The Latest Gender Debate in the Media – Transgender Actors

I just finished reading an article stating that Scarlett Johansson stepped down from the role she had agreed to play, whereby she was going to portray a transgendered person.  Obviously this has been a media shit storm from the onset, especially when it was announced that she would play this role and not someone who was transgendered themselves.  Now, I have a few thoughts on this.

Firstly, why did she need to step down or decline the role?  Why in the world does the general populous get to dictate what a producer, director, writer, etc wants or can do with their movie and their investments?  If you don’t like something, don’t go see it.  Pretty simple stuff.  And as we all know, social media is a skewed view of what the real world wants or will support.  It’s a platform that works based on the notion that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and might I just add, something I absolutely loath in real life.

Second, are transgendered people actually trying to state that unless you are transgendered yourself, then you are not qualified to understand, empathize or portray what you go through?  Is this group truly preventing actors from acting?  Honestly!  Do you need to be a pirate to actually portray one on the big screen?  No?  Well then, this whole debacle is ridiculous.  Now, if you are saying that this role would have been perfect to award to a qualified transgendered person for exposure, etc, then please understand that this mindset works both ways.  If only a transgendered person could properly fill these shoes, then you open yourselves up to the criticism that transgendered people are only fit for transgendered roles.  And if I am not mistaken, that’s not what acting is about.  It’s actually about portraying someone else, and convincing the audience that your role is authentic and believable.  You know, pretend and make believe, or dare I say, to act?

Third, if this media shit storm strikes the movie or project hard enough, it could lose investors and never be made at all.  And then guess what, you just lost an amazing opportunity to bring a role like this into the mainstream dialogue.  The exposure you risk losing, cannot possibly be worth this much fuss, can it?  This seems like simple math.  Would you like something, or nothing?

Fourth and finally, if you truly believe that only a transgendered person is qualified to act out this very important part, then guess what?  You have failed to portray to the public exactly how you feel as an outsider in society.  And not to put too fine a point on it, but you will remain a victim and an outsider.  Not every member of society will be able to understand exactly what your pain is.  But know that each of us have our own unique pain, and it is empathy that allows us to work together as a society to accept and love one another.  And you do not need to wear every single human beings shoes to accomplish that.  It is time to learn how to communicate your thoughts and feelings in a more effective way and stop playing the poor me card.  We all try that as young children, and guess what?  It does not fly in the adult world.  So time to pick a different tactic!

And honestly, these arguments I have put forward can be substituted for a long list of social justice warrior causes that are currently in the media.  Stop giving grease to the squeaky wheel, just because we don’t want to hear it squeak anymore.  Instead lets try to get to the root cause of the problem and try to fix that.

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Social Media Versus Reality: Gender

I saw a tweet on Father’s Day, that basically asked you not to wish dad’s a happy father’s day if you are not sure of their preferred pronoun.  And well, this got me thinking…

Every time I take a social media break and get out into the real world I am stunned by the dichotomy of the two worlds.  And specifically I am talking about gender.  While I will not claim to be any sort of expert when it comes to all the gender diversity, I am certainly one who likes to have an open mind and always learn more.  I try to write with a less male/female vernacular, and I do attempt to employ the “softer” tones of they or them when it makes the words flow a little more naturally.  I do this, mostly because I want my writing to be relatable.  I want people to seamlessly put themselves in my shoes or gauge a new perspective free of the gender limits.  And while I cannot promise to always get it correct, I am happy to have a broader voice that appeals to more people.

With that in mind, I sometimes forget just how staggeringly different the real world is.  Social media is this idealized bubble of how society should be, mixed with trolls and outliers for a strange balance.  It works in a weird way.  I feel secure in my views and fairly happy that I am surrounded by so many sex positive and open minded individuals, even though I have no clue what many of them look like, (thanks social media).  We get along on a level that is interesting and often educational for me.  And that is in stark contrast to the realities of the offline world.

Take for example washrooms.  The online world makes it seem like genderless washrooms are becoming more and more common place and are an inclusive, amazing steps for businesses, schools and events to start incorporating.  And in the social media bubble, I am all for it.  No one should ever feel shamed for using the restroom.  But then, I get out into the real world and remember that going to the bathroom in front of people is absolutely awful!  I do not like peeing in front of women, so how in the hell could I comfortably do that with all genders in the same space?  Oh, wait… I do.  In many swing clubs, they have a bathroom where both men and women can go together to ensure that partners do not unnecessarily get separated from each other.  So, the reality is I have been doing this for years.  And yet, in the normal day to day setting, it feels uncomfortable and just plain wrong to do.  Especially in the workplace or in educational facilities. But a swing club is like a little invite only bubble, just as social media is.  Maybe in some future reality bodily functions won’t be such a big deal.  But today, in the here and now, I do not enjoy public washrooms!

So, let’s look at another example.  Using social media, I again try to use an inclusive voice.  I work hard to be mindful of my diverse network of people.  And in doing so, I try and catch myself when I call out men or women for bad behaviour.  I make many attempts to broaden my finger pointing and use words like people, or humans or really anything that removes gender.  But, the real world is a stark contrast from this online community.   I won’t lie, it’s so refreshing to sit down with a girlfriend and bitch about all the ways men and women are different.  To talk about gender in the workplace and just how lopsided even something as benign as dress code is.  For you see, the workplace is not an open and genderless environment.  Perhaps someday it will be, but right now, we are not even close to that.  It is polarized.  Men do this, wear this, talk like this, and women have their own rules for behaviour, dress and acceptable language they can use.

Gender exists all around us.  We see men who hold open doors, believe in being chivalrous, and always pay on a first date.  We see women getting dolled up, wearing high beautiful heels, and acting in a way that opens the door for me to take care of them.  If you go to a bar, you see men talking crash and crude, objectifying women.  And you see women gossiping and bitching for hours on end over a few bottles of wine.  Men work the physically challenging roles, and drink beer to unwind.  And the ladies, well, they are the nurses, the teachers and the caregivers.  Will this change?  Of course it will.  We are constantly evolving.  But when you talk on social media forums, it feels like men and women are being shamed for doing things that feel natural to their specific genders.  And we must remember that that is not healthy either.  It takes time to undo decades of gender roles and our socialization.  And truly, I don’t see a problem with maintaining a certain level of division, so long as there is a place to include those who want to break free of their moulds.

We are living in a polarized real world society, with the online community providing us an ideologized space.  There are going to be clashes as we figure this all out.  But if I can offer one peace of advice, just be open, understanding and inclusive wherever possible.  Don’t get too stressed out about calling people him/her/they/them.  Just be kind and respectful if you are ever corrected.  This is going to take time to figure out a system that works for as many people as possible.  We cannot expect language or gender norms like this to change overnight.

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An Unbalanced Gender Culture

I wrote a post in 2013, discussing the loss of male identity, and I highly encourage you all to please give this a quick read before continuing: A Push for Individuals.

I wrote that piece after a particularly difficult genders studies course in University.  Our professor was discussing rape culture, and the variation of machoism throughout our world.  How in some cultures men are encouraged by their male counterparts to cat call, grope and fondle passing women as a signal of how masculine they are.  While there are other cultures where men are the main caregivers, and they are taught to take care of, educate and play with the children while the women sew, farm, and make the political decisions.  What I found striking about all these cultures is that men and women seemingly had their gender specific place, putting aside natural outliers for the moment, but gender roles served their society.  The cultures existed and thrived based on gender specific traits that were cultivated and taught for generations.

Ok, so where am I actually going with this?  I have been cautiously waiting for the gender breakdown to occur in our own society.  And right now, before all of our eyes, it’s happening.  And I am nervous, anxious and trying to find a place of hope.  What do I mean by that?  Well, women in the 60’s right up through the 80’s gave a very hard push for equality.  Everywhere they looked they felt inferior and less valued in society, and they rallied together to change that, now known as the feminist movement.  A push for a female identity that was equal to men.  And the only way to do that successfully was to overshoot the target.  Woman not only proved that they were equal to men, but in many ways reached further to show that woman were and are actually better than men in many areas.  This was a revelation.  Women were not lesser, but rather had strengths and weaknesses, and enriched our culture outside of the home as well as in.

Are you with me so far?  Because here is where I get a little nervous.  Women united as a feminist movement with a clear goal of seeking equality.  And not only was there a vision, but there were real monetary and social checks that would show when we had succeeded.  To be clear there was a specific goal, that goal was clearly defined, with a finish line so to speak.  To be treated and receive the same rights as the husbands, fathers, brothers and coworkers.  Just one clear example is the wage gap, a clear monetary goal, that once achieved, we would get satisfaction and could do our jobs with security and certainty.

But now we have run into a little snag.  In all the focus on raising women up, to an equal place with men, we forgot that many men would feel that they have to come down to achieve gender equality.  That in order for the scales to find balance, men will not get to keep their status quo, the position of power and dominance.  And do you remember what I mentioned in that piece I asked you to read about men being breadwinners, etc?  That is a fundamental part of their male identity and it is being taken away.  So, in order for equality to be achieved there is a real give and take.  And the thing is, if the men are not willing to give, the women are fully prepared to take.  All personal opinions aside for a moment, the tides are changing, there is no stopping this forward movement, and there is no telling where the new shore will be.

I personally think this is why men are having such a difficult time with the consent movement.  Not only are women telling the men that they are no longer allowed to grope, or touch females without their express consent, we are going back in time to show example after example of when men crossed a huge line.  Now, my issue here, is that although its obvious now looking back what that line should look like, it wasn’t so clear back then.  We have told men that sexualizing women without permission is a crime, but we have not offered any solutions for them to fix the behaviour other than to stop it, change overnight and in fact somehow go back in time and stop their past from doing what they did.

Feel free to pause here for a moment and yell and scream at me if you want.  Men should never have objectified women in the first place.  When a women says no, or looks uncomfortable or is in a position of lesser power such that her future and livelihood depend on pleasing the male at the top, men should have recognized that this was a problem and stopped.  But they didn’t, they were in fact often encouraged to continue by their fathers and peers, and now here we are.  In a turbulent time, filled with apprehension and discord all around.  In a perfect world, I wish  men could change over night and undo their past indiscretions.  Obviously that cannot happen, and women are so angry that nothing is filling the void we feel.  No apology is good enough, no career damaged enough, no action heartfelt enough to sooth the injustice of male dominance over our bodies.

It’s bad out there, and I think it’s going to get worse.  The male identity is lost, and they are going to get angry and push back.  Female equality feels so close to our grasp, and yet, there is so much past pain, that when we finally have it, in every single part of our lives, are we going to be content or do the scars run just too deep.

From my personal perspective I do not feel a part of the feminist community.  Instead, I feel like I align more closely with the humanist movement.  One free of genders, or biases, and one filled with individuals working together for a common good, the expansion and survival of our beautiful species.  I envision a world where we break free from gender norms or roles, where the boxes that contain us are broken apart.  I look for a world beyond equality, a world where we just exists in peace, love and unity.  For now though, I want to bring clarity to the real issues.  Men fucked up.  And women, we need to figure out how to educate them on how to treat us, and figure out a way to move forward after a harrowing past.  So keep spreading the #metoo movement, and explain why consent matters, that all people are equal, and autonomy over our bodies is a positive thing for both men, women and all future generations to come.

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The Checklist for Finding the Perfect Male to Procreate With

Please note that this piece is satirical in nature, created in direct response to a repulsive list making it’s way around the interweb with the intent of giving men a list of rules to find the perfect wife.

In the beginning women were worshiped and revered for being the true Goddesses of society and their families.  Men were in awe of our sacred and mystical abilities which included the ability to bear children.  We kept the secret behind our fertility and reproductive requirements within out gender for generations.  Men were oblivious to the fact that women had the power to choose a mate, while at the same time, choose a physical partner with which to create new life.  It was our prerogative and right to use men in the manor that suited our companionship needs, our pleasure, and kept us in power for quite some time.  And then men got jealous.  They started asking questions, and getting too wise to the fact that they were bigger and stronger so perhaps they should be the revered sex.  And so one day, one man made the correlation between bedding a woman and a baby appearing 9 months later and suddenly the mysticism behind our great power was gone.

So we relinquished our power, and moved into the background of the historical records.  We began to understand that power can always be taken away and can never be an absolute.  So, we evolved our thinking and evolved to start working towards equality instead.  To finding a way to be valuable to society, without overstepping the male leadership, which they were enjoying far too much.  To suit this ultimate goal and allow us time to formulate a real plan, we created busy work for the men.  Encouraged them to go to war, start industry and develop new technologies.  All were done with the sole purpose of giving us some breathing space so we could sort out the wants and need necessary to co -exist with equality among the sexes.  And ultimately unify our gender’s, work together and not against.

But in order to do this effectively we needed to come up with ways to ensure our offspring were of the best possible breading.  We needed to regain the power of our procreation first and foremost allowing us the ability to choose that most perfect mate.  As the sugar and spice of humanity we created a list to help us become more picky and choosy in selecting these husbands and partners.  As any woman knows, the toll that bearing children takes on our bodies alone is enough to warrant this very important checklist.

  • First, a man’s height is very important, but if that is lacking he better make up for it with strength.  A man must be able to sweep you off your feet, both literally and figuratively.  The first true test of his procreative prowess will be in carrying you across the threshold on your wedding night.  He shall not gasp, pant or struggle as he picks you up.  Anything less than majestic beauty as he lifts you up, walks forward and gingerly places you on the bed it unacceptable. 
  • Next the eyes.  When you look into a man’s eyes you must see right back into your soul, with a hint of mystery.  You want eyes that you can stare into for hours during the most loving and tender moments.  But stay clear of a man whose eye has no sparkle or shine.  These are the men with much to hide, and are too focused on themselves, for it will bring much hardship to your offspring.
  • Now look at his ears and the nose.  If they are already large early in life, remember that the ancient Chinese believed that big ears and noses were a sign of wisdom and luck.  He needs both to ensure the future of our species.  But remember, only one of the spouses requires the luck gene, so if you’re the one with the larger orifices, choose someone a little under proportioned.
  • And here we rapidly shift to his physical manhood, the penis.  His dick should never frighten you, be it with python like size, girth or with a hairy untamed mess.  His penis should respect that you are the boss, and not it.  And should react with erect confidence whenever you approach.  If this happens, feel free to reward it with kisses and licks, encouraging continuation of good behaviour and pleasing appearance.
  • When it comes to the act of sexual intercourse.  The perfect mate will never allow himself to orgasm before ensuring that you, his wife or partner are completely satisfied.  He will please you whenever you wish him to, and will always show up for sex clean, able and without socks.  If any of these are missing, you simply say no, and go and grab your favorite toy as there is no need for you to be punished for his bad behaviour.  And when he has proven his worthiness, you may of course choose to procreate as is your Goddess like right!  The ultimate praise for a job very well done!
  • And just one more thing to keep in mind, this man must be a perfect blend of tenderness and manliness.  For example if your man cannot take down a wild animal with his bare hands for dinner and then present it to with wine and candles, then, you must send him packing before making a baby.  How else can you ensure that you, and your offspring will survive the zombie apocalypse, I mean the coming of equality, if he cannot even take down a bear by brute force alone and then rub your tired feet at the end of the day?  This is the ultimate showing of bravery, and love.  A true man, fit to procreate with you.

 

 

So share this, with every woman, to remind her the we still have the power to choose.  We have the will to ensure equality.  And ultimately we have complete control of our bodies, procreation and the absolute voice to say NO.

Male Identity: A Push for Individuals

Horny, Hungry and Sleepy.  I very regularly typecast the male and his desires into these three categories of fulfillment.  If a partner can acknowledge these three items in all their combinations and extensions then you can keep a man happy.  But in all seriousness, male identity is under fire right now.  And unfortunately as a result of taking the finger pointing off of themselves (men), they point the finger at woman.  It is natural, and in a simplistic way I get it.  But let us take a look at what the problem really is.
Men are losing their identity, and are constantly being challenged in their tried and true roles.  Men are raised to be the breadwinners, to be the strong and rational thinker.  Men are taught that their penis’s are what defines their sexuality thus size and virility are of utmost importance.  Society expects men to excel at math, science and sports.  As much as we typecast woman, we also typecast our men.  We are putting so much focus on giving woman a voice, and yet here we are trying to take the voice away from our men.  Men are berated for a having a woman at home with whom they seek advice and council. 
Gender roles and identities are being challenged, changed and explored at a rate comparable to our technological evolution.  I hate reading about abortion, and access to birth control making the news.  But in the same instance, it hurts to know that if a man has a sex toy his entire identity is challenged by those around him.  Having a butt plug does not determine a man’s orientation.  Watching a man cry when he is overwhelmed emotionally does not make him bisexual.  When a man is not the breadwinner in his family, he is not less virile.  And yet as we have raised our boys with such strong male ideals, woman rising up and challenging these roles is meeting with a lot of resistance.  The stress it puts our men under is huge, and makes them fight back to regain control.  I do not think that is the direction we want to be going. 
I read an article in which baby girls in Saudi are encourage to wear Burkas “to protect baby girls from being sexually exploited”, the Saudi cleric said during an interview in the first week of February 2013.  This is happening now, and right across the ocean from us.  Men in this culture are terrified of being emasculated to such an intense extreme that they fear for the safety of their own female infants.  The fear mongering going on in this culture that they fear a baby can be sexualized is beyond comprehension to me.  And this is an extreme example of how the men fought back when woman started emasculating them.  And in the states, to a much lesser extent but still deplorable, men continue  to challenge woman’s rights to their bodies and right to choose.
I try to challenge the way we view woman, and I hope I planted the seed in how we view men as well.  I was asked the other night what I find sexually attractive, and the only honest response I could give is that I find certain individuals attractive.  I think the only way to to move forward is to stop putting genders into such harsh categories and start to raise our children as individuals with plentiful access to education in as many varieties as possible.