“When Something Stands Up, Something Stands Up Right Beside It”: Caster Semenya and “The Quiet Violence of Dreams”

By Mary West.

Published by The Diversity Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

South Africa and the world at large has failed Caster Semenya, and whatever the conclusion to this story might be, it will hurt, and it will underscore the rigidity of the sex-gender system governing sport, media and representation in general.
This paper seeks to compare and contrast the narratives surrounding Caster Semenya’s gender test debacle after her victory at the 2009 Berlin Olympics, and a narrative about a black South African homosexual experience, as recorded in K. Sello Duiker’s “The Quiet Violence of Dreams”. It seeks to demonstrate and account for the tragic consequences when gestures towards fluidity and diveristy collide with the brick wall of hetero-normativity. Duiker committed suicide shortly after writing an account of his young life. It is uncertain what will become of Semenya but in both cases, the discursive limits of “sex” are tested in relation to the continued preoccupation with “race” evident in the world, and these narratives in particular.

Keywords: The Sex-gender System, Sexual Orientation, Sexualities, Media and Sport, Sex and Gender, South African Fiction, K. Sello Duiker, The Quiet Violence of Dreams

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 10, Issue 5, pp.51-62. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 740.246KB).

Dr. Mary West

Senior Lecturer, Department of Language and Literature, School of Language Media and Culture, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Mary West has just published a full-length study of whiteness in South African literary and media representations entitled White Women Writing White (New Africa Books, 2009). She is interested in examining aspects of identity politics in post-apartheid South African writing and has published research articles on Antje Krog and Marlene van Niekerk.


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