By and large, Huckabee’s comments [about Bruce Jenner] have been portrayed as out of touch and out of date…
Yet, despite the apparent tide of opinion seeming to shift in favor of transgender rights, there’s a sizable, mostly silent, contingent uncomfortable with the issue. It is these Americans – Gen Xers and baby boomers in Middle America, the Bible Belt, and the conservative West – that represent Huckabee’s audience.
A February 2015 Harris poll found that about 40 percent of Americans show discomfort with a transgender person supervising children, and more than a third say they’d feel discomfort playing on a sports team that included a transgender athlete. The poll showed higher levels of discomfort in the South on nearly every LGBT issue.
For those respondents, Huckabee is a spokesman willing to give voice to their views and go where few other politicians would.
[Jenner] is addressing the nation as an avatar for a political/social idea, to wit, that a transwoman is actually a woman, and that, furthermore, in his estimation, he is “the new normal,” and we should just agree to the normality of all this, and also gladly agree to expand the choking number of Polite Fictions our cultural-marxist-mediated society demands by just a couple more. (That is, until the next pressure group comes demanding something.)
And on that level I must reject his request. To ask someone to indulge a polite fiction in a personal context is one thing; but to ask — or, as many other transextremists do, demand — that one agree to a lie that someone else finds pleasing is quite another.
It is obvious that “Caitlyn Jenner” is not a woman in the way “woman” is commonly meant. Whatever he is, he is free to follow his own bliss, but I must insist that my mind be left unmolested in all this exciting Social Justice Campaigning.
He is free to pursue his sex reassignment surgery as long as I am free to say the simple truth that he has in fact has sex reassignment surgery. And, while we might politely indulge the idea that he is a woman, the short list of straight liberal men lining up to date this “hot woman” attests to the fact that he is not quite that.
This is an obvious point of conflict. If Bruce Jenner was always a woman, even when he was a man, then wasn’t he competing in the wrong category at the Olympics? If not, why not? Should he be allowed to keep his medals? If so, why?
Some enterprising reporter ought to call up Glenn Kessler and some of the other “fact checkers” and ask them if it is true that Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner is–as a factual matter–a woman and, if she is, ask them to fact-check the date on which she became a woman.
Their answers would be deeply revealing.
This is a problem for the broader liberal sexual movement. It wants to celebrate transgenderism, but it cannot do so without referring to—and thus, at least tacitly affirming—gender norms. To celebrate Jenner’s femininity is actually to commit a liberal heresy: to revert back to a form of gender essentialism.
There’s a flip side to this coin. As we noted, liberal sexual philosophy strips the term “gender” of all normative meaning. It reduces gender to a cultural phenomenon. In doing this, it robs transgenderism of its key claims to gender authenticity, and therefore of its right to moral affirmation. Consider it this way: If gender has no real connection to biology and certain social traits, then someone’s claim to a gender identity is virtually meaningless. And if it is meaningless, how can we be morally obliged to recognize it—let alone even understand it?…
Hence, the liberal contradiction. If you truly celebrate Jenner’s transition, you have to do it by recognizing some cultural narrative about womanhood, thereby perpetuating gender “inequality.” But if you’re committed to the abolition of gender norms, there’s no way you can affirm Jenner’s femininity, except in the meaningless abstract. It’s a lose-lose…
The transformation of Bruce Jenner into Caitlyn Jenner only proves this reality. For Bruce to actualize his “true gender”—his femininity—he had to get a sex change and dress up as a woman. His “gender” had obvious implications for how he would live.
What exactly does a trans woman think it means to feel like a woman? When a person identifies as female, what is being defined as female? Is it the breasts? Lips? Ass? Slim waist? Small hands? Batting eyelashes? Flirtatious smile? Long hair? Finger-nail polish? Eyeliner? Lipstick? Submissiveness? Thighs? Heels? Demureness? A want to be taken care of? A want to be adored? Cat-called? Beautified? Idealized? Softness? Quietness? Is there some feeling inherent to the placement of ovaries, other than monthly cramps and bleeding, that can be attributed to a feeling of femaleness?…
It’s the trans movement, not the media, that insists that people with gender dysphoria must present themselves physically as their actual gender, not the one they were assigned. They argue it isn’t a choice. But this literally defines being a woman as having physical attributes attractive to men. Jenner didn’t get surgery to have the breasts of the average 65-year-old woman…
As Jenner accepts the Arthur Asche ESPY award for courage, our daughters and sons are being asked to think of Caitlyn in the way we used to think of Susan B Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. What Jenner is doing in this PR-driven, reality-show-style reveal may or may not be courageous, but it is not empowering to women. It is rather, to quote Germaine Greer, “a ghastly parody.”
In a noble attempt to be empathetic to confused and vulnerable people, third-wave feminists have sold out their progenitors. By accepting the notion that gender is merely a social construct they have hollowed out the very ground upon which their sisters of old marched. Being a woman is what Kant called a “ding an sich,” a thing in itself. It is a biological reality, it is powerful, and important and underrepresented and often underappreciated, but it’s a real thing. It’s not someone who was once a man living out a Victoria Secret model fantasy. And anyone who calls themself a feminist should know that.
If you’re committed to an overarching (religious or philosophical) vision of human flourishing that precludes gender reassignment surgery, then an expression of disapproval and perhaps even disgust at the Vanity Fair cover would seem to be in order. But if you’ve left behind any such comprehensive morality of ends in favor of a morality of rights, then it’s hard to see what’s wrong with Jenner’s actions, or with the magazine in promoting them publicly on its cover. No one is harmed as a result, and the harm Bruce Jenner felt as a woman trapped in a man’s body has (one hopes) been alleviated by undergoing the surgical transformation into Caitlyn.
But of course many people who uphold a morality of rights go further than merely cheering on Caitlyn Jenner’s coming out as a woman. They want to protect her from the emotional harm of being judged, disapproved of, and treated as an object of disgust by those who persist in upholding a morality of ends. That’s where the gap between the two moralities becomes a chasm, since the morality of rights judges the very act of making a moral judgment in terms of a morality of ends to be harmful — and therefore an act of cruelty, injustice, and even evil.
Conservatives deserve better than to have their comprehensive vision of the human good treated with contempt. But liberals deserve to have their own moral commitments recognized as what they are — expressions of an absolute (if less-than-comprehensive) moral outlook — rather than dismissed as a diabolical drive toward infinite erotic liberation.
Folks, one of the motivations, one of the reasons — purposes, if you will — of defining a new normal is also defining the new weirdos. When society’s norms come under assault and attack as discriminatory, mean-spirited, bigoted, racist, homophobic, sexist, misogynist, whatever — when those norms come under assault as rooted in those characteristics and new norms are sought and desired — the new norms now will consist of homosexuality and transgenderism and different definition of marriage and what have you.
One of the purposes of doing that is to also redefine the new weirdos, and who do you think the new weirdos are? I don’t think there is any doubt that this is a studied attempt. At least from those that are doing all of this with a political agenda attached, the objective here — and it’s not new. It’s been happening for quite a while right in front of our eyes. It is to portray conservatives/Christians/Republicans as the real weirdos. “They’re the real oddballs! They are the ones! They’re the ones that are not cool.
I mean, they’re antiques. They’re from a long-gone era that has long ago been bypassed. They’re just relics, and they’ve got to be just phased out.” I think that is, in large part, one of the objectives as well is to redefine not just the new normals, but the new weirdos. I think that’s actually what’s going on. When you hear people talk about the Republican Party and its “branding problem,” that’s really what they’re talking about, unknowingly. That’s manifesting of all this…
“I am the new normal. We are the new normal.” Just like a disastrous plunging economy is the new normal. Just like hard is to get Obamacare health insurance, hard to get actually Obamacare treatment. It’s the new norm. America in decline, politically, economically, now cultural, that’s the new norm. And you better learn it, love it, and live it.