This week’s blog post I chose to watch and read up on Caitlyn Jenner, as well as answer the questions, “what visual cues do we use to determine someone’s gender?” As well as, “what has shaped your ideas of race and gender that inform you on how to perceive someone’s racial or gender identity?”
In today’s overrated society of image, looks, and tangible items that increase peoples’ value, often times the real value of a person’s true character and personality on the inside is lost. Society focuses more on how you look “on the outside”, rather than how you look “on the inside”. The simple and age-old rules such as “don’t judge a book by its cover”, has seemingly gotten tossed out the window. Nowadays people are solely focused on what makes themselves happy and successful, but only as long as it is seen as acceptable by the cultural you live in. Furthermore, for the people who do choose to stand out, such as Caitlin Jenner (former Bruce Jenner), who has taken a stand to try and change the judging eyes of the world around her, can face pride, as well as criticism as they try and navigate a very taboo subject in our country.
When the topic of gender and sexuality arises, I immediately think of my sociology course in high school. During one of the final weeks, we focused on the issue of gender and how society plays a very poignant role. From the time before we are born, society uses gender to label us. When you think of the word “female”, certain things immediately come to mind. Shades of pink, dress up, playing with dolls and pretty little bows may be some of the generic things you would associate with being a girl. Furthermore, we often buy toys for children based on gender, for example, tools for a toolbox for boys, as opposed to a kitchen set we might get for a young girl. However while this may be a true liking for most girls, many others despise these things. Society has gone so far as to make things segregated by gender, even as young children that we begin to conform to these roles put on us by the world around us. We associate things such as long hair a female attribute, and usually frown upon seeing a man with hair touching his shoulders. While these things in no way harm any of us, they are still things that cause us to determine someone’s gender and what we deem is acceptable or not. Gender is largely environmentally related, and just because a male or female may choose to do something the opposite gender does, should not make them judged poorly. In our lives, intersectionality is used to understand the various influences such as gender, sexuality, race, social class, and others.
Recently in the news, Caitlyn Jenner has been portrayed in numerous ways, both positively and negatively. While some have praised her for her strength in showing her true self, others have criticized her for things such as winning the ESPY award for courage, remarking that other nominees such as a soldier from war were far more deserving of such a prestigious award. I personally watched the interviews by Diane Sawyer before I knew of this assignment, and I found Jenner’s story very interesting. During their interview, Jenner mentioned she disagreed with the often-heard expression of being stuck in the wrong body, however she stated she always knew she felt like a girl (ABC news, 2015). Throughout talking with Diane Sawyer, Jenner maintains that Bruce was simply an extension of who she is, and that she is now able to live as her “true self”. What I also found intriguing, was an article posted by Elinor Burkett to the New York Times called, “What makes a Woman?” in which Gina Rippon, a neuroscientist noted that if you were to pick up a human brain, you could not say which was a woman’s and which was a man’s simply by looking at them (Burkett, 2015). We are a society who has molded our population into two categories, male and female, when sometimes this is not the norm for people such as Caitlyn Jenner. While Vanity Fair may have noted all the surgeries and procedures done in order for Bruce to become Caitlyn, such as the tracheal shave (shaving down the adam’s apple commonly seen on men), Jenner feels he is now able to share his full story of both triumphs and hardships (Bissinger, 2015).
Bissinger, Buzz. “Caitlyn Jenner: The Full Story.” Vanity Fair. July 1, 2015. Accessed August 7, 2015.
Burkett, Elinor. 2015. “What Makes a Woman?.” The New York Times. The New York Times Company.
Jenner, Bruce. “Bruce Jenner The Interview.” Interview by Diane Sawyer. ABC News. ABC News Internet Ventures, 24 April 2015. Web. 3 August 2015.