Caster Controversy: Male or Female, or Both?

THE first I got wind of some of the more troubling underlying ‘facts’ surrounding the Caster Controversy, was after a posting by the Dagga Party’s own Jeremy Acton. In a posting on social media, Acton argues that ‘Semenya’s XY chromosomes’ prove the athlete to be both a “man” and a “fraud in athletics”.

“I do not care that this view might upset anyone. It is my Section 15 right to have this opinion and my Section 16 right to express my viewpoint,” Acton added.

In the post, the leader of the Dagga Party stated that he only supports “real women’s rights”, adding that he wants Semenya to return all titles and earnings, and that “his” records should be declared null and void.”

While the net is full of opinion pieces, some comparing the IAAF investigation to treatment of Saartjie Baartman, they are invariably thin on substance, compared to the citations provided by Acton.

You can read Acton’s views in the Citizen article.

If one follows the links to the story provided on Letsrun.com, you will find the real dope on Caster written up by one Robert Johnson.

Letsrun is a longstanding site for “Olympic track and field fans” with athletic articles and popular message boards.

Johnson writes “its absolutely mind-boggling that virtually every major outlet in the world reporting the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruling yesterday has failed to mention one of the most important facts of the entire case.”

“Caster Semenya has XY chromosomes. It was generally accepted by people following the case closely that Semenya was XY, but now it’s been confirmed as fact since the CAS press release specifically says, “The DSD covered by the Regulations are limited to athletes with ’46 XY DSD’” (DSD = difference of sex development).

The scientific reality, if true, places Caster in the terrain of birth defects and other childhood deformities, instead of the terrain of femininity insofar as athletics is concerned. There is some speculation here as to the role of external, environmental factors at birth, such as exposure to dioxins by poor, under-serviced communities.

And there I was thinking that Caster was potentially intersexed, not simply sex reassignment at birth, and all this was a case of interpretation (see Against Interpretation by Susan Sontag).

On the other hand,  said D. Myron Genel, a professor emeritus of pediatrics at Yale University, believes “Semenya is a female with a birth defect, simple as that”. There is a good article on the crisis of definition in the Washington Post.

This contrarian view however elegant, doesn’t deal with the reality that Caster is technically, neither male nor female. It is not simply a case of testosterone, nor even transgender for that matter.

(Listen to this podcast on Eusebius McKaiser show, still focusing on hyperandrogenism and the test issue, but a good history of similar controversies).

It would seem that when it comes to the IAAF, biology most certainly overrules psychology (and even the advances of jurisprudence and socio-political rights) since while anyone may change legal gender these days, by identifying as either male or female, one has to be a genuine, ‘bone fide women’ in order to compete in athletics. Fair is fair after all.

Blur the gender boundary too much, and’all sports events become men’s events’, says sports scientist Dr Ross Tucker.

The rights of ‘real women’ according to this admittedly binary view, need to be taken into account, and it will take decades to unravel the truth behind the Caster saga, even if the period of s/he, and WoMans reign, much like the Zuma administration, was an interesting, and very public joy ride.

For the record, Medialternatives was one of the first outlets to champion Caster’s ‘right to be a women‘ in the face of scientific determinism.

What are your views on the subject, please use the comments section below.

 

Review: Between Rock & a hard place

IF YOU remember South Africa during the 1980s, then you probably were never there. Check out this review of Carsten Rasch’s semi-autobiographical work ‘Between Rock and a hard place’, written up by Michael Hardaker on Litnet. “This is a vital, tumbling, scrambling, breathless, profane, sweat-stained, music-infused, whisky-soaked, acid-tinged, dagga-scented, sometimes poignant, often side-splitting, speed-freak roller coaster ride through early 1980s South Africa,” says Hardaker.

At least that’s what he claims, and who really knows if Rasch just made up a character named Lew? Or contrived a literary work of imagination? The Latin word fictus means “to form” rather than to inform. All I can confirm is that like many of my generation, I was at the Harbour Cafe when James Philips played pool.

It’s the raw and honest beat culture that Media24 and Multichoice have been desperately trying to suppress, alongside the history of cannabis and jazz music. The case involving what jazz legend, Robbie said or didn’t say, is now in its 12th year, as I bring a review application exposing the corruption by the apartheid dirty tricks brigade.

While you’re busy smashing your DSTV decoder just like Steve Hofmeyr.  (See Steve Hofmeyr Syndrome) you can catch some banned alternative South African counter-culture online. Getting Afrikanerdom to implode by itself is what we were contemplating, all along.

Bask in the glory of James Philips, Radio Rats and the local punk scene.

Sorry Ms Butler, you don’t represent me

THE argument that Israel represents the ‘Jews of South Africa’, often made by members of the SAJBD is as fallacious as the equal assertion that BDS and its leadership represent the diversity of Jewish history and culture, in particular the legacy of Jewish activists during the freedom struggle.

A letter by a US academic Judith Butler written to UCT and published by the Mail & Guardian, ironically refers readers to a committed Zionist and treason trialist, Arthur Goldreich, alongside a liberal supporter of Israel sovereignty, Helen Suzman. This in order to embroider upon an evolving work of fiction — the false analogy between the ongoing struggle of the Palestinians and our own country’s struggle against apartheid.

Butler maintains, that “BDS draws on longstanding traditions, some of which were importantly developed in the context of the struggle against apartheid”. While the two struggles may appear similar in mode at the surface, there are significant and important divergences, differences which we disregard at our peril.

For starters, the South African struggle was an epic battle against colonialism and white domination in support of democracy and secularism. Activists such as myself were pitted against a white regime which was theocratic, undemocratic and avowedly Christian in outlook.

Butler goes on to write: “Let us not forget the large numbers of Jews who have fought in social justice struggles, including the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa (Joe Slovo, Arthur Goldreich, Ruth First, Albie Sachs, Helen Suzman), who contest the radical inequalities that form the basis of Israel’s claim of Jewish sovereignty and its claim to maintain Jewish demographic advantage at all costs.”

The claims made with regard to Goldreich and Helen Suzman are instructive and bear greater consideration. A piece published by Benjamin Pogrund for the Helen Suzman Foundation states: “Use of the apartheid label and repeated references to “genocide” against Palestinians and denunciations of Zionism as “racism” are at best ignorant and naïve and at worst cynical and manipulative.”

Unlike the South African struggle where Jews enjoyed leadership roles, and where persons such as Joe Slovo were in many respects over-represented than other minority groups, both Fatah and Hamas have failed miserably to include Jews in top positions.

Palestinian claims about the alleged “Jewish race” share more in common with the racist objectives and malicious aims of the puritans of the Nationalist Party than the alleged non-racialism of the ANC. To reiterate, nations are not races.

Unlike the Palestinian struggle which lacks any meaningful document such as the Freedom Charter setting out winnable aims and objectives, civil rights for all, the South African situation is rather different, and thus the recipe for achieving a negotiated outcome and peace settlement in our own country was founded upon a winning constitutional formula.

BDS have failed time and again to canvas the opinion of persons either referred to as ‘Jews’ or self-defined as Jewish, in a skewed solidarity politics that ignores the problem of Jewish identity. Butler is only able to espouse her own views because other views and Jewish voices have been silenced by the BDS politburo.

Though Butler’s misguided rhetoric on anti-semitism is to be welcomed, let’s be forthright and stop beating around the bush, anti-semitism is open hostility towards secular Jewish identity.

Attempting to provide a non-violent and anti-racist veneer to a religious struggle in which both sides are informed by religious texts in a battle over the final status of Jerusalem, avoids the open inquiry and evidence-based empirical research that needs to occur if we are understand the many dimensions to the problem.

As a person whose Jewish identity has become the subject of a racist legal inquisition in South Africa at the behest of the perpetrators of apartheid, I therefore do take exception to the banning of opinion and obliteration of independent voices outside of these two diametrically opposed camps, injustice vs injustice.

The experience of BDS campaigns within South Africa itself has not been a pleasant one.

​I can only commend UCT council for not caving into the zealots.​

It is not too late, nor out of the bounds of reason, to embrace a secularist and non-partisan ‘third way’, that avoids scapegoating of those who disagree with leaders and pundits on either side, and which avoids sacrificing democratic freedoms, freedom of speech, while protecting constitutional rights in our own country.

NOTE: For the record, DRL a graduate of UCT Center for African Studies, is opposed to the separation barrier, is in favour of a limited arms embargo against the State of Israel, and does not support any cultural or academic boycott targeting persons of Jewish descent on the basis of our alleged history and identity.

Published in part by Mail and Guardian 12/04/2019

Response by David Saks of SAJBD 18/04/2019

SEE: Ronnie’s Sermon from the Grand Masjid

SEE: Dear Steven Friedman

SEE: BDS Abolition of the Right to Dissent 

Lewis v Legal Aid South Africa

I have sought leave to appeal the judgement in a TRC-related matter concerning the right to legal representation, and a decision handed down by Acting Justice Martin. Needless to say I had to hand deliver the following document containing my grounds for leave to appeal, to the judge in chambers on floor 1 of the High Court. Walking past a long lineup of apartheid and colonial-era judges, their pictures still  hanging on the wall. The respondent, Legal Aid South Africa, has already served notice of intention to oppose on behalf of the executive of the country. Does Cyril Ramaphosa have a heart? Obviously not.

 

Copyright Amendment Act ‘discussion’

SOUTH AFRICA’s Copyright Act is stuck in the 1970s paradigm of ‘fair-dealing’, in this interview on Capetalk, it may appear that the main innovation here is fair-use. This discussion avoids the troubling issue of the failure of legislators to include permissive licensing schemes, which currently fail by default under the Amended legislation.

In terms of the amendment, there is no way to opt-out of the default copyright regime, and creators will not be able to ‘sign-away’ or gift their copyright in favour of permissive licensing, for example under the creative commons.

This is a significant failing in the new act and the last time I looked, the legislation erred in favour of large collection agencies and publishing houses such as Independent Group who feel entitled to publish without payment.

In effect we still in the old days of agencies collecting on behalf of creators who never receive a penny.

The debate also touches on the successful campaign to include resale royalties waged by persons such as myself.

Readers may be aware of a dispute in the visual arts world in this regard going back to the 90s and the resulting backlash by monied art-dealers.

Medialternatives has written about this issue here and here.

We’ll let you enjoy the audio

Refilwe speaks to Tusi Fokane Coordinator of ReCreate

 

Heartless NUMSA official claims cyclone which wiped out Beira is a lie

ON NATIONAL television, NUMSA official Phakamile Jola claimed that the cyclone which destroyed “90 percent” of Beira, a city of about a half-million people ‘was a lie’. Apparently, the resulting loss of power from the massive Cahora Bassa hydroelectric scheme which powers Gauteng, is merely a ruse by our government to promote privatization of Eskom.

Beira is Mozambique’s fourth largest and faces the Indian Ocean, while the inland Cahora Bassa scheme in Tete province was unfortunately in the path of the storm which also wreaked havoc in Malawi and Zimbabwe.

The power lines came down over the weekend, causing massive power outages in South Africa.

The shameful failure to get to grips with climate change and baseload energy dynamics comes at the expense not only of Mocambicans, but  the poor and unemployed of South Africa.

In an editorial, Zimbabwe’s state-run Herald newspaper said that climate change was responsible for the extreme weather, and that the country must brace itself for more. “Tropical Cyclone Idai brings vital lessons that climate change is now with us’.

Some 850 000 people are affected.

NUMSA continue in their legal challenge on behalf of well-heeled coal truckers in the country seemingly oblivious to the suffering caused by climate change, the result of emissions from mammoth coal-fired power-plants such as Medupe and Kusile.

While privatization may not be the only solution to Eskom’s woes, IPPs are certainly part of the necessary corrective to the state monopoly and its over-reliance on state-sponsored debt to drive expension.