Follow up entry

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In Pamela Scully's article, "The Curious Case of Caster Semenya", she discusses the ways that Semenya is being compared to Sara Baartman, more commonly known as "Hottentot Venus". Scully discusses the ways in which their bodies have become spectacles to be examined due to this obsession with sex in our society. She goes on to say that the reason Semenya's sex is essentially being questioned is because she doesn't fit our version of what a female, what a woman should look like. Because females have been associated with femininity in a certain stereotypical and materialistic way, anyone who doesn't fall into that category must simply just not be female. Scully also mentions society's tendency to turn to science as a "neutral" source, something that can perform tests and prove points without being influenced by prejudices. This assumption that science is a neutral commodity that isn't influenced by culture, however, is false. Scully rightfully argues, "Racial science in it's more overt form is mostly dead and buried", however, the racism and sexism that once existed overtly existed in science are the building blocks for science today.
In her additional article, "The Trials of Caster Semenya", Scully focuses on the aspect of Semenya's race playing into the treatment she'd faced. Scully attributes the ridiculousness of the "gender testing" much to Semenya being Black, again comparing her to Sara Baartman in saying that any body type that is "different" and doesn't fall into the binary must automatically be questioned and frowned upon. Scully reports the support Semenya's family, friends and fellow citizens of her hometown, Limpopo have for her and their essentially calm and collected attitude towards the allegations. They identify Semenya as a "girl" and are unphased by the "possibility of intersex".
Some questions raised from these articles are: Do you think there is an ethic, error-proof way to perform sex verification? Do you think sex verification is necessary? Do you believe people should be allowed to perform against one another, despite sex, eliminating "men's" and "women's" sports?

Also, how do you think the treatment of Semenya would be different if she wasn't such a good athlete, or was not of a minority race?

2 Comments

I think Scully makes a very good point that our bodies have become spectacles to be examined. As I was reading the article from the New Yorker written by Levy I realized just how much Semenya has become an object and a spectacle to be examined and observed. She told the Guardian “It’s not so easy. The university is O.K. but there is not many other places I can go. People want to stare at me now. They want to touch me. I’m supposed to be famous.” She added, “I don’t think I like it so much.” Semenya's words show just how much she has been a spectacle to those around her. I also agree with Scully's views that racism and sexism are still part of science today and that Semenya's ethnicity contributed to this "gender testing" spectacle. This is also reinforced in Levy's article. In this article Daniel talks about the fact the Semenya came up to him and mentioned she had gone through testing the previous day and had been told it was for doping. These tests were actually sex verification. She didn't fit into the binary and has a "different" body type due to her race and athleticism and so thus her sexuality is called into question. In Levy's article it is stated that; "The sins of A.S.A., as Daniels sees it, are, first, not giving Semenya adequate information about the Pretoria tests—including her right to refuse them—and, second, not pulling her out of the competition in Berlin." This statement reveals that Semenya wasn't informed what was going on and these events have greatly changed her life. Thus I wonder what exactly is the role of race in these events? Scully's article as well as statements from Levy's show some influence of race but how big a part did it play? Would these events have unfolded if Semenya was representing a wealthy Western nation? Was the ASA really trying to do their job or were they taking advantage of a poor, uninformed, athlete who didn't fit their rigid categories of sex?

I appreciate for your nice summary of two articles of Pamela Scully and now I could understand what was going on those article which I could not understand at once!
In the first article, I could remember the discussion in the class about how dangerous it is to believe that science can be perfectly objective and make faultless tests even though science is influence by culture, which cannot be objective.
Because of the second article, I could be aware of the fact that not only undescended testicle but also her skin color made Semenya treated in unfair manner.
Actually, in the class on friday, I came up with questions somewhat similar with your first/second one but I could not conclude my idea yet...

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