What do you do when topics come up on television, in the magazines in the checkout line, on the “suggested for you” on your livestream or in adult conversation that you don’t want your children exposed to yet? How do you maneuver through this society of circus culture in our media? Let me clarify, I don’t label it “circus culture” because of what is being shared; but because of the over-the-top, in your face, unbelievable delivery of all serious information. Rather than be a vehicle to educate the media is a vehicle to entertain…
Recently Bruce Jenner came out to the entire world that he was a woman. Before I passed judgment on him and his choice I decided to binge watch “TransParent” on my ex-husband’s Amazon livestream service. I watched the whole first season and was actually impressed with how the show handled each relationship and each character. I was impressed how tastefully the show put together its plots and twists and turns. But that’s a show… a show that my kids can watch when they get to be about 10 or so. I can censor it and allow them to experience it with me- together on the sofa as we have a roundtable discussion about it scientifically.
This leads me to my first statement… the media does an amazing job of raping our minds. I use this term because what the media considers “newsworthy” is often very individualized, personal and private information conveyed as a message that “goddifies” an individual as they go through their personal struggle and journey. Is a very rich, famous man transitioning really newsworthy? What’s happening in Nepal right now? Are we mystified by those that lost everything? If Bruce Jenner were not rich and famous would anyone care? What does this say to us all about the currency that each of our lives has? It says… if I’m rich and famous, my story carries more weight and my struggle is more real.
This leads me to my next statement… family values versus societal values. So I grapple with this all the time. Do I ascribe to my family values and what I believe to be true or do I ascribe to the values of society? My sister’s ten year old son asked to watch the Bruce Jenner “announcement” to prepare himself if his girlfriend decided to become a boy. I think this is sweet. It’s an innocent child’s way of trying to understand someone’s right to choose for themselves and prepare himself to deal with that as a real possibility. My sister struggled with this until relenting and allowing him to watch as a family which was followed by a scientific conversation about it all. How did he hear about it? Well, the announcement was heavily advertised during his after school television time. Not sure if that’s appropriate advertising or not… but that’s not my call. I think my sister handled the situation very well.
This leads me to my next statement… we don’t all have to agree, empowerment should not come with extremism but with supportive dialogue. It seems like extremes are the name of the day. Many people are willing to accost someone they do not agree with in an irrational way. Whether it’s extreme liberalism or extreme conservatism, we ignore the truths of science and adapt the principles and truths that fit best with our beliefs and arguments for or against certain rights. We need to scrutinize without judgment. Come to terms without feelings but with clarity. I can support your rights without agreeing to your decision to exercise them. Unfortunately the extreme left and the right are both guilty of the finger-wagging, loud talking, my way or the highway that accompanies judgment.
This leads me to my next statement… science is science. We all have the capacity to change our outer being. We have the right, freedom and in some countries the luxury (yes, luxury because the world is not free) to express ourselves as who we actually see ourselves as spiritually. But we need not forget that men and women are chromosomally different. A “Y” chromosome will always be a “Y”chromosome and until you can go into someone’s DNA and change that, I can see it no other way. Testosterone is responsible for behaviors like aggression and dominance. These are things women experience in small doses but not as fully as an individual with a “Y” chromosome. This needs to be addressed. No amount of estrogen can eliminate an individual genetically born male and their ability to overpower a woman physically. (Here is a simplified definition of Testosterone and what it does via Healthline)
There was a scene in TransParent where “Moppa” the main character who was transitioning went into the women’s bathroom at a department store with her daughters. This created a scene because the teenage girls at the vanity began to say that she was a man and their mother defended them. Everything in me was on the side of the mother and her daughters. What if Moppa were not transitioning and were just a man dressed up with malicious intent? What then? Whose safety is more important in that scenario- Moppa’s with a “Y” chromosome or the teen girls with 2 “X”s? As a society we need to begin to address these types of questions. As pro-rights for all as I am, society still has a responsibility to protect all of its citizens. Maybe it’s time for us to rethink a few things.
Finally... your business is your business and it’s ok for you to walk around publically with your business out without facing aggressive attacks and judgment. Bruce Jenner has every right to be who Bruce Jenner needs to be. We all do. That’s the beauty of living in a country where we have rights and we are to respect each other’s rights. But it’s really hard to have empathy for situations and individuals when their struggle is portrayed in such a grand and insincere manner. I see Bruce’s announcement as a way to take back the personal struggle that the paparazzi and the media disabused to leverage power and shame. I realize more and more that I’m raising children in a circus culture where the media explodes issues to be fanciful and beyond the rational opportunity for regular people to have discussion and formative understanding. This isn’t about religion for me... It’s about my ability to educate my children in a sound and age-appropriate manner. It’s mostly about being able to speak openly and clearly with them about real world issues without the prejudice of mass media.
If you have ideas about this please share them in the comments. I’d love to know if I’m crazy or not, alone or whatever… just no hate speech :) (liberal or conservative)
I'm a former teacher and former college athlete, currently working in edtech. My mission is to get parents to partner with their child's teacher.