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.

Madame Tussauds re-appoints tissue attendant to deal with teary One Direction fans, London, Britain - 31 Mar 2015

The strange world of One Direction conspiracy theories. [Slate]

Clementine Ford on the lax parole conditions that saw Adrian Bayley free to rape and murder Jill Meagher two and a half years ago:

“The gut-wrenching irony is that Bayley was able to rape and murder the kind of woman our community values most because justice wasn’t pursued for the crimes he committed against the women that same community values least.” [The Age]

Periods aren’t a divine gift from the reproductive gods but a bodily function that we shouldn’t be ashamed of. I love this. As someone who’s been on birth control for over ten years primarily because it controls the intensity and frequency of my periods (I don’t have unprotected sex often enough to use it for that purpose) and who doesn’t want biological children, I thank Clem Bastow for giving me what feels like permission to view my period as a inconvenience that comes around every few months, costing me money. Sometimes this ideology can make me feel alienated from a feminism that celebrates periods. The recent Instagram furor that inspired this story doesn’t so much celebrate periods as position them as a fact of life that sometimes stains your sheets and underwear. More on this to come. [Daily Life]

Why Rachel Hills writes about sex. [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman]

Can you be a feminist and want to be beautiful? I’ve been thinking about this a bit lately, too. [Spook Magazine]

ICYMI: Why are women (and men) who haven’t had romantic success presumed gay?

Image via Yahoo!

On the (Rest of the) Net.

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Saved by the bell hooks.

Rushing University of Virginia frats and sororities in the wake of the Rolling Stone expose. [Jezebel]

The problem with Humans of New York. [Warscapes]

Why Katy Perry was the perfect choice to play this years’ Superbowl halftime show. [Slate]

My second roundup of links for feminaust.

total divas eva marie

I wrote about body image on Total Divas. [Bitch Flicks]

Australia is a nation of bystanders when it comes to the plights of asylum seekers. [Junkee]

Why we need an obituary for Australia’s—and, on a larger scale, the world’s—sexist publishing industry. [Daily Life]

I helped compile this list of past Lifted Brow interns when I was an intern there myself last year.

The third-wave feminism of Pitch Perfect. [Bitch Flicks]

Kendall Jenner is the future of fashion, whether we like it or not. [TheVine]

Australia’s immigration department has denied serial intimate partner abuser and boxer Floyd “Money” Mayweather a visa to enter the country. [Herald Sun]

To Kill a Mockingbird still matters because #BlackLivesMatter. [Daily Dot]

On the (Rest of the) Net.

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Women of colour’s sexuality in Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” VS. J.Lo and Iggy Azalea’s “Booty”:

“I’m not saying that any time a woman displays her body it has to be subversive or a statement; rather, it all contributes to the way women’s bodies are seen in media, so we should be mindful of that.” [The Music]

I wrote about the women of Masters of Sex. [TheVine]

Household chores aren’t a woman thing: they’re a person thing. [Jezebel]

When celebrities become spokespeople for feminism. [The Guardian, Kill Your Darlings]

“There’s something suspicious about anyone eager to identify with the oppressed”: on male feminists. [The Cut]

Cosmopolitan US editor Joanna Coles talks about the magazine changing its politics. [NPR]

On the semiotics of the Basic Bitch. [The Cut]

And a “thot” is like the black version of a Basic Bitch: “both pinpoint a woman’s consumption habits in order to impugn her character”. [Slate]

Image via Hip Hip ‘n’ More.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Muslim women “are spoken for and about constantly in mainstream media but are rarely permitted to speak for themselves, despite this being the very accusation levelled against Islam and Muslim societies.” [Daily Life]

This piece perfectly sums up the problem with Glee: it never allowed itself—or its characters—to grow. [Bitch Flicks]

Gone Girl on film perpetuates the misogyny the book was perhaps crafting a commentary against:

“The Amy of Fincher’s Gone Girl isn’t Cool, or complicated, or sympathetic. She’s the ‘crazy fucking bitch’ that Nick calls her, yet another example for the eternal argument for women’s unhingeability and hysteria.” [Buzzfeed]

“What does it take for an Asian male to get some action on TV?” [Vulture]

The 77th Down Under Feminists Carnival has a bunch of fantastic links from feminist writers in Australia and New Zealand in the past month. For the month prior, check out my curation. [Zero at the Bone]

What if men were told the same things women about their bodies and sex? [The Guardian]

President Obama keeps making sexist comments about his marriage. [Slate]

Michael Corleone. Walter White. The Joker. Amy Dunne? Is Gone Girl‘s sociopathic protagonist just another brilliant antihero? [Lainey Gossip]

California’s new affirmative consent laws will not “redefine most sex as rape”. [Feministing]

“The Price of Black Ambition.” [VQR]

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Pulling Rihanna’s song as Thursday Night Football’s song in the wake of the Ray Rice domestic violence controversy because she’s a survivor of domestic violence herself is idiotic and a form of victim-blaming:

“While the network may have been peeved at Rihanna’s reaction, this is a terrible decision. The Ray Rice controversy blew up not just because of the video, but also because the Baltimore Ravens and the NFL initially portrayed domestic violence as a couple’s mutual responsibility, instead of holding the abuser solely responsible. By cutting Rihanna’s song in part because she got beat up by her now-ex Chris Brown in 2009, CBS is treating yet another victim like she’s the problem here. The move is also troubling because it suggests that no matter how many records she sells or where she goes with her career, in many people’s eyes (such as those of CBS executives), Rihanna is defined by someone else’s choice to attack her.” [Slate]

Why comparing Ray Rice to Hope Solo is stupid. [Slate]

A video series on what it’s like to be Duke porn star Belle Knox. (NSFW) [The Scene]

Talking to Shonda Rhimes about Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder and that New York Times piece that called her and many of her characters “angry black women”. [NPR]

And Janet Mock expertly debunks the “angry black woman” stereotype. [Janet Mock]

An ode to Romy and Michele’s enduring friendship. [Bitch Flicks]

When being in a fraternity makes college-aged men 300% more likely to commit rape, should we ban frats? [The Guardian]

The problem with Emma Watson’s UN gender equality speech. [Black Girl Dangerous]

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Language matters: Why we need to acknowledge that the Hunt family were “murdered” by the man they loved and trusted, not that the five “deaths” of the family were a “horrible tragedy”. [MamaMia]

Baltimore Ravens fans might not “believe in domestic violence” but they still wore Ray Rice jerseys to the team’s home game last week. [CBS New York]

The history of booty-eating (SFW). [Gawker]

The problem with our Jack the Ripper obsession. [New Republic]

Cosmopolitan and politics aren’t mutually exclusive. [Cosmopolitan]

Why did we forget about the anniversary of September 11 this year? [Daily Dot]

The women of Taylor Swift’s music. [Slate]

Dating within your class on Tinder. [Buzzfeed]

And online dating within your race. [Daily Life]

An ode to celebrity workout videos. [Rookie]