Forget the Deep Fakes — Are You Tired of the Shallow Fakes?

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Dylan Mulvaney is not trending at the moment. He has had his day in the sun and his moment at the White House, although I am sure there will be more to come. I was first introduced to Mulvaney in the clip below:


And then there’s this:

Mulvaney can call himself whatever he wants. I really don’t care if he identifies a man, woman, girl, or a Lithuanian Great Crested Newt (It’s a thing. I checked). He can dress how he wants and act how he wants. But when I see him playacting in the forest, I think of all the women I have known who he is parodying.

Those include women who have served in Iraq in the military. It includes the women with whom I fought wildfires. Ditto for women who serve as volunteer structural firefighters. It includes the women doctors who have treated me on occasion and women nurses who have held the hands of dying people, delivered babies by flashlight in third-world countries, come home at night covered in the blood of other people, and have been kicked, struck, spat upon, and had to endure having urine and feces thrown at them. It includes the women who have left abusive relationships and rebuilt their lives from scratch. And it includes girls who have worked hard to achieve not only in academics but also in athletics.

When I see Mulvaney prancing around what appears to be a forest adjacent to a farm, I have to wonder what all of those women who have worked so hard and done so many great things would think about it. There was an incident in Utah recently where a group of kids paraded around in blackface in a store. The backlash was swift and severe since the kids were obviously lampooning and stereotyping black people. What, then, is the difference between that and Mulvaney’s videos? An exaggerated, almost burlesque portrayal? What does that say to all of those nurses, soldiers, firefighters, doctors, astronauts, and athletes? I asked several women what they thought about the videos. Before telling me never to speak to them again, they said that the videos made a mockery of being a woman and even said that it appeared Mulvaney doesn’t like women very much.


Now we have Jørund Viktoria Alme, a 53-year-old, able-bodied Norwegian man who not identifies merely as a woman but as a disabled woman. He has affected a feminine appearance and also says he has Body Integrity Disorder. According to an article in Reduxx, Alme spends the majority of his time in a wheelchair since he has always wanted to be a paraplegic woman.

One disabled woman, 18-year-old Emma Sofie Grimstad, who was in a wheelchair for two months due to an attack of Guillain-Barré syndrome, pointed out that many people do not have a choice when it comes to disability. She called Alme “a person with functional legs who chooses to sit in a wheelchair.” She felt that Alme’s interview on the television show Good Morning Norway could harm people who depend on wheelchairs and lead to suspicions about wheelchair-bound people who do not have a visible illness. Noomi Alexandersen said that Alme’s choice insults the disabled community and could lead to the ridicule of people who dealt with disabilities every day.

When I was in junior high, I separated my iliac crest, which resulted in having to live in a wheelchair for about a month. Believe me when I say that the novelty wears off after about two minutes and the challenges set in quickly. Especially when you live in a two-story house. As an adult, I seriously injured myself during a pack test for the fire season. I can best explain it as a devastating, thermonuclear case of shin splints. I couldn’t walk for a week, and then I could only shuffle for about a month after that. Crossing a parking lot took 30 minutes with the help of a cane, and things like stepping over a curb, something I used to take for granted, could take five minutes or more. I still have a tendency to drag my right foot to this day.


I don’t tell these stories to show you what a hero I am but rather to illustrate that, during my two brushes with the issue, I developed a tremendous respect for those who have to navigate life with a disability on a permanent basis. It is not for the weak, cowardly, or faint-hearted.

I had two disabled fraternity brothers in college. They did not live life in terms of their disabilities. They succeeded. And they liked being in a place where people treated them just like everyone else and not like a hothouse orchid.

Alme may well have a real mental issue, but he also wants to be identified as someone who deserves special consideration, while many truly disabled people desire the exact opposite. To be a hero, perhaps Alme should work to positively deal with his disorder, rather than expect the world to reorganize itself for him. Mulvaney, by comparison, gives us a parody of the feminine, almost a comedy sketch, rather than honoring and respecting the achievements and lives of real women.

If there is a curse that will undo civilization in the 21st century, it will not be COVID-19 or war. It will be a generation of people who labor under the impression that the universe revolves around them while awaiting tribute from everyone else.


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