Running and sexism

I’ve been following the world athletics championships in Berlin a bit. The highlight for me so far was Kenesisa Bekele’s final lap of the men’s 10,000 metres.  But the saddest moment so far I think has been the reaction to Caster Semenya’s scintillating victory in the women’s 800 metres. Rather than viewers celebrating the rise of a young talent, there have just been countless calls for her gender to be tested before she is awarded the title.  As far as I have read this is based on nothing more than a bunch of leery men having passed their eyes over her and decided that she does not meet their standard for how a woman athlete should look. I’m astonished that the world athletic governing body the IAAF has responded to this pressure.

The BBC’s Tom Fordyce has noted:

That any woman would be confronted with such serious accusation in front of a worldwide audience of millions struck many as callous. That it was an 18-year-old from Limpopo province at her first major senior championships seemed cruel in the extreme.

Really, my thought at this point is that men should not be allowed to watch sport until they can do so in a respectful and mature manner. Sexism would end pretty quickly if it were inversely linked to the right to watch sport.

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2 thoughts on “Running and sexism

  1. Is the complaint actually coming from men who are watching, or from women who don’t want to compete with a woman who has a somewhat masculine build and the running advantages that may or may not come with that?

    I’m wondering if she will turn out to have congenital adrenal hyperplasia, which is a condition that causes glands in the kidneys to produce testosterone when they’re not meant to. If she does, that means she will have normal female reproductive anatomy, which should silence the critics. If she has some other genetic or hormonal condition it is going to be really difficult for her, finding out in such a public way while critics are baying for her blood.

  2. I highly doubt her fellow female athletes are behind this witch hunt.

    For a start they’re not going to be looking at her and thinking she’s male just because she doesn’t conform to beauty ideals held by men.

    I would say her fellow athletes understand exactly how hard it is for your athletic prowess to be essentially ignored just because you’re female. So I doubt they’d do the same to one of their own.

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