In what will probably be my last post of the Olympics (will be spending this weekend at family celebrations, rather than fuming over the marginalisation of some group or other), I want to look at the most marginal of marginal figures.
First off, an admission: I've used Caster Semenya. No, not like that; the above image has been a favourite starting-point of mine for introducing undergraduate classes to ideas about race and gender, usually in a book like Jackie Kay's brilliant novel, Trumpet:
(If you haven't read it, STOP READING THIS BLOGGING RUBBISH RIGHT NOW and go and get hold of a copy. Seriously.)
Semenya seems a lovely, down-to-earth, genuine (to use three fairly interchangeable adjectives) person. Oh, and the favourite for the WOMEN'S 800m. That's right, the women's race. Who cares if she has a bit more testosterone than the average woman? Michael Phelps has significantly bigger feet and lung capacity than the average man, but I don't see anyone accusing him of being part-fish.
Which leads me to my point: when people get irate about a perceived unfairness in sport, it's generally racially 'other' individuals who are taken to task. So this isn't a question about Semenya's gender, at all: it's an uneasiness (see Edward Said) rooted in her race.
As one final example, take a look at this Daily Mail article on so-called 'plastic Brits', who switched nationality to join the GB team. Not entirely coincidentally, there's mention of any male, white athletes: all three 'examples' (and they are ridiculous, justifying those inverted commas: both Shana Cox's parents and one of Tiffany Ofill-Porter's are British) are, surprise-surprise, black women. Again, it all comes down to race.