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What’s the agend(er)?

By Jennifer Thorpe

Caster Semenya, an 18-year-old athlete from South Africa wins a race with such speed and skill that she becomes the target of “gender probes”. Now for those of you who aren’t already uncomfortable with the thought of any sort of probe, this one should make you run for the hills. For people who are confused, here is a distinction that will serve you well for the rest of your life:

Sex: is what bits you have (biology), male/female.
Gender: is the way that you live in your body. This performance is stereotyped into two terms masculine/feminine, which are commonly used to describe the action of others.

Sex and gender are not the same. Clear?

Now we should all be clear that a test for your gender does not and cannot require any sort of examination of anybody’s genitalia. If you’re looking at someone’s bits, they could say one thing and the person’s performance could say another. Or they could be the same.

If Semenya’s gender is under question, they shouldn’t be looking anywhere near her sex organs, but should be observing her behaviour, which is to run as fast as she can for 800m, alongside several other women. I’m not sure how they escaped the same scrutiny for being unsuitable representatives of femininity — more importantly I wouldn’t think that a sports organisation (which has the potential to create unity and pride in the diversity of representations of femininity) would be so confused that they relegated women to the passive category of small strides, long hair and shapeliness.

Kevin McCullum of IOL said that the issue was “Semenya’s appearance, including obvious facial hair, and muscular build”. The IAAF has apparently been alerted to the issue where they are conducting rigorous screening tests to assess the claim. I’d like to know what these tests include. Possible (retrogressive, barbaric, just plain boring they’re so backwards) examples that spring to mind are:

1. Can she walk in heels?
2. Does she knit a good scarf?
3. Does she feel maternal and caring towards the other participants?
(This list may be expanded to include any other qualities that suit those whose duty it is to assess someone using stereotypes, but I am now exhausted.)

Can someone bring the IAAF and whoever else was involved in this heretical reduction of women to their senses! A woman can succeed, and remain a woman whilst having facial hair and muscles. She can rule the world, run a race fast, be competitive and be successful and none of these characteristics should result in anyone examining her body for signs that she is not a woman. Shame on the IAAF. Shame on the media who have taken up this topic with such spectacular fervour and ignorance.

42 Responses to “What’s the agend(er)?”

  1. ian #

    speaking of spectacular fervour and ignorance, you should have done a bit more research into the matter before contributing towards both

    August 22, 2009 at 2:11 am
  2. k morrow #

    I think that in all the hysteria you miss the essential point and that is that if Castor has excessive levels of testosterone this will give her an unfair advantage over other female athletes. She probably is female but I have come across conditions where a small tumour or other hidden source within the body secretes levels of testosterone that would make a young male envious.This is a performance enhancing hormone. I feel deeply sorry for poor Castor as this should have all been sorted out before entering the world stage. She will be left with the emotional scars. I blame the south african athletics association.

    August 22, 2009 at 10:45 am
  3. anton kleinschmidt #

    Agreed. Absolute shame on the media…and shame on bloggers who trivialise the situation and use this tragedy to gain themselves readership.

    August 22, 2009 at 12:11 pm
  4. My pet hate are those who believe what they read and do no research. I am sure that you will agree that If it walks like a Duck, sounds like a Duck and looks like a Duck. The rule of thumb is that it is a Duck.

    The need for these test rose from the 1960’s when East Germany was the queen of gender bending. Ever heard of children born with one gender blended over the the other.

    Science has argued for years about which gender these mixed gender children should be raised only to find later that the femininity of the child is lost to male side later.

    Do some reading and you will find that this is not unsual. OR is this just because she is black that it is taken as an afront?

    August 22, 2009 at 12:22 pm
  5. Joe O'Neill #

    No 100% real woman has an Adams apple ( As the complaining Australian official put it)

    August 22, 2009 at 12:22 pm
  6. Carl #

    Why does it seem that you fail to see that these sextests was brought in for protecting womens’ sport. Sporting events are divided into MALE and FEMALE and there is a very fine line between the two that needs to be regulated. Unfortunately for us we started digging into genetics and things started getting very complicated.

    When ancient cultures encountered such out-of-the-ordinary phenomena it was sometimes rejected and sometimes worshipped – In modern times I recall Albino massacres in Tanzania. I’ve read of two cultures that had place for three sexes in their cultural traditions. One culture called these people “guevedoce” and the other calls theirs “nadleeh”.

    We only have two categories: Male and Female. Therefore the line has to be regulated (gender equality) and because most people in our country don’t really know about these strange phenomena, it’s difficult for them to comprehend it. Now the leaders stand up and throw these baseless accusations around, making the whole country upset and the worst is the testresults can go either way – it’s 50/50. What our leaders are doing is backing only the one outcome making for a very unpredictable situation if Semeya fails those tests.

    What the country should be doing is educating the people of the facts of these strange, rare conditions. I hope she passes but I won’t preverbially put money on either.

    Regards
    Carl

    August 22, 2009 at 1:11 pm
  7. Dick Corner #

    Jennifer Thorpe does readers a disservice by complicating a simple issue. Caster Semenya is either male or female; a physical examination would determine which.

    I question why this issue has been brought into the public domain. For so long as sport is categorized by gender, it will be perfectly reasonable to expect participants to submit to examination by the appropriate body.

    August 22, 2009 at 1:12 pm
  8. Balt Verhagen #

    Here we go again in a lather of wounded self-righteousness.

    Sport is intrinsically gender-based, or sex-based or whatever semantic hairs you wish to cleave – because experience has shown that the associated physical abilities would make it unfair for women to compete against men. There are two categories in our famous Comrades ultra-Marathon, and even the Russian sisters compete in the female class.

    Would anyone seriously suggest that Venus Williams should play against Roger Federer in the Wimbledon finals ? Shouts of: unfair, gender discrimination…

    Quite. Would be interesting though if she would beat the German, which would not be unthinkable…

    The point is: the grey cases, of which there have been a couple in history. International competition is fierce, fraud is not uncommon and there are strict rules, i.a. on drugs. Gender of course is more subtle, but the male-female divide in sport is rigid. Any competent national sports administration should anticipate possible questioning where the conventional features could,and in Caster’s case did, raise questions even before she went international. They should have taken ALL steps – yes, even probing the bits, but in-house – so that by the time this talented youngster would hit the headlines, as would the inevitable questions, the international administration could confidently say: there IS no question, it is all above board.

    Once again, South African authorities have let their own people down and once again, the gullible public rises to the nationalistic bait – and blames the media.

    Sies !!!

    August 22, 2009 at 1:35 pm
  9. Ayatollah Taliberali #

    There are a lot of women in the world who are somewhat masculine. And you know what, I suggest that Ms Semenya start training to run in the men’s competitions, cos she is lightning on two legs :-)

    to the rest of the world, get used to being 2nd best to SAfrica. PHAMBILI.

    And since performance enhancing Muti is not illegal – cos its not administered to the athlete, then just tell me where she’s running against men, and i will go to that stadium and slaughter a goat the night before – our ancestors are angry and they will be the wind that carries her to victory.

    first that Hitler shithead refused to give Jesse his medal and now this crap… Do the Germans want a hiding? we’ll give it to you anytime anyplace anyday. Wozani lapa or voetsak.

    August 22, 2009 at 2:03 pm
  10. John #

    Howdy Jenny,
    I have a different definition:
    gen·der (jndr)
    n.
    1. The sex of an individual, male or female, based on reproductive anatomy.
    2. Sexual identity, especially in relation to society or culture.
    The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary

    Nevertheless, I fail to understand why you seem to be outraged unless you are perhaps suggesting that men SHOULD BE ALLOWED to compete against women in “women’s events”.
    Don’t get me wrong here, I fully support such a plan because I fail to see why women (or men) should have “their own events” to begin with. That’s just sexist. Nope, as you suggest – a free-for-all would solve all the nasty problems. Good thinking!

    August 22, 2009 at 5:02 pm
  11. Bruce #

    You have to admit that she looks pretty ‘butch’ and has the voice of a young man.

    I am wondering whether she has not been subjected to some form of treatment to enhance her track performance . . .

    August 22, 2009 at 6:01 pm
  12. Jeff #

    Since you appear not to know what these gender tests consist of, and why they are being requested perhaps you should find out first before putting the blog out there. Perhaps then we could all have a sensible discussion, instead of some politically correct, sociological claptrap.

    August 22, 2009 at 7:25 pm
  13. Qhuba Dlamini #

    I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Miss Caster Semenya, a first year Sport Science student at the University of Pretoria, won the 800 m race in Berlin Germany. I was happy because she was on the verge of breaking a twenty-six year record. My joy was short-lived, however, because her victory was marred by media reports in Europe as well as in South Africa that they were going to run gender and sex tests on her because she could not run the way she did if she were a woman.

    To think that this is spearheaded by IAAF, a world athletic body that is supposed to be enlightened on these issues, in 2009—nine years well into millennium— makes me flummoxed beyond belief. I would have thought the old stereotypes about women being weak both physically were the sentiments that belonged to the bygone era. I was extremely disappointed that Semenya had to undergo such humiliation and assault in her person because she had no choice but to accede to this kind of balderdash. It is reasonably suspected that this was intended to dampen her spirit and make her less enthusiastic in this important athletic meeting.

    The IAAF should be taken to task because it ought to have thought about its actions—especially—when they are dealing with an 18 year old adolescent. Someone should prescribe a reading of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 signed by most UN member states.

    August 22, 2009 at 7:35 pm
  14. Jost van Dike #

    You should have done a little research to be taken seriously. Here are the facts, which everybody, who has an interest in athletics, is aware of: Caster appeared from nowhere and ran the 800 m in the Junior Worldchampionship 2008 in 2:11. A year later she wins the World Championship in 1:55. Make your own conclusion. What is absoluteley disgusting, is the attitude of ASA, who apparently considered that to be a normal progression. Unfortunately, that never happened before. Instead of protecting the poor woman,and the IAAF requested gender testing 3 weeks before the championship, they, in their greed of getting a gold medal, threw her to the wolves (being the media). Sad thing is, in typical South African fashion, everybody else is to blame, and of course, playing the race card is included. With a little bit of intelligence, and taking the wellbeing of Caster into consideration, the whole
    issue could have been avoided. No wonder the international media is already calling the ASA officials criminals, since they claim, testing was already done in South Africa in March, but results were never published. Surely the whole family had a right to be informed. But hey, it’s so much easier to shift the blame and the ultimate racist Malema has a field day again. I just hope, for Caster’s sake, the tests are showing a favourable result.

    August 22, 2009 at 7:38 pm
  15. Sebastian #

    People are questioning her ‘sex, not ‘gender’. It is the former that is important for athletics. If ‘gender’ were the relevant characteristic, then would you be happy to let men (by sex) compete in the womens athletics events if they say their ‘gender’ is really female?! Why even bother to have a womens category then?

    If men (by sex) can’t compete in womens events, could you please give a practical test that could be used to keep men out, that you would be happy with?

    Semenya has been badly treated, but your post adds absolutely nothing to discussion.

    August 22, 2009 at 8:07 pm
  16. Sebastian Bodenstein #

    One more thing, the words ‘gender’ and ‘sex’ are often used interchangeably in ordinary language. You can’t assume someone uses the two terms in the same way in which they are used in Gender Studies (which is where I think you come from). I agree that the distinction is useful, but is not at all universally used.

    Thus when the IAAF talks of a ‘gender verification process’, you can’t assume that they are using your definition of ‘gender’ as ‘the way that you live in your body’. They could be using it as a synonym for ‘sex’. It would be absurd if they were using your definition, which for practical purposes (ie. creating a female category in sport) is completely useless.

    August 22, 2009 at 8:56 pm
  17. Owen #

    While I agree with you, medical science has taken away the innocence of sex and gender. As one can change from one sex to another sporting codes are forced to check out participants.

    However, one woul have thought that by now sporting officials would be sensitive to the issue and have done the appropriate screening before the athlete gets onto centre stage.

    Surely when they do drug tests from the urine samples they can do basic gender tests from the same urine sample at the same time?

    August 22, 2009 at 9:21 pm
  18. I never heard such hohgwash as this blog- it has zero to do with how she talks or walks – those are factors that draw attention to her possibly being different. Gender Id has everything to do with the body’s hormonal makeup and chromosomes. It has nothing to do with sexuality. Body organs are an important factor. It seems Semenya has female parts – but that does not mean much because her testosterine levels or chromosomes may show she is more male than female in her gender. Its a very complicated assessmentg and test and has nothing to do with high heels or knitting.,

    The scrutiny she is getting which I agree is awful and almost unfair as she is female identified, has nothing to do with people thinking that women cannot perform as well as men – and has everything to do with – her overt signs of masculinity that they believe warrant testing. http://www.oblogdeeoblogda.wordpress

    August 23, 2009 at 7:33 am
  19. Mike Baillie
    Michael Baillie #

    I think what’s most interesting about this whole fiasco is the potential it has to reveal how flimsy our male/female matrix actually is.

    It is a distinction that impacts on inumerable situations in society, and often has very important consequences.

    What Caster’s case does is question the very basis of the male/female divide. If it is found that she has a vagina and all the ‘normal’ physicalities of a woman – but she has an ‘abnormal’ amount of testosterone, then she (or he) would be a…?

    And would she be less of a … and more of a woman if she had a little less testorone and an drop more oestogen? Could we give her a rating of 51% female, and be happy with that outcome?

    In short the system of male/female is very precarious – and often the basis for that distinction relies on human efforts to maintain it. Creating the hairless body, wearing a particular array of clothes, or learning to walk in a particular way are examples of how this male/female distinction is manufactured.

    Caster’s body is a fundamental threat to this matrix and threatens its integrity. It shows us that often the division falters, and that it is not set in stone. It is a system that requires constant policing and regulation.

    August 23, 2009 at 10:11 am
  20. anton kleinschmidt #

    @ Balt…your comments about the media are apposite but there is no question that elements of the media and sensationalist bloggers have turned this tragedy into a disgusting farce. You may well be right about the culpability of the relevant authorities and this needs to be aggressively explored.

    We are dealing with a child who is probably not very sophisticated and who must rely on her adult minders to protect her. In the context of her athletics, the ASA should be her guardians. The question that her family, her friends, the public, the politicians, the youth movements, the media, the bloggers should be asking is…. has ASA looked after her. Has ASA done its jobs properly as required by international standards or have they slipped up and exposed this child to the most awful situation. If ASA has not done their jobs properly then there should be a PUBLIC reckoning.

    This might well be an opportunity to unite all South Africans against bureaucratic bungling if such exists.

    August 23, 2009 at 11:17 am
  21. Peter Joffe #

    I wonder if they should check out the world’s fastest man – Bolt?
    They may find that he is not human and that he comes from Mars. What are the tests for this??
    The ANCYL brings up questions of rascism with regards to Caster but no such questions about Bolt but then he is black and he beat a lot of other people and no questions were asked?
    Gender and sex testing cam up many years ago when some men did compete as women. Caster looks rather masculine so there is no reason to question anything. Test her and be done with it. Same things we said about Marinta Navratilova but she proved to be waht she said she was.

    August 23, 2009 at 11:52 am
  22. mtutuzeli #

    If people can stoop to the low level of sexual verification tests I wouldn’t be surpised if the next thing could be reverting back to NAZI an d partheid style racial verification tests.

    August 23, 2009 at 12:42 pm
  23. About 1 in 1000 people are third sex (intersex). They have a vagina but not a uterus, testicles which may often stay internal and undescended or may descend at puberty, and a small penis which is exactly the same as a big clitoris.

    The problem is not them, but religious bigots who refuse to accept that there are more than 2 sexes.

    August 23, 2009 at 3:02 pm
  24. Nic #

    It appears that not many followers, participants and /or experts of athletics have bothered to contribute to the debate,save for Prof Tim Noakes who clearly stated that proving gender is very difficult and the result of the exhaustive tests can by no means be regarded as clear cut. So it is clear that we have a sensitive issue.
    Firstly Caster is a young female and a fantastic athlete. She has also been a wonderful ambassador for our country who behaved with decorum whilst many who should have, did not.
    First and foremost ASA should have pro-actively diffused the situation by having pertinent information to provide to the IAAF, who they knew would enquire. Dont shoot the messenger, I am not saying it is fair, all I am saying this is what happens in today’s world of competitive sport and prevention as we know, is better than cure. The other lot who should hang their collective heads in Shame is the IAAF. Testing should be discreet, not from the front pages of newspapers or the headlines of the electronic media.
    I’ve said it before and will say it again: Shame on you ASA and the IAAF. You have failed a wonderful human being and fantastic athlete.

    August 23, 2009 at 3:24 pm
  25. erstand how many sexes there are read the article Jennifer

    Read the article by David Sherman, himself a third sex person (and monk, and Christian, and advisor on sex to the Vatican – who need advice!). It can be found on:

    http://www.galva108.org/modernbio.html

    Ignore the weird looking front page

    August 23, 2009 at 4:52 pm
  26. Jen Thorpe
    Jen #

    Ian: I have done my research. I understand issues of gender and I understand the context. Her gender is being tested by a gynae, a psychologist, an endochrinologist and a geneticist. These tests show that gender is not dichotomous, nor something that can be tested in a flash.

    K morrow: If you’re trying to say that testosterone makes you run faster, I’d like you to explain how all those women would beat most males running the same distance.

    Anton: See what you tried to do there. Only I don’t think it was successful. Better luck next time.

    Hugh: I am aware that questioning other people’s gender is not something revolutionary, and that most people are keen to point out ‘gender abnormalities’ on a daily basis. But saying that because something appears a particular way makes it so shows that you have the analytical depth of a teaspoon. It’s not called the gender spectrum for nothing. There is no cut and dry manly way of looking, or womanly way of looking. All you need to do is step away from the computer and look outside to see that.

    Carl: I appreciate the sentiment and I am all for the protection of women’s sports. But the problem here is that she is taken to be abnormally fast, and thus manly. Running is not something that you’re born with, and if someone can emulate the fastest style then kudos to them.

    August 23, 2009 at 7:07 pm
  27. Jen Thorpe
    Jen #

    Dick: I’m afraid its not so simple as male or female.

    First, on the nature of the testing. Newspaper and internet reports say that testing will include a geneticist, a gynae, and a psychologist. So again, if they are testing her ‘sex’, what does a psychologist have to say about that? Is a psychologist more able to point out a penis from a vagina?

    Or are they genuinely trying to test her gender, in which case what is the geneticist doing there? And the gynae? Do some people have more feminine vagina’s than others? Are some penises more masculine? Is there a chromosome that makes you able to cross your legs delicately rather than at a 90degree angle with your foot on your knee? There seems to be a disjuncture here. But maybe the psychologist is just for counselling because I’m sure after this process Semenya will need one.

    As interesting as this conundrum is the fact that this testing will take months. So, it will take months to prove whether this incredible athlete is a man or a woman. At least this gives some substance to the idea that gender is something developed over time, a bodily existence, rather than something that is assigned at birth with the cutting of the umbilical cord.

    August 23, 2009 at 7:11 pm
  28. Actually there are at least FIVE sexes ( 3 of them intersex). Read:

    “The Five Sexes: Why Male and Female Are Not Enough” by Anne Fausto-Sterling
    The Sciences March/April 1993, p. 20-24
    http://www.uta.edu/english/timothyr/Fausto-Sterling.pdf

    “Anne Fausto-Sterling is Professor of Biology and Women’s Studies in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and Biochemistry at Brown University. Professor Fausto-Sterling’s new book, entitled Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality, appeared in February, 2000.”

    Only Judaism acknowledges that they exist.

    August 24, 2009 at 2:57 am
  29. Frits Metz #

    I agree.

    What’s more we should just cancel all segregated sports events, to a single event like 800m for Homo Sapiens. None of the male/female stuff – too difficult to determine.

    August 24, 2009 at 3:47 am
  30. Alto #

    Firstly the whole “investigation” is being done insensitively. Hugely insensitively! Compare this to drug tests on cyclists where all the A and B tests are behind the scenes and only in the event of a problem is anything publicised. But it still needs to be done. I saw an article in Die Burger over the weekend which showed photos of about 6 athletes whose gender had been questioned because of their masculine appearance. East German, Soviet Union, Indian, and some others. But yes, gender tests needed to be done. And some of the 6 failed.
    Jennifer Thorpe’s PC attitude does not help.

    As long as sports events are split by gender AND where one gender has an advantage over the other, gender needs to be determined according to the rules of the relevant sporting body.

    August 24, 2009 at 8:27 am
  31. pete ess #

    I understand when guilty or inept people blame the media for their deeds. Criminals will always seek a scapegoat. But what never fails to mystify me is how many ordinary citizens blame the media for (inter alia) “blowing things out of proportion” when all they do is REPORT ON IT!! This IS NEWS, it must be reported and the reason for the debacle must be sought. I suspect we’ll find ASA guilty in the end, but maybe not, and it’s the job of the media to find out (not to avoid the issue because of “sensitivities” – that was ASA’s job and they have blown it).

    August 24, 2009 at 12:13 pm
  32. Pam #

    Michael Baillie’s is the single most incisive and interesting comment I have seen on this whole fracas. “Constant policing and regulation”, indeed. Poor Caster Semenya.

    August 24, 2009 at 12:24 pm
  33. Jen Thorpe
    Jen #

    Anton: I like your attitude. There is most certainly need for the protection of this incredible woman and athlete. Some of the news articles this weekend reported that this sort of harassment was not new to Semenya, and that in some of her school contests teachers had taken her to the bathroom to ‘check’. It was upsetting to read and obviously far more upsetting to experience. I hope that Semenya is getting the support of all those around her.

    Despite the flawed and problematic ANCYL statements it is positive to note the support that Semenya has received from South Africans.

    And on the racial issue, I don’t think it has anything to do with this.

    August 24, 2009 at 1:01 pm
  34. brent #

    Am disgusted by how a great young athlete who fille dmillions of us with pure joy has been treated by ALL, especially ASA officialdom and SA racists of all hues trying to further their rotten agendas.

    Jennifer if you could please get off your PC box, one question; if Caster is found to be a “3rd sex”, then what, does that automatically mean that this 3rd sex is superior than the female sex, I think not?

    Brent

    August 24, 2009 at 1:09 pm
  35. Lobengula #

    “She can rule the world”…I certainly hope no woman ever “rules” the world.

    August 24, 2009 at 1:12 pm
  36. Jen Thorpe
    Jen #

    So its not only that she could be a man, its that she didn’t run like a girl. And because running like a boy is seen as an advantage, they had to test her. Running like a girl is not genetic either. It is a process that is stimulated through repeated social contexts and restrictions on women. Women are encouraged to be dainty rather than bold, to take small steps rather than strides, to keep their arms close to their body rather than use their arms to pull them forward. These are not things that just happen. They are learned and taught. So shock and horror when one woman decides to ignore those encouragements and run her heart out. She must be a man!

    And if it is faster, and better, and stronger to run in a particular way, and someone can develop their running style to gracefully master that type of run, then shouldn’t we be praising them for their success and skill rather than de-gendering them, or engendering prejudice?

    The fact that women were prevented from participating in sports like this for such a long time could be part of the explanation for their slower race times. But Caster Semenya has shown that practice makes perfect, and she has succeeded. So if her running style is seen as ‘manly’ its only because ‘manly’ running is the type of running that’s been on our tvs and sports fields for time immemorial.

    August 24, 2009 at 1:41 pm
  37. Faith #

    Thanks Jennifer, for that differentiation! a lot of people confuse sex with gender. I am so glad U brought this up ’cause i found myself correcting news correspondents all the time when they were reporting on the ‘gender tests’.
    the issue here is ‘on which grounds’ are the need for investigations based? Just by looking at her? Questioning the pace at whether a woman can improve her performance in a ‘short space’ of time or between competitions? the investigation is based on gender stereotyping & reflects of the sexism of the organizations.

    August 24, 2009 at 2:12 pm
  38. Faith #

    Perhaps a drug test was more appropriate & justifiable here?

    August 24, 2009 at 2:15 pm
  39. anton kleinschmidt #

    @ Jen….I am definitely no expert, but it could be that woman have a different running style because of the way that their bodies have evolved given their role as child bearers. A simple thing like hip size quite possibly dictates the typical female gait. I suspect that woman could not run like men even if they wanted to simply because of body structure. Dare I suggest this is best left to experts

    August 24, 2009 at 6:21 pm
  40. Thobekani #

    regardless of ‘researched’ analysis above from seemingly almost everyone, I’d say our collective intelligence that is charectorised more by ubuntu (if you relate) tells that we are capable of understanding and agreeing that this has profoundly caused harm not [just] to the ‘body’ of Caster (Caster’s body is a fundamental threat to this matrix and threatens its integrity. It shows us that often the division falters, and that it is not set in stone. It is a system that requires constant policing and regulation.)but to her as a human being.

    Well as would the need for any such normal debate and /or discourse based on ‘rationalization’, my question to the majority of [the well informed] contributors above, (those who relate to the concept of ubuntu (those who are too ‘factual’ are well excussed)), how far would we research whether there’s a course of litigation on the part of the one who has given us the opportunity to show of with the depth of our understanding of science on this subject as a way to thank ‘her’? come on now, we have to be sensible enough to know that somebody should be held responsible for this as it has, i say it agan, caused harm somewhere, or are we going to leave the subject ‘lingering’ at the high level of our testosterone (which we glorify as we show understanding of the stance of IAAF and its history and cases), surprise me..

    August 24, 2009 at 9:14 pm
  41. Barry #

    It is worth looking at the facts before letting emotion carry you away.

    One fact is that there have been strong doubts about the gender of this person for years.

    The other fact is that Casters sky high Testosterone levels (taken in SA) were the catalyst for the IAAF to try and force ASA to drop Caster from the world championship team.

    ASA have ignored all of the red flags re. Caster .. the muscularity , the history , the facial hair , the voice and the Testosterone levels , the huge and unheard of increase in performance.

    The IAAF , led by an African man were not blinded and told ASA what to do.

    They ignored them.

    Lets hope they suffer the consequences.

    August 25, 2009 at 3:56 pm
  42. Mark #

    It is interesting that this inevitable calls the question of gender difference into account. The sport, and the rules of competing are calling for a line to be drawn, between male and female. This is an important thing to do. The nebulous male/female difference is the fundamental difference. By constantly pushing its boundaries, and enriching our understanding thereofm we only enrich our understanding of ourselves.

    However, the difficulty with which the situation is assessed by certain politicians and the media neglects this important dimension of understanding who we are as human beings, but rather abuse the attention which this question calls to furhter their own agendas (the growing list of expletives to describe old Julius’ imbecility, and the media’s competitive sensationalism for the sake of advertising money). Reasonable, intelligent discourse is needed to address delimiting fair competition between men and women, and what characterises them in terms of this competition. Using a young girl’s sexual subjectivity for the sake of petty politics or shocking the public is the real abomination here.

    Let science do its thing and let us patiently await the results. Have faith in the testing that the Semenya is about to receive. If she is found to have doped up in some way, let us recognise that as injustice to the spirit of sport and fair competition; nothing more. If otherwise, celebrate her achievements in the name of our country,her people and by extension, the human race.

    August 26, 2009 at 1:55 am

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