Thursday, August 20, 2009

More on Semenya

It appears that some are being somewhat sensitive to the investigation of South African Caster Semenya's gender. No one is accusing her of cheating or that she has knowledge of her condition. Note however that one, there is still an investigation and two, there's an assumption that there's something wrong with her--something abnormal.
I watched the tape delayed race last night and Semenya won by a lot, which probably did not help her cause. But, of course, it's also a sign that she is not thrown by this whole thing--or even motivated by it.
And despite the apparent sympathy marked by the absence of shouts of "she's a boy! she's a boy!", the discourse is a little more indicative of what people are really thinking about just how much of a girl Semenya is or is not.
The NYT called her a "muscular 18-year old from South Africa." Odd choice of adjectives given that this is the world championships and everyone has muscles. And remember folks, muscles aren't just for boys anymore.
What is slightly more problematic is the blog post by an American track and field athlete. Brianna Glenn writes that:
the fact that I’m referring to Semenya as a “she” is the whole reason for the controversy. It seems there has been testing done (or there will be in the near future) to see whether she’s male or both, and therein is where the problem lies. According to IAAF rules, a competitor must be fully female to compete in women’s events. She seemingly came out of nowhere and burst onto the international scene to be the best in the world and that was the first clue that something was amiss. Add to that her running style and mannerisms and people really begin to scratch their head.
Again, when someone comes out of nowhere you usually think steroids. But Glenn's mention of Semenya's running style and mannerisms reveal the problem behind this whole situation. Semenya allegedly does not conform to some version of femininity that Glenn and others think she should. Glenn also seems to add injury to insult when she mentions Semenya's "simple background." Not sure what she is getting at. That Semenya was duped into believing she is female?
I am so not looking forward to where this whole is going regardless of what is "discovered."

1 comment:

Chris said...

I feel bad for her because she probably has been mocked all her life. At least she can be finally do something that she can be proud of. Besides, why are they questioning her gender now after she won. If there was a problem, they should have checked her out discreetly before the race instead of embarrassing her after she won.