Are we really striving for equality or are we victimizing women?
By Ntsako Mlambo
This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 11 of VARSITY News.
The regulations under the World Athletics Guidelines were established in the year 2019. These regulations state that in particular cases and at the discretion of the officials, female athletes may need to take testosterone-reducing drugs to ensure fair and meaningful competition within female classifications. The regulations inform some kind of judgement and questioning of sex and gender identity of a female athlete.
Testosterone is a hormone produced by the human body, and it is natural to have it exist in both women and men, but what isn’t natural is to have it reduced and lowered. The inner workings of an individual’s body should not be policed or made public. They instead should remain private. In no way do we have the right to invade someone’s body, and it does not belong to the world and it should not be open for fret opinions; the body is a personal vessel.
Our very own Mokgadi Caster Semenya is a phenomenal woman who has participated in many athletic events all over the world. She has truly raised the South African flag to the sky with her continuous hard work and fighting spirit, but every year she is undoubtedly questioned on whether she is really a woman and reduced to an object for scientists to toy around with. In recent news, the Switzerland supreme court dismissed the appeal of Olympic champion, against a Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruling last year. The CAS had ruled that Semenya would have to take testosterone-reducing drugs in order to compete professionally. Semenya has been denied the right to fight for social justice and has been stripped of her human rights. Caster Semenya gained global attention back in 2009 for her outstanding talent in athletics; since then her gender has been a conversation at the table; which should not be the case.
Whether she has high testosterone levels or not, she should still be allowed to compete and not be objectified, as running has become her way of life. Many other black women in sports have been faced with similar challenges as Caster Semenya. Burundian Olympic runner Francine Niyonsaba has faced discrimination and disqualification because of her naturally high testosterone levels; similar circumstances of discrimination and disqualification have also been faced by Margaret Wambui, another acclaimed Olympic runner.
You cannot change these women. Their sole purpose is just to do what they love, not to be abused. If we are going to use science to justify the objectification of black women then I think we have lost all humanity and morality. I would like to pose these questions to you:
- If Caster Semenya, Francine Niyonsaba and Margaret Wambui were not dominating the athletic tracks and winning so much, would their gender remain a topic? Would their testosterone levels even have to be ‘regulated’?
- Does the idea of a black woman winning threaten the vilification of the African people by the West, and does it threaten patriarchy and racism all together?
- Do male athletes also have to take testosterone-altering drugs to ensure fair and meaningful competition within male classification? Or is it seen as good competition? And if so, why can’t it be the same for women?
- Has the world advanced in its ruthlessness towards black women by wearing a facade and hiding behind science?
- Since the days of Saartjie Baartman, black women have continued to suffer from being misinformed about their bodies and minds. When will this harassment stop?
The policing of a woman’s body needs to stop, a woman should not have to be abused because of how her body functions. Doing so, breeds inequality. Inequality breeds misunderstanding. Misunderstanding breeds chaos and, sooner or later, the world will turn into ashes.
This section of VARSITY is a vehicle for expression on any topic by members of the UCT community. The opinions within this section are not necessarily those of the VARSITY collective or its advertisers.