Julian Assange has imprisoned himself indefinitely without trial

The latest development in the Julian Assange soap opera: Assange has been granted asylum by Ecuador to avoid answering tricky questions in Sweden about some rapes he probably perpetrated. This would be all well and good if he could magically teleport to Ecuador from their London embassy, but unfortunately for him those pesky laws of physics prevent that.

So Assange is stuck indefinitely in a poky little building in Knightsbridge. If he so much as sets foot outside, he’ll be arrested and extradited to Sweden. In his bid to avoid accountability and due process, he has chosen to imprison himself.

Obviously, I find this profoundly weird and more than a little silly, given that Sweden is probably the safest place for him if he fears extradition to the US. Even if he goes to Sweden, answers the charges, then is brought to trial, found guilty, and imprisoned there, he would still be in a better position. He would have a fixed sentence, rather than the indefinite time he will spend in the Ecuador embassy. He will be able to go outside to exercise in a Swedish prison, while he cannot while living in the embassy. And he’ll still have a bed and a TV and internet access. That’s the worst case scenario.

But he has made his choice, and continues to pretend that he will totally be extradited to the USA from Sweden, despite the USA never having asked for anything of the sort. He continues to make the whole saga about him, poisoning Wikileaks with his egomania.

And so I think the best possible course of action now is to ignore him. Let him fade into obscurity, living out his days in a tiny room somewhere in West London. He feeds on attention, let us starve him. Let him become a mild annoyance to Ecuadorian diplomats and nothing else. Let him become a nobody, a nothing. He chose this.

What has feminism done for Jenna Jameson?

Before I start, let’s get the obligatory link to the scene from The Life Of Brian out of the way.

Jenna Jameson is a former porn performer and a millionaire businessperson. She also doesn’t think feminism and women’s organisations have ever done anything for her.

It’s a nice delusion, and a comfortable one, thinking you are where you are in life entirely down to your own hard work. It’s easy to believe when you’re fed the myth of BOOTSTRAPS your whole life, in combination with various cognitive heuristics which make you think you did everything yourself and are better than average. Now, Jameson’s achievements are not to be sniffed at. She’s done exceedingly well for herself, and much of it is down to hard work. The thing is, without feminism, she couldn’t have done it at all.

Jameson got famous through the sex industry, specifically stripping and porn. These industries have been made far safer by campaigning from women’s organisations. Jameson has her preferences in her porn performances, opting not to do any anal sex or double penetration scenes. Thanks to feminists banging on about sexual consent, her wishes have been respected and she has not been coerced to break these hard limits despite these being fairly profitable performances in porn, with anal sex becoming almost a default part of a performer’s repertoire.

Jameson has been married twice. Thanks to feminism and women’s organisations, on neither of these occasions has she been considered the property of her husband. She has been able to make her own money–and keep it–thanks to feminism and women’s organisations which gained women the right to own their own property.

For the 2012 US elections, Jenna Jameson has endorsed Republican candidate Mitt Romney. Now, this probably isn’t the finest of ideas for a woman. Jameson rejects the notion that her chosen candidate is part of a war on women (and says this war does not exist), which is all well and good, as long as she doesn’t use contraception, want an abortion, or mind that in her chosen candidate’s eyes she is a whore of Babylon. Still, she can vote for who she likes. And she can vote because of feminism and women’s organisations.

All of these women who came before Jenna Jameson have helped her get to where she is today. They did not do it specifically for her, but for all women. The fight will go on and on, and continue to improve the lot of women–including Jenna Jameson.

HOT CUM-GUZZLING EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY

The news has whipped itself into a frenzy about the latest headline-grabbing guff from evolutionary psychology: blow jobs cure morning sickness. Specifically, the pregnant woman should swallow the semen of the father of the baby because then she’ll develop a tolerance to his genetic material. That sentence alone is eyebrow-spraining. Delving deeper, it only gets worse.

The research comes from an evolutionary psychologist named Gordon G. Gallup. It is useful to view the morning sickness story in the context of his previous work because a pattern starts to emerge.

Gallup’s career started out fairly promisingly, with him developing a paradigmatic test for recording self-awareness in animals, which has been widely used. He was then the go-to guy for research into what happens when you hypnotise chickens, which is probably far more interesting than it sounds.

Somewhere along the line, though, Gallup lost his way, and moved towards the side of evolutionary psychology which is obsessed with sex and comes to thoroughly bizarre conclusions about both sexes through the use of dodgy science. Many of the studies I’m going to highlight here are paywalled, but you’ll probably shit a brick off the abstract alone if you know anything about science or have ever enjoyed sex.

Gallup became interested in boobs, hypothesising that breast implants were a way for women to advertise their fertility, then never testing this hypothesis because, let’s face it, how the hell would you? He delved into homophobia, suggesting that it was an adaptive response to parents thinking the gays would bum their children into homosexuality. This was tested by getting college students–not actual parents–to fill in questionnaires about hypothetical children, and some of them saying they wouldn’t like their kid to go to a gay paediatrician. When the work was criticised for implying that gays are paedophiles and maybe this was down to “xenophobia” (in the evolutionary sense, rather than the sociological sense; i.e. a fear of strangers), Gallup responded by saying that actually there is a disproportionate number of homosexual paedophiles, so there. Another study of Gallup’s ostensibly showed that women take more care to stop themselves being raped when they are ovulating, by guessing when the participants were ovulating and administering a questionnaire.

None of this encompasses Gallup’s true love though. Shaking off the mantle of being the chicken-hypnosis guy, Gordon G. Gallup is now the semen guy.

Regular readers of this blog might remember the time I went ballistic over a study claiming to show that semen was an antidepressant. That was one of Gallup’s studies. It showcased some almost criminally bad science, which I covered here, and it’s worth reading the whole thing to see just how bad it is. If you can’t be bothered, the tl;dr summary is that vaginally-administered spunk isn’t an antidepressant and there was no way he could have ever shown it with that study. Other miracles of semen, according to Gallup, is that if a man regularly spaffs into the mother of his kids, he’ll be a better dad. Again, Gallup didn’t even bother testing that hypothesis.

After covering his bases in getting semen into women, Gallup turned towards how to keep it there. Readers with penises, did you know that your cock looks like that because it evolved to displace semen of rivals from a vagina? It totally is, because Gallup has some hardcore science to prove it. This paper is open-access and well worth a read if you fancy a laugh. He used two different tests for this hypothesis. In the first set of studies, he bought some dildos and an artificial vagina from a sex shop, mixed up some fake spunk, put it in the rubber fanny, then fucked it with some dildos. He found that the more realistic the dildo, the better it displaced the jizz-mixture. Oh, and the dildos being dildos, they lacked foreskins, which throws an enormous spanner in the works as it means that human cocks would function entirely differently, considering circumcision is a minority practice and didn’t happen while we were evolving.

So he turned his attention to humans. Rather than watching them fuck, he went for a questionnaire, which is distinctly less fun, and proved about as much as his sweaty session with a fleshlight and a dildo. From a survey, he discovered that men fuck their girlfriends harder if they’ve been away for a while, or if they’ve heard their girlfriend was cheating. Passionate reunions and angry hatesex, according to Gallup, are actually just the chap trying to thrust any stray spunk out of his lady-friend.

Which brings us, finally, to the morning sickness research. Having exhaustively researched how to get sperm into a vagina and get it out again, he wondered how best he could get it into a lady’s mouth. His theory is this: morning sickness arises from the woman reacting to having unfamiliar genetic material inside her, i.e. the father’s DNA in the foetus. In order to build up a tolerance, the woman needs greater exposure to the father’s genetic material which means loads and loads of semen, and apparently eating it will totally work.

It’s important to note here that this has never been tested, and, like much of the work we have seen here, it is just a hypothesis presented at a conference, which the media have picked up and ran with, presenting it as SCIENCE. It isn’t. Also, it’s a pretty fucking shitty hypothesis for two major reasons.

First, it goes against the general evolutionary thinking regarding morning sickness: that it’s a way of protecting the foetus from any toxins or bad nutrition by causing anything harmful that has been ingested to be shouted into rainbows. Secondly, and perhaps more crucially, how the hell does Gordon G. Gallup think women get pregnant in the first place? It kind of involves exposure to semen. While a lot of pregnancies may not stem from regular exposure to the same jizz, a lot of them do, and morning sickness affects up to 80% of women. Furthermore, within Gallup’s hypothesis, if it’s just the father’s genetic material the woman needs and it can be got through ingested semen, this can easily be transmitted by any other means, such as lots and lots of snogging to exchange saliva, or touch, or blood rituals, or whatever.

It makes no goddamn sense whatsoever, and I look forward to seeing him try to prove it.

I don’t know if Gordon G. Gallup has dedicated the later part of his career towards discovering escalatingly spurious reasons to insert his semen into women–if so, I think we can expect future studies which show that bukakke makes you immortal–or if he has simply found the recipe for media success: say something silly which dovetails with existing patriarchal prejudice. Either way, I wish he’d stop, and I wish the media would stop gushing with excitement about hypotheses and bad research.

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Update: commenter James, who is an experienced midwife and pre-eclampsia researcher has found a cohort study which Gordon G. Gallup obviously hasn’t read. The study looked at recurrence of hyperemesis gravidarum, a severe morning sickness. It found that sickness was less likely to occur in a second pregnancy than in a first. The authors had a large enough sample of women whose second pregnancies were from a different father than the first pregnancy. Comparing recurrence of hyperemesis, it emerged that risk was lower in women whose second pregnancy was by a different father than those who had had two pregnancies from the same father: 11% risk of hyperemesis for those who had changed paternity, versus 16% for those who had not. While this is a cohort study, and therefore low down on the pyramid of evidence, it’s still far better than some dude who had a hypothesis, and provides some evidence to suggest that “unfamiliar semen” is not what causes morning sickness.

Ladies, education makes you masculine. There’s a graph and everything.

I think I might make a semi-regular feature of people I would never have sex with, ever, given the internet seems to be riddled with the fuckers. This week’s fucknozzle is a pick-up artist named RooshV whose advice I would seriously recommend not following if you ever have any intention of ever having sex with a woman.

The thing about dear RooshV is I suspect he’s profoundly dimwitted. I suspect this because he’s seen fit to explain a relationship between “femininity” and education level, by means of a graph. The relationship would be a negative correlation of the statistical holy grail of R=1 were it not for the following criticisms:

  1. He has conflated education level with current career.
  2. “Career” appears to be a categorical variable, and thus it is inappropriate to use correlational analyses in the manner outlined by the author.
  3. It is unclear precisely as to how femininity was calculated due to the y-axis being unlabelled.
  4. He clearly made the graph himself at home using one of those graph generators.

Actually, I’m beginning to see why he finds education unsexy. It can’t be very nice when any woman with a high-school level education in statistics can point out how he is shit at proving his points.

RooshV also provides some qualitative evidence to support his hypothesis, proposing the following occupations to be “boner softening”. These betray a staggering lack of imagination in the bedroom and add to my burning desire to never have sex with him ever. In bold, I have added the first thing that pops into my head when confronted with each of the things which dull-shag RooshV thinks can’t be hot.

Sexy IT specialist (Ethernet bondage)
Sexy business manager (micromanaging)
Sexy tort attorney (would make a good top and gets a fun wig)
Sexy civil engineer (OHMYGOD imagine the possibilities for pervy devices they could build)
Sexy anesthesiologist (needles and illicit substances and fun oh my)
Sexy research associate (sub. Total sub)
Sexy financial analyst (honestly, who doesn’t want to spank a financial analyst every now and then?)

That literally took 15 seconds. RooshV , bro, you are vanilla as fuck.

To complete his thesis, RooshV has decided to furnish us with a list of “masculine traits” that might show up in women who are more educated than him. These include keeping condoms at home, dating multiple men at the same time and “saying filthy things in bed when you hardly know them”. From the sounds of it, RooshV is a total lights-off-socks-on kind of chap, and it’s probably a good thing he can’t conceptualise the existence of strap-0ns because that would blow his fucking mind.

All in all, though, it’s probably a good thing RooshV isn’t into educated women. Because I can’t imagine an educated woman who would consider going within miles of him.

The #PornTrial reveals the prejudices (and possible peccadilloes) of the CPS

Today, a man was found not guilty of a crime which harmed no-one, and should never have been considered criminal in the first place. His offence? He had some porn in his email which involved scenes of consensual fisting, urethral sounding and a man wearing a gas mask. Oh, and he’d pissed off some cops by prosecuting them for disciplinary offences, which I’m sure has absolutely nothing to do with the decision to prosecute him.

It seems ridiculous to prosecute a person for this in the first place, especially considering the last fisting trial ruled that fisting is not obscene. Like bluebottles bashing their heads against a window, the CPS decided this time to prosecute under a different act relating to extreme pornography and harm. Despite evidence from two medical professionals describing the minimal harm involved, the CPS still insisted on pushing the harm line.

The risible excuse for evidence presented by the prosecution was at best wobbly, and at worst, outright offensive, for example:

 CPS – Walsh fantasised about being involved in being in an orgy.

Yes. The defendant’s fantasies were used as evidence against him. A not uncommon fantasy, either. And something which is perfectly legal for consenting adults to participate in, whether in person or on film.

Not content to merely stigmatise what people think about, despite it being thoroughly irrelevant to the case, the CPS also decided to go after people who get regular sexual health checks.

Astonishing that CPS have contended in Court that people who attend sexual health clinics engage in more risky practices.

In fact, regular health checks are a responsible thing to do, and to attempt to use responsibility to smear the character of the defendant is risky as fuck.

As if this all wasn’t offensive enough, the CPS decided to inject a bit of sexism into the case–no mean feat, considering the defendant was a gay man and all of the porn in question was gay porn. For some reason, though, they felt it appropriate to ask a female expert witness if fisting would be more degrading if it involved a woman, and they didn’t much like the answer she gave:

CPS – Dr Smith would not concede images were degrading if it pictured a woman. This is clearly wrong.

Thanks for the paternalism, CPS! Also, apparently it’s selfish and untrue to say that it isn’t degrading:

CPS – Dr Smith’s evidence was disingenuous, self-serving and dishonest.

That clears that up, then.

The case lays bare the societal prejudices against non-mainstream sexual preferences. None of the porn depicted anything non-consensual, and everything is perfectly legal to try in your own bedroom, even if you have invited a lot of people along to watch. After watching all this porn, the jury rightly concluded that no crime had been committed.

It’s surprising that in 2012, the law still has a fascination with trying to restrict perfectly consensual sex and fantasies. The prosecution’s case rested entirely on dated ideologies and stigmatisation of kink, and I’m glad the jury saw right through it.

It made no sense to prosecute this in the first place, in a case which seemed doomed to fail from the start. I can think of three possible reasons why it happened. Only two of them are kinky.

  1. The CPS has a fetish for showing juries fisting porn.
  2. The CPS likes to be humiliated, and is pushing ever harder at boundaries with ever more ridiculous cases.
  3. The CPS have the backs of the police and helped them in their quest for revenge.

I hope it’s the first or the second reason, as in this case, we can work together to help the CPS safely play out its fantasies by finding them some playmates with a thing for being consensually maliciously prosecuted. Sadly, though, the third option seems most likely. The defendant pissed off the state, and the state decided to punish him. Despite the not guilty verdict, the defendant has lost his job and his privacy has been thoroughly violated, with vanilla society knowing about his kinks and judging him for them.

It’s a grotesque abuse of a law that shouldn’t exist in the first place, allowing prejudice to be catalysed into a spiteful smear campaign.

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I’m no lawyer, so if you want more information and analysis on the legal background to the case, these posts from ObscenityLawyer, NoMoreLost and David Allen Green are good sources, and here’s a good write-up of the verdict from NoMoreLost.

Putting the “muffs are unhygienic” argument to rest at last

The Great Pubes Debate, two reasons are usually put forward in favour of shaving, waxing or nuking bush from orbit:

  1. It looks nicer
  2. It’s more hygienic

The first argument is purely subjective, with varying preferences to presentation of genitals. Of course, it’s not entirely a free choice: these preferences are to some extent dictated by cultural beauty standards, and in the west, the dominant image we are bombarded with involves very little, if any, hair at all. Sometimes the hair might even be replaced by little glittery things glued on. Beauty standards are weird. Ultimately, though, bodily autonomy is awesome, and if someone wants to do that, they can.

The second argument, though, has been entirely smashed to smithereens by medical professionals. Far from being more hygienic, shaving and waxing one’s cunt increases the risk of all sorts of nasty infections:

In her practice it is not unusual to find patients with boils and abscesses on their genitals from shaving as well as cellulitis, an infection of the scrotum, labia or penis from shaving or from having sex with someone infected.

Herpes is also an increased risk “due to the microscopic wounds being exposed to virus carried by mouth or genitals.”

So why does shaving and waxing lead to such thoroughly revolting side effects? Most of it comes down to the fact that removing hair from a rather sensitive region leads to little abrasions in the skin, and little abrasions in the skin can get infected. It doesn’t help that cunts are warm, moist areas which are rarely aired. It’s like Disneyland for disease down there, and the skin usually does a good job of keeping it out, unless it has been broken by shaving cuts or yanking hair out by the root. Furthermore, bush itself serves an additional protective function:

“Pubic hair does have a purpose, providing a cushion against friction that can cause skin abrasion and injury, and protection from bacteria.”

That’s a damn sight more pleasant a function than the hypothesis that it evolved for babies to hold on to (“ouch”, “ew”, and “but I’ve never even seen a baby try that”, in that order).

So why is something which opens up the risk of all sorts of horrible infections considered to be more hygienic? It’s probable that it’s in part due to the association with shaving an area before surgery, although there is also medical evidence against that:

Surgeons used to insist on shaving the area of the body where an operation was to be performed in the misguided belief that it reduced surgical site infections. Now official advice is to leave hair alone, unless it interferes with the operation, and where removal is necessary to use electric clippers.

It also might be down to sheer laziness in washing. There’s a lot of sweat glands down below, and if one doesn’t wash properly, things can get a little whiffy. The answer to this is, of course, wash more. It will take less time than hair removal, and you’re less likely to erupt in boils in a very sensitive area.

It’s refreshing to finally see an article about body hair in the mainstream media that isn’t negative, and busting a myth in the dominant narrative surrounding body hair. It’s a baby step towards that free choice for what we do with our bodies. And that can only be a good thing.

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I might as well take this opportunity to plug the brilliant Armpits4August–think Movember, but for women. They’re challenging beauty standards and raising money for polycystic ovary syndrome. So far they’ve raised over £1000 of their £2000 target. I’m participating–why not donate?

In which I feel ever so slightly sorry for Louise Mensch

“Always forgive your enemies. Nothing annoys them so much” -Oscar Wilde

Last week, I was entertaining the chilling possibility of Louise Mensch one day becoming Prime Minister. Today, in a surprising twist, Mensch announced she would be resigning as an MP.

For a fleeting second, it felt like today might be the Best Day Ever, starting with a robot comfortably landing on Mars and immediately sending back a grainy photo of its wheels on alien soil, and then the resignation of arguably one of the worst people in politics. But my hand stayed on the metaphorical cork of my metaphorical champagne bottle when I saw her reason why.

To spend more time with her family.

Now, admittedly, this is a highly flexible excuse for quitting and can mean anything from “I want to spend more time with my family” to “I just accidentally  destroyed the economy through my sheer incompetence and I’m jumping before I’m pushed” to “I shagged a goat and I want to spare my party the embarrassment”. However, given Mensch’s background, it seems likely that her reasons for resignation lean closer towards the actual wanting to spend time with family end of the spectrum.

And I feel kind of sorry for her over this: her husband lives and works in New York, and she and her three children frequently hop across the pond to be together, until now juggling this with her work as a politician. And of course, living under patriarchy, it was Mensch who had to quit her job to make the move.

Tory feminism has failed Louise Mensch. Even with all of her privileges, she couldn’t have it all.

On Twitter, I asked why Mensch’s husband couldn’t have been the one to quit his job and move to the UK to support his family. While a lot of people agreed with this sentiment, there were two reasons given (mostly by men) that this set-up would make no sense whatsoever.

First was the notion that Mensch’s husband’s job earned more money. Perhaps so, but in the grand scheme of things, the potential career progression for an MP is somewhat better: running a country is arguably better than booking hotel rooms for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Even being an MP has a higher degree of social capital than making sure Metallica get on their plane at the right time. For those who believe in representative democracy–and I’m assuming Mensch did–her job was better and more important than her husband’s.

Second is the idea that the kids weren’t his. This is such a grimly archaic view of families that it doesn’t really require much comment, save to say that if this factored into the decision at all, Louise Mensch would do better to get a divorce.

It was patriarchy that killed Louise Mensch’s career in politics, and for that reason I can’t feel as happy as if she’d resigned for other reasons, such as being a chronic liability due to monumental hubristic failure, or as a post-revolutionary head-on-a-spike. Somehow I doubt she’ll see it that way: the lens of Tory feminism refracts these decisions into nothing more than personal choice.

I don’t know why this nice racist hasn’t got a girlfriend.

Nice guys. They bring the good name of all male-identified people who happen to be decent human beings into disrepute. The nice guy is a whinging mass of benevolent sexism, befriending women in a creepy attempt to get into their knickers then turning hostile as their efforts fail. Usually, they hit the point of tedium where it isn’t even worth commenting on them. It takes a little extra edge to become a truly egregiously awful nice guy.

Last year, I found one who shat in the grave of Pastor Niemöller with a pastiche which began with “When the feminists came for the rapists…” This year’s contender has an image he would like to share with us to explain his emotional state.

The image consists of nine images, arranged in a square.

Panel 1: Picture of a grinning shirtless white man with excessively erect hair doing the double finger-point, captioned “HEY LADIES… HOW’S IT GOING?”

Panel 2: Picture of the same shirtless white man, wearing a patronising expression and wagging a finger, captioned “DO YOU KNOW?”

Panel 3: Picture of some American money (at a guess, and for the groaning pun to work, I think it’s a dollar bill), captioned “YOU’RE SINGLE BECAUSE…”

Panel 4: Picture of a white heterosexual couple frolicking on the beach. The woman is wearing a bikini and is smiling at her faceless lover, who is fully dressed and a bit of a hipster. Captioned “YOU WANT LOVE LIKE THIS”

Panel 5: Picture of six black men wearing street attire, captioned “YET GO AFTER GUYS LIKE THIS.”

Panel 6: Picture of the man from the first two panels, thankfully clothed and wearing glasses. He has a smug look on his face and is holding his chin in a superior fashion, captioned “INSTEAD OF A GUY LIKE THIS”.

Panel 7: Picture of a crying white woman androgynous person, who is apparently called Chris Crocker, captioned “AND END UP LIKE THIS”.

Panel 8: Picture of a frustrated-looking Asian man, who Twitter has informed me is Jackie Chan, captioned “LEAVING US GOOD GUYS LIKE THIS”.

Panel 9: Picture of a black man, who I think might be the rapper Xzibit, smiling. Captioned “AND THOSE GUYS LIKE THIS!”, which neatly clarifies that our nice guy picture-maker seems to have a problem with black people having sex with white women.

I literally have no idea why this charming little racist doesn’t have a girlfriend. Must be women’s fault, somehow. Perhaps more finger-wagging will teach us the lesson we need to learn.

In which I actually write about the Olympics: sexism and racism in the Ye Shiwen doping allegations

My plan for an Olympic-proof bunker has failed. I have been exposed to London in its full dystopian horrors, and been unable to avoid news and stories about a bloody sporting event. I even willingly watched the men’s synchronised diving the other day, though I had to turn off the sound to avoid the Nuremberg-style cheering from the British crowd every time a British person did something that should have been entirely expected of them.

It didn’t escape my notice, then, that a 16 year old Chinese woman has caused rather a bit of a stir. Swimmer Ye Shiwen smashed world records in the 400m individual medley. In the final 50m of her race, Ye managed to swim faster than some of the fastest-recorded male swimmers! Rather than celebrate this achievement, whispers of doping immediately began.

In a statement that smacked of sour grapes, the swimming coach for the USA team did his best attempt at media spin, avoiding an outright accusation of doping but banging on for paragraphs and paragraphs about how Ye’s swim was “impossible” and “unbelievable” while sticking in the occasional “I’m not saying she’s doping, but…”. He then manages to drop this seethingly sexist clanger:

Leonard, who said Ye “looks like superwoman” added: “Any time someone has looked like superwoman in the history of our sport they have later been found guilty of doping.”

That, right there, is the crux of the matter. The fact that if Ye Shiwen had been thrown in a pool with men, she would have beaten them too. Supermen are fine and dandy, and to be expected from a sport. It’s when a woman is as good, or better than a man that something must be wrong. This is made abundantly clear if one compares the Chinese tit-for-tat suggestion that American male swimmer Michael Phelps must be doping, which nobody seems to be taking particularly seriously.

The sexism of the whispers surrounding Ye Shiwen are reminiscent of the story of runner Caster Semenya, who ran so fast that the sporting authorities decided she must be a man in disguise and subjected her to invasive gender testing. It seems completely implausible to society at large that women can be as capable as men of sporting feats.

Indeed, sometimes it seems as though society is actively trying to keep women from reaching their true potential: an example of this comes from the incident which saw runner Paula Radcliffe temporarily stripped of her marathon world record because she had male “pacemakers” who she was racing (and beat). In the end, Radcliffe was allowed to keep her record, but the governing body ruled that women’s records must be set in women-only races.

Arguably, Radcliffe and Semenya are “superwomen”, as constructed by the US team coach. In fact, they are just women with the capacity to beat men. This is likely to be true of Ye Shiwen, too, given that the Olympics are generally pretty stringent in testing athletes for drugs.

Ultimately, the US coach’s beef lies in the fact that a woman from a different country swam faster than a man from his own country, and this does not compute. Clearly, there is a tribalism at work here, too, a patriotic belief that his country is better than any others (especially their rival China). It’s the implicit us-and-them mentality which disguises racism.

Some of the reporting, though, is less thinly-veiled in its racism. The Daily Mirror attempts to kindly say that Ye might not have been doping, but unfortunately the only way they can do this is by drawing on stereotypes about China in the most cartoonishly, embarrassingly, excruciatingly racist way possible:

The disturbing truth is that, while her performance may not be drug-enhanced, Ye Shiwen and her Chinese teammates have been manufactured like ­automatons on a cynical human production line, forged by training techniques many say border on torture.

This might not be cripplingly racist if China had a literal athlete upgrading factory, but unfortunately that’s not true. The rest of the article goes on to describe the training techniques which do not sound that far removed from how athletes train. They select promising youngsters, they start young, they train hard.

Then they win, and everyone freaks the fuck out.

That’s all there is to it: someone performed well at a sport. Time will tell if Ye Shiwen was doping, but the rumours and rush to find out speak volumes about prejudice.