If you haven’t heard of Ruby Rose you are perhaps among the few remaining who haven’t, although that will likely change in 2017 when she rolls out with a series of big-budget films. Aside from her relatively small stint on Orange is the New Black as Stella Carlin, which shot her into the spotlight, she will also be seen in the upcoming Mila Jovovich film series Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, alongside Vin Diesel and Nina Dobrev (of Vampire Diaries) in xXx: Return of Xander Cage and then John Wick: Chapter Two with Keanu Reeves. Plus, by the looks of it, this is just the beginning of a very active year for the Australian. What brought her to our eyes, however, was her self-produced 5-minute video called Break Free. This actually isn’t anything new as the video was posted to her YouTube account July 14, 2014, but it shot to viral status within days. When The Guardian caught up with Rose for a phone interview, the video was seen 5 Million times and she stated that while it took her nearly 5 years to gain 100,000 followers on Facebook, she gained 200,000 in just two days. Fast forward to today and she now has nearly 5 Million Facebook followers and the video has been seen over 21 Million times. If you’d liked to know more about who this sensation is, be sure to check out our January 8, 1016 article about her.
Break Free is just over 5 minutes long and, despite having no spoken words, it speaks volumes. We’re initially shown an almost typical experience of a woman getting all dolled up – long blonde hair, high heels, dress, and make-up. But what seems to be emphasized here, and what has mirrored Ruby’s life, is that it’s just a facade.
“Many of us in the trans or non-gender confirming community can understand that sense that we’re masquerading as another person so that we meet the expectations of society.”
Many of us in the trans or non-gender confirming community can understand that sense that we’re masquerading as another person so that we meet the expectations of society. Rose has recounted several instances where she was the long-haired girl in dresses trying to be accepted and to meld with the world around her, then lashing out in an attempt to be more of her true self by cutting her hair and taking on a seemingly more male-persona. We see the changes take place within the video as she, literally, scrubs herself free of the mask, of the shroud, that society has dictated she present to them and we begin to see the more real person beneath. “Cleansed” of that perception she can now step forward as the person she is most comfortable being as she binds and packs, dons a button up shirt and slacks, and grabs a smoke.
Some may say this is just another society-enforced mask as she portrays men as being tough and aggressive, but Ruby has emphasized that she doesn’t see that all men are aggressive and that wasn’t the purpose of the scene. Aside from it being an homage to Taxi where Robert DeNiro’s character starts to ramp himself up as a tough guy she’s spoken of how she, too, needs to psyche herself up. “…that’s how I am if sometimes I’m feeling insecure and I know I’m going somewhere that this [androgynous style] is not the norm: you do have to psyche yourself up,” (Erika Jarvis with The Guardian Interview, July 25, 2014). Some may even say that she is far “too pretty” to be seen as, accepted as, or treated as a guy – the gender that she’s stated she most identifies as despite not wanting to fully transition.
“Somehow being “too pretty” means a person cannot identify in a way they feel most comfortable?”
Somehow being “too pretty” means a person cannot identify in a way they feel most comfortable? Being too masculine means they can’t identify as a female? Who says? “Society.” But what we – and the world – need to realize that we are society and the louder we speak, the more everyone else will start to realize that. Videos like Break Free are a massive shout to the world that gender is no longer (nor was it ever) a truly black and white matter. Ruby Rose took a tremendously brave step forward in posting this video before she had the “cushioning” of “celebrity” to protect herself. While she had some small level of mostly localized fame as a DJ in Australia and some modeling she was not widely known and still took a leap to get this message out. It had to be heard and she had to speak her truth. After her own personal struggles with depression, she used this non-speaking outlet to get the word out and, in turn, gave voice to millions.