Hmm… I didn’t say anything about White male privilege. Perhaps you misunderstood my White/Black comment to be racial. I simply meant that as a euphamism for either/or — and to indicate that hardly anything is all one polar point or another. Most things are a blend and therefore some kind of grey. There is no strict gender binary. Something like one out of every 2K children are born intersex. That’s not even factoring in people who are transgender. So maybe we need a women’s race, a men’s race, and an open race where anyone can compete.

If we are talking about society as a whole rather than sports, I’ll say that being born into a demographic that tends to top out the dominance hierarchy pyramid is an advantage that is an accident of birth. It only becomes an issue when one begins to perform dominance of others as a way to maintain position in that hierarchy. There are plenty of places where hierarchy of achievement is entirely appropriate (including sports). But most of patriarchal hierarchy is not about achievement. In fact, a lot of time and effort (and prior laws) have gone into keeping other people from having the opportunity to compete at all. For example, most law firms would not hire women (or Blacks) until well into the 1970s. They didn’t care whether or not they had the education or smarts to make it — they just didn’t want them. That’s domination hierarchy.

And, in this instance, they still haven’t proven that Semenya has a definitive advantage related to her non-standard gender. It may well be her training, nutrition, and other innate factors that make Semenya so dominant. And since forcing her to take hormones in order to compete may come with side effects, and may also not even be effective enough, they’d better think of some other way to deal with this. Semenya is hugely popular in South Africa, and it is being taken as a slight against the country and not just against her that she’s been banned. Clinging to either/or scenarios just isn’t going to cut it in the modern age.

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Dispelling cultural myths with research-driven stories. My favorite word is “specious.” Not fragile like a flower; fragile like a bomb! Twitter @ElleBeau

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