Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Resolution, Finally

Nearly a year ago, I wrote about the curious case of Caster Semenya.

For those of you who have understandably forgotten, Semenya is a South African sprinter who has had to deal with questions about whether she is truly a woman.
I wrote about the controversy here and here and we had a fairly lively discussion in the two comment sections. As you can see from those two posts, I mainly concentrated on the pain and embarrassment a teenage girl must feel to have the entire world debating whether she truly qualifies as a female.

I'm sure somewhere Sojourner Truth nodded her head in understanding.

Now, news has broken that Semenya is  cleared to compete as a woman, and she may begin running competitively in the near future. It turns out the speculation, and the original anonymous reports about the results of the investigation, were incorrect. After testing and consultation the international athletic federation decided that Semenya met all of the governing board's requirements for womanhood.

Well isn't that nice.

I've already expressed my outrage and suspicions about the original questions. I've expressed anger at the way the initial incorrect news was leaked. Now, I find myself struggling to determine how I feel. Sadly, and I mean this for myself not for Semenya, I think my main emotion is ambivalence. I don't feel vindication, nor can I profess to feel relief. Instead, given the time that has passed, and the information leaked about her physique, I don't really know if her reinstatement is a good thing or bad thing. For me, not for her, that is.

The questions about the runner's gender are like steroid allegations, or homosexuality rumors. No matter who says they aren't true, no matter how vehemently they are denied, the stain is just in the accusation. If Semenya had continued her dominance without these public allegations, there would have always been quiet grumbling and rumors. However, they would have remained in the background, something to be kicked around in secret but never broached in polite company.

With the allegations, despite them being refuted, Semenya is perpetually branded. The rumors aren't just reserved for the shadows, they can be broached in the open by those wanting to score points or appear intelligent. People can blithely discuss the limits of gender using Semenya as an example and nobody will find it strange. It will be accepted and acceptable.

That's the resolution that's been reached, and honestly, it seems like a bad deal for a young South African woman.



polerin said...

It's ever so much a bad deal. I'm out about being trans, including to much of my social sphere, but I still can't even start to imagine what it's like for her. The entire world to focused on her and felt entitled to submit their comment on who she is, in the core of her being.

Just saying that makes me cringe and want to crawl in a corner to hide myself from similar treatment. I don't think there was anywhere she could hide though, and never will be able to. I don't imagine she'll feel safe and whole again for a long time, if ever.

Mr. Noface said...

Big Man,

You are correct. The damage was already and no matter what has recently been proven or how much time has passed, those questions will be hard for her to live down.

Tiffany said...

She'll always be know as the "Shim" regardless of what is proven. Really sad.

Peace, Love and Chocolate

Anna Renee said...

It's a trip how a systematic, WORLDWIDE, deconstruction of black people is happening! It's happening in every place where black people are simply trying to accomplish ANYTHING!!
This is unrelated, but at the World Cup, South Africans play this little plastic horn called the vuvuzela. They've been doing it forever. Now that the Europeans have come, they want to strip the South Africans of even playing their little plastic celebrating horn!!
Soon enough it seems that we black people will be herded into concentration camps, worldwide and any vestiges of our culture will be DESTROYED utterly!

Anonymous said...

Well I don't know about that Anna BUT I do feel if we keep allowing certain things we are doomed for good as a race.

Raving Black Lunatic