Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Questions about gender make you a... racist. Huh?

Even if you don't follow the sport of track and field like I do, you might nevertheless have heard about a controversy that took place at the recent Track and Field World Championships, which concluded in Berlin a few days ago. The runaway winner of the women's 800 meter run was Caster Semenya of South Africa. Let us take a gander at young Caster:

There have been some questions raised about the gender of Caster Semenya due to her manly looks and muscled physique. So is she a girl or isn't she? That's not what I am worked up about. What has me in a tizzy is the race card being pulled by leaders of South Africa in addressing the controversy. According to them, the only reason Semenya's gender is being questioned is because she is a black African:
The president of Athletics South Africa, Leonard Chuene, was also defiant and said he had resigned from his seat on the IAAF board to protest the organization's treatment of Semenya... "We are not going to allow Europeans to describe and define our children," he told a news conference, which Semenya attended although she did not address reporters... Semenya's supporters say the allegations against her are motivated by jealousy and show racial discrimination against Africans. (Emphasis by Chanman)
Oh, yeah, that's the ticket. No white female athlete has ever had her gender questioned; only the black ones.

I guess this South African official wasn't paying attention during the 1970's and 1980's when female athletes from Eastern Block communist countries were showing their grotesque selves at track meets all over the world. How about current world record holder in - of all events - the 800 meters, Jarmila Kratochvilova of Czechoslovakia, who set the still-standing record of 1:53.28 back in 1983? Check out her feminine self:

Or how about Ewa Klobukowska of Poland, who actually did fail a gender test in the 1960s:

Those are two real-life examples, but the stereotype of the manly eastern European female athlete lives on. Just think of the uni-browed lovely with the Princess Leia hair buns in the Vince Vaughn/Ben Stiller movie Dodgeball. Hey, she was white, too!

For South African officials to base their arguments on racism toward their athlete is ludicrous. All it does is make me think that perhaps they doth protest too much.

Good Day to You, Sir


Hube said...

Great stuff, C-man! As a runner myself, I was intrigued by this. I did up my own (similar) report.


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