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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Cheating: Creative Ways Humans Detect It

Yesterday, while listening to CBC, I heard an advertisement that left me speechless.  In Spain, where the rate of adultery averages 2.5 affairs per year per household, they have come up with a new revolutionary new product.  A mattress, that notifies your smartphone when it is being used suspiciously, and they call it the Smartress .  If you cannot trust your mattress to keep your dirty secrets, I mean, who can you trust?  Let’s not even deal with the issue of how you explain the purchase of said mattress, or the logistics of getting updates from your bed.  What if you have a dog that jumps up and down on it?  Or your kid playing hookie from school and the bed catches them… wait… that could be added value right there.  But back on point, you suspect that your partner is cheating, so you discreetly purchase a new bed to catch them in the act?

A few years ago, an app came out that would send you outgoing message notifications from your partners cell phone.   Basically a nanny cam for a cell phone also known as actual spyware.  To me it just seemed like click bait, so I honestly did not research how the actual device or software works. I just know for a while, every second ad online was screaming ‘do you know who your spouse is texting right now?’   It seemed obsessive, and ironically supported in part by Ashely Madison.  So here we are, still in a culture where we do not trust our partner’s so we sink to levels as low as them, to catch them doing something we feel is worse.   

We all know the black and white movies where a lady in a trench coat seeks out the office door that has ‘private investigator’ painted on it.  We know exactly what she is there seeking, confirmation of her worst fears, her husbands unfaithful behavior.  We all know what that next scene will depict, the private investigator stalking a spouse, hoping to catch them doing the nasty and them provide photographic proof that devastates a family.  We rationally know the P I is slimy, but the suspicious wife?  Never!  She is the angel, who seeks out aid, under cloak and dagger in desperation.  Only to be driven mad, when her worst fears are realized in that manila envelope of proof.  Ok, sometimes that damsel in distress dies a gruesome death, but hey, that’s just to keep you on your toes.  The point is, we sensationalize the methodology for catching the partner cheating, in media and in our daily lives.


And now, your mattress can send you a text.  The further technology advances, the further we get from one on one human interaction.  Or being able to have adult conversations about serious issues, needs and wants.  It honestly would be so much easier to get that text message, go home, pack your bags and then just copy and paste the notification to your spouse.  No mess, no fuss, and full validation without ever having to say a word to one another. Peace of mind, from the item that gives you a good nights rest. It was just as sexy in the past to leave the envelope of dirty pictures on the husbands desk and leave in the middle of the night, never saying another word.

Let’s not deal with why, in the macho and poverty stricken Spain, the infidelity rate is spiking alarmingly.  Let us instead, spend nearly $2000 on a new mattress, a couple hundred bucks on a Private Dick, or download a free app.  Humans, constantly finding new and creative ways to catch a spouse in the act.  Ah good ole cheaters.

Nope to Romantic Comedies

I hate romantic comedies.  More to the point, I hate how I feel while watching them, and the empty horrible feeling when they are over.  I am very imaginative and a dreamer by nature so one of the things I love most about movies is just shutting off my brain and getting lost in the fantasy world that is created on the screen.  I get swept up in the music, the action, the dialogue, everything about a good movie, and the occasional bad movie makes me really happy.  With the exception of the so called Rom-com’s that is.  I find these movies almost painful to get lost in because everyone looks so damn happy on screen finding that one perfect someone to get lost with.  The journey of little surprises, followed by a huge fight whereby both people learn they can never be apart, followed by the big romantic gesture where in they live happily ever after.
I watch these movies and almost without fail I either cry, or I get angry.  Angry that this romantic ploy still generates revenue and lets little girls believe this fantasy, and angry that I constantly fall in love with men who will not settle down.  Angry that adventure drives me, and men with goals, hopes and dreams make me happy.  And of course the down side that the men I fall in love with are selfish about meeting their needs, just as I am selfish about meeting my needs which is almost always a great thing.  Except as I said when I feel vulnerable after watching one of these stupid movies.  I would not love the idea of happy ever after, but these movies go through a very concise checklist; do you have breasts? Check! Do you get your period?  Check! Do you sometimes act irrationally and emotional? Check! Well then baby you are a normal woman and you deserve to be swept off your feet as there is some guy out there equally as damaged and crazy as you are who will compliment your every flaw perfectly.
In my mind romantic comedies are a cruel trick on my psyche.  They perpetuate false hopes and then make me feel a guilty empty feeling because this is not happening in my life, and if it was I would probably dump the guy for being a dreamer and not a doer.  I just cannot see my way into getting lost in emotions.  It has never once helped me getting lost there, and I always need someone to help guide me out when I am overwhelmed by emotion so I cannot even fathom how woman can possibly watch these movies when they are single.  I have asked a few of my female friends why they enjoy these movies and the answer is always the same, they enjoy the emotional ride, the laughs, tears and happy endings make them feel really good.  So clearly I am broken because I always feel really, really terrible after watching these films.  So back to my avoidance strategy of avoiding things that make me sad, and seeking out only the things that give me joy and happiness.

Monogamy Seems Much Less Normal Now

I grew up in an environment where I was outside of the norm.  The majority of my friends lived with their mother and their father, where as I lived with my mother and my step dad.  The natural inquiry was always to ask where my real dad was.  And I would answer that I lived with my dad, and I did not know where my biological was.  It made a complex situation a little clearer, as the idea of having two male figures was not accepted by either my friends, and sometimes even my family. It was not until my grad banquet from high school that I even officially “came out” so to speak as to having two fathers.  And I did it in a symbolic way, by dancing with both of them together during the father daughter dance.  It was not the most co-ordinated dancing, more of a ring around the rosy time event, but it certainly made an impression on many of the catholic parents that were watching.
But in my mind, growing up, I always felt like an outsider.  That my family was just not like everybody else’s and that I needed to keep quiet about what my home life was really like.  As I do more and more research into different relationships types it is becoming clear that monogamy has a mystical quality to it.  Monogamy is more of an illusion rather than a natural norm.  It is a pedestal that humans really do not ever get to stand on and yet publicly most say that they do.  But what if more of us became brave and started questioning what monogamy has really done for us.  What real benefits does it provide?  Are you happier having to stifle and suppress your mutual lust for that person you see every year at that convention?  What is normal about containing feelings of happiness in order to fit into society and keep sex for only one person until the day you die?
I think there is a trick that we play on our minds to reward us when we stay away from temptation.  That conviction that we are better and stronger for avoiding that amazing piece of strange, and somehow overcome our baser instincts for even a moment.  I do not mean to imply that you should sleep with everything that gives you a second glance, but I am saying that the feelings of guilt that arise from temptations are just not healthy.  I was a victim of this mentality for a very long time, in fact I took monogamy so seriously that it would even play a role in my fantasy life.  If I was thinking about sleeping with someone other than my ex D, I would actually have to first create a premise whereby he died, or somehow gave me permission to fulfill my fantasy.  There were monogamous restrictions within my own mind, and daydream world.  How can that possibly be healthy?  Or the other extreme whereby you can think and do any number of sordid things in your imagination, so much so that you are not really present when having that vanilla sex that you deem acceptable to society.
I struggle to understand why our society tries to tell us that feelings that are good are bad, and feelings of suppression and submissiveness are good.  The idea that our base instincts are thing that need to be overcome, rather than enjoyed and explored.  Media is constantly persecuting celebrities and people in power for having affairs, and trysts outside of their marriages.  These people are publicly shamed for having consensual sex, and families are destroyed in the wake.  I have yet to see a wife stand up and say that they were in an open relationship and she has some strange on the side too.  When that day happens some real ground will be made.  And there will be a positive movement to breaking the restrictions and guilt that coincide with monogamy.  Monogamy is a freedom, and should be mutually decided by two people, and not the expectation. 

The Episode that First Made Me Think About Open Relationships

E, planted the first seed into my consciousness that open relationships were a possibility but in continuing the horticultural analogy there was a pot and some dirt already in place.  The pot we shall call my questioning everything even from a young age and trying to keep my own drum beat (I even learned how to play the drums in junior high just to prove a girl could) also my fascination with anthropology and archaeology.  But the dirt, now that is an interesting mixture and it was provided by a TV show that I love to this day, Penn and Tellers Bullshit.  The episode in question was called Family Values, which aired in 2005.  I owned the entire series for quite a few years and at the time I had no idea how impactful that episode would be to me.
I remember watching the polyamorous family with a blown mind.  I was as squeamish watching the four people love each other as I was intrigued.  In pure honesty I would have been much more open to the idea of loving more than one person had the couples on the screen been more attractive.  Yes, I have a tendency to be superficial at times, but I was not grossed out so much a little defencive to the idea that their were children raised in that household.  I was perfectly fine with the idea of two couples loving each other so long as the children were adults and I am pretty sure that I rationalized my reaction just like that too.  The other families shown on the episode were almost natural to me.  Why would anyone question the parenting of two woman?  It just did not cross my mind for an instant as being out of the realm of natural.  The best line from the whole episode however was the statistic that in gay and lesbian couples, children were almost always planned and prepared for, that they fared better overall than heterosexual children. 
But I have digressed, here was a show that for the first time depicted a loving and happy family with multiple love outside of the confines of just two individuals loving each other.  I did not know it then, but after re-watching it, the husbands sentiment really hit home.  He mentioned that there is too great of pressure in expecting just one person to fulfill all of your needs.  The idea that one soul mate is responsible for completing you when there are billions of us on this planet is absurd.   I personally change my views and opinions on an almost daily basis.  I become more educated and meet new people every day, I learn, grow and expand my horizons and outlooks.  That would be an enormous amount of pressure to put onto just one other human being to share in that journey solely forever and ever.
So continue to read, to grow, and be brave in saying that your ideas have changed or in some cases deepened with all the additional education we are lucky enough to be surrounded with.  Find out what mixture is in your dirt (cheesy eh?) that is growing your family.  Decide if that is really of your doing or if there is something else in there that you would like to explore or experience.  My broken record continues with we get one shot at this life, and we need to live it to the fullest with as much love as possible.  Dream big and love even bigger.