Douchebag Decree: Who covered Caster Semenya the worst?

South African runner Caster Semenya has been making international news for a week or so now, and this week’s Douchebag Decree is honor of those news outlets and blogs that have handled the blown-out-of-proportion debate over Semenya’s gender the worst. It turns out that not only are pundits and bloggers jerks about Semenya herself, but have some other unfortunate sexist hangups as well. Let’s see what this gang of douchebags had to say, featuring supplemental douchey content the comments from the original posts and a Douchebag Decree honorable mention!

Exhibit A:
Bill O’Reilly and Megyn Kelly, The O’Reilly Factor.

Thanks to tipster Sara from Romania!

After reviewing a clip of Semenya running, Kelly explains to old man O’Reilly just what all this hullabaloo is about anyway!

MK: Look at how far ahead she is! IS SHE A MAN OR A WOMAN?
BO: Well she says she’s a woman!
MK: Now you would think that they would apply the test we all used in third grade!
BO: And what test is that?
MK: You know, the old I’ll show you mine if you show me yours!

It is indeed back to third grade for this ignorant assumption and the uninformed dialog that follows. Between O’Reilly’s patronizing tone (“The visual [test] did not come to a conclusion, so there’s something biologic. And you can do that these days Kelly, did you know that?”) and Kelly’s fingernail-to-mouth tee-hee-hee-ing, nothing but offensive and mindless drivel makes it out of this pundit piece. Throughout the clip O’Reilly keeps insisting that he doesn’t care about the topic and wishes it wasn’t on his show. That makes two of us, Bill!

Douchiest YouTube comment:
user696969: rofl, oreilly is laughing cause he does’nt give a shit, cause its women in sports, who gives a fux not like it matters

Not-so-douchey YouTube comment:
TSpurs06: Did he just say that this is a family program?

Exhibit B:
Germaine Greer “Caster Semenya sex row: What makes a woman?,” the

This piece tells less about Caster Semenya than it does about Greer’s latent transphobia and misplaced feminism. I think Greer is trying to say that in professional athletics, gender judgment is a bit more stringent. Only to get her point across, she very problematically compares it to her views on transwomen.

Nowadays we are all likely to meet people who think they are women, have women’s names, and feminine clothes and lots of eyeshadow, who seem to us to be some kind of ghastly parody, though it isn’t polite to say so. We pretend that all the people passing for female really are. Other delusions may be challenged, but not a man’s delusion that he is female.

Umm, actually what “isn’t polite to say” is referring to men who “delusionally” identify as female as “ghastly parodies.” And the “lots of eyeshodow” thing just really is the cherry on top. For more see The F-Word.

Douchiest Guardian comment: As a matter of fact, almost every comment beneath this article is in accordance that the piece is transphobic and that Germaine Greer is a bad writer and a worse feminist.

Not-so-douchey Guardian comment(s):
infrastructure: Germaine, what on earth does that mean? Do you purport to include me within your “we” or are you really just speaking for yourself? Are you endorsing the proposition that one should not challenge “a man’s delusion that he is female”, or decrying it. Your use later in the article of the phrase “sex police” about people who question individuals’ sex suggests the former. But your use of the apparently pejorative “delusion”, which suggests that an individual’s own belief about their sex may be objectively false, points towards the latter.

OOH whats this …mmmm Germaine Greer has wrote a piece on whats makes a woman!
I think i will just have a quick read to see if she has had a pop at transgendered women.
Yes, there it is.

Exhibit C:
Bonnie Erbe, “Runner Caster Semenya and Family Should Understand Gender Questions,” U.S. News & World Report

Bonnie Erbe starts her piece “The strange and getting stranger case of Caster Semenya,” further sensationalizing a story that’s getting media coverage for all the wrong reasons. Erbe also purports to know, better than Semenya’s parents, not only how they should raise their children but also how they should respond to the media’s attention.

My question is, if her build is obviously male, and her relatives are saying as a child she played football with boys and wore pants, why was she raised as a female?…I understand why parents might raise a biological boy who identifies female as a female (the New York Times had a fabulous article about this several years back and I wrote columns on it at the time). But I do not understand why they would then be angry at the world for questioning her gender when she then used her obvious biological advantage to compete in the sports world, whether as an amateur or professional.

You “wrote columns” on a New York Times article about a biological boy who identifies female so you know that Semenya’s parents were just pimping her out as an athlete? Douche.

Douchiest U.S. News & World Report comment:
Alessandra from MI:
Sports cheating technology has come a long way since [the 1976 Olympics], and it surely has not been stopped in Berlin (several athletes have been caught cheating already). Is Semenya simply one of the latest examples? In every case where there was a major scandal about doping or sex impersonation in sports in the past, the first reaction of the coaches and respective officials is one of outrage and absolute denial. Not any different in this SA case. The bringing up of racism or sexism to impede an investigation is totally suspect to me. As long as a full investigation is carried out related to Semenya, I don’t care how much anyone screeches racism or sexism.

Not-so-douchey U.S. News & World Report comment:
Mine of MD:“Many cultures, (some in Africa in fact)…” You be specific and stop writing unintelligently….And truly, U all, talking bout her voice and dress patterns should be ashamed of yourself because it shows how unintelligent you are. Deep voice, tousers, playing with boys… what untelligent point of argument. Please, let her be. If she was American, there would be no problem.

Exhibit D:
Barry Petchesky “If You Question this Lady’s Ovaries, You’re a Hatemonger” from Deadspin

Petchesky’s rant is less about Semenya than it is one of her defenders, South African sports editor Sello Rabothata, who wrote an Op-Ed criticizing the critics of Semenya. Petchesky brushes off accusations of ethnocentrism and racism while exhibiting those very traits. “Honestly, we’d nominate this for Worst American Sports Writing, if it were American.”

He goes on, “So if I went to compete in women’s track and field, I’d be allowed to as long as my parents will vouch for my womanhood? Sounds good. I’d still get smoked, but that’s not the point. The point is, I agree we should wait for the testing before we attack her. Or defend her?”

Because God willing, I will put that athlete in a binary gender category if it’s the last thing I do! And I will completely ignore any other social factors like race, ethnicity, and the sports-industrial complex that might, just maybe, affect media coverage and public interest in the story!

Douchiest Deadspin comment They’re literally ALL the douchiest.

Not-so-douchey Deadspin comment: LOLz!! Those don’t exist!

And now, a Douchebag Decree honorable mention for douchey pop culture news coverage….TMZ’s charming “celebrity justice” headline, “blow-by-blow coverage,” to announce domestic violence stories!


by Kjerstin Johnson
View profile »

Kjerstin Johnson is a writer and editor in Portland, Oregon. She is the former editor in chief of Bitch. She tweets at @kajerstin

Get Bitch Media's top 9 reads of the week delivered to your inbox every Saturday morning! Sign up for the Weekly Reader:

6 Comments Have Been Posted

Douchebag Decree

"Douchebag Decree". Though I appreciate alliteration, a femninist publication should not talk down to women using such a phrase. I know the term is popular these days, but I would appreciate if the name if this column was changed. Untill then, I'm afraid I will have to question the sincerity of Bitch, a publicaton I've supported well before the sudden popularity of this condecending insult. You are condecending women while pointing out insults to women. I wish to abate the embarrassment in being a feminist. I'm sad to see we have to start from the inside out, even at this point in time.

i think it is hilarious and

i think it is hilarious and am not offended at all. i hope they do not change it.

Check it:

I think it's pretty smart and savvy myself, so long as we explain our interpretation of the term to those we use it around. After all, what better place than a magazine called Bitch to turn gendered insults on their head(s)?

I also have a friend who uses it as a synonym for "womanizer" (as in, douchebag = bad for our vaginas.)

It blows my mind that this

It blows my mind that this gender thing is even a problem. Either she's a woman who's very athletic (ooh shocker! *sarcastically*) which is probably reality, or she could possibly be a transgendered woman. Either way, SHE'S A FUCKING WOMAN! There are so many sexist slurs on this subject I don't even know where to start. First that she doesn't look "womanly" enough, as though there were such a thing, and then that it's inconceivable that a "real woman" could be so athletic. UGH!

This sfm! If they needed to

This sfm! If they needed to make her go through this, at the least they should've done it privately. It just seems like some of her competitors are having sour grapes and it's just snowballed out-of-control based on the girl's appearance! This woman isn't even an adult yet! I can't imagine how horrible this must be for her, and it enrages me how cruel people can be.

-- -
<b>Jaleesa L</b> / <a href="">Portfolio</a>

I'm so tired of reading

I'm so tired of reading about the "gender testing" Semenya has endured. From what I've read about her, Semenya's "gender" is female without question. That's how she was raised and what she feels herself to be. What is in question is her genetic sex, which can be complicated and confusing enough without confusing it with gender. As one of my transgendered friends has said: "sex is in your genes, gender is in your head".

Add new comment