The MSM Gets Hip To Gender Variance

  • The service having id "propeller" is missing, reactivate its module or save again the list of services.
  • The service having id "buzz" is missing, reactivate its module or save again the list of services.
The MSM Gets Hip To Gender Variance

I'm sure you've all heard obscenely offensive comments on the street and cringe-inducing talk around the water cooler about gold medalist Caster Semenya of South Africa. She's being forced to undergo sex-determination testing because of questions about her eligibility to race as a woman. Well, things just got really exciting as someone finally steps up to plate and puts the smack-down on the gender binary! Get ready for a breathe of fresh air as Dave Zirin, sports writer for The Nation (who knew they even had a sports writer?) provides an analysis on MSNBC that is one of the most progressive things I've ever seen on mainstream television.


Comments [55]

skate's picture

I don't think sports should

I don't think sports should be split up by gender.

deedee's picture

I bet

If you take any regular Joe right off the street and put him on a track with any one of the athlete woman on this track team ,they would beat the pants off him .There is NOWAY a man that has never ran a race around a track and has never trained can beat any of those woman.So all this crap a man can beat a woman in anything that is bull.

LongBeachDogLover's picture

I don't believe that anyone has inferred such a thing......

But, I could be wrong.... The comparisons come into play with - equally trained professional athletes. Otherwise it's a rather ridicules analogy. No one is comparing a pot bellied, male, beer swilling couch potato, to a world class female athlete. 



deedee's picture


I got you now.I thought you all were talking about just in general..Sorry

LongBeachDogLover's picture

Hi deedee.......

Don't apologize. It's all good.   Smile


Joanne Robertson's picture

WOW - I love that Dave guy!

I think if they insist on inflicting embarrassing tests on this human being, they should gender test all the top athletes ... They could be very surprised by what they found!  'The numbers' for intersex, trans, chromosome 'differences', cannot be anywhere near accurate.

No one has mentioned the physiques of the runners behind her!  Her fellow athletes (who called her a man) also don't fit stereotypical idea of 'female'.

The question becomes:  What do they do with these athletes who don't fit the male/female criteria? ... Special Olympics? (sarcasm).

Not2Taem's picture

Equal treatment

You nailed that one: Test them all. And I mean all who are competing as men as well as all who are competing as women. If you are going to subject on individual to this crap, then make it unanimous.

Lake's picture

That was my...

question of the day.....What are they going to do with all these great athletes??????    This young woman has so much natural talent and has worked so hard......they may have just taken away one of the greatest athletes we may have seen.   She is so young to have to go through all this media's nasty.    I'm so disappointed in the other athletes that ran against her.....I understand being competitive....however being a human being should always come first!  The other women should have rose above all of the media hype and not commented at all!!!  


LongBeachDogLover's picture

Good question Erin....

How about none. Oh, maybe - Roller Derby !!

Is that an Olympic sport?   Smile

Not2Taem's picture

You'd get a gold star... er, medal!

It should be! I want to see you in the first competition. In that tight little number the car wash gal was wearing back in the good ol' days of post enhancing photo capability.  Wink

itty's picture

Oh Yeah...

Let's hear it for 'tight' little numbers!!!!


Not2Taem's picture

Table tennis?

Archery, anything with a rifle, pommel horse (though it might just be that I think that would be nice to watch), ice skating... ? I think the assumption that men always beat women in everything is probably largely a self fulfilling prophecy. We are taught that we cannot be as strong and fast as them.

Fastgurrrl's picture

Re: "We are taught we cannot be as strong and fast as them."

We can be competitive against and beat men racing motorcycles.


Not2Taem's picture

That's right!

Didn't they add motocross? Or were they just thinking about it? I think they need to put skateboarding in next. Snowboarding? Ski jumping?

Fastgurrrl's picture

Re: That's right!

Add it to what darlin'?

Not2Taem's picture

I'm thinking big

The Olympics.

LongBeachDogLover's picture

It's nature Tae....

Generally speaking, a man can easily beat a woman at a contest of physical endurance and strength. Now, I'm speaking of a man and woman with the similar training, etc. I may be a feminist and a lesbian, but I'm not someone who believes that men and women are physical equals.... and, we aren't meant to be. It certainly doesn't mean that one gender is better than another - just different.

That's only my opinion. 


minniesota's picture

My wish

I wish we could separate out many types of sports competitions according to physical strength and endurance, not gender. That way, those of particular physical types can against each other can compete, such as in golf.

Age also has something to do with it too. It used to really piss me off when I was kid when they made me play with "girls" when obviously, I was fine competing with "boys" until a particular kept growing and I did not. It was just society's rule that I had to be with girls in competition then. Okay, I'm still really pissed about that.

Anyone want to wrestle?

Still searching for the right brainy quote.

Not2Taem's picture


It's the little wiry ones you have to look out for.  Big smile

I never played organized sports, but the boys always picked me first for baseball in neighborhood games.

LongBeachDogLover's picture

I understand what you mean...

And, I'm sure that there are a ton of people with their own reasons for feeling the way that they do....

What I would like to see is women's sports given equal parity to men's sports. I'm speaking in terms of commercial endorsements, college scholarships, professional respect, the basic things that young boys can work towards if they show athletic promise when they're young. Young boys have the ability to set and maintain goals for themselves, whereas young girls really are at a severe disadvantage, regardless of their talent.

However, those issues that I just listed, IMO, have more to do with the publics perception of the value of female athletes. And at this point, it's fairly dismal for a professional female athlete.

To think that a 'Michael Vick' type of guy, is automatically handed respect and millions - even though he is a convicted felon, says volumes about the 'professional' sports organizations in this country. It's about brawn and the perception of strength. Women will never be able to compete with that mentality....


Fastgurrrl's picture

Re: I understand what you mean...


Rusty's picture

and then some

Gloria Steinem once jokingly wrote that if men menstruated they would brag about how long, heavy, & consistent their flow was. I will add that it would also be an Olympic sport.

I don't think it's a shock that through the years decisions about what constituted superior performance in a sport also happened to be the things that most men do better than most women — measured in how fast, how far, how high, how long, & how strong.

There are events that don't involve strength such as target shooting. And there's no reason men and women shouldn't compete against each other in shooting events. I learned in the Army that women shoot as well as men.

There are some physical activities that women do better than men. Men may march, walk, or run faster but women can go further. Of course, that's not an Olympic event.

Here's another example. In the Army, we were rated on taking out a bunker. You and your buddy maneuver down a course hiding behind walls, piles of rocks, etc to avoid enemy fire. You are both firing live ammunition. When you reach the end of the course, you toss a dummy grenade in a bunker. It was a timed event.

Here's what the Army found out. Men generally got to cover quicker than women; but the women consistently picked the better cover. For example, men might hide behind a pile of leaves on the ground or a skinny tree but women would duck behind a low brick wall. Well, if this was an Olympic event does anyone have any doubt how that event would be judged?

"When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will." ~ Pollyanna

Fastgurrrl's picture

Right on Rusty!

I hope this isn't too crass, but I used to joke with buddys at the track that at least they didn't have to worry about making a tampon pit stop. I mean on top of all the other stressors that we all dealt with, I was bleeding sometimes!


CA_Medicine_Woman's picture


And me down here in Georgia when such an invitation goes out, damn!


LongBeachDogLover's picture

I see the reasoning...

I know that this will not be a popular thing to say, but I get it. I do understand that in the competitive world of 'gender based' sports, and whether we like it or not - traditional 'male and female' matters...

One of the reasons that I feel this way is the idea of 'exceptions'. There should be no exceptions in 'gender based' sports. An 'equal' start to any race is imperative to all competitors, particularly when fractions of a second count.

As inclusive as we all wish the world was, it will never be inclusive in every arena... And, regardless of our own personal feelings about gender identity, the world will never accept each and every 'variance', particularly in the area of 'gender based' competition. When any individual requires dispensation from a rule or regulation, then the questions arises as to when the exemptions stop....and, who decides.

If nothing else, I certainly hope that if this young woman is intersexed, that it helps to educate people about intersexed individuals. However, I don't believe that inclusion will happen. It opens too many doors to exceptions....and, exceptions will destroy the basic fairness of 'gender based' competitive sports.

I'm not an expert, so I haven't got a clue if an intersexed individual would have an advantage....but, if that is the case, then the argument appears to be a genuine one.

That's just my thoughts. 



CA_Medicine_Woman's picture

Welcome to the club

I'm not sure what the solution to the issue is either.  I did read the standards posted by someone else regarding the olympics, and they seem pretty reasonable, although I do wonder at the double standard of women having to prove they're women, but men don't have to prove they're men.

As for myself, despite being somewhat active in co-ed sports in high school, I learned a lesson from the experience of Renee Richards, who was outed as a transwoman during a tennis tournament (she had previously competed as a man at the pro level).  Her life was ruined by the resulting publicity for years.  The thought of any sports involvement, even just for fun amongst friends, has since terrified me as a result.  To this day I refuse to participate in competitive sports.

Tex's picture

You've got a viable point...

for gender based anything. The problem is going to be in the methods of determination. This entire gender unheaval brings to mind race issues - now, we all know race issues are not gender issues, but the procedures/laws for determination of race are just as disturbing. I know you understand and feel the sting of that one.

The IOC is going to have to determine what guidelines will decide gender - gonna have to sort out the X's and Y's!

Twitter Time @kdhales

LongBeachDogLover's picture

It seems like the reasonable thing to do....

And, I'm sure that all won't agree with the rulings. Some may find it too restrictive, and some may find it too liberal. But, somewhere a line needs to be drawn.... 

MAX TARDCORE's picture

Dave Zirin, sports writer for

Dave Zirin, sports writer for The Nation (who knew they even had a sports writer?)

Since I found out The Daily Worker has personals listings, nothing has surprised me.


Rusty's picture

Kudos all around

Thanks for posting this. I don't think Dave Zirin could have done any better job explaning this "story". He got the facts right and went further to explore the roots of the bias. And good job David Shuster and MSNBC for putting him on the air.

I agree with the posters who expressed hope that this doesn't scar Ms. Semenya. What a crappy thing to have to go through.

"When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will." ~ Pollyanna

Bardine's picture

Caster Semenya

Eventually someone on the other side of the world realised that this magnificent athlete did not drop out of space on the track in Berlin. Surely she must have had prior exposure to competitions and competing. Well yeah, she had, She took part as a junior in championships, set junior world records and was frowned upon then too. Sadly even in her own country she was doubted by her own and everytime a few people ended up with egg on their faces! But really people, do you think that the governing body of athletics in South Africa would have included her in their team if they were not sure about her gender? SA is often the "Skunk" of the First World, but surely we are not THAT stupid! And the poor people out there that now also want to mix racism into this already over-cooked dish, get over yourselves or come to South Africa and see how we are working everyday on all levels of society to overcome the one thing that has been a divider for too long! Viva, Caster! Viva, South Africa!

CA_Medicine_Woman's picture


Okay, the media is doing an okay job with using this issue to explain to people that anatomical gender isn't quite as binary as they once thought.

But, the story still implies that somehow Semenya is not a "normal" female, in the stereotypical patriarchal sense.  There is also the thinly veiled implication that somehow men are always better than women in sports, which time and again has been proven false, many times.

I still remember what happened to FloJo, and how she was forced to retire from sports because of bigotry directed at women of African ancestry.  I can't help but see the same ugly racism at work here as well.

LongBeachDogLover's picture

CMW, I don't understand.....

"I still remember what happened to FloJo, and how she was forced to retire from sports because of bigotry directed at women of African ancestry."

Where did race come into play with Flo Jo?  What am I missing..... wasn't she on steroids, or some type of banned 'enhancement' products? 


CA_Medicine_Woman's picture

Steroid usage was assumed...

... but never proven.  Many of the white athletes at the time commented openly in the media about how a black athlete could not possibly beat them without some sort of drug assistance.  That rumor was rivived when FloJo died, and the media found a former New Zealand competitor of Flo Jo's, who said something to the effect that FloJo was black, from SoCal, and "we all know what that means," implying that she must have died from drugs.

I remebered this one because I found it unusual for a woman my age, and in far better shape than I ever was or would be, to die that young, and was disgusted by how the media in SoCal subsequently trashed her and negated her accomplishments.

LongBeachDogLover's picture


double post

Robin Rigby's picture

I don't follow sports so I

I don't follow sports so I hadn't heard this story before and haven't seen any pics of Caster before now.  But I'm looking at that picture on the front page and I'm thinking- Okay, she's got a six pack and no breasts but that would be common for an elite athlete with very low body fat.  But then I look at her face and it looks decidedly female to me.  Which then makes me even more disgusted by this whole story because they can't even pretend that there's a basis for these accusations.  Asshats.

Tex's picture

Dave Zarin rocks!

What a guy! All the other sports writers and commentators were reporting this story so nonchalantly - with a sort of smugness actually - like, you know, surely she can't be that good unless she's a man!

Edit: One in 1600 American's are intersexed! More intersexed than Jews! Those statements just sunk in! That means that there are a lot of folks out there that are not who they are professing to be - or not living who they profess to be. The many not accepting us - not allowing us to be equal - deeeep rooted fears! There are a bunch more closed closets out there.....It's not us they're afraid of, it's themselves! Shhhhhhhhh!


Twitter Time @kdhales

CA_Medicine_Woman's picture

Just noticed something...

I'm both a Jew and intersex.  Frack, I'm totally screwed now!

Not2Taem's picture


La chiam!   :) 

That is probably spelled wrong, but I think you'll get it.

Not2Taem's picture

Also many unidentified


I'm not sure where this number came from, but for a long time now I have realized that there are must be a great many folks out there who don't even know they are intersex. I tend to think that this number includes a lot of them. I also know several folks who will only disclose in what they perceive to be a safe environments, as well as 2 who have come out and wish they could undo that decision, because of the bullying that not only they, but their children now have to endure. I think it would be a world changing event if everyone on the planet came out on the same day. But I would never fault anyone for the choice to keep their identification private.

Tex's picture


But, with those numbers, if indeed those numbers are accurate, there are a lot more people out there besides our 5% that should be sympathetic to the cause. If they are not, then it has to be for fear's sake - fear of reprisal whether public or private. Voting is a private thing - they can call me purple, but when they get in that voting booth they should vote their heart!

Oh, are you seeing the two Lone Stars? Just for you, babe!

Twitter Time @kdhales

Not2Taem's picture


You know me so well.  Laughing out loud

CA_Medicine_Woman's picture

No, it's the hyper-religious...

... that keep many of us in the closet.

Of course, I'm out, but then again I have 9 years of very expensive military training to protect myself with, lol.  Besides, I'm too old and have too much baggage to fit back into the closet with.

Julia Watson's picture


A little in love with Dave Zirin right now.

Not2Taem's picture

What are we really stripping away here?

if the investigation proves Semenya is not a woman, she would be stripped of the gold and the other medalists elevated.

A lot more has already been stripped away from this young person. How do they justify a loss of dignity and privacy to satisfy some outdated concept of gender? How do they justify the emotional conflict that is being forced on this individual, when there is no evidence that she has previously had any question of this issue in her own mind and heart. Not to mention the significant personal risk this may pose to her safety in many communities.

It disturbs me greatly that Semenya is having to go through this. However, I do think it is time for the sports community to face this issue openly and with some common sense. We cannot reasonably continue to think of gender as a binary construct. Nor can we in good conscience exclude those who do not fall into the neat little categories that most of us were raised to recognize.

I just hope something useful comes out of this mess, and I pray that Semenya comes out of it without too much scarring.

minniesota's picture

Breaking down the binary

"In the 21st Century, it's more complicated than that." [that you are a man or a woman]

Thanks for saying that, Dave Zarin, sports writer.

Still searching for the right brainy quote.

lmz's picture

it has always been much more

it has always been much more complicated than that.

Ancient Greeks ran .. naked so they thought everybody could check out gender of competitors.

We are int he 21st century and things have changed. I found this document on the web page of the IAAF.

chapter 13 - last two pages.

i hope news paper men and women will read that document and most of all explain it to their audience.

Not2Taem's picture


Is anyone else bothered by the fact that no one is concerned about the possibility of a woman passing herslef off as a man?

lmz, do you have a link on your Greek info? I am unfamiliar with that particular take on it.

lmz's picture

women and athletic games in ancient Greee

They couldn't compete with men and they even couldn't attend competitions.There were competitions for men and competitions for women (dedicated to Hera, goddess of married women) strictly separated. Boys and men could ran naked and barefoot where women ran barefoot but partly clothed. Nudity was the way to exclude women from this male misogynist world.

see also Atalante myth:

Hermaprodism in ancient Greece was a crime punished by death penalty.

Erin Blackwell's picture

once you realize these games,

once you realize these games, maybe *all* games except love, are designed by men for men to excel at... you get over??? the frustration of not beating men at them.