James Charles Dickinson is not a girl.
The seventeen-year-old high school student and makeup expert from Bethlehem, N.Y., has just been named a model for cosmetics giant CoverGirl. Dickinson (who also goes by James Charles) has nearly 600,000 followers on Instagram and more than 80,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel. After premiering in CoverGirl’s “So Lashy!” campaign for its latest mascara launch, Charles will be featured in magazine ads and television spots.
There’s only one problem: James Charles Dickinson is not a girl. And as the name implies, CoverGirl is a company that sells beauty products to women. They do so, very successfully, because men don’t wear makeup. We don’t wear makeup because evolution, and maybe even God, have conditioned us to attract mates through displays of strength and decency and the ability to provide. Painting ourselves to look like the very demographic we are trying to impress is not a very smart move. (The exceptions, of course, are rock stars).
There are a few noteworthy things about the current debate about gender, of which James Charles, who is gay, is a product. They point to the real meaning behind what liberals claim is the drive to eliminate the gender binary of male and female. One is that social justice warriors and gay and trans activists have no interest in “crushing the binary” of male and female. What they really want to crush is masculinity. This misandry explains why transgender “women” are celebrated in the media much more than transgender “men.” Transgender teen Jazz Jennings gets the cover of Time magazine, Caitlyn Jenner is a goddess, and James Charles is the toast of the media elite now that he’s a CoverGirl. The same can’t be said for, say, transgender men like Chas Bono.
As well, to many social justice warriors and their epicene friends in the media, it’s a sign of progress when a man has feminized himself to the point where he appears as a CoverGirl. Most guys are pushy, selfish jerks who are all potential predators, right? So why not just neuter them? James Charles’ CoverGirl coup, like Caitlyn Jenner’s revealing Vanity Fair cover shoot, represents an abandonment of masculinity. And yet, the euphoric nature of the culture celebrating these “women” is intense because it is so desperate, like a guilty person loudly shouting their innocence. (It’s worth noting that healthy men can be in touch with their feminine side, but they don’t have to wear makeup or mimic women to do so).
While homosexuality and transgenderism are nothing new, what is new is the widespread cultural effort to isolate, ridicule and eradicate traditional masculinity. As the brilliant Kevin Williamson noted in an essay, “Laverne Cox is Not a Woman,” there’s nothing new about transgenderism, which goes back at least to the Greeks. What is new is the desire to play pretend, to announce that the fabric of reality has changed simply because you told it to. Williamson notes:
“The phenomenon of the transgendered person is a thoroughly modern one, not in the sense that such conditions did not exist in the past—Cassius Dio relates a horrifying tale of an attempted sex-change operation—but because we in the 21st century have regressed to a very primitive understanding of reality, namely the sympathetic magic described by James George Frazer in The Golden Bough. . . The infinite malleability of the postmodern idea of ‘gender,’ as opposed to the stubborn concreteness of sex, is precisely the reason the concept was invented. For all of the high-academic theory attached to the question, it is simply a mystical exercise in rearranging words to rearrange reality.”
Brendan O’Neill described a similar mystical fervor settling over celebrity transgender activists. Writing in The Spectator about Caitlyn Jenner, O’Neill argued,
“With its millions of agog followers, its worship of an iconic image, its insistence we all ‘bow down’, the Cult of Caitlyn gives Catholic mariolatry a run for its money in the blind-devotion stakes. And of course, as with all venerated icons, anyone who refuses to recognize the truth of Caitlyn’s Vanity Fair cover has faced mob punishment or finger-wagging corrections of their goddess-defying blasphemy.”
In this new theology, the devil is the masculine. Instead of Beelzebub, the enemy is the Cis White Male. Thus it becomes necessary not just to accept James Charles Dickinson, but to adore him, affirm him, bow down to him. If he can just be praised highly enough, the incantations can serve the function of an exorcist casting out a demon. At long last the world can be rid of testosterone.
In the end, of course, nature always wins. This is a fact which reveals the irony at the heart of the anti-male modern transgender movement. Liberals are so busy delighting in the new fluidity that they ignore that the transgender “women” they valorized deny the gender binary while adopting the most old-school notions of feminine appearance and behavior—makeup, soft, high voices, girly gestures, etc. Most of them are all dolled up, as if they’ve stepped out of a 1940s crime caper. In the case of James Charles Dickinson, the makeup is so thick it almost tips into creepy clown territory. In the fight to topple masculinity, gender warriors ironically have become fixated on making themselves look attractive to the very Cis White Men they claim are their central oppressors.