Caitlyn Jenner Doesn’t Get It


I’ve been thinking a lot about Caitlyn Jenner lately, because who hasn’t? I think there was a law passed somewhere that says we have to.

The first thing that occurred to me was to wonder whether Jenner would apply for admission to college. Mount Holyoke, Smith, Wellesley, Barnard, Mills would welcome an application from Jenner. Alas, as Bruce, Caitlyn graduated from Graceland University (then Graceland College) back in 1973, some forty two years ago.

Which brings me to the second thing that’s occurred to me to puzzle over as I contemplate the changing nature of Jenner’s appearance. It’s not been a transition from man to woman, I think, so much as it has been from man to girl. Jenner is 65 years old, and yet sports the perky, pointy breasts of a well-developed nymphette and lush, shiny locks that post-menopausal women can only but remember fondly.

Where, I wonder, is the faint shadow of a mustache on Jenner’s upper lip? Look closely at any 65-year-old woman and you will see one. Where are the stiff, stray hairs sprouting from Jenner’s chin? Unless relentlessly plucked, these little demons are tormenting reminders one’s womanly body no longer courses with the elixir of youth—estrogen.

Jenner’s passion to look like a woman feels inauthentic to me. What’s with the bare arms? No self-respecting 65-year-old woman goes sleeveless. Look at Helen Mirren. Or Meryl Streep. Or Diane Keaton. Where are the Alfred Dunner elastic waist pants? Where are the comfy Naturalizer slip-ons? The bifocals? The watch with extra-large numbers? As for Jenner’s choice of undergarments, the last time I saw a picture of a 65-year-old woman in anything other than her street clothes was…never.

Meryl Streep, authentically beautiful, authentically 65, authentically woman.

Meryl Streep: authentically beautiful, authentically 65, authentically woman. (Photo: Zimbio/Getty)

My mother who was beautiful until the day she died, at age 90, nonetheless used to look in the mirror and sigh, “I don’t feel like this on the inside.” She started saying this when she was around 50 (and very much still hot stuff), even though she was meticulous about her grooming. My mother’s lament is one that I think all of us women of a certain age say to ourselves.

Some of use potions and lotions to forestall the inevitable; others submit to plastic surgery or the injection of toxic substances. But most of us simply accept that the beautiful young women we once were live on inside us, but our outsides reflect the mature women we have become. One would think the young woman residing in the 65-year-old Jenner would recognize this after all those years. I wonder why not.

Those of us who are mothers have stretch marks on our breasts and bellies. Even some us who never had kids have those same wiggly lines. There isn’t a one of us who hasn’t mourned the loss of our once-narrow shoe size as our feet, like our backsides, have spread. Little brown freckles appear overnight on our hands, and no moisturizer can make them go away. After menopause, losing those last five pounds becomes a battle for which there is no victory. Lips and hair thin, though, in a kind of perverse be-careful-what-you-wish-for irony. Skin once taut becomes more flexible, shall we say.

Caitlin Jenner: unauthentically 65.

Can we really say in all honesty that Caitlyn Jenner is a 65-year-old woman?

No way.

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52 thoughts on “Caitlyn Jenner Doesn’t Get It

  1. Bruce obviously created Caitlyn in Hollywood’s image of what a 65 year-old woman should look like. I wonder who his gal-pal inner circle of friends are that he used as role models to become Caitlyn. Obviously, he only looked at the carefully crafted photo-ready images of these women. Good thing he has the mega-bucks it’s going to take to have someone pluck those unruly chin hairs. Love, love, love this installment of Call Me Miss.

  2. I have not thought about Ms. Jenner a lot. In fact I don’t recall thinking much about him when he was a man. He was a B. J. now she’s a C.J. I can’t decide if if should try and say something profound, or something less lofty. Neither direction seems to have much urgency or significance.

  3. My take is that after not allowing herself to be who she is for so very long, Caitlyn was/is going for the fantasy…and I don’t blame her (besides…it’s Vanity Fair!! If someone told me I was going to be on the VF cover you can be sure I wouldn’t be wearing Alfred Dunner elastic waist pants).

    P.S. I will never wear Alfred Dunner elastic waist pants 😉

    • Full disclosure: neither will I. And I totally agree that Jenner’s claim to womanhood is indeed a fantasy.

      • Actually, I didn’t think that you did. As an old-school feminist, though, I remain proudly unconvinced and fiercely protective of the sisterhood of women. Thanks for writing!

  4. I find it hard to pass judgement on Caitlin considering I’ve never spent 65 years in a body that felt like the wrong gender.

    However, if it were me, I imagine I would make up for the lost years by wearing whatever the hell I felt fabulous in….

    Being a 52 year old woman in the sisterhood, call me miss, please do not feel the need to protect me

    • I would not dream of it. I would, however, have a good laugh at your expense should I ever glimpse your 52-year-old-body stuffed into a crop top and mini skirt.

  5. A trans woman does not take away from the sisterhood of women, any more than a trans man takes away from any brotherhood of men. Trans people do not affect your life in any real way nor do they devalue any feminist movement. Feminism stands strong regardless of anyone’s transitioning.

    If you feel that it doesn’t, that speaks to your own insecurities more than anything else, to be honest.

    • Couldn’t agree more on all counts, except that I do take issue with your assertion that “trans people do not affect [my] life in any real way.’ Not true. They furnish endless fodder for my blog, and for that I am grateful. But you are exactly right about transwomen having nothing to do with the sisterhood, and likewise transmen and the brotherhood of men. Two different kettle of fish.

      I would never make assumptions about what a complete stranger might or might not “feel.” To be honest I feel insecure when I venture outside the realm of fact.

      • you, apparently, misread N’s comment. They said it “does not take away from the Sisterhood” not “have nothing to do with the Sisterhood”. Two different kettle of fish. As a writer I would think that you’d have noticed this.

  6. You write an article focusing on how Caitlyn doesn’t show an accurate representation of what a true 65 year old woman is like. According to your article, true women of a certain age, don’t show off their bare arms, and don’t wear certain kinds of underwear.

    This is why you are a hypocrite. Feminism, is about choice. Feminism means a women can dress and present themselves however they want regardless of age, regardless of what men or society will think. If a woman in her 60’s wants long hair she can have long hair. If an older woman wants a boob job she should have the freedom to get one. If a woman wants bare arms and a thong she, as a feminist, should have the freedom to have them. Your article is silly, because it not only demeans trans woman, it also promotes misogynistic ideals on ALL women.

    How is your article misogynistic? Because when you say “no self respecting woman of 65 years old would have bare arms” you are saying that that is something only younger woman can get away with. But the whole reason that younger women are encouraged to expose their arms, legs, bellies and cleavage is for the sights of MEN. While older women have to cover up because men won’t be checking for them anymore.

    In short. Your article is stupid.

    • Wipe the spittle from the corner of your mouth and type carefully: “‘Call Me “Miss” is a misandrist! She thinks men over the age of 40 with pendulous bellies shouldn’t wear Speedos!!” Oh, the humanity!

    • Thank you, I couldn’t have articulated my immediate reaction to this article any better. That which was only solidified after reviewing several readers comments and their shared disagreement, only to have received judgmental and hypocritical responses, mirroring the original posts sentiment.
      Good for her for making herself and her happiness her main priority (including the apparent hot button topic of baring her arms!). The only shame is that she was too afraid to do it earlier. But I guess this post is one of the many examples of why it took her 65 years to be herself.

  7. Having lived in LA for twenty long, long years and watching the entertainment industry work and warp people’s minds and self-images, it is not lost on me that Caitlyn is a product of this warped, warped place. I get all the comments about the reality of what being a 65 year old woman feels like, looks like and how much there is to accept.
    But then I remember that this woman has waited 65…65 years to finally express her feminine self and I delve into deep compassion. What young girl doesn’t want to try on outfits and be glamourous? I don’t think she will go out wearing gowns and with that level of fanciness (although living with those Kardashian women might require it.) I guess I go back to the idea that we haven’t walked in her shoes, she does have responsibility for putting herself in the spotlight (although the paparazzi would never have given her a moment’s peace if she hadn’t been on top of this story. but she is, at the base of it, a very fragile, newly minted woman. She gets to play and make mistakes we have all made or tried to avoid in our lifetimes as fully expressed women.
    Compassion. 65 years is a long, long time to wait. How many of us have waited 65 years for anything? Retirement maybe.

    • Jane:

      For sure I have not walked in Jenner’s shoes. Those clodhoppers would be far too large for my dainty, feminine tootsies.

      You ask, “What young girl doesn’t want to try on outfits and be glamourous?” Who knows? But in what way is this at all germane to the 65-year-old Jenner who, according to many published reports (including statements by stepdaughters and ex-wives), has been crossing-dressing for years. Donning a dainty frock is a hardly a new experience for Caitlyn.

      You describe Jenner as “a very fragile, newly minted woman.” I have no way of knowing if Jenner’s mental state is fragile (the body looks pretty robust to me), but I take issue with “newly minted”: presumably Jenner has thought about this change for years. One hopes, at least, that Bruce Jenner did not take the decision to become Caitlyn Jenner on a whim. So the only things “newly minted” are the breasts, mani-pedi, and nipped-in waist. Caitlyn Jenner, no matter how you slice it (or, in Jenner’s case don’t slice it), has 65 years of life experience under the belt. This is not a winsome debutante we are discussing here, no matter how much we may wish that were the case.

      Thanks for writing. I appreciate your comments, although I disagree with them. Miss

  8. Jenner is not a women or a girl. He is a man demanding that women honor his arousal triggers in the public square. Women do not have to role play in a man’s sexual fantasy and it is the apex of male entitlement to expect it. Woman is not a “feeling” a man has or a male “identity” and his arousal is not a social justice cause I will be taking up in the near or distant future. I wish him good luck. Men who think they can argue this point women are fools–call me a bigot and a hater but so far it is not against the law to know a man is a man and to say so. I admire CallMeMiss for her tact.

    Here is one interesting idea
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22005209

    “Autogynephilia is defined as a male’s propensity to be sexually aroused by the thought of himself as a female. It is the paraphilia that is theorized to underlie transvestism and some forms of male-to-female (MtF) transsexualism. Autogynephilia encompasses sexual arousal with cross-dressing and cross-gender expression that does not involve women’s clothing per se. The concept of autogynephilia defines a typology of MtF transsexualism and offers a theory of motivation for one type of MtF transsexualism. Autogynephilia resembles a sexual orientation in that it involves elements of idealization and attachment as well as erotic desire. Nearly 3% of men in Western countries may experience autogynephilia; its most severe manifestation, MtF transsexualism, is rare but increasing in prevalence. Some theorists and clinicians reject the transsexual typology and theory of motivation derived from autogynephilia; their objections suggest a need for additional research. The concept of autogynephilia can assist clinicians in understanding some otherwise puzzling manifestations of nonhomosexual MtF transsexualism. Autogynephilia exemplifies an unusual paraphilic category called ‘erotic target identity inversions’, in which men desire to impersonate or turn their bodies into facsimiles of the persons or things to which they are sexually attracted.”

  9. Nothing like basing your comment and your judgement of others on a 30 year old THEORY about behaviors that does nothing to address causes. I could publish theories about lesbianism or feminism but just because I think these ideas are true does not necessarily prove them true. So it is with Blanchard’s THEORY and there are thousands of transwomen out there that would prove this theory wrong, including me. As a trans lesbian feminist woman I do not fit any of the categories of this theory. I do not get aroused at the thought of having a female body, I did not transition so that I could sleep with men, and I did not transition so that I could infiltrate the last bastion of womanhood and spy on women for the patriarchy. I don’t know about you but that whole idea just sounds kinda silly to me.

  10. Why must woman hate on their fellow woman?
    It saddens me to read such criticism on Caitlyn when she was so honest about how hard it was to accept herself.

    • Two questions: 1) Who is doing the hating? Please explain. 2) What does a general (albeit misspelled) statement about catty behavior amongst women have to do, exactly, with the substance on this post? Thanks for writing. I look forward to the elaboration of your cryptic comment.

      • You are! Shame on you for thinking it’s your job to judge a very brave soul, who has been waiting a lifetime to live her truth.. Whether you want to acknowledge it or not, your article is filled with judgment. I believe a woman can go sleeveless at any age. Whatever she wears is none of our business. Women should support and NOT JUDGE each other. Period. We need to hold each other up in love and light!! Best wishes to you and may you evolve into someone who does not judge. Life is difficult enough. Blessings.

      • I am what, Frenchy Girl? Please don’t hold back. Your “blessings” are gratefully accepted. Your harsh rebuke of my satiric, albeit truthful observations, stings like the judgmental critique you no doubt intended. Thanks for writing and have a nice day, Miss

  11. Really? Nothing better to say than a bunch of shallow, catty, small-minded opinions about what women of a certain age should wear? These days, people can be who they are, inside and outside. It’s called freedom. It goes well with tolerance.

    • That’s right Nina–I have the freedom to say whatever I wish. Your supercilious comments also reflect that freedom.

  12. Callmemiss you are not a feminist. You are a misogynist and frankly speaking you are spewing hate speech in the direction of not only Ms. Jenner but your fellow feminists.

    I am 48 years old. I subscribe to Ms Magazine. I vote the issues which allow my gender to be equal in all pursuit s in this country. I bare my arms. I have never considered trying on pants with an elastic waist much less purchase them. I wear clogs and am every bit as sexy as women 30 years younger then me in them. I am middle age. I am a feminist and I have earned the right to wear whatever the hell I want and feel good about rather then follow the rules of some antiquated antibellum want to be fashion blogger with a tolerance problem. Eyes on your own closet mam. The rest of us feminist have better issues to consider like equal pay, access to medical care and better funding for education for everyone.

    • Dear 90 Pounds: You seem rather fond of yourself, which makes your kind remarks about me all the sweeter. Thank you. Since we are both interested in the same issues–equal pay, access to medical care and better funding for education–you might want to check out my posts on these subjects. I doubt you’d learn anything from them, but the opinions expressed therein might make the top of your head blow off. Thanks for writing!

  13. Pingback: Sisterhood Ain’t What It Used to Be: Meet Triplets Caitlyn Jenner, Rachel Dolezal, and Carrie Bradshaw-Crowther | Call Me "Miss"!

  14. Harmless? OK, if you say so. But my comment is nonsense? You may have that backwards. It should read, ‘harmless comment to my nonsensical essay.’

    • I had my “say” in my essay, one of approximately three gazillion on the subject of Caitlyn Jenner. The degree to which I am “bothered” (whatever that means) by Jenner was precisely to the same degree all the other writers have been “bothered.” You must be spending a lot of time dispensing your advice (?) if you are reaching out to all these bothersome scribes. But a word of unsolicited (the kind you offer) advice: try actually reading an essay and thinking about what it says before spouting off.

  15. You did have your say in your essay, which you put on the internet, and added a comments section to. You opened yourself up to criticism. You cannot expect that everyone will agree with you. Better after 50 posted your essay, which is how I stumbled upon it. After the backlash, including from me, they promptly deleted it. Your essay is judgmental, mean spirited, and demeaning.

    • Nice try, Little Miss Sunshine. The essay is still up at BA50. Let me ask you this: what gets under your skin about my essay? Could it be that you are jealous of the perky tits Jenner was able to purchase and you cannot afford, or did you look in the mirror and find a new chin whisker that resisted your efforts to pluck it? No matter. I welcome a continued dialogue with you, because it provides such a great opportunity to hone my voice. I am very grateful to you–thank you for writing.

      Note to readers: Better After 50 is a website that publishes essays on a variety of subjects about and by women writers over 50. The editors have published several of my essays, so needless to say, I think it is a great site. It welcomes, and publishes, diverse points of view. For those of you interested in the overarching topic of peri-menopausal, menopausal, and post-menopausal women, their lives and interests, I highly recommend BA50. I am also pleased to report that this essay still appears on the site. The comments (all 3 of them) are uniformly positive as I write this; of course, that is subject to change. I invite you to check it out for yourself.

    • Good for you, Deb P. I got here by Better After 50 too. Thank god if we ever listened to small-minded people trying to tell us what to wear, many of us wise up and knock it off in our 40s and 50s. WHY this nonsense ever got on Better After 50, I don’t know. So ironic to read this coming from there. Thank you for getting it removed.

  16. My mistake. Better after 50 did not delete it. Go to their Facebook page and read what everyone thinks of your essay. They posted it on June 12th…to help you find it.

  17. No, the post I’m referring to was posted on June 12th & the vast majority of the 52 comments & replies to these comments were against this article & against Better After 50 for posting it. Here are some of the things they said about you – shallow – small-minded – misogynist – putz – ridiculous – doesn’t get it – long winded – tacky – sexist – degrading etc… Since the time stamp on my comment stating BA50 didn’t delete it proves I corrected myself before your comment, there was no need for you to correct me. And since this is the 2nd time you referenced ‘perky tits’ I’d say it’s you who is probably jealous. I’m in support of Caitlyn Jenner, perky tits, evening gowns & all. For anyone interested in seeing this for themselves, just go to Better After 50 facebook page and scroll to June 12 at 3:05pm & you can read the comments for yourself. One facebook poster Nina replied to BA50’s comment saying you continue your tacky, unsubstantiated flame war in your comments. Boy, she wasn’t kidding.

    • Again, Deb, you are wrong. Just what is it about the truth you find anathema? I have mentioned “perky tits” (once) and “perky breasts” (once), as opposed to “perky tits” twice. Oops! I guess that makes it three times now for those you of who are evidently keeping count. It warms my heart to know that my writing is being scrutinized with the care and attention only an English major can bring to the text. And of course I am jealous! But I make do with the saggy jugs Mother Nature gave me and am eternally grateful I no longer have the need, or the vanity, to stuff myself into an industrial strength corset just to shore them up.

      As far as your 7:44 am post goes, you were typing your amendment the same time I was typing my response to your first post o’ the morning. Who knew you were so eager to see what I had written?

      If there is some way (and there may not be) that you can point me to the June 12 BA50 FB post of my essay, and the attendant comments, I would appreciate it because all I can find is my original June 8 post to the page. BA50 like it so much they apparently reposted it unbeknownst to me. It must be generating a lot of traffic for them. At any rate, I live off the vitriol of others so I really, really want to read those 52 comments! I only wish the writers had posted them here instead of FB. At least you, friend, have come through for me. Keep those clicks coming! Thanks, Miss

  18. You don’t live off the vitriol of others…you live off your own vitriol. You’re so full of hate it pours out of you. I choose not to be a part of this, so I’ll take my own advice & think of this no more.

      • Hello “miss,”
        Many of the comments here are, to my mind, quite hateful or at least rude, and that strikes me as sad.
        I found your essay to be thoughtful and well written. And surely the measure of a good or excellent essay is not whether it appears to agree or disagree with a reader’s “judgment” on this or that. Also, the question you posed is rather interesting: in this case, as perhaps in other cases, I do not know, does “transition” incline toward a youthful-gender? It seems a worthy question to ask, and to generate discourse about it. I confess, I am interested, because my child is “trans-gender” and I am coping with a kind of grief and extreme protectiveness for my child at the same time.
        I also appreciated your 65 year old tongue-in-cheek fashion remarks. I also confess that, no, I would not bear my “flexible” arms anymore 🙂 Some women, for whatever reasons, still care much about “fashion,” and some do not or have different tastes. But ladies! Those of us who are older recognize ourselves a little here, don’t we?

        With all that said, just one thought. I just found your “blog,” and it seems fun, topical, at times saying things that academic women (and I am one) are heavily criticized for expressing. So you are brave. I will be back to think about your essays. I only offer this though. some of the replies were quite touching, I thought, in their efforts to extend “compassion” or try to understand the “hollywood” fashion sense etc. You are right. Here is a 65 year old life. But my child has told me all these medications and medical changes induce a kind of relieved puberty? Perhaps that is an element? What one reader called, I think, living out girlish fancies? BTW, in public — where admirers admire? Also, isn’t this quite an unusual instance give the “taste” and “scent” surrounding Ms Jenner’s odd life? I giggled. Cher is indeed quite bold 🙂

        I guess all I am suggesting “Miss,” in my confessed own confused mind on all “this,” is that certainly you should not think a moment about the horrible, rude, uncivil replies you received, that did not seem to read your essay very thoughtfully.

        But a few replies did seem, if I may say, to reach out an inviting hand to converse a bit more? To think about some other bit or piece of the puzzle, that it seems you rightly observe? From man to girl? For I have noticed to from woman to boy, but not “man.” You have such an intelligent voice, so do try to converse with those of us (and I include myself) trying not so much to come to judgments, but rather to just think straight about this complicated subject.

        Thank you for your essay and blog
        R.

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