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Fast Woman

May 12, 2019
During Swansea’s fabulous Pride celebration of gender freedom last week I couldn’t help thinking of Castor Semenya and the dilemma she faces. (I here declare an interest in womens’ sport being an ex -student of Loughborough). This incredible South African athlete hails from a village in South Africa and has surmounted impossible odds to become the fastest woman in the world! Not having access to Castor in person, I watched a couple of videos of her winning and did some sketches and impressions.

Caster2

She is now being pressured to take testosterone-reducing drugs before she can race in 800 metres/ mile events because she is classed as having DSD (Differences of Sexual Development). She lost her appeal at CAB (Court of Arbitration for Sport) recently and Sebastian Coe head of IAAF International Association of Athletics Federation) has commented:
Athletics has two classifications: it has age, it has gender. We are fiercely protective about both. And I am really grateful the court of arbitration for sport has upheld that principle.”
This is grossly unfair and – when applied as it is to the shorter distances only- stupidly random and probably biologically racist. How strange that male athletes with low testosterone are allowed to take supplements courtesy of the Anti-Doping Agency yet female athletes with hyperandrogenism’ are expected to take drugs to reduce testosterone.
 Hang on though, let’s not forget that we have all used the contraceptive pill -to ensure mesnstrual  periods do not stop us from doing things…. Moreover, women athletes have historically been subjected to much more scrutiny than male athletes and had their natural attributes criticised and questioned.

Castor sketch

Talking of which, back at Loughborough I remember watching Sebastian Coe running (yes dear reader I’m afraid I was in the same year as him)in a ‘friendly’ against Steve Ovett et al  and being amazed at his ‘feminine’ physique combined with high aggression. He had the pointiest elbows in the race and was quite happy to push people out of his way to win.
Castor’s natural speed and ability should be left alone. We need to allow women their natural advantages and not judge them if they don’t look like Barbie dolls; after all, Seb Coe had his, including his white male and er, rich, privilege.
Excuse me, I feel a woodcut coming on…..

 

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4 Comments
  1. Well said Patti. This incredible woman has been hounded because of her natural ability to produce significantly high levels of testosterone, she is still a biological woman and we must allow her the capacity to compete with other females.

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  2. Interestingly, the prof from St Thomas’s (Peter Sonsken) has pointed out that these so called ‘high levels’ of testosterone are not always usable by the female athlete, i.e. Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome.

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  3. great drawings and comment

    Like

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