Caster Semenya and the “Man-Woman”Question

SemenyaRecently, Caster Semenya of South Africa won gold in an 800 m. Athletics World Championship.  Amidst the victory of her win, harsh criticism followed.  People began to question her gender, specifically, women competing with her, questioned her own gender. “For me, she’s not a woman, she’s a man”.  (Elisa Cusma, a fellow competitor).  Many feminists view this event as an issue reflecting “sex” and “gender identify”.  Indeed it is the issue.  Why should it matter whether a woman chooses to appear like a man vice versa?   For me this issue actually represents more than one “sex” versus “gender” issue.   The following problems come to mind:

1)  The sex-role expectations of females.

2)  Female’s sex discrimination toward their own gender.

3) Disbelief in female’s athletic ability.

4)  Discrimination toward trans-sexual/trans-gender community.

So I guess athletic females, or any female is not to be superior in the Athletic field?  If so, they look like a male?  It amazes me that participants within the same competition expressed these feelings.  Not only do the support sex-role expectations of their own gender, they project this onto females around them.  Saddening and counter-productive, considering it is 2009.

Above all, there is disbelief in female athletic ability.  If a women is to succeed, athletically, she will be a man.  Do I even really have words to explain the logic of this – not really!  Other than it is a highly out-dated and primitive logic.

Very sadly, this issue also demonstrates discrimination toward the transgender and transsexual community.  Elisa Cusma also stated:“These kind of people should not run with us,”.  Let me draw attention to her terminology, “these people” as she refers to them as being aliens or foreign creatures.

It is unfortunate that this issue in fact represents many issues.  I’m not sure whether to be thankful for this situation or disgruntled at the outcome, as it is represents a “wake-up call” to feminists and those within the gender-issues community.    Personally, I think it represents a “wake-up call” to everybody.


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