I don’t pay much attention to celebrity news or gossip, so just about everyone knew about Bruce Jenner becoming a woman before me. Even my preteen daughter knew. Because gender identity questions have long confused me, I decided to watch Jenner’s interview with Diane Sawyer. I hoped to learn something. What I learned made me exclaim out loud.
When people said he was now a woman, I assumed that meant he had a sex change operation. I thought having female genitals was what made someone a woman. And being a man, I assumed, meant having male genitals.
Apparently I was wrong.
Apparently Bruce Jenner dressing in women’s clothing and liking makeup makes him a woman. Which is odd, because if a woman dresses in men’s clothing, she’s still a woman. She might be negatively labelled, but she’s still a woman. Having male genitals, though, does not make someone a man. They also have to wear rugged manly clothes, and do manly things, like drive a truck and fart out loud. The list of things a guy has to do to be a man is so long that it reveals an uncomfortable truth: we have no idea what it means to be a man. None. It’s a mixed up, tangled up pile of entirely subjective actions that no one can agree on.
I don’t think that definition of manhood is helpful for anyone. Bruce Jenner has man parts, so to me he’s a man, whether he wears dresses or not.