No really, what does it take to be a woman?
Caitlyn Jenner, formerly Bruce Jenner, is back on television. Her reality show, ‘I am Cait’ is airing on the E! Network. I caught the first episode and to be honest with you, it left my stomach a bit queasy. It was a lot to take in. Watching Cait is very much like seeing a ghost, in the sense that you cannot really believe what it is that you’re seeing. So yeah, I couldn’t believe it when I tuned in to watch the second episode.
To watch ‘I am Cait’ your mind is in a constant state of motion, trying to transition from Bruce to this new creation. Bruce was pretty grungy. He spent a lot of time in brown khakis and striped tee shirts, or some such. He wasn’t flashy or particularly extravagant. In fact, he was distinctly wall-flowerish, often fading completely into to the background.
Cait is a full-on glamour puss. Full face of make-up. Extensions in. Nails done. Designer outfits on fleek. Given her height and stature, she should rightly be called a glamazon. She is the very picture of feminine perfection. I bet if you got close to her, she smells good too. She oozes femininity in all its consumerist glory, and may as well have walked straight off that first Vanity Fair shoot every time she appears on screen, because seldom is a thread out of place.
She flips her hair and waves her hands around like a typical female. Because her eyes are so defined and her face so contoured, her facial expressions are much more animated than they were before. The way she turns her head, and narrows her eyes. How she uses one manicured finger to delicately smooth a strand of hair away from her forehead. The subtle lifting of her eyebrows, cute and quirky curl of her upper lip. I’m sure she did all this things as Bruce, but as Caitlyn, everything is hyper-feminised. It is as if a model was raised from the cover of a magazine and brought to life.
She still speaks in deep tones, walks with a somewhat manly gait and has the tendency to slouch, but Cait is one hell of a striking woman. She is the manifestation of what a large part of society thinks a woman should be – processed. When she is speaking directly to the camera, the lighting is manipulated to – literally – show her in a better light.
With two episodes under my belt, I really have to wonder if I have what it takes to be a woman. I’m also wondering what society takes women for. If being a woman is all about girlie clothes, fancy hair and make-up, frilly trinkets and drinks with ‘the girls’ then I’m not sure I qualify.
If we’re talking menstrual cramps, labour pain, seasonal acne, sexual harassment, doing double the work to be just as good, discrimination, bad hair days, chipped nails, leaky breasts, misogyny, cat calls and glass ceilings – and many, many more realities that litter the landscape of womanhood – then perhaps we all stand a chance.
Obviously for Cait, it’s early days yet. She has a lot to learn about the female experience. Hopefully, younger generations won’t be duped into thinking that womanhood is more about how you look than who you are.