#Problematic: Caitlyn Jenner’s Privilege, Jane And Lily Get Shafted, Riley Curry Gets No Respect & Cameron Eats Crowe

Hi, Mercury Retrograde Warriors. There’s only a week left  before that fuqing planet chills out, and I’m eating mac n’ cheese over my keyboard rn with my hair up in a  chip clip, so that week couldn’t end soon enough. Now that you have that visual, I’ll give you three guesses what most of this week’s column is going to cover, and it rhymes with Waitlyn Blender, kind of.

1. Caitlyn Jenner’s White Male Privilege

Within minutes of the Vanity Fair cover reveal of Bruce Jenner’s new identity online, a friend posted the photo to Instagram (yes, I found out about it through Instagram like the millennial I am). This friend typically didn’t post celebrities, maybe the occasional Richard Simmons photo (if you don’t follow him on Facebook, do yourself a favor). I sat staring trying to figure out who the hell this woman was, why he would post it, why she looked like Cindy Crawford, but wanted to be called Caitlyn. Then I had the a-ha moment we all did, and was filled with strange emotions like pride and anxiety—strange, because the intimate relationship we have with people on television makes us feel things for them usually reserved for when your uncle gives too long a speech at a wedding . I felt anxious because, like most internet-fearing humans, I knew that as much praise as her unveiling would earn, there were a lot of transphobic trolls that had been sucking on their own tongues for way too long waiting for this moment to spew hate across the world wide web.

And that hate came. It has thankfully been muffled by the roaring positive reception. It’s also relegated mostly to people so deeply conservative that they have to grapple with heterosexual sex, so it’s no surprise they can’t handle the complexities of gender identity. But that doesn’t mean that those conversations aren’t perpetuating transphobia. Another friend from a small, southern town shared an IM conversation he’d had with someone from home. As I read things like “A sex change is the opposite of self love or acceptance, it’s admitting that you hate yourself enough to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to become a mirror image of something you’ll never be,” I was shocked that kind of perspective even existed.

Amidst conservatives, there are also the vaguely more intelligent ignorance sprinklers (and when I say “sprinkler” I mean the kind everyone has in LA that is never sprinkling on grass, but instead gurgling enormous amounts of water into the street that is in no need of watering), like MRA champion Steven Crowder. Like most who equate wanting a semblance of equality with being a “social justice warrior,” Crowder falls on the classic MRA trope of pitting marginalized groups against one another. He created a nifty little meme with the quote “feminists get furious with unrealistic, photoshopped, magazine standards of beauty…unless it’s a tranny.” We won’t even get into his use of the word “tranny.” What’s best is that he assembled this quote next to a photograph of himself gazing slightly upwards like a prophet, raising his hand as if to speak—because if there’s a white man around, you know he’s got something to fucking say. What better emblem of the patriarchy than a quote disparaging both feminists and transgendered people affixed atop the image of a white, privileged male, who put it there himself with no sense of irony? You think you understand humanity, and then you get on Twitter.

Without knowing it Crowder does point out a very telling aspect of Caitlyn Jenner’s coming out, which is the obsession with beauty surrounding it. Roxane Gay, who gets my vote for best all around use of Twitter, pointed out the “worship of beauty” in regards to the photo. Jon Stewart nailed down the idea when he said, “Now you’re a woman, which means your looks are really the only thing we care about.” Laverne Cox posted to her TublrYes, Caitlyn looks amazing and is beautiful but what I think is most beautiful about her is her heart and soul, the ways she has allowed the world into her vulnerabilities.”

Having cataloged the reactions, I think it’s also imperative that we be somewhat critical about Caitlyn’s coming out. She is courageous and strong in a way that most of us will never have to muster. She is teaching the world to accept a group of people that have been the black sheep of disenfranchisement. She is to the transgendered community what Rock Hudson was to the AIDS scare. But I almost came unglued the other evening when talking to, let’s just call him one of my elders. I respect said person immensely, but we’ve always disagreed on social issues. This is a person who voted for McCain… He asked me what I thought about Caitlyn’s reveal, and when I explained that I thought it was fantastic, he completely agreed. He waxed poetic about it in fact. He was using the pronoun “she.” I was stunned.

What made the social justice warrior (we’re going to reclaim this faux insult, people) in me want to jump on the table and start yelling is that deep down I knew that the only reason said person was able to digest the idea of Caitlyn Jenner was because of her past as an Olympian, a champion of maleness, a golden boy. It was an excuse, a crutch. This person does not know who Laverne Cox is. And I don’t want to portray him as being full of hate, but I genuinely don’t think that he is all that warm to the idea of trans people—but this specific trans person is okay because the idea of who she was before transitioning is comfortable. Granted one of the triumphs of Jenner’s public endeavor is teaching the world what it means to be transgendered, but it’s so important that we not forget all of the people that came before her that were shunned and abused. We cannot just assume that the fight for trans acceptance is over because Caitlyn Jenner is going to have her own reality TV show (which will be undoubtedly better than that of her daughters,’ and also brings up the question of whether she will be paid like a man or woman from now on). We can’t fall back on the America’s favorite equality hack, “See! Everything is fine now.” We are all being treated to a wonderful moment in progress through the willingness of Caitlyn Jenner to publicly transition, but it is a small step. Ultimately we know that she is just as actively aware of all of that as she was in choosing to not spell her name with a K.

As #Problematic as … the recent full moon in Sagittarius:

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2. Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin Get Shafted By Netflix

The wage gap is one of the most accepting places for women, as it doesn’t seem to discriminate between us at all. Whether you work a 9 to 5, are black, lesbian or a movie star, you can guarantee you won’t get paid the same rate as a man. Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda are no exception. Hopefully you have been watching the new Netflix original “Grace and Frankie,” staring the two legends. The comedic drama is about how two women move on when their husbands reveal that they’ve been sleeping together for the last twenty years. The series ranges from kooky to poignant, and despite not always hitting its stride, is a lot of fun and a great musing on a story not told often enough.

What is problematic about the whole thing is that the show clearly stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as Grace and Frankie, respectively. They are the title of the show. They are the crux of the story. Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston do a wonderful job of playing their ex-husbands, and are incredibly present supporting actors, but they are not the leads. So why then were Fonda, Tomlin, Sheen and Waterston all paid the same amount of money? At a recent Netflix press conference Fonda said, “[Tomlin] found out [Sam Waterston and Martin Sheen] are getting the same salary that we are. That doesn’t make us happy.” The fact of the matter is that if the situation were reversed, and Sheen and Waterston were leads to Fonda and Tomlin’s supporting roles, the men would absolutely get higher compensation. TV and Film salaries are dictated by rate of appearance—or they’re supposed to be. Fans of the show have started a petition requesting Netflix retroactively fix the pay disparity, but its more likely going to take Fonda and Tomlin threatening to walk, ending the series after one successful season, to see any progress on the matter. What’s fantastically ironic is that Fonda and Tomlin co-starred in the 1980 film “Nine to Five” about the way women are treated in the workplace, and here we are 35 years later, and it’s just as much of a problem as it ever was. Godspeed, ladies.

As #Problematic as … people who don’t like cats:

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3. Sports Reporters Are Gross

Basketballer, NBA league MVP, Cleveland Cavalier Golden State Warrior and attractive man Stephen Curry made himself even more attractive by bringing his precious daughter to the podium when he had to go sit up there so a bunch of bloated white men could yell sporty questions at him. Said bloated white men were so gastrointestinally uncomfortable that the mere presence of a child almost made their guts explode. Where do angry men go to vent? Twitter. So Twitter became Riley Curry’s worst nightmare while a bunch of angry white men wrote about how upset they were by her mere presence. They called her a “menace,” referred to him as a bad parent, and seemed to think that their jobs as sports reporters were more important than Curry’s job of parenting. What’s really problematic is that the sports world is such a strong last vestige of the slowly shrinking patriarchy, that the mere hint of fatherhood, the suggestion that this man has a family, loves a woman, created a life with her, is appalling to these men.

As #Problematic as … Lilly Pulitzer:

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4. Cameron Ate Crowe

And I’m just happy that headline was able to pop up around the internet this week. Let’s be honest though, this story is really tired. We’ve beaten it within an inch of its think piece-loving life. What really bugs me is that in all of the pre-release screenings and heavy promotion leading up to the launch of “Aloha,” no one had anything to say about a Emma Stone being cast as 1/4 Hawaiian, 1/4 Chinese character Allison Ng. It’s as if one person realized it was a racist decision, and then everyone rushed to get some thoughts on it up on their publication so they could be part of the Hollywood witch hunt. I get it, we’re all pop culture news oriented these days, and editorial staff want their publication to pop up when someone googles “why the fuck is everyone talking about boring white person Emma Stone?” You also don’t want to seem supportive of the inappropriate casting choice by failure to fart another think piece about it into the world about it. It’s clear in the emails from sony executive Amy Pascal that she and the rest of the higher ups involved in “Aloha” had more problems with it being a confusing, shitty movie, than the casting choice. It is problematic that Hollywood is so intolerably racist that casting white people as characters that are specifically meant to be a different race doesn’t even raise eyebrows until the release of the film. But what’s more problematic is our mob mentality in pursuing them after the fact as though we invented the goddamn wheel. We’re all functioning on such a click bait, flash in the pan news cycle that no one ever cares until something is already out in the world, and once we’ve all written about it, we forget about it. Even Cameron Crowe wrote about it—apologizing on his blog, which is a code phrase for when a celebrity desperately wants the internet to shut the fuck up.

As #Problematic as … “Real Housewives” reunion specials:

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5. Female Viagra Exists

And that’s a great thing! The FDA approved it! (we can’t always trust them, but this is supposed to be positive, so we won’t get into it) It’s a sign that perhaps the world will stop thinking of men as the predominant party in sex! Women want sex too! Women have libidos! Women can have sex without men! Women can be sexually empowered as opposed to being objectified participants! This is not problematic! Celebrate!

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