Women's Hoops Blog

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better

Friday, August 21, 2009

The drama surrounding runner Caster Semenya is not off-topic on a basketball blog because it is so wrapped up in the politics that still surround women's sports.

Check out Mechelle

The current controversy over the gender question about runner Caster Semenya brings up so many different topics of discussion that I couldn’t begin to adequately cover then all. But let’s at least try to sort through some of them. I’ll call this blog entry “part 1” in that regard, with the thought that there is much more to say.

I also want to put up this disclaimer – for the purpose of discussing these things here, I’m using some really general and unspecific ways to describe potential medical conditions. A medical professional would most definitely use different terms and be much more specific. This blog entry is more to start a dialogue and offer some general thoughts; it is not meant to be taken as a professionally researched medical article.
...and (highly recommended) check out the After Atalanta blog (dedicated to discussions of gender and sports)
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.