Friday 28 October 2016

Colette Fitzpatrick: Caitlyn Jenner has nothing to do with looks - it's about identity

Caitlyn Jenner
Caitlyn Jenner
Lottie doll
A couple in the bedroom
Davina McCall

One of the most astute observations since Caitlyn Jenner made her debut on Vanity Fair came from TV host Jon Stewart.

"When you were a man", he said, "we could talk about your athleticism and your business acumen.

"But now you're a woman, so that means your looks are really the only thing we care about."

Stewart said some TV personalities were asking whether Jenner was more attractive than other celebrities.

"Look, we want to give a woman a compliment here," he said.

"We just need to make sure another woman gets taken down a peg. You came out at 65, and you've got another two years before you become invisible to society. Better make the most of it."

Although by-and-large supportive, perhaps the media and the world has been a little awkward about what to say and how to say it to Caitlyn Jenner.

We were interested though.

Caitlyn (and her daughter not Kim Kardashian) managed to 'break the internet' with the most amount of Twitter followers in a matter of hours (1m in four hours, beating Obama's record) after her Vanity Fair cover emerged.

Most people used the correct gendered pronoun when mentioning Caitlyn's official Twitter account too.

I guess our etiquette and language is still playing catch up in a world that is changing at breakneck speed.

Only a few years ago, same-sex marriage was a pipe dream here. Soon I hope to be going to my first gay wedding.

And now we know that, just like gay people, transgender people exist and live among us and always have.

They are part of our families, part of our communities and our society. The spotlight on this transgender story will surely help focus families and politicians who haven't yet fully embraced transgender people.

Since Lydia Foy's case here Ireland has an obligation to provide birth certificates listing people's true gender. This obligation arises from European and international human rights treaties.

But the State has not put that right into effect. Ireland is the only country in the EU that has no provision for legal gender recognition - yet.

The Government has introduced the Gender Recognition Bill, and the Transgender Equality Network this week welcomed its provision to allow individuals self determine their gender.

It's a hugely important move. Imagine how difficult life must be for those who have had surgery, are calling themselves different names and living as men or women when their legal documentation says they are otherwise.

Imagine having to constantly explain yourself.

As Jon Stewart mocked, this isn't just about looks. It's about identity - about who you really are.


A doll that gets her clothes muddy and stands up for herself - whatever next?

It's fantastic news that a children's doll from Ireland is being unveiled at America's biggest specialist toy industry gathering.

Lottie doll's kitted for mud

The 'Lottie doll' is the creation of the Donegal-based company Arklu and a refreshing celebration of childhood. She's one of the most 'pro girl' dolls around.

The doll is based on the scientific proportions of a nine-year-old child, except for her head (which is bigger to accommodate hair play). She has bendable knees and ball-socket hips and arms and can do the splits - all of which help for gymnastics, karate and playing.

She can stand on her own two feet - a feat technically impossible if you had the pneumatic proportions of Barbie.

There is no jewellery on this doll. Nor does she wear makeup or high heels and she's not concerned with growing up quickly. Lottie dolls come in a range of eye, hair and skin colours.

Lottie's clothes are very much activity based, in line with those of a nine-year-old instead of an adult.

Sure, she wears pretty dresses but she also wears hard-wearing clothes for muddy, outdoors play, clothes that are easy to wear for building projects, for example (see - no gender stereotyping here).

Apparently the company who manufacture this doll spent a year-and-a-half working with girls and their parents before coming up with their character.

In many ways, she is inspired by the spirited female characters in books we loved as children: Anne of Green Gables, Jo in Little Women, Nancy Drew, and George in The Famous Five. Lottie's motto is 'Be bold, be brave, be you'.

Her character isn't perfect, of course. And just like our little girls she makes mistakes - but she learns from them.

So we'll see you those teensy, tiny princess doll waists and raise you a real doll for our little girls.


Don't call Davina for your sex advice

So Davina McCall is still trying to explain her way out of comments about how women must keep their husbands happy.


She said "you must keep your husband satisfied in the bedroom department, even if you're absolutely exhausted. Otherwise he will go somewhere else". What she is essentially saying is that it's unacceptable for a woman to not be in the mood from time to time.

How about intimacy based on the needs of both people, not one feeling obliged? Promoting 'fear of him leaving' as a motivation for doing anything in a relationship is hardly advisable. Insecurities are never a sound basis for anything. Neither is prioritising one person over another in a relationship.


Anne's not the marrying kind ... just deal with it

Brangelina have done it. Even George Clooney's done it. But after more than ten years with her partner, Dan McGrattan, Anne Doyle (inset) says it's unlikely she'll get married. "It seems a bit pointless," she says.

Now there's a woman who's happy in herself. I doubt it's the commitment that makes her shudder, rather all the palaver that goes with weddings. I'm quite sure too that the idea of being a princess for a fairy-tale wedding seems ridiculous to her. Herself and Dan will be tens of thousands of euro better off than their married mates.

Anne Doyle

Anne also seems like a woman who'd rather do something more interesting than the mind numbing details of wedding planning. I think this iconic broadcaster might be onto something.

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