For this guy, I’ll make an exception

I don’t generally think that footballers (particularly those of the NRL variety) make good role models. But standing up for yourself and for your family, against systemic racism and against one of the League’s most charismatic personalities – well I rate that.

I suspect – as we have seen before when high profile people get named (such as his brother, who could forget that episode?) – that Andrew Johns will be a symbolic scapegoat for systemic attitudes that he alone is not responsible for. So he’ll be scrapped from his job, hidden out from the public eye (or maybe not), and later, months down the track when people forget exactly what he said he’ll reappear (like his brother and that god awful show) unchanged, and unrepentant.

But in the meantime, let’s not forget that Timana Tahu, stood up, and walked away from, the racist bullying tactics of not his enemies, but his friends.

One thing that irks me though, is that the NRL hierarchy seems to find it easy to disavow racism and make it clear that its not acceptable. If only they could be that intolerant (heck I’d settle for even recognition) of sexism and misogyny.

“Excuse me Miss, but are you a ‘real’ woman?”…

…”Can you please step this way so that we can test your sex?”

Quick History Lesson

In the 1936 Olympic Games Dora Ratjen, a german athlete, came a respectable fourth place in the women’s high jump. In 1956 Dora revealed that she was really Hermann Ratjen- a man forced to complete as a women by the Nazis.

From the 1960’s women athletes at Olympic Games have been subjected to tests to prove that they are in fact women as it was believed that the Soviets would attempt to pass male athletes off as women in order to win extra medals. Initially women athletes had to parade naked before a panel in order to prove their sex, but from 1968 this procedure was replaced with chromosomal testing. Using this method no males purporting to be females were uncovered but rather some women’s previously undetected chromosomal abnormalities were found.

Beijing Olympics

Anyway the NYT has run the story today as a lab is being set up in Beijing to in order to do the more modern version of the sex verification test — athletes are now evaluated by an endocrinologist, gynecologist, a geneticist and a psychologist.

Here are some quick thoughts on the matter. It just goes to show that sex and gender are a) not a simple matter, b) still being policed with the most sophisticated and up to date science and rhetoric of the day, c) Once again, women, and their bodies, are at the centre of the dispute as both the battle ground and the testing ground.

100 days to go

So it’s 100 days to go the Olympics in China and they are celebrating.

Here at the vege patch I’ll be boycotting the whole thing. Besides the fact that the vege patch doesn’t have cable, the Radical Radish feels that politics and sport do mix and she doesn’t like the internal displacement (and more) happening to the Chinese people, (not to mention the Tibetan people). It makes the homeless being moved out of Sydney for our go at the games look like a stroll in the Park. Here is Senator Andrew Bartlett‘s take on the matter.