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Have the MTV Awards set the stage for a transgender/feminist throw down?

At this year’s MTV Movie and TV Awards, actress Emma Watson was the proud recipient of what she called the “first acting award in history that doesn’t separate nominees based on their sex.” Instead of the usual best actor and best actress divisions, MTV decided to have one mixed-gender category.

This seemed to be a response to the actions of actress Asia Kate Dilon, who self-identifies as “non-binary” – she claims to be neither male nor female. She made headlines when she was considered for an Emmy award, and didn’t want to be placed in either the actress or actor category…though she eventually settled on actor, noting that “actor” can mean male or female.

When MTV decided to do away with their own gendered acting categories, they asked Asia Kate Dilon to make the award presentation for their new, supposedly more inclusive, award. Her presence on stage underscored that MTV’s change was done for the wrong reasons – this was intended as a fist, shaken at God and his binary creation. But just as no one is perfect, not even MTV can manage to always be wrong. Even in the midst of their rebellion they may have hit on something sensible.

Why do we need separate acting categories for men and women? It makes sense in sports, where gender-based differences in muscle mass mean men competing against women wouldn’t be a fair competition. But as Arnold Schwarzenegger has shown throughout his cinematic career, more muscles don’t make you a better actor.

So why the separate acting categories? The Oscars have “non-acting” categories like Best Director and Best Cinematography that aren’t divided by gender. And even before MTV did it, another group, the Television Critics Association (TCA), already handed out acting awards without gendered categories.

But here’s where the problems pop up.

Asia Kate Dilon is attacking the binary nature of gender. Feminists, however, believe the two genders do exist, and the difference matters. While feminists don’t acknowledged gender-based differences in abilities, or interests, or in roles they do believe the two genders differ in how they are treated. Feminists believe that the only accounting for why there are fewer female than male engineers, or fewer female than male Best Director winners is oppression.

So every year again, when the Oscar nominations come out, a story will be done about how only one of the 91 Best Director Oscars has gone to a woman. An Atlantic article on the MTV awards noted that of the 20 drama acting awards given out by the Television Critics Association 15 have gone to men. And 13 out of 20 comedy acting awards have also gone to men.

Feminists are keeping track.

So what happens when feminists who demand equal outcomes for the two genders run up against transgender activists like Asia Kate Dilon, who want to dismantle the two gender? Which oppressed minority gets the win?

Sure, this year they managed to get along. But what if, instead of Emma Watson, a man had won the MTV Awards’ “first acting award in history that doesn’t separate nominees based on their sex”? Would it have still been seen as a triumph of inclusivity?

Or would it be seen as evidence of gender-based discrimination?

The truce can’t last.

 

Picture credit: JStone/Shutterstock

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