Today my Facebook news feed has been flooded with the bizarre Bruce (Caitlyn) Jenner photo shoot from the recent Vanity Fair magazine. The photos have been called “stunning.” Yeah…I was certainly stunned. More than that, I was offended.
Bruce Jenner’s claim is that his facial-feminizing surgery is about “who he is as a person.” WTF? I’m sorry, but what does that mean? Has Bruce spent his entire life wishing that he/she had the face of a woman, large breasts, and a penis? Bruce is now calling himself “she,” and he’s taken the name Caitlyn. Once again…WTF?
This evening, I read more about Bruce’s transformation. I wanted to figure out why I was feeling so offended. I have friends, both men and women, who are gay, and I am not offended by their lives. I finally figured it out. What offends me about this is the fact that this man thinks that he can just suddenly become a woman. A couple of large breasts, long hair, and feminizing facial features do NOT make a woman. That is what offends me. Just as I do not know what it means to grow up as a male and grow into a man, Bruce cannot so easily claim entry into womanhood simply by surgical alteration. Would I be a man if I grew a beard and had something hanging between my legs? NO!
I am not defined as a woman by my facial features, my hair, or my breasts. I am not defined as a woman because I have ovaries and a uterus. These things could be removed, and I would still be a woman. I am not a woman simply because I have carried my children within my own body and given birth in pain. Without these things, I would still be a woman.
I am a woman, because of the generations of women who came before me. They are who guided me and taught me what it means to be a woman on the inside. I gathered eggs with my ancient great-grandmother as she told me the stories of her life. I sat on my grandma’s front porch as we shelled peas into a bowl while I soaked in even other lessons. I learned gentleness and strength from these women. They prepared me with stories, laughter, and love for what would lay beyond my years of childhood. They prepared me for the secret, magical, sometimes scary world of womanhood.
I have four children – two boys and two girls. I love them all immensely and without reservation. Each one of them is an amazingly unique individual. Still, I will admit that I have a special kinship with my daughters. We are able to understand each other in a way that often astonishes me. We can communicate without words, and we can communicate non-stop with words. We speak freely of anything and everything, and we’re able to clear the male members of the family quickly from any room when our talk becomes too candid.
My daughters are the new generation in the long, long sisterhood of women. I share my stories of magic and mystery with them. Someday, if I am very lucky, I will be an ancient old woman sharing my stories with some yet-to-be little girl. That is what it means to be a woman, Bruce.