Caster Semenya's Chromosomes: None Of Our Business

Everyone and their sister in the progressive blogosphere has posted about the fucked-up way the International Association of Athletics Federation is treating Caster Semenya. Short recap, if you haven't heard: Caster Semenya is an 18-yr-old runner from South Africa, who just took the gold in the 800m at this year's World Championships in Athletics. Her time was so impressive, and she herself so lacking in our normative ideas of "appropriate" femininity, that the IAAF decided to force her to undergo gender testing on the suspicion that she isn't "really" a woman. For a more thorough explanation of just why this is fucked-up, try here, here, or here (read the comments, that's where the gold is).

Now, there is a petition going about taking IAAF to task for their shameful treatment of Semenya. Tell the IAAF to stay out of Caster Semenya's pants!

Remember Tranny-Alert, and how fast they scuttled away before the righteous blaze of our progressive fury? Let's do that again, shall we? Add your name. Tell the IAAF it's not ok to demand gender-testing of Caster Semenya.

Wednesday WTF: Snapshots in WTF from a weekend at the cabin

I'm going to do something a little different for this week's Wednesday WTF.

This weekend past, I was invited to join a group of friends and family in going up to their cabin in the mountains. It's very isolated, requiring about 20 miles on a dirt logging road to even get to the nearest town, and then another mile or two on what amounts to a trail better suited for horses and pack-mules than cars. I, my mother, and my younger brother joined our friends Don and Cindra to drive up. At the cabin we met Don's father, Earl, who had built the cabin back in the 60's, his best friend Dwayne, and Earl's girlfriend Cathy.

Mamana had warned me ahead of time about Earl and Cathy and Dwayne. They are very traditional in their thinking, she'd said. The men do Important Outdoor Things and the women sit around playing dice and cooking for the men. The older group are sexist, racist, and homophobic, she told me, and I needed to be prepared to deal with that.

She wasn't wrong. So I present: Snapshots in WTF from my weekend at the cabin!

Afternoon, Day 1: Cathy, sloshed on two Bloody Marys and three vodka/waters, leans close to me during a political discussion and says, "I voted for Obama. But I have to tell you, I just don't like n-----s." When I look at her, stunned, she says, "Oh, it's just my generation." I'm too startled at the outright admission of racism to say anything, and the conversation moves on without me.

Evening, Day 1: Earl and Don are teasing my brother about getting into physical fights with a woman (in the hypothetical). Earl says, "If you win, you haven't proved anything, cause all you did was beat a girl. But if she beats you, you're humiliated for life!" I shake my head, close my book, get up and walk toward the cabin to go hang out with the women in the kitchen. Don thinks this is funny, and calls toward my retreating back, "Right, J?" I pause and shoot him a dirty look, then go inside. I can't think of anything to say that won't get me in trouble. In the kitchen, Mamana takes one look at my face and says "How bad are they being?" I say, "Bad enough." I am no help in the kitchen, and we both know it, but I'd rather stay in with the women where the explicit sexism won't be so rife.

After dinner, Day 1: The women start clearing the table while the men sit and talk. Earl starts telling some hi-fucking-larious story about having dinner with a woman who asked his help with the dishes: "I told her, I'll throw them out the window and buy you a new set first!" He finishes by giving a Very Serious Pronouncement that, "I'll do my own dishes if it's just me. But if there's a woman around at all, I don't touch them." Because all women = self-motile dishwashing appliances. I hiss between my teeth and shoot a dark look at Mamana; she shakes her head. It's Earl's cabin, and he's the patriarch here. I can't challenge him.

Night, Day 2: After a particularly lucrative game of dice, Cathy folds her increasing stack of dollar bills into a thick wad. She waves it over her head and exclaims, "Look, I've got a n----- bankroll!" I look incredulously at her. She says, "What, haven't you ever heard the term before?" I reply coldly, "No. I don't normally hang out with the kind of person who uses that word, you see." My patience is wearing thin, but I am still a guest here and don't have the standing to be any more outspoken about it.

Dinner, Day 3: During a discussion of older actors, Rock Hudson, closeted gay actor who died of AIDS in the 80's, comes up. Earl decides to share another hi-fucking-larious piece of wit:
Ashes to ashes
Dust to dust
If he had liked girls
He'd still be with us!

Thankfully, I didn't actually hear most of that at the time, just the last couple words. I asked my brother about it after the fact and got the rest. If I'd heard it at the time, I don't think I could have managed to keep myself from flipping the fuck out at him. As I wrote in my notebook that evening: "Hah, hah, fucking hah. Cause AIDS is totez about being gay, and people dying of an incurable disease is comedy gold!!!" Who the fuck makes a goddamn JOKE about that shit? *incoherent noises of rage*

If that isn't enough for a Wednesday WTF, I don't know what is. Next week will resume the usual WTFery of the world, I just had to vent my personal WTFery this time around. Ah, it's good to be home, with access to the feminist blogosphere and reality-based discourse once more.

Words Mean Things

Words Mean Things.

This is a phrase that comes to mind with increasing regularity these days. It seems to me that certain unscrupulous people like to play games with words, to make them mean things they do not actually mean. I am going, therefore, to start tracking these incidents, in order to remind people that words do, in fact, mean things. And that perhaps they should be more careful in how they use those words to mean things.

Let's start with feminism. In the comments at Liss' reprint of The Terrible Bargain (which, by the way, is the most stunningly brilliant bit of writing I have ever read. Read it now.) at CiFA, some idiot said:

For example, if a woman driver cuts me up, I might think, 'Stupid bitch!' in anger. This is clearly a gendered insult -- but I don't think it's misogynistic. I consider myself a feminist and still use these terms.

Um. Really? Dear commenter, let me introduce you to feminism, wherein it is not acceptable to use gendered insults, even in anger. You acknowledge that "bitch" is a gendered insult, but you see nothing wrong with using it and still calling yourself a feminist? Feminism: you do not haz it.

In case your enlightened feminist brain cannot think of a single alternative to shout at a woman who's upset you on the road, let me supply some ideas: Stupid fucker! Fucking asshole! Shithead! Idiot meatwad! Mindless fuckwit!

Now that you have these alternatives, I invite you to continue upon your merry way, and either mend your gendered-insult habits or stop calling yourself a feminist. Because Words Mean Things, and for so long as you're willing to use gendered insults, you are not a feminist.


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