Some Thoughts on Bruce Jenner.

bruce jenner abc interview

I’ve been loath to contribute my feelings about Bruce Jenner’s coming out as a trans woman to a feminist/humanist/trans rights sphere because, as a cisgender person, the last thing I’d want to do is cisplain.

However, as probably the most well-versed person on human rights in my immediate circle of friends, colleagues and family members, I’ve been throwing my two cents out there whenever the conversation inevitably veres Bruce’s way.

Because the people I’ve been talking to about him* are espousing predictably ignorant views. Things like “what’s his deal?”, “is he a she-he” and “tell me about this Kardashian who now thinks he’s a woman”.

I try not to get angry when explaining that gender is a spectrum, being transgender is a legitimate gender identity, and that it’s not for us to judge a person who’s spent 65 years keeping this secret, but I can feel my expression change as the fury bubbles up inside me.

One person I was actually able to have a tempered conversation with about Bruce wondered whether ignorance to trans issues (and, by extension, race, gender, sexuality, disability, class issues) could excuse such bigoted reactions: “You can’t fault people for not being aware,” she said.

Except you can. How do you think anyone who’s sensitive to minority issues came to be that way? Because they listened to people who are from these communities and actually deal with these things on a daily basis. Read about them in books like Janet Mock’s Redefining Realness and online. Follow enlightened people on Twitter. Watched Bruce’s interview with Diane Sawyer to understand that not everyone who falls under a certain umbrella wants to be addressed in the ways that are generally accepted as politically correct. The information is out there and ripe for the picking so ignorance is not an excuse. I actually have more respect for bigots who are informed about the issues they choose to be so bigoted about, even though I fundamentally disagree with them and think they’re horrible people.

My friend agreed, saying that watching shows like Transparent (which is problematic in it’s own right) has opened her up to trans issues. The problem she has with Bruce’s coming out though, she said, is that he lied about it: “You don’t have to come out, but when he was asked whether he was a trans woman in the past, he said no.”

Sure, there are ways Bruce could have framed his answers to be more ambiguous, but the media still would have spun it to service their agenda. It’s not Bruce’s job to make us more accepting of people who don’t fit our preconceptions.

Imagine the weight on his shoulders being a trans woman whilst also being a) held up as an American hero as an Olympic gold medalist in a sport that women can’t even compete in (thanks, Alice Eve!); and b) a member of a family comprised of some of the most famous women in the world who, whether we agree with it or not, are the epitome of femininity in many instances. (And for all the Kardashian haters who’ve made comments such as those in the third paragraph of this piece, Bruce’s family has actually come out in support of him—a low barometre of decency, but I digress—in his transition which makes them better than you.) No wonder he didn’t feel safe or accepted to come out. (Props to Bruce and ABC for mentioning the very real violence trans people face, especially trans women of colour who aren’t protected by the security Bruce has.)

Maybe it’s just because I try to surround myself with progressive people (at least online if not IRL), but the reaction to Bruce’s interview has been overwhelmingly positive. Those who actually took the time to listen to his experiences can take into account the obstacles put in Bruce’s way that have prevented him from living his truth in public. Maybe it will open their eyes to the obstacles put in the way of other trans people who haven’t been #blessed with the privileges Bruce Jenner has.

*I’m referring to Bruce by his birth name and using male pronouns as that is what he’s stated a preference for at this time and is in line with GLAAD’s guidelines.

Elsewhere: [Slate] Jill Soloway Apologises for Joking About Bruce Jenner on Facebook.

[The Mary Sue] Why Transparent Has Lost the Trust of the Trans Community.

[Jezebel] Alice Eve is Sorry She Said Bruce Jenner is “Playing at Being a Woman”. 

[GLAAD] GLAAD Responds to ABC News Interview with Bruce Jenner, Releases Tip Sheet for Journalists.

Image via ABC News.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

laverne-cox-nude

Playboy has a surprisingly positive take on Laverne Cox’s nude photoshoot for Allure (SFW).

Meanwhile, a conservatively idiotic “feminist” lambasts the shoot because it promotes an unrealistic, sexualised and “fake” version of womanhood. (I’m not linking to the website because I don’t want to give them traffic.)

For a nuanced look at reconciling black and trans femininity from the woman herself, check out Laverne’s conversation with bell hooks, below.

Mel Campbell on Anzac Day hysteria and the fallout from Scott McIntyre’s tweets and subsequent firing from SBS. [Spook Magazine]

The rise of emotional male musicians. [Pitchfork]

The face of World Wrestling Entertainment, a company that participates in anti-bullying campaigns, John Cena, who is held up as a role model to children, implicated that a woman prostituted herself because her “pimp” physically abused her. And this is the “PG-era”. [Cageside Seats]

Australia’s outrage over Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran’s executions illustrates this country’s hypocrisy. [The Drum]

I recapped Outback Championship Wrestling’s Anzac Day show with Tyrus.

I’m also speaking to the OCW Heavyweight Champion, Drew Galloway, on the second edition of their podcast.

Image via Allure.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

A WWE Diva tweeted about sexism and misogyny and the internet proved her theory. [Uproxx]

Have all fictional women on TV been raped? [Batty Mamzelle]

Another piece in defence of Amber Rose. [Bitch]

The men’s rights movement doesn’t help men at all. [Junkee]

Calling out racism is great, but we need to be mindful that we aren’t perpetuating stereotypes and speaking for minorities when we stand up for them. [Daily Life]

Why are Aussies so shit at dating? [Spook Magazine]

Is working on your art while your partner supports you anti-feminist? [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman]

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Madonna-Drake-Kiss-1

Five times Madonna sucked the life-force out of young ingenues. [Maxim]

And the sexual politics of that kiss. [Role Reboot]

I wrote about the connection between Crossroads and Grey’s Anatomy. [Bitch Flicks]

Mad Men‘s best literary references. [Vulture]

A bitch is an opinionated woman who’s not especially beautiful while doing it. [Daily Life]

Providing women with safety tips is a moot point because women are attacked everywhere under all circumstances. [Bullshit Blog]

How the way we speak about Hillary Clinton may influence her presidential bid. [Think Progress]

Here are some practical ways to address the epidemic of violence against women in Australia instead of perpetuating the “monster myth”. [Birdee, White Ribbon]

eat sleep rape repeat coachella

What the “Eat, Sleep, Rape, Repeat” tshirt can teach us about rape culture at music festivals. [Vice]

Janelle Monae is not for male consumption. [Gradient Lair]

Wishing rape on a rapist further perpetuates rape culture. [Daily Life]

“Men, Stop Being Dicks About Condoms.” [Spook Magazine]

“In Defence of the Selfie.” [Spook Magazine]

Have you ever noticed that ubiquitous rom com scene in which the female protagonist wonders out loud whether she “had sex” with the male love interest while drunk? Honey, if you have to ask, it’s rape. [Shakesville]

How celebrities sharing their abortion stories may change the way we think about and legislate reproductive rights. [Flavorwire]

Images via Watchcloud, Jezebel.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

greys anatomy you are the sun

Following on from last season’s “lean in” motif, this season on Grey’s Anatomy it’s all about its women taking time for themselves, whether that’s personal or professional. [Bitch Flicks]

Personal space is a feminist issue. [Sociological Images]

Loving football (and, indeed, wrestling) doesn’t make you a bad feminist. [Kill Your Darlings]

How will you know when you’ve made it? For me I think it will be when I’ve been published a) on Daily Life and b) in the American market; headhunted for something; verified on Twitter; and when those I admire in the same industry see me as a peer. How will you know? [The Hairpin]

And Rachel Hills ponders what it means to have made it, and ways to pass the time while you’re waiting to. [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman]

Young, single and successful women are increasingly living alone in affluent cities. [Daily Life]

In defence of Amber Rose:

“Amber Rose is hot. Amber Rose is also a mom. Amber Rose was also a wife. And if T.I. can be a convicted felon who’s rapped about sex, guns, and drugs and still be ‘father knows best’ on The Family Hustle once a week, why is a sexy woman suddenly an unfit mother just because she posts photos in her lingerie? If you don’t like what you think she represents, make sure you’re just as vocal about these less-than-angelic men raising children while bragging about one-night stands and trappin’. If they’re just entertaining and expressing themselves, then so is she. If they’re just living up to an image and a brand, then so is she.” [The Daily Beast]

And while we’re at it, in defence of Rihanna. [Buzzfeed]

Can World Wrestling Entertainment #GiveDivasaChance to be in the main event of WrestleMania 32? [Between the Ropes]

It wasn’t Jackie’s responsibility to get the details of her rape correct; it was Rolling Stone‘s. [The Guardian]

Stop calling women crazy. [Birdee]

ICYMI: the ties that bind us in menstruation and do you ever feel like you’re trapped behind a screen?

If these links haven’t sated your appetite for feminist goodness, the 83rd Down Under Feminists Carnival has arrived featuring much more from Australia and New Zealand. [Opinions @ BlueBec]

Image via Tumblr.

Trapped Behind a Screen.

writer at computer

Do you ever feel like the banalities of daily life just get too much and your inner id is clawing to get out and experience the world beyond your computer screen?

That’s how I’m feeling at the moment. It’s not like I wake up every morning and dread going to my day job, which I certainly have in the past, but work, am I right?

I think it’s more of a FOMO thing that’s making my inner child scream from within me. Walking to work, I pass buildings that I’d rather be inside of or would rather be passing in another city. At my desk, I check Twitter and catch up on blogs and it feels like everyone is doing much cooler things than I am, making their dreams come true and contributing to society in a way that I can’t when I’m trapped behind a screen in an unfulfilling job.

FOMO is new to me. I’m rarely envious of other people save for the passing pang of professional rivalry when an acquaintance has a piece published somewhere I’d like to be published or the good-natured “I’m sooo jealous” when a friend is off on an overseas trip. And spare me the “maybe you need to switch off from technology and social media and get out and do something”; social media is often the only thing that keeps me connected to the things I want to be doing, the places I want to be and the people I want to meet. The job I’m in pursuit of doing full-time—freelance writing—will see me spending more time behind the screen so that’s not an option.

This discontentment is a finite state: I have plans in place that will see me living my best life. Unfortunately, said day job is an integral part of those plans because money. And time to make that money.

In the grand scheme of things the time I’m biding is a drop in the ocean. That’s a good analogy, actually: you know when you’ve just pulled up at the beach after a long road trip to get there and the water is calling to you and you just want to run to it but your mum’s there insisting on another sunscreen application and dad’s unloading the trunk with towels and eskies and the like. My future life, the one I’m yearning to be living right now, is calling to me like the ocean from behind the windscreen.

Image via Sarah Ayoub.

Blood Bonds: The Sisterhood of Menstruation.

instagram period

Periods are a hot topic at the moment. There was the recent Instagram furor that saw a photo of a fully-clothed woman in bed with a blood stain on her trackies and sheets banned for violating the social media platform’s guidelines and Rebecca Shaw—also known as the holy saviour of the interwebs, Brocklesnitch—wrote at Kill Your Darlings about the menstruation taboo. Like a period, these both came around the time that I had also been thinking and talking about the bonds of blood that signify womanhood.

A female friend and colleague and I were discussing the ins and outs of periods. Topics on the agenda included trepidation about going back on/discontinuing the pill, men’s fear of anything to do with menstruation, and the miracle of being able to go about our daily lives whilst shedding parts of our internal organs on a monthly basis.

My friend assumed she was the only woman she knew not on the pill, while I increasingly feel I’m alone in my medicated state. I’ve been on the pill continuously for ten years (cue blood clot panic), originally to regulate the intensity of my periods, and now mostly for the convenience of being able to choose when to bleed and the fear of breaking out. (I don’t have unprotected sex regularly enough to use the pill for this purpose.)

On the topic of men, I reminisced about a male former housemate, who couldn’t even speak the name of a pantyliner when I accidentally left one unwrapped in the bathroom. Additionally, such frank period talk in the vicinity of men is usually met with groans and the covering of ears. Sorry (not sorry), but if you’re an adult man and you exist in the world with women, periods are a fact of life. The fact of life, if you will. Deal with it.

Something that becomes so routine as to not even phase you is actually pretty amazing when you think about it. Comedian Cameron Esposito’s routine about periods, above, reiterates my point as she hilariously and disgustingly muses about chunks “the size of strawberr[ies]… coming out of my body” but still endeavours to “have that report for you by tomorrow.” Add it to the checklist of things that many women have to do above and beyond the roles of men.

All of this chatter would indicate that periods also serve as a female bonding ritual. “I wonder if men bond over foreskins the way women bond over periods,” my friend asked. Firstly, eww. Secondly, while there is the brit milah in Jewish culture, nothing comes close to the social and cultural rituals surrounding menstruation.

Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, asserts that menstruation is a god given process essential to the creation of any human being. In Indian Hinduism menarche is a cause for celebration with the young woman in question receiving gifts, not unlike Judaism’s bat mitzvah celebration which focuses more on physical age than puberty. Similarly, in Native American tradition puberty and first blood are cause for celebration with menstruating women’s power revered. Shaktism has perhaps the most positive attitude towards periods, with the annual fertility festival Ambubachi Mela taking place in June in which the menstruation of goddess Kamakhya is celebrated.

The act of purchasing sanitary products may not be highly anticipated (and don’t even get me started on the added burden this puts on homeless women and women on Nauru, for example), but the sharing of them, whether that be between mothers and daughters or other family members/adults of influence in a young woman’s life at puberty, friends or other women who happen to be using a bathroom in tandem, is a ritual in itself. While Carrie may be a horror story about the denial of womanhood, many other films and TV have a more realistic portrayal of blood bonds: think the power dyanmics at play when Carrie lends “Face Girl” Nina Katz a tampon on Sex & the City; White Chicks’ white friends offering them an assortment of sanitary products; and the “super jumbo tampon” scene in Mean Girls. Lauren Rosewarne even wrote a whole book about the pop cultural representations of periods.

For those who may not have authority figures or friends to teach them about the bloody birds and the bees, teen and women’s magazines such as Dolly and Girlfriend and websites like Birdee come with an abundance of information. This is not to mention the sanitary products bursting from their pages and attached to their covers as free samples.

The ostracision of periods in polite company and the freak outs that men have when confronted with them mean women only have each other to talk about periods with, creating a bond whether we like it or not. That the specifics of who is and isn’t on birth control; who has painful periods that land them in the emergency room; the age of menarche; and, for older women, when their periods stopped are discussed freely amongst friends and even acquaintances is a testament to both the bonding rituals and banality of periods. The very phenomenon of synced cycles for women existing in close quarters is proof enough of the sisterhood of menstruation for better or for worse.

Elsewhere: [Daily Life] Should We Be Treating Periods as a Feminist Issue?

[Kill Your Darlings] An Inconvenient Truth: Social Stigma & Menstruation.

[Vice] For Homeless Women, Having a Period Isn’t a Hassle—It’s a Nightmare.

[New Matilda] Sanitary Pads “A Fire Hazard”: The Realities of Life for Mothers and Children on Nauru.

[Amazon] Periods in Pop Culture: Menstruation in Film & Television by Lauren Rosewarne.

Image via Daily Life.