end with the IAAF (the international governing body of track and field) ruling that Semenya can continue (after the imposed one-year hiatus) to race against women. I guess that means the powers that be decided she was a woman. The findings will not be released of course because of confidentiality reasons--not that the whole thing was super secret to begin with. I believe confidentiality has already been pretty much blown apart. So the IAAF has deemed her eligible but they cannot say why (not that they should) but the attention they brought onto Semenya isn't likely to dissipate with her new clearance.
This Salon column on the news notes not just that Semenya came under suspicion because she defied gender norms, but that the attention that her story garnered because of her non-conformity is similar to the stories from women's sports in the past few years. The biggest news getters are the stories about female athletes engaged in non-conforming behavior, mostly violent behavior. There was no violence in the Semenya situation (except the violence against her), but the author is quite right in that this story is very similar to the others. And all this while other stories about female athletes, like the ones featuring their skills and accomplishments, receive much less press.

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