Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Caster Semenya and Womanhood

To repeat the same question offered across the net, why must Caster Semenya wear glamorous clothes, burgundy nail polish and let her hair down to be perceived as a woman? I find it alarming regarding the message we send our young women. Certainly outward appearance does not define womanhood. Or does it?

It pains me to live in a society where youth and beauty define the person. Where one's achievements are measured by one's genitalia. The secretary of world athletics body IAAF, Pierre Weiss, said: "It is clear that she is a woman but maybe not 100 per cent." Reports have it that an Indian woman underwent a similar situation, and later attempted suicide. Indeed, Caster was placed on suicide watch immediately after her test results were "leaked".

I find so much in this story to be troubling. Certainly the fact that men do have a physical advantage over women is troubling to my feminist soul which screams for equality. I also find it troubling that a woman with feminine genitalia can have her gender questioned based on running quickly and having a deep voice. I also am troubled by a professional organization that would leak such critically sensitive test results so that a woman like Caster might learn the results in the media, rather than privately. Moreover, I am deeply troubled my Caster's appearance in a magazine sporting ultra feminine clothing, cosmetics and hair, and quoted as saying things like “I’d like to dress up more often and wear dresses but I never get the chance. I’d also like to learn to do my own make-up” and: “I’ve never bought my own clothes – my mum buys them for me. But now that I know what I can look like, I’d like to dress like this more often.”

1 comment:

  1. So much of what constitutes conventional gender roles is really just drag, isn't it? And yet so many people swear by it.