As with many of us media addicts, I’ve been following Bruce Jenner’s journey to become a woman since it began. I suspect I deduced it early on, when he appeared post Botox, with gently layered highlights in his hair. His inner struggles and pain at living in the wrong gender is something that doesn’t create any empathy on my part; but rather sympathy, and I can only imagine what he must have endured. At least he had his trophies.
Before I started this post, I looked up the definitions of “female” and “male” and didn’t find anything noteworthy, but found that the Oxford dictionary refers to the term “womanism” as relating to white women, while Merriam-Webster links it to black females. No wonder we get confused.
While I pride myself as being one of those liberal, cookie munching, tree hugging bleeding hearts, I gotta say that while this whole Bruce/Caitlin thing is great for transgendered, sadgendered and wronggendered people, his new persona is a bit disturbing to me. Why? Because if he really wants to be a woman, why does he have to emulate a Barbie doll? Haven’t we suffered enough from Barbie’s influences? Hasn’t this tiny waisted, large busted glamour girl passed her anorexic, made up body into our society long enough? Isn’t there a serious image problem among our teens and Botox, tummy tucking adults? Why not resemble women who really made a difference in the world? Why not fashion himself to look like Indira Ghandi? Barbara Jordan? Lucretia Mott? Juliet Gordon Low? Germaine Greer? He’s obviously getting his fashion tips and ideas about womanism from his step-daughters. Now there’s a bunch to emulate..
On the other hand, I suspect that his close association with his step children has provided a safe haven of sorts. To their credit, they all seem to have embraced his struggle and showed steadfast support – as well as create more good press for themselves. Even the sound of his new name fits in with all the “K” kids in his expansive family.
Next month he is set to receive the Arthur Ashe Courage Award during the ESPY awards. Courageous he is, and this honor is well deserved. Courageous because being female is still difficult in many ways. Wage discrepancies and civil and property rights are still an issue for women everywhere. For instance, we are still paid less than men for the same work, still pay more for our health insurance than men do, and continue to serve longer terms in prison than males for the same crimes. Even the politicians feel they should have a say in our sex lives. In short, it’s not easy being female. Maybe Bruce’s willingness to come over to our side will put the very idea of gender into the forefront and lead us, finally, to gender equality. I, for one, think he’s one damn brave person. And I am cautiously hopeful that he won’t disappoint us.
As Caitlyn, I do hope Bruce has found happiness. But have to ask her: Please, can you do something for the millions of women everywhere who can’t, or don’t want to emulate Barbie; who seek only a good, safe and fair world for themselves and their families? You have the the courage – and the trophies to prove it.
That, and maybe a little less blush…