Another Hash-It-Out! blog about Caitlyn Jenner? Really?
Yeah, sorry, but he/she is in the news again, and he/she definitely stirs up some significant issues for debate. Like this blog referring to Caitlyn as he/she. How dare we not refer to Caitlyn by his/her self-identification.
The LBGT community insists that self-identifcation should be all that is required to establish one’s gender; however, biologically, Caitlyn remains very much a man. Meanwhile, on the legal spectrum every state has different laws regarding gender change and the legal definition of male or female. California has among the most liberal laws regarding gender change in the nation, but we don’t know whether Caitlyn has actually taken the steps needed to become legally female.
With the biological transition definitely absent and the legal aspect unclear we will continue to refer to Caitlyn as he/she. As for those staunch defenders of self-identifcation, we ask: if a man takes rabbit hormones, surgically attaches rabbit ears to his head, and insists he be treated like a rabbit, are you really going to treat him like a rabbit?
But, we digress. The latest Caitlyn Jenner news is the “massive outrage” spurred by the introduction of a Caitlyn Jenner costume. According to dozens of different news organizations, Internet social media sites like Twitter and Facebook erupted in outrage and anger as news of the costume spread. While costume retailer Spirit Halloween was the named perpetrator at the heart of the Internet backlash, it should be noted that several Halloween costume makers are offering Caitlyn/Bruce Jenner costumes of different varieties, not to mention of questionable taste.
There are two issues here: First, is the outrage justified? And second, is the outrage truly “massive?”
Let’s address the second question first. We found it quite interesting how dozens of the news articles regarding the controversial costume were so eerily similar to each other. In fact, most of the articles published the same quotes from both leaders of the LGBT community and supposedly random social media tweeters and commentators. A Tweeter identified as “beki,” who Tweeted, “the caitlyn jenner halloween costumes are disgusting. being trans isn’t a ‘costume’ and treating it as such is ignorant & transphobic,” must be among the most quoted people by the media this week, her tweet being so prevalent among the Caitlyn Halloween costume stories.
Given the reported size of the public outrage, we decided to look for it on the Web. Interestingly, Tweets about Caitlyn Jenner Halloween costumes began back in early June. These early tweeters primarily focused on how Caitlyn Jenner would definitely be one of the most popular costume ideas for 2015, with many Tweeters proclaiming their own intention to don such a costume come Halloween, and only a few Tweeters suggesting that it might be offensive. The first photo of the Spirit Halloween Caitlyn costume was posted on July 24, and yet still, not much sign of outrage….
Then on August 21, a Huffington Post blog came out calling the Caitlyn costume the “worst idea we’ve heard all year.” That article spurred a few negative Tweets, which accelerated coming into this week, but by no means does it appear that this was a mass outcry of fury regarding the costume. In fact, the killing of Cecil the Lion (see Hash-It-Out July 28 blog: Iconic Cecil the Lion Slain by Dentist, Moronic Human Killed by Gator) marked more fury on Twitter on the magnitude of hundreds of thousands of Tweets. Yet by August 25, dozens of news organizations had posted near identical stories about the alleged mass social media outrage (LGBT PR machine in high gear, perhaps?). We also looked at other social media sites for commentary on the issue, and sure, found plenty of commentary expressing outrage, dismay and other emotions about the costume, but found equal, and in many cases more, commentary decrying the political correctness of those criticizing the costume and of the news media reporting on it.
Also to be noted is that many of the news stories pointed out that a change.org petition had been started on Monday to demand that Spirit Halloween stop producing and selling the costume. As of Saturday morning about 13,500 apparently outraged people had signed the petition. We wouldn’t call 13,500 mass outrage, and also note that this number is smaller than the more than 15,000 people who have signed the change.org petition demanding the Olympic Committee revoke Caitlyn Jenner’s 1976 gold medal.
As for the first question–is the outrage justified? Well, if you are a member of the “easily offended and outraged” club (i.e., the politically correct) the answer is obviously, “yes.” Caitlyn is the club’s newest sacred cow, joining dozens of other groups and individuals who should be treated with unquestioned reverence (as an aside, we’d like to note that we know of another “easily outraged and offended” club that thinks it’s ok to execute those who dare insult their sacred cows–scary….).
But why should Caitlyn get the sacred cow treatment? He/she is a self-made, attention-seeking, public figure, and thus should be subject to the general public’s scrutiny and resultant commentary, the latter inclusive of caricature and parody, which would include Halloween costumes.
And frankly, we’re finding this year’s “Dentist and Cecil the Lion” Halloween costume far more distasteful, but we’ll certainly withhold our outrage because we don’t believe in sacred cows.