A few weeks ago, there was an essay published on Ebony.com entitled “Love and Hip Hop and Transphobia.” In it, writer Jamila Aisha Brown discussed how dangerous it is for people – namely those like me – to be making jokes about Joseline Hernandez’s gender. She claims that the quips made her recall the controversy surrounding South African Olympian Caster Semenya and how she was subjected to tests in light of speculation that she was born biologically male.
While I understand how rigid attitudes can be as it relates to femininity and masculinity, and that transphobia is a legit problem, I still find Brown’s comment to be a bit of a false equivalency.
Brown’s stance is largely rooted in public correctness. I loathe political correctness because it often seeks to punish people for natural curiosity, and in cases such as these, try to induce guilt by way of suggesting that jokes about a person who behaves like a pompous prick on what is more or less a soap opera create the environment that leads to death.
She is right to worry about transphobia, but she didn’t convince me that this was the most appropriate example to use to plead that case.
Sure, Caster’s androgyny confused people and was surely hurtful to her, but there are other women with features considered male that haven’t been scrutinized in that manner. See Joanie “Chyna” Laurer who posed for Playboy, or Serena Williams, who runs freely in many straight males’ wet dreams.
Okay, Caster doesn’t look exactly like them or people’s perception of what a woman “should” look like, for that matter. But are people wrong for wondering on principle? If so, how come? Until more come out to challenge our perceptions of gender why should we strive to “put the is-you-or-ain’t-you gender speculation to rest?” Then again, why even pretend it will ever go away?
Speculation alone doesn’t necessarily suggest a level of disrespect or indecency, and as it relates to Joseline, some of the insults may go too far, but there is something to be said about inviting criticism.
Caster never boasted of being the baddest bitch in all the land, Joseline did. Unless I’m mistaken, I don’t recall anyone ever refuting Caster’s assertion that anyone that doesn’t bow down to her sex appeal must be some sort of jealous hater. In the midst of all this arrogance, you have to take into account that Joseline is essentially a TV villain — which invites even more resentment from the public.
Not to mention, Joseline is an ex-stripper, so I’d like to think her “Is she or isn’t she?” questions point more to a change in her aesthetics. Call it a hunch, but I’m pretty sure that World Star Hip Hop video was not the first time Joseline has taken viewers on a tour of her vaginal walls. I bet she rocked a more believable wig at the time, though.
Bluntly: Joseline reminds me of a drag queen. The excessive use of wigs, the ridiculous and cheap-looking surgical operations that have her body looking rather cartoonish, and this turned up “I’m the shit” shtick she routinely engages in on the show. She looks a drag queen and drag queens typically come across as caricatures of women.
Yeah, she looks like a woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman. Politically correct? No. Accurate? Right.
I’m not about to feel bad for noting that in one scene she looks like Ravishing Rick Rude, another Sensational Queen Sherri, or that five minutes later she appears to be modeling a piece from the Morris Day wig collection while wearing Rihanna’s Goodwill donations.
This is, after all, Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta, and this sort of commentary comes with the territory. This is especially true for a person who fucks someone’s apparent boyfriend on national television and says, “Bitch, that’s your problem. Bitch, I look better than you. Bitch, I please your man more than you do.”
Even with all the heat she catches on Twitter, Joseline thrives on all of this attention — positive and negative. If you don’t believe me, believe her timeline on a given Monday night. It doesn’t necessarily make any of it okay, but there are more explanations for the responses Joseline has yielded thus far than an automatic assumed hostility towards transgendered people.
And for the record, if one’s intent is to enlighten an audience about having a more open mind and watching their words, prescribing such advice with a whiff of condescension is probably not the best way to go about it.
More of a Bravo than Vh1 viewer, I don’t regularly watch Love and Hip Hop
You see this? This is akin to a coke head trying to shame their crack and meth addict adversaries. The article was well written, but you know, there’s always more than the surface to consider in these kind of cases.