It'll take some time for the media to find the right way to talk about Caitlyn Jenner and women in general. We're not there yet.
Caitlyn Jenner is the name on everybody’s lips this week. After introducing herself to the world in a Vanity Fair interview, accompanied by a photo spread by Annie Leibovitz, the former Olympian amassed over 1m Twitter followers in a matter of days. What followed was a landslide of media commentators welcoming Caitlyn to womanhood, the only way they know how – by discussing her looks, at length.
Warm as it was, there was something slightly disturbing about this welcome. Once again, Jon Stewart hit the nail on the head with his criticism.
“Caitlyn, when you were a man, we could talk about your athleticism, your business acumen,” said Stewart after showing clip after clip of TV news reporters gushing over every detail of Jenner’s appearance, while simultaneously comparing her attractiveness to that of other women. “But now you’re a woman. Your looks are really the only thing we care about.”
Good point. Of course, Caitlyn did look amazing in the Vanity Fair spread and the recently released promo for her upcoming reality show, but is that really the point? Her media presence and twitter account are focused on introducing Caitlyn as a complex, well rounded person. Moreover, the dialogue, which up until now has been dominated by Cait’s looks, has completely ignored broader trans issues like healthcare, stigma, violence against trans people and trans women specifically, etc.
Let’s do better, shall we, media?