Upset over Trevor Noah's 'insensitive' Caster tweet

Trevor Noah, as pictured in his Twitter profile.

Trevor Noah, as pictured in his Twitter profile.

Noah faced a small storm of criticism over a tweet that left some South Africans uneasy on Women's Day. He tweeted:

He was referring to South African runner Caster Semenya, who shot to fame after winning the women's 800m world championships in 2009 but was then forced to undergo gender tests after questions were raised over her gender.

The controversy that followed shook South Africans, with many taken aback at the treatment of Semenya as public discourse over her gender reached fever pitch. Claims that she was a hermaphrodite circulated. In a later interview with South African magazine YOU Semenya stated, "God made me the way I am and I accept myself."

Noah is the top followed South African on Twitter, according to a recent survey, and wields enormous influence through his high public profile. The tweet was retweeted over a thousand times by Friday evening, with many of Noah's fans laughing at the joke.

Some, however, were not that impressed.

One fan said:

 

 

Noah took the criticism well, saying:

 

But others were more pointed in their criticism of the comedian.

 

Writer Tom Eaton agreed:

 

In a subsequent tweet seemingly in response to the negative reaction Noah tweeted:

 

Noah has previously crossed the line in this area. Shortly after last year's 16 days of activism for No Violence Against Women and Children he made another joke at the expense of women that drew some criticism:

 

Noah is the darling of the local comedy scene in many ways. His shows sell out and he spent a successful spell in the US where he made commended appearances on popular shows like the David Letterman show and Jay Leno's Tonight Show. His material draws on the idiosyncrasies of race, culture, politics and current affairs in South Africa.

Some felt the criticism of Noah's tweet was unwarranted:

 

But popular political analyst and puppet, Chester Missing, dismissed that idea, saying:

 

Local writer and feminist Rebecca Davis also weighed in:

 

His fans however remained convinced that it was an innocent mistake:

 
Verashni Pillay

Verashni Pillay

Verashni Pillay is the editor-in-chief of the Mail & Guardian. She grew up in Laudium, Pretoria, learned her trade at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, spent a spell in Cape Town as an online journalist, and now loves living in Jozi. Her interests are broad but include a focus on politics and multi-platform storytelling. Read more from Verashni Pillay

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