Thursday, August 20

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus

Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus but is there an inbetween? Is what we're born with, our physical appearances, our reproductive organs define our sex? What if a person is born without no reproductive organs? Does that make them male or female? The answer would be tricky and involve many ethical and moral obstacles.

All these questions derive from the recent speculation and rumours surrounding Caster Semenya, an 800m athlete from South Africa. Having broke onto the scene earlier this year with the fastest time in the women's 800m at the African junior championships in Mauritius she made it to the Athletics World Championships in Berlin. After qualifying for the 800m final the governing body IAAF has publically announced that Semenya has been asked to undergo a gender test. In the recent history of athletics doping and cheating have marred the sport so it is somewhat understandable that the IAAF would want to quash any suspicion of cheating. No problem here. However, what i (and many others) don't agree with is the way that it was publically announced and also hours before the final. Something of such sensitive nature should be handled sensibly. Is there a reason to announce that you suspect someone of cheating before they actually have done so? And also, announcing it hours before the final where the athlete is most probably needs to be in a calm and focus state of mind does not help things.
Having said that Semenya won that final yesterday evening with quite some ease. It was my first time seeing her run and i have to say, i was shocked by the margin she won. It was in Usain Bolt proportions. Naturally, being human and all, i became curious. I had learnt about the various congenital genetic abnormalities where people are born with a mixture of (sex) chromosomes and display both male and female characteristics, but having seen this athlete run i wanted to see how 'she' sounded in an interview. The deepness of the voice might feed my curiosity. So i googled 'Caster Semenya' and saw this vid:

After seeing this you would either feel sorry for 'her' for being publically humiliated in this way or think "wait, there is no way that that is a woman".
Whether Semenya is aware of it or not, surely if the results come back positive for male chromosomes it would be wrong for her to compete as a female athlete. Wouldn't it?


Bruno said...

The problem is, if she is a mixture of both, she will be way to strong for other female competitors. This is a serious issue for IAAF.

Anonymous said...

One word - hermaphrodite

nav said...

I just feel sorry for her, she may never have none herself. To find out this way that you're not in fact a woman is quite distressing. Can't even begin to understand how someone in that position would feel :/