Friday, September 11, 2009
Because Caster Semenya has defined muscles and can run faster than most people we've seen, she couldn't possibly be 100% female. Undoubtedly, the right thing to do is to subject her to grueling, intricate, and humiliating "gender testing" to confirm our gender stereotypes - that Caster is only so fast because she is part male or all male.
In the mean time, just to "prove" that Caster can fit the narrow role of a "real" woman, certain people thought it necessary to give her a feminine makeover. Take that, gender testers, Caster can rock high heels and lipstick, so she must be a woman.
It doesn't matter that Caster has gotten this crap all her life, we simply must know Caster's sex... we must categorize her... it's like a challenge that our society has become obsessed with, similar to every Saturday Night Live character who encounters the famously androgynous Pat.
And now we've discovered that Caster - our "Pat" - is a hermaphrodite, but some argue that no, she isn't a hermaphrodite, and her poor mother just wants people to back off, and now Caster has withdrawn from a race because she "isn't feeling well."
I just want to shout at everyone to STOP.
Don't you all see? This is why it is just impossible to classify people using those two simple symbols you see on bathroom doors - the people who wear skirts, and the people who don't. Caster's case is not unique. About 1.7% of the U.S. population has been born intersexed, and in South Africa the number is 1 in 500. It may seem insignificant because it seems like we only really care about the majority of the population, not the minorities, but cases like Caster's show that real people have to suffer from this every day... and I'm not talking about intersexuality; I'm talking about gender roles.
People may pity Caster for the horrific "confusion" she must suffer from, not knowing what she "really" is, but what is the greater injustice here? The fact that she was born this way, or the fact that society feels it necessary to penalize her for it?
No need to blame her testosterone levels. I blame us.