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Wednesday, June 17, 2015
Current Affairs ... Society ...

I haven’t said anything here yet about the current hubbub over Caitlyn Jenner and Rachel Dolezal, because both cases are very tricky situations. Some conservative pundits try to paint the liberal acceptance (and even celebration) of Jenner’s new female identity as hypocritical in light of their disdain for Dolezal’s claim to African-American identity. These writers make some good points. But IMHO, the situation is not that simple; the Jenner and Dolezal situations have significant differences (I mean, Jenner cannot even try to coverup her past as a him, whereas Dolezal seemed to need a few fibs or, excuse the term, “white lies”, to get where she was).

I believe or at least hope that both situations are doing America some good by making us think about and discuss the deep but seldom-questioned issues regarding who we think we are and what makes us whatever that is. Philosophers and sociologists will have a field day dissecting these cases with their classes. Hopefully some rational thoughts and enlightened attitudes will filter their way through all the static and hucksterism that our non-stop media circus has created over Caitlyn and Rachel.

About the only thing that I can add is that in the end, society will decide what a man or a woman is, and what white or black identity involves. The lead-off agents in that social determination process should be those who currently belong to the groups being referred to. I.e., those who we currently recognize as being African American should be given priority in voicing their opinions regarding Rachel Dolezal, and those who we currently recognize as women should be listened to more carefully in the Caitlyn Jenner situation. I.e., those with “skin in the game” should get the first word in. Only when those voices are clearly heard can society as a whole wrestle toward a conclusion. The process will not take place overnight. Just my 2 cents.

But there’s one other interesting little political note here. I can think of another “man of the hour” who seemed to have flip-flopped a bit regarding the nature of his identity; who, because of an affinity for a certain group, declared himself to be a part of that group even though most people would not agree with that categorization. The person in question later reversed himself on this, but it’s right there in black and white that he once declared himself to be a member of a specific ethno-cultural heritage when none of his ancestors had anything to do with that heritage.

Yes, I’m talking about the former Florida Governor and now-GOP Presidential nomination candidate, Jeb Bush. In 2009, Bush filled out a voter registration form in Miami and clearly checked the “Hispanic” box under the racial identity column. At least one psychologist thinks that Bush was trying, perhaps sub-consciously, to identify with his Mexican wife and her culture (or perhaps the greater-Latin culture, given that Bush lived in Venezuela for 2 years). Well OK, so Bush has since made a strategic retreat from this mindset; but still, that overall mindset isn’t very far from whatever was and is happening in the minds of Caitlyn Jenner and Rachel Dolezal. So, Caitlyn and Rachel . . . move over and make room for Jeb!!!

◊   posted by Jim G @ 9:03 am      

  1. Jim, I cannot see how it’s possible to compare Caitlyn Jenner to Rachel Dolezal. I’ve been trying to figure out a comparison that says “mixing apples and orange”, but I’m trying to figure out a comparison that is widely divergent; apples and oranges, actually are part of the same fruit foods we eat and do not quite express the wide divergence between the “mixing” here.

    I see gender as a continuum from male to female (actually, female to male) with some people having more male characteristics than female and others having more female characteristics than male. Every embryo/fetus starts out as a female; the change to male requires many, vast, and complicated (mostly) hormonal changes on the part of the unborn child before he/she can definitely be called a “he” – and even some changes after the male child has been born. Thus, anywhere along the line in this process something could “go wrong”, and thus people have varying characteristics of males and females. (This process of the female fetus becoming male is so complicated that my description seems ridiculously simple. But I’ll leave it at that.)

    What such a process has to do with a white person claiming she’s black is a mystery to me. I fail to see the comparison. As far as I’ve studied, before the Civil War society at the time *did* describe in detail who/what constituted a black person. Having one drop of black blood made a person black was the legal description, together with a number of other terms defining who was black – mulatto and quadroon are two terms that come to mind immediately. They were generously used before the Civil War to say nothing of the era of Civil Rights. Thus, also, black people who looked white “enough” could “pass” as white. Few white people wanted to pass as black; however, I have read that in the 1800s there was a white man who fell in love with a black woman (while he was married to a white woman). This white man maintained two homes: One where his white wife lived and one in the area where his black wife lived. He himself had no trouble “passing” as black as he could always maintain he had at least one drop of black blood.

    So, I just cannot see any comparison between the two people, Caitlyn and Rachel. Furthermore, we are all human being; thus I fail to see any “fuss” about who is what or from where. Who cares? I don’t. I’d like to see society take some time to consider who the “good hearted” people are; I’d like to see less treatment of human beings as objects (often to be killed); I’d like to just let people who do no hurt to others be allowed to be who they are or want to be as long as they do not hurt others. That’s a broad requirement, I know; but I’d really like to see less “fuss” about all these external things and more consideration of what kind of person an individual might be.

    Furthermore, I’ve noticed that the men are somehow shocked, outraged, lacking in any understanding of Bruce Jenner desiring to become Caitlyn. Yet, when asked, these same men have little to say about a woman who might wish to become a man. It seems to me that this tells us more about the place of women in our society than anything else. If men find it outrageous that a man would want to be a woman but find it not worthy of comment if a woman would want to become a man, they are indicating that becoming a woman is a massive step down from being a man. My question then becomes: What’s wrong with *this* picture? It seems to me that this difference in response non-verbally says so much of who women are in society and what men think of women not only in *our* society but in the world in general. And I’ve been surprised that women can become “invisible” so easily? I guess I really should not be surprised. MCS

    Comment by Mary S. — June 17, 2015 @ 7:55 pm

  2. Good point about Caitlyn, Rachel, and Jeb. I came to the same view, but now I see you beat me to it by several months.

    Comment by Steve Sailer — September 4, 2015 @ 4:28 am

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