Bruce Jenner: Child of the Sixties

Yes, I am writing about Bruce, the man predating the latest iteration. Bruce personifies the philosophy of the 60s in several salient ways.

Feelings Orientation

The 60s was all about feelings. “If it feels good, do it.” The hippie philosophy has transformed America’s traditional Christian culture that identified reality predominantly based on reason to our current cultural commitment to measuring reality based on feelings. For example, the United States does not select its President based on rational analysis of the candidate’s credentials but how he makes them feel.

Jenner’s decision to identify as a woman reflects this same penchant toward decision-making based on a subjective rather than an object to basis.

Decathlon, with its 10 physically demanding events, requires not only tremendous coordination but also fantastic physical endurance. As a result, the Olympic decathlon winner has historically been viewed as the world’s greatest athlete. Decathlon is almost exclusively considered a men’s sport, women instead participating in heptathlon, a seven event contest. This reality suggests the rational conclusion that Jenner in winning the 1976 Olympic decathlon in Montréal, and being noted as the world’s greatest athlete, also represented one of the world’s greatest specimens of manhood. Though some may argue that manhood also includes character, which may not be Jenner’s strong point, we must conclude that winning the decathlon requires a high level of a certain type of character, reflecting such qualities as discipline and mental toughness. Therefore, as Jenner sought to identify his gender, rational analysis would strongly favor a male choice.

In addition, the fact that he fathered six children might also have suggested to him a male orientation. Related to that, he might also have included some undeniable biological factors in his computations.

None of that matters to a child of the 60s if he feels like a woman or feels like he would like to be a woman. Even the suicide rate of transgenders being assessed at 20 times the level of people with normal sexual orientation did not trump his feelings. As a child of the 60s, if that’s the way he feels, end of discussion.

Me Orientation

Jenner also reflects the 60s in the selfishness of his decision.

As an Olympic athlete, Jenner represented America. His willingness to participate in the Olympics placed him in that role, like it or not. Consequently, his achievements were America’s achievements. America for decades took great pride in Jenner as the symbol of American manhood. His appearance on various Wheaties boxes symbolized the adulation of America for this masculine sports hero. Though ever politically correct ESPN may believe that Jenner’s gender change enhances rather than detracts from his athletic achievements as a man, their awarding him the Arthur Ashe Courage Award rather than proving the point only proves that ESPN suffers from the same 60s absorption as does Jenner. The reality is that Jenner’s decision bitterly disappointed many Americans and made a mockery of American athletes before the world. But, Jenner’s feelings must come first.

Not only does it appear that Jenner placed his feelings ahead of America, but also one must wonder about the impact on his six children. I can’t imagine what it would have been like for my father to decide that he was a woman. Even hypothetically expressing this thought literally turns my stomach. But, Jenner has been faithful to one of the foundational principles of the 60s, “If it feels good, do it.” Notice that that slogan considers no one but me.

The participants in Woodstock expressed its gratitude to Max Yasgur for his letting them use his farm by trashing it, but that’s okay because they were doing what felt good. Likewise Jenner has done what feels good, never mind the impact on anybody else.

God Complex

It is difficult to identify who coined the phrase, “You have a right to do your own thing,” another major hippie mantra. Nonetheless, this assertion begs the question, “Who says?” What gave him the authority to grant humans that right? Whoever made that assertion manifested a God complex, ensconcing himself as the lawmaker of the universe.

Jenner reflects the same God complex in deciding that he will be a woman. The identification of his gender happens to be God’s prerogative—not his.

Not only does Jenner manifest a God complex in deciding that he will be a woman, but also in deciding that he can be a woman. Females have xx sex chromosomes while male chromosomes are xy. Jenner can get all the surgery he wants, but is sex chromosomes will still be xy. He is not God nor are the sex change physicians.

Microcosm of America

The bad news is that in large measure Jenner embodies a microcosm of contemporary America, at least its most visible and vocal expressions, though a solid but shrinking core of traditional Americans still exists. Our nation is driven by feelings, self-absorption, and a God complex. Maybe the good news is that sufficient disgust has been expressed regarding Jenner’s decision that there may be a backlash. Let’s pray that will be the case.

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