William Smith Jr.
Blog # 3
“Semenya does not look like most female athletes. People questioned whether she was really a woman.” This is quote found within Ariel Levy’s “Either/Or”, which details the story of Caster Semenya. Semenya is a runner, from South Africa, who came under much scrutiny for her physical appearance, after displaying her athletic prowess. This scrutiny, and inquisitiveness, caused her to be tested without being even told what the true purpose of the test was for. While some believe that she shouldn’t be able to race if she is deemed to be not of the female gender, I believe that the unethical nature of how the test was done reveals an underlying issue in female sports.
When you turn on the television, read a magazine, or simply have a conversation about the most spectacular female athletes, usually there are a few qualifications they must meet. First of all, they have to be well accomplished in their sport or currently tearing it up. Secondly, they usually have to be attractive to the person speaking about them. Lastly, the media in some form or fashion usually sexualizes and completely feminizes them.
Don’t get me wrong; these athletes are very good at what they do. The problem is, I just can’t remember the last time I have heard about a female athlete that wasn’t Lolo Jones, Hope Solo, Skylar Diggins, Candace Parker, Danica Patrick, Lisa Leslie, or the Williams Sisters. Hope Solo was in the ESPN The Body Issue of their magazine, an issue I didn’t expect coming to my doorstep. Candace Parker had been depicted with Shelden Williams and in dresses when I remember her being popular. Skylar Diggins was talked about on social media as “the prettiest female basketball player” people have ever seen and how it’s rare to find a female that good and that attractive at that sport. Danica Patrick had the “Go Daddy” commercials, which always begged you to go directly to the site to see what happened next, usually after a suggestive scene.
The point is, Caster Semenya did not meet the qualifications of the media nor anyone involved in the sport. As Levy puts it, she “is breathtakingly butch.” I believe her achievement, combined with the fact that she wasn’t as feminine as the female athletes we all love to praise drove people to test her without proper moral judgment. Yes, she may not have appeared the way you think she should, and yes, the tests may have shown physical discrepancies, but the fact that you would go to such lengths to prove your assumptions is disgusting.