“Oh my GOD, Diane!” – Brief thoughts on Bruce Jenner

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

HA HA

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.

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I feel dumber for having read this piece on Salon

…about “Matilda the Musical”:

http://www.salon.com/2013/10/27/the_dangerous_transphobia_of_roald_dahls_matilda/

“With a spoonful of sugar comes a transphobic message about the dangers of straying from traditional gender roles, a conservative parable about the “right” and the “wrong” kinds of women.”

:raises hand:

Couldn’t it just as easily be “an anti-woman or anti-feminist message about the dangers of straying from traditional gender roles, a conservative parable about the ‘right’ and the ‘wrong’ kinds of women?”

Or could Dahl, a non-traditional sort himself, have been using satire to encourage children to think more deeply about  what it means to be a girl or a boy? About adult villainy and hypocrisy? About how we ought to treat each other?

Or — and by far the most likely — could Dahl have simply written a children’s book, to appeal to children (who, after all, have a cruder sense of humor than adults? Sort of a starter set of humor, yes? Who’s got kids?)

“Dahl paints Miss Trunchbull as male inside and out. Her physique is ‘gigantic’ and ‘formidable,’ with ‘big shoulders,’ ‘thick arms’ and ‘powerful legs.’ She has a ‘deep and dangerous voice.’ Avoiding feminine dress, she wears breeches rather than a skirt, flats rather than heels, and in Warchus’ play, a coach’s whistle around her neck.”

OK, but does Miss Trunchbull have to be trans? (Not that there’s anything wrong with that! Miss Trunchbull, you do you!) but…might she just be a butch, or simply a woman who doesn’t fit the traditional trappings of femininity? My middle-school swim coach comes to mind here, but she never transitioned. We’re Facebook friends now and she seems quite happy being female.

“When they stray too far from the feminine path, they need to be put in their place.”

Hoo, that sounds familiar! Just ask my girlfriend, who is not actually even that butch! She’s more “butch-adjacent,” but she sure understands how this one goes! (Also, she is a Theatre Person and hates that Miss Trunchbull is played by a man in this production. She says it’s similar to casting a white actor in a specifically black role).

“One group of people will not miss Dahl’s underlying message, however. Little girls who love sports and not dresses, who are tall or muscular, who are boyish or even perhaps identify as boys, who long someday to possess authority. All of these children will see themselves in the Trunchbull, and they will watch closely as these aspects with which they identify are shamed.”

I guess that makes sense, but let’s be clear: Not all little girls who love sports and not dresses (or who love both!); who are tall or muscular, or who long someday to possess authority, “identify as boys.”

Also, I hate the word “boyish” to describe a little girl or her interests/behavior. Boys don’t own climbing trees or riding bikes or science/tech or being the boss someday. If a girl does these things, or grows up to do them, they’re girl/woman things.

You know?

just a tweak

I’m trying to be less naive. Naivete is expensive.

I tend to believe what people tell me, and people are often full of shit. They don’t mean to be. They don’t want to be. And yet. When I think of the time I’ve wasted believing and acting on other people’s made-up stories, I feel sick.

Here’s a story I believed, because I loved the person who told it:

I’m a woman inside;  I always have been. When I was a kid, I loved pink and baking cupcakes. Trans women are actually more female than non-trans women, because we’ve gone through so much in order to be called women. We’ve examined femininity in ways that non-trans women never do. Transwomen are women. Transwomen are women. Transwomen are women. I’m not like other transwomen, though — those crazy high heels! Those squeaky voices! I compete in a women’s boxing league and do my own drywall, so you can tell I’m secure in my womanhood. I’m the most successful transwoman you’ll ever meet; I work in a male-dominated field for a shit ton of money and no one knows I’m trans unless I tell them. Hey, how come you don’t know how to fix the broken showerhead? Why do you leave those kinds of things to me?  I’m experiencing you as really heteronormative, and that makes me uncomfortable. You’re kind of needy, too. Why do you always want to spend time with my friends instead of making your own? I live my life at a Very. Fast. Pace. Why do you always want to talk about everything? It’s exhausting. And it’s weird how you’re more of a second waver at your age; most of those women are old and kind of racist. They’re the only ones who still call themselves “lesbians.” I prefer the word ‘queer,’ because it allows for the fact that some women have penises and some men have vaginas. I don’t need $20,000 sex-reassignment surgery to be a woman; I can totally be a woman with a penis! I’m a woman already! But I’m going to have the surgery so I can feel comfortable in the women’s locker room. It’s basically cosmetic surgery. Just a tweak. It won’t affect anything but my choice of bathing suit. Why are you crying?