Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Courage

I grant that it does take courage to expose oneself to ridicule and criticism, even if there is praise as well.  It is certainly worse when that exposure is public. I give Caitlin Jenner credit for some courage, and I don't think I'm being insincere about it. I certainly would want the criticism she's getting, even if lots of other people were telling me what an amazing human being I am.

I have no doubt that other types of courage are harder: facing death, facing pain, facing failure, facing helplessness in the presence of the suffering of wives or children, facing poverty, facing abandonment or loneliness, witnessing the destruction of life's work and beginning again.  Nor do I think most other people would disagree with me, when one confronts them with the comparison.  Is Caitlin Jenner's courage greater than Lauren Hill's? Than a Navy Seal's? Than a mother with four kids who has just been abandoned? I think most of the people swooning over Jenner's courage, if you backed them into a corner, would entirely get the point that this isn't really the height of courage.

My issue is with them more than with Caitlin Jenner.  When people stop to think about it and make clear comparisons, nearly everyone would agree that public criticism, embarrassing and unpleasant as it is, is not as difficult to bear as many other evils.  Yet social criticism, ostracism, threat of shunning is the first fear people think of. Millions and millions of people fear this most of all - until you make them think about it.  Curious.  It is easy to dismiss it as emotional immaturity, the response of people who are still trapped in a high school world where the disapproval of the cool kids is the worst of evils.

Perhaps not.  Perhaps this is not some new immaturity of the late 20th and early 21st Centuries, illustrating the grave deterioration in character from which we will never recover. Perhaps this is simply what human beings have always been, Sumerians, Inupiat, Andamanese, Miqmaqs, Yamna, Avars, or Valley Girls.

Addition: The person who wrote the story for Vanity Fair, Buzz or Biz-something, made reference to being a cross-dresser himself and being "mercilessly crucified" for admitting this a decade ago.  That's part of what I'm talking about here.  You write for important magazines.  You have friends and good health. Some people applaud you, even if others say vile things about you.  This is not merciless, nor crucifixion, and if we were sitting at the same table, you would sheepishly acknowledge that (I hope). Criticism is not the worst of evils.

9 comments:

Sam L. said...

Jenner also has more than a fair amount of money to fall back on, too. I expect it takes a lot to keep up with the Kardashians.

james said...

I despise the kind of surgeons who prey on people like Bruce. He needed help.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

You might like this: http://www.firstthings.com/article/2004/11/surgical-sex

james said...

Yes.

Christopher B said...

Elizabeth Foley at Instapundit linked to an op-ed by psychiatrist Paul McHugh from Johns Hopkins. He noted that after pioneering sex reassignment surgery Johns Hopkins no longer performs it because of the lack of positive results, and pointed to some recent longer-term studies that suggest the possibility of real negative results (an increase in suicides as post-ops trans age).

Assistant Village Idiot said...

That's McHugh linked above a First Things.

Texan99 said...

Coming out transexual in your old neighborhood in New Jersey or something 20 years ago might be pretty traumatic. Doing it Jenner style, with a fawning press and a whole hipster society that would rather die than admit they were shocked, may not be such a terrible experience for an exhibitionist contrarian.

We have a friend from way back who "became a woman" several years ago. He doesn't look like a glamor photo, more like a grandmotherly Bilbo Baggins. Fortunately he lives a long way away, so it's unlikely I'll ever be in the same room with him and have to deal with the "just us girls" vibe I sometimes pick up from him on Facebook. I have no interest in embarrassing him--he's a lovely person and I wish him well--but I don't think I'll ever get it.

ymarsakar said...

Social pressure isn't high school. High school is an American dysfunction, that seeks to emulate the adult version.

In any herd or hierarchy, being exiled means the same thing as death. Logically, people can't make the connections, because this is an emotional and human survival issue. It's not something they were taught in public school or allowed to think about in their careers.

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