The most delusional snippet of Bruce Jenner’s two hour – TWO HOUR! not even Richard Nixon got that much air time! – “interview” with the extremely accommodating, softballing Diane Sawyer who is now dead to me, was none of the following:
- When Jenner rolled his eyes, spoke condescendingly to Sawyer and mocked her: (“Oh my GOD, Diane!”)
- When Jenner fixed Sawyer with batshit-crazy pinwheel eyes and said “UNDERSTAND?” in a tone that every woman knows means, “Shut your mouth, bitch.”
- When Jenner – who has no ovaries or uterus or breasts and has never had a period or a yeast infection or a pregnancy scare; who has never checked the backseat of his car for rapists and who never had to wait for his male classmates to finish using his high school or college gym so he could get in to train) said, “For all intents and purposes, I am a woman.”
- When Jenner explained how Seriously Important his new reality show would be: “What I’m doing is going to do some good. We are going to change the world. We are going to make a difference in the world.”
- When Jenner referred, mysteriously (in a way that forcibly reminded me of Lars von Trier) to his female self as “Her.”
- When we found out Jenner is Republican and religious.
- When Jenner shifted back and forth from stereotypical teen-girl body language (tipping his chin; dabbing daintily at his eyes) to full-on grown man body language (leaning forward; acting like he was about to stand up, RAWWRRRRR) when Sawyer gently suggested that some people might think he was doing this for the show.
- The dramatic Ponytail Release!
Crazypants, but none of it surprised me: Jenner is a wealthy, famous, 65-year-old white male ex-star athlete who has always been allowed – encouraged! – to do whatever it takes to get whatever he wants, because what he wants is the most important thing in the world. The guy’s life is not, never was and never will be normal. He may not even be getting enough oxygen to his brain, considering what he’s done to his nose.
Bottom line: Jenner believes that female is a feeling in a man’s head, and that “woman” means “a specific set of gendered behaviors and preferences.” Because he believes this, every bullet point above makes total sense to him as dream logic makes sense to the dreamer.
The coup de grace for me, the part that made me sit up straight as my pelvic floor snapped involuntarily to attention, was this quote: “I look at women all the time and think how lucky are they that they can wake in the morning and be themselves.”
WHAT WHAT WHAT
NO SERIOUSLY FUCK BRUCE JENNER A LITTLE BIT
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry or assume the duck-and-cover nuclear drill posture underneath my couch. Women can wake in the morning and be themselves! What a pleasant fiction!
Only a man thinks this; only a man believes it.
Half the Internet (the other half is porn) is comprised of articles about what women should and should not do; what we should and should not eat and wear and do with our bodies at the gym; where is safe and unsafe for us to go; how many children we should have and whether we should work after we have them; how we should and should not age and who cares about us anyway when we’re old and therefore valueless.
If women could “wake in the morning and be themselves” without suffering professional and romantic consequences, you’d be shocked by how much body hair we can grow, Bruce, and how much of our “glow” is artfully-applied makeup. I’m fairly andro in terms of presentation – barely femme-adjacent on my femmiest day – and you should see my Sephora bill, Bruce; it reads like the federal defense budget. That’s because I’m 40 now, and letting myself age naturally without expensive intervention isn’t good for my career. If I dated men, I’d need to buy makeup too, because one thing you gots to do when you’re a woman who dates men, Bruce? You gots to carefully curate an image of artless, effortless beauty.
Jenner is confused, like a lot of people are confused, about (a) what makes a woman; and (b) what it really means to be one, from they day you’re born until the day you die. I wonder if this confusion (and pain) could have been avoided if he’d been allowed to be a man who won gold medals, loved women, and wore dresses and nail polish outside without losing everything.
I wonder, too, what it means to have a “female soul” or a “female brain.” What does it mean to “feel like a woman inside”? Jenner didn’t explain that. He didn’t have to, because Sawyer never asked. These substantive questions – the ones that didn’t address ponytails, dresses, or plastic surgery – were left conspiciously out of the “interview,” just as they are omitted from the greater conversation in this country, at this time.
Oh my GOD, Diane.