The rights of transgender individuals to use the bathroom which aligns with their gender identity has become a major hot button issue in the past few years. I didn’t have much cause to think about it until recently, when I saw a sign posted at a local YMCA that states that individuals are allowed to use the bathroom which correlates with their gender identity. Again, I never thought about it until I was on line with my daughter for the bathroom at another (different) location and an individual dressed in women’s clothes and wearing a wig, was on line ahead of us. No one said anything. No raised eyebrows or exchanged glances, or at least none that I noticed. The individual went in, went out and that was it.
Maybe because I live in a very liberal city, maybe because I’m woman and the bathrooms are typically multi-stalled or maybe because it’s not that big a deal, but I think unisex bathrooms are a reasonable way to be inclusive and respectful towards everyone. Who knew that ‘Ally McBeal’ would be way ahead of its time? I thought about this and wondered, what about locker rooms? The reality is, not everyone is a decent human being. If the YMCA’s policy allows access strictly based on self identity, then you make the grave assumption that everyone is going to be forthright and honor the spirit in which the provision was made, but we know that’s not the case.
My issue is that in an effort to be on the right side of history, politicians are putting the cart before the horse, causing anxiety and resistance to what is an important cause. Unless re-design happens within the necessary areas to make it more amenable for everyone to use, everyone shouldn’t use them.
A recent episode of WatchMojo featured a top ten list of celebrities that are famous for no reason. What struck me was that the only ones who made the cut were females. A tired trend on a lot of these lists. Search the term ‘famous for nothing,’ and you’ll see countdowns littered with the usual suspects (reality stars, children of celebs) and topped by the mother of them all, Kim Kardashian. A few years ago, I would have nodded my head to the beat and banged the drum in the hater parade, but now, I see two things:
Self-righteous judgment masquerading as promotion of talent and true art. The 2000s ushered in the golden (or dark, depending on who you ask) age of reality TV as well the communication landscape known as social media. Suddenly, reaching thousands or millions of people was not the sole province of the chosen few. ANYONE can cross the threshold from obscurity into celebrity without having to beg permission from the establishment. So what happens? Card carrying members of the elite don’t want to walk red carpets and be named in the same breath with someone who’s most famous for pooping on a flight of stairs. So, the argument goes that reality TV celebrates what’s wrong with America and gives a tremendous platform for foolishness, so the success of any person in that genre makes a mockery of success. Only hard workers and people with discernible gifts (not hood rats and rednecks) get touched by Midas. But that’s what so great about reality TV… it democratizes fame. But this type of notoriety, while the easiest to attain, is tremendously difficult to manage because it requires YOU. When an actor or singer gets criticized, it’s about what they do (or maybe what they wear), something separate from their individual selves. For a reality star, you’re getting railed on for who you are on a regular basis (multiply that through social media and you’ve got a recipe for disaster). This is not a life that many can handle much less maintain for a long time, so some credit is due to those who survive which leads to…
Why all the hate? Especially for women that have managed to make something of themselves in a field littered with burnouts and has-beens? So many of the tirades that mention people who are ‘famous for no reason’ almost NEVER mention men. For all the Kardashian talk, no one seems to remember that Brody Jenner’s fame stems almost entirely from reality TV and his debut (in 2005 with The Princes of Malibu) predates his step-sisters’. But mentioning a few male examples isn’t the point. In our culture, there’s something infuriating about a woman who figures out how to monetize her good looks or charisma or both in a way that increases her capital and status. We get mad about the pretty twenty-something who marries the millionaire; she gets called a gold-digger (he doesn’t get called any names); we roll our eyes and suck our teeth at the size 2 supermodel making thousands per fashion shoot (but give a pass to the (likely male) designer and agent who require she maintain her size to fit the clothes) and we gossip about that cute (and competent) co-worker getting all the attention from the front office (but we’re not questioning the fact that the ones at the top of the chain are all men). Women who succeed at using their feminine wiles turn the system on it’s head because they win at game they’re supposed to lose. They snub the idea that the only time it’s acceptable for a woman to be pretty and charming is in service of a man. They also turn their backs on conventional wisdom about what it means to be ladylike. Are Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton this century’s greatest feminists? I’m not sure, but they’re definitely doing something.