Saturday, July 16, 2011

Pronounity

We get a lot of celebrities coming into the Patricia Field store (where I work) and generally they're pretty nice. Beyonce was a sweetheart. Katie Perry is adorable. Paris Hilton is always friendly and nice. Jerry Hall was a bit of a bitch, but her kids are always great. I think she was pissed she had to spend time in a store she probably considers declasse paying for stuff her kids wanted. Or maybe she's just a bitch.

I work in the office, not on the floor, and when someone famous comes in I usually remain hidden. I have met enough celebrities in my life, and I'm not particularly interested, unless it's a rock star or someone I actually know. When Slash and his wife visited I made a point to come out and say hi and make sure they got a couple of CSFH tees. But other than him I can't remember the last time I got excited over a visit.

We also get a lot of reality shows filming in there. The store is very colorful and fun and adds instant visual excitement. I am not immune to the lure of reality tv, but I'm not interested in the "stars" for the most part, so I don't bother getting up from my desk when they come in. I did run out to see Kim Kardashian when she showed up because she's just so goddamn pretty that I wanted to see if it held up in real life. It does. She's actually more petite than you would expect and even prettier in person, if that's possible. And her mom was very nice and fun. 

During that same visit Courtney' Kardashian's husband was somewhat ignorant and obnoxious about the transgender quotient in our store, but you would expect that from him. Which leads me to today's blog. You would also expect that the Real Housewives of New York would behave a little better than one of the most hated people on reality television. Alas, they did not.

First, allow me to introduce you to my friend Codie Leone. She is a transsexual woman, and has been living as a woman since this 80's. Nan Goldin took this iconic photo of her then:


This is Codie now. 


The ladies of PF: Ingrid, me, Sofia, Codie:

This is an outtake of a photo shoot that Aaron Cobbett did of Codie and her biological sons, which is a tale for another day:


So now you have a mental image. Codie has been my friend for 20 years. She's hilarious, she's generous and kind, and she manages the wig department and works in the salon as a stylist. Codie was on the sales floor when the Housewives came in to tart themselves up for some bullshit party that was most likely expensive and boring. According to Codie, they seemed very nice and she was happy  to help them.

She was not as happy once the show aired, because when she wasn't in earshot one of the housewives repeatedly referred to her as "that guy". 

Unfortunately I can't post the video. I just spent the last hour digging around online and I am not web savvy enough to be able to bring it to you. I did find a small portion of it on this preview on Amazon, they're in the store during the last quarter of the clip: http://www.amazon.com/Burlesque-Is-More-HD/dp/B005BO4X8U.

I bit the bullet and spent Amazon's asking price of $2.99 to download the entire episode in order to see the full clip of their time in the store and be able to blog about it properly. It wasn't quite as bad as I was expecting, but it was still the kind of ignorance that you would expect from a housewife from Kentucky, not New York. Especially when this particular New York housewife has openly declared herself a gay icon: http://www.advocate.com/News/Daily_News/2011/04/15/Housewife_Declares_Herself_Gay_Icon/

It's not that complicated. It's really not. Transgender/transsexual people are people who choose to change their sex, usually because they feel that their genitals don't match their hearts and minds. To call a transgender woman "he", "him", or "that guy" is deeply insulting and in my mind, only shows your own stupidity and insecurity. 

I love my transgender friends. They have the same dreams and feelings that the rest of us have and it hurts to see them take so much shit on a daily basis. They are forced to defend themselves every day of their lives in some way, and I'm fucking sick of it. It's 2011 fer Chrissake, everyone has a computer, everyone watches television. Why would anyone in their right mind choose to derogate another human being for making a change in their life that hurts no one?

And while we're on the topic, and for the record, a transvestite is (usually) a straight man who likes to put on women's clothing, sometimes for sexual purposes, sometimes just 'cause he wants to feel pretty. A drag queen is a man who performs professionally as a woman. Transsexual, transvestite, drag queen: three separate and distinct categories. The terms aren't interchangeable, unless maybe you're Pete Burns? I don't know what he considers himself at this point. Manwoman, maybe? I'm not sure, I'm just glad he's out there shaking up the status quo with his bad self.

I don't know what else to say about it. Reality television is reality television and a good part of the reason we watch is to feel batter about our own selves by laughing at others. I watch Jersey Shore and Project Runway religiously, so please don't send me personal email rants about how hideous it all is and how far above it you are. Save that for the comment section here because I already agree with you and know that most of it is horrendous.

But still, can't we at least expect a little more from women who live in New York City? Codie welcomed them because she is an open, friendly person and she trusted that they understood who she is. They repaid her warmth by squandering an opportunity to educate and belittling her on national television. This makes me heart-achey and blog-ranty.

7 comments:

CMAZEIKA said...

Thanks as always for being the voice of reason and helping to keep people's hearts, eyes, and minds open!

Anne C. said...

Codie is much more an authentic person, one who has probably developed compassion & empathy from real struggles. I have no doubt that Codie is much more authentically happy than any of those NY housewives.

Anonymous said...

In an article that you are decrying the stereotyping of your friends, you resort to a stereotype to make your point. Just how many Kentucky housewives have you met? There is a reason TV producers go to NY to cast for these kinds of shows. Kentucky housewives have the intelligence to keep their poor behavior behind closed doors.

M. Raffaele said...

Kentucky Pride Parade! You do make a point but I'd be more inclined to take it seriously if it hadn't been made anonymously.

Karina said...

The fact that a 'reality' star acts like a bratty bitch, doesn't actually surprise me....there, now I've tossed out one of my stereotypes.

The fact that this broad had the balls to call herself a 'gay icon' is comical. She ain't no CHER!! In fact she couldn't even hold one of Cher's headpieces!

And lastly, if we were all the same and all 'vanilla' what fund would the world be? Good on your girl Codie for being kind, considerate and being the better person when faced with assholery.

M. Raffaele said...

I <3 you Karina! In retrospect, I don't think the woman (Sonja) meant to be disrespectful, I think she was honestly trying to be nice. But my frustration is that well-intended or not, it was still ignorant and demeaning. And at the risk of stereotyping I expect more from people who live in NYC.

ThatoneguyKeith said...

SO PRETTY