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, unfortunately places Caster in the troubling terrain of birth defects and other childhood deformities, instead of traditional 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), see my earlier piece Caster Deconstructed.
On the other hand D. Myron Genel, a professor emeritus of pediatrics at Yale University, still 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.
IT WAS bound to happen. The bizarre situation in which two apartheid-era springboks were taken to task by a post-democracy Springbok, over racism, quotas and paternalism. Followed by the media spin driven by Multichoice Supersport whose holding company Naspers refuses to come clean over its role in promoting separate development, race classification and segregation during the apartheid-era.
Naspers the company which owns Multichoice, ducked the subpoena handed out by the TRC to its former-director PW Botha, refused to participate in the media hearings at the commission, rebuked a group of journalists attending in their private capacity, and instead has stuck to a version of history that is anything but an accurate and fair depiction of the times.
After effectively being found guilty of gross violations of human rights by the commission, and thus a report which records “a total lack of concern for the company’s support of the racist system” (Volume 4 of the Final TRC report), the company proceeded to deny the reality.
“I worked hard to earn my own respect in this game… so, I’m not going to be patronised by two individuals who played in apartheid – a segregated era – and come and want to undermine… people” said Ashwin Willemse after a match last month between the Lions and the Brumbies.`
The Supersport public relations machine immediately went into overdrive. Holding their own internal inquiry, the company casually announced yesterday that it had found that “there was no racism involved in Ashwin Willemse walking out from an on-air broadcast” in the process exonerating Nick Mallett and Naas Botha, two darlings of the apartheid regime.
Apparently SuperSport CEO Gideon Khobane maintains the group was cleared by Advocate Vincent Maleka, and thus presumably a member of the Bar. The result is anything but an open inquiry before an independent tribunal, and echoes similar statements by manager Ishmet Davidson, who claimed on air the entire group had been cleared by the TRC back in the early 90s.
Davidson’s 2015 comments followed a case-limited apology issued by Media24 CEO Esmarie Weideman citing only one instance in which a ‘coloured employee’ had experienced difficulties with separate facilities.
Talk about undermining the Truth. Willemse did not participate in the internal review for obvious reasons. The attempt to legitimize apartheid-denial by acting as sole arbiter of apartheid history, must be rejected for what it is, a total sham.
Willemse’s lawyer Nqobizitha Mlilo told SAFM radio host Tsepiso Makwetla on Wednesday morning that Willemse “did not see any value in participating with the process” because the rugby analyst had already expressed his views …”
“We expressed a view to Adv Maleka SC that he (Adv Maleka SC) was being used to sanitise and chlorinate failures by SuperSport to deal with a number of reported incidents of racism by the gentlemen in question‚”
DISCLOSURE: The writer is currently suing Naspers via the Equality Court and is awaiting the outcome of a case brought against Legal Aid South Africa in this regard.
THE ZUMA administration is the subject of a number of public embarrassments. All involve, maladministration, graft and the failure to abide by the rule of law. The latest comes with the release of a report into the 2012 Marikana massacre which led to the deaths of approximately 44 people, and more than 70 persons being injured.
The Farlam Commission appointed by president Zuma, predictably, whitewashes the administration’s involvement in the events which lead up to the massacre. Deputy-President, Cyril Ramaphosa, who was non-executive director of Lonmin, a significant shareholder in the company (through its shareholding structures), and a senior member of the ANC at the time, has been given a clean bill of health, so too the political structure and chain of command which lead directly to the massacre.
The release of the report comes days after scandals involving the failure to arrest Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir wanted by the International Criminal Court and international community for the Darfur Genocide, and just weeks after a FIFA bribery scandal involving Danny Jordaan and under-the-counter payments made in exchange for votes.
Only a month earlier, Police Minister Nathi Nhleko was telling the public that additions to the Zuma compound at Nkandla such as a swimming pool and amphitheatre, were all vital “security features”, for which the president “is therefore not liable to pay”.
The embarrassments are leading ordinary South Africans to ask whether it is perhaps time for Zuma to go?
South Africa under Msholozi, the clan name under which Zuma is also known, has seen a bloated cabinet, one of the biggest in the world, with a concomitant increase in departmental complexity, government red-tape and an out of control civil service, as the modus operandi of the country has moved from industrial output, to the aegis of big government, a nation which produces politicians instead of productivity.
Anyone following the debate over Eskom’s tariff increases, could be forgiven for thinking that South Africans exist to fund the energy parastatal and its emphasis on Soviet-style gigantism — two large fossil fuel projects and a failed R10 billion Pebble-bed Modular Reactor programme, and now the threat of a BRICS-lead trillion rand nuclear build, for which the country undoubtedly, has insufficient foreign reserves to foot the bill, when and if it arrives.
Eskom, despite having a monopoly mandate, increasingly finds itself unable to provide electricity. The simple logic of the market has proven to be an Achilles heel. The increase in the civil service has not countered the loss of jobs in the private sector.
That the economic master-plan of the ruling party, known as the National Development Plan, along with its shibboleth of central planning and anti-privatisation rhetoric, is beginning to unravel, can be seen in the failure of other parastatals to deliver. In short, Telkom sucks, as does SAA which exists on annual bail-outs. (There are some 120 such quasi-government entities)
20 years after the constituent assembly drafted the Constitution and Bill of Rights, ushering in a universal franchise and human rights, the country is paying lip-service to its contents, institutions such as the public protector are ignored. Likewise, the judiciary.
Under Zuma, a narrow ethnic nationalism has found itself at odds with the secular values established under previous governments. The president has cemented power, rolling out salary increases for “headmen” (what no women?) under a new dispensation which favours tribal authority at the expense of citizenship and the rights of the individual.
Thus the road to serfdom, instead of the great society of Nelson Mandela.
I wish to commend those in South Africa’s Muslim community who have chosen to commemorate an event which has particular resonance for Jews, both within and without our borders. We must never forget that communists, gypsies, homosexuals, disabled and the unfit, all died together in the Nazi extermination camps. No one group was singled out for special treatment, and all were exposed to the horrors on an equal footing.
As a person of Jewish descent who grew up in the aftermath of the war, and the unspeakable tragedy which was unleashed upon the world, I believe I am entitled to speak out when members of my own community choose to ignore what is universal about the Holocaust, or Shoah as it is also known. Indeed, never again, should be never again for all people.
The universalism of the moral and ethical issues presented by the Nazi extermination camps and the ideology of eugenics which underpinned race supremacist notions of superiority and inferiority in Germany as too in our own country, have a particular lesson for South Africans. It is therefore no coincidence that hearings into Holocaust denial continue apace in Cape Town, as we as a nation slowly begin to confront the twin issue of Apartheid denial, for example attempts to lay the blame for apartheid on an unrelated group instead of tackling the real perpetrators, the ideologues and generals, the propagandists and politicians.
As Africans we need to reach out to the victims and the survivors of these and other tragedies and we need to be cognizant that as we do so, we are witness to new atrocities, the raging wars in the North – both Mali and Sudan which threaten to unleash further killings. As I write this letter, there is word of renewed offenses against humanity as 20 000 Sudanese are reported to have been massacred in Darfur.
Ideologies of race hatred which lead to such terrible deeds, the killing fields of Rwanda, need to be exposed. Ideologies which preach that a particular soul is qualitatively different from other souls, or that one race should be advantaged to the disadvantage of another, these are the seeds of hatred.
I therefore thank you once again for standing up for universalism in particular and human rights for all.
David Robert Lewis
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