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Friday, September 18, 2009

The right to invade Caster Semenya's Body

Angry Black Woman has a provocative blog entry on the invasive, speculative media take on the sexual genitalia of So. African runner Caster Semenya. (Read "Race, Gender, and the Oppressive Public Gaze") ABW compares it to the treatment accorded Sarah Bartman (the notorious case of the exploited "Hottentot Venus" of an earlier time). She's got a point. Caster just wanted to run, she's from a poor, isolated area, and she quite probably had no idea what she was getting into as her running career progressed--that strange white people would be probing her body, literally and in the media, and treating her as an inhuman specimen to be dissected and studied for our satisfaction and curiosity (oh, it's in "fairness"--how could I have forgotten?) Come on, folks, leave the poor girl alone--she didn't choose to be born with the body she has, but it is hers, and she shouldn't be made to feel inadequate or freakish, either. As the great (at least occasionally blatently racist) philosopher Elvis Costello says, "What's so funny 'bout peace, love, and understanding?"

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