The former Bruce Jenner was an Olympian and respected personality. The new Caitlyn Jenner is fodder for media outlets to either extol her bravery or ridicule her journey to what is still considered weak and inferior — being a woman.
Like many others, I posted the Vanity Fair cover on my Facebook wall, and comments ranged from, “She looks fabulous” to “Her breasts look real!” Today, in a restaurant, I overheard men talking about the “Jenner thing” (their word for all the media hype), and they referred to her as “it”. Not him or her, just “it”. Now that she is no longer a masculine specimen to behold and revere, she is just her looks, her breasts, and an oddity: an “it”.
Jon Stewart hit the nail on the head in his acerbic commentary on Jenner’s transformation, noting that now that she is a woman, the only thing people will consider is her “comparative fuckability”. The Olympic gold medal is in the past. Jenner’s accomplishments in the future rest solely on how attractive she is. Thank god, she’s thin. I mean, if she were trans and fat and ugly, there’s no telling how the media would have treated her…. Or would the media have cared at all?
Another aspect of this journey that fascinates people is Jenner’s penis, which she still has according to interviews she has given. It is customary for a transwoman to wait a year before making the decision to turn the penis and scrotum into a vagina. This is a huge decision, and the penis surgery will be irreversible once done.
People are fascinated by the genitals, and we all know how much men adore their penises. Nearly every monument men have left throughout history has been phallic, from Egyptian obelisks to the Washington Monument to New York skyscrapers. Men who are insecure about their virility due to size tend to overcompensate in other ways, leading to accusations of Napoleonic Syndrome. And let’s not forget all the ammosexuals who must prove their manhood by showing off their bigger, longer, powerful assault rifles at the grocery store.
The penis transformation of sexual reassignment surgery continues to boggle people’s minds — because a person lucky enough to be born with a penis certainly must be crazy to cut it off, right? Having a penis comes with so much entitlement in our world. In the 20th century, tobacco companies marketed cigarettes to women with the understated sell that having a cigarette meant women could finally have a penis, too. Women no longer needed to be jealous that they were penis-less. Therefore, a man giving up everything that embodies masculinity to become a woman is the punchline to a cruel joke because being feminine, being female, being a woman is obviously still looked down upon in our society.
To Caitlyn Jenner: I wish it were different, and I think you are incredibly brave to have gone through this whole ordeal so publicly. But to echo Jon Stewart, welcome to life as a woman in this vast expanse of patriarchy, where your looks matter more than your intellect, your abilities, or your heart.
I hope this pain you’ve endured will help others who are also in pain. Thank you for being a role model — whether you are wearing sneakers or heels.