Caster is the new Zola

2009-09-16 12:38
 She'd walk onto the soundstage, grotesquely girled up, just like she was on that wretched YOU cover, and everyone in the room would know immediately that she was a he. Everyone, that is, except for the trailer-park beer receptacle that's been married to her for the last two years.

It's great entertainment when it's happening to some crackerhead nobody on the other side of the world, but we South Africans are very defensive about our 15-minute idols – so much so, that we tend to ignore the proverbial elephant in the room.

Undisputable Fact #1: Caster Semenya totally looks like a man, and no amount of patronisingly referring to her as "our little girl" (Julius!), or dressing her up like a drag queen for magazine shoots (Esmare!) is going to change that.  When I saw the You cover I still felt like giving her a manly high-five – only this time with my penis. The jury is still out on whether or not this means I'm gay.

Which brings us to Undisputable Fact #2: The bungling arrogance of the ASA would be insignificant if the entire world wasn't so hung up with gender classification. We humans define, condition and segregate ourselves based on our genitals. It's the first and most important signpost on the path to individual identity. From the moment we're born, our penis or vagina will determine how we'll be expected to behave, and how the rest of the world will treat us for the rest of our lives.

Of course, this would be a perfect system if Mother Nature wasn't such a bitch.

In stripping away, or even questioning Semenya's gender distinction, the world had robbed her of a large chunk of her identity, and with it her dignity, pride and all that liberal, bleeding-heart, emotional crap. Her supporters can keep telling her, "Sweet Caster, you are what you are", until they're blue in the face, but it won't stop the world from being what it is. On Planet People, there's only room for two genders, and even though as many as 1 in 500 people, like Semenya, are born probably intersexed, they're still regarded as a freakshow.

Semenya is the Zola Budd of the New South Africa: surrounded by controversy, and the centre of a very real social issue, but ill-equipped to deal with anything outside of putting one leg in front of the other. But feel free to be sorry for her. She must be going through one doozy of an existential crisis right now, questioning who she is, what will become of her and maybe even her spirituality.  Yes, I'm going there. Who does God want her to shag? That must be a tough one. The Bible was written by ancients who wouldn't have recognised an intersexed person if s/he gave them a lap dance, so no help there.

All she knows for sure is that the world wants her to run – but in which races? In sport, gender is still used as a proxy for strength, but this is starting to look ridiculous. Shouldn't strength be used as a proxy for strength? Power sports like rugby and boxing practice gender apartheid, reasoning that women are simply not physically equipped to take on the total onslaught of testosterone, but I'm beginning to suspect that rugged sportsmen might be just a little bit frightened at the prospect of getting their asses kicked by a bunch of girls. Now that I'd watch.

It's at least debatable in physical sports, but in others, gender segregation goes beyond ludicrous. For some unfathomable reason, we still have separate men's and women's teams for sports like table tennis, snooker and bowls. WHY? Seriously, I'd love to know. Anyone?

Sports aside, Semenya's whole life is effectively on hold until the world confirms her gender, because it's simply not willing to accept the one she already has. As a woman, she'd still be a damn fine runner, but as a man, he'd be quite handsome. But all this gender confusion is making my penis cry. Now I have to put it to bed and give it a cookie. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

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