“Traditionally, boys who play with dolls were scolded, stripped of their dolls and handed some trucks, their parents terrified of their son showing signs of femininity. Now, as transgender identities become more visible, select parents respond to their sons playing with dolls in a different way, assuming that their child's interest in traditionally feminine toys makes them transgender or qualifies them as a girl trapped in a boy's body. So-called progressive individuals are jumping on the "transgender bandwagon," without realizing that their tolerance (and even support) of what they perceive as "transgender" might actually be a destructive reinforcement of an arbitrary gender binary.”—Some Boys Like Dolls: Deconstructing the (Trans)Gender Binary — Lucas Walden
“You see, it was understandable for me to want to be a tomboy and do “boy” things—because men are better, after all. But for a guy to want to be feminine? Unthinkable. Now, while this double standard affects men negatively, it’s mired in misogyny—the idea, of course, is that there’s nothing worse than being a girl. Think about it. Girls can wear pants; boys can’t wear skirts. Girls can play with trucks, but the minute I caught one of my little boy cousins playing with a doll, he threw it across the room with a look of shame on his face. It’s demeaning to be female, and boys learn that from an early age.”—Jessica Valenti, He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut, and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know
Jenny Thunder vs the Dallas Cowboys
Do I think it has very legitimately hurt a lot of people that Jensen made comments about an emotional scene between Dean and Cas needing to be re-written for being “unmanly?” Absolutely.
Do I think that’s a good thing, or an ok thing, something that shouldn’t be talked about, pain that should be dismissed, or something that “earns a pass” because it’s from a beloved actor who plays a beloved character who is quite possibly queer? Absolutely not.
You know what else I think?
I think Jensen’s from Texas, a place that is the absolute epicenter of American gender policing and pushing the image of what it means To Be A Red-Blooded American Man.
I think that Jensen was a model since childhood, a cheerleader and a football player, and an actor who did a lot of cheesecake roles and spent a lot of time in a half-pound of mascara and lipgloss pouting into soft focus on a soap opera when he was very young. I think this means that there is a 200% chance that in his childhood and teens and young adulthood (called the formative years for a reason) he experienced bullying and harassment meant to shame him for his violation of gender roles.
I think that this has continued, with “Jenny Thunder” photoshoots and implications of femininity still used with intent to humiliate as recently as Misha’s stunt a few weeks ago and laughed over on Tumblr tags where people ROTF with all their LOLs that Dean Winchester looked like a GIRL even as I type this.
I think that he has been subjected to a spectacular amount of fandom nastiness, invasiveness, and bullying directed towards himself, his wife, and now his unborn child by people who have decided that they can infer that he’s “secretly gay” and “really” doesn’t love Danneel by dissecting how he performs gender.
I think that for the most part, he has displayed an amazing resilience and refusal to be shamed. He still acts with incredible vulnerability in a character that is a remarkably naked dissection of the fallible, damaging nature of hyper-masculine tropes, is freely affectionate with his same-sex coworkers and friends, and hell yeah, there’s Taylor Swift on his iPod.
I think that part of standing his ground, however, has been clinging really hard to his gender and sexual identity. That you can’t decide who he is because he’ll kiss a male coworker on the cheek on the red carpet or sometimes cries for a living because goddamn it, he loves his steak and his football and you can’t take those away from him. I think he holds them up as defiance against those who would claim to define him by the “feminine” things he has the courage (ironically itself generally seen as a hyper-masculine trait) to do as well as as a learned response from childhood onward that the bullies will back down if you can prove that you can still “out-manly” them with your 6’2” broad-shouldered stubble-jawed jackknife-packing blue-jean-wearing barroom-brawling badassery no matter how many pictures they have of you dancing in a kimono.
I think that there’s a difference between making hate statements and not being flawlessly adept and educated at the minutia of expressing the complexities of gender, gender expression, social justice concepts, and institutionalized effemiphobia/homophobia/biphobia, etc in an impromptu setting.
I think that he was defending Dean’s right to hold that line too. That just because he has these feels that are what Jensen has been informed his whole life are “unmanly” doesn’t mean that he will automatically say these words and express them this way, because it’s not a box set. That ironically, he was defending the right to be outside a gender binary in some things without being forced into the opposite gender expression in all things.
And I think that if someone whom he considered a peer were to sit him down and educate him about why he was actually perpetrating the very things that have affected his own life so unpleasantly rather than defending against them, he would absolutely adjust his phrasing. Because every piece of evidence we have about what kind of man he is - way beyond a single word choice - suggests that he is compassionate, open-minded, intelligent, and generous towards others.
He said something offensive. You have the right to be offended. You have the right to be hurt. You have the right to decide to hate him forever and that he’s an awful person now who obviously is just another queerhating cishet asshole because he has a complex and sometimes ill-expressed relationship with effemiphobia and gender role.