Life’s a Drag

As a woman, I’m constantly being told about what I should and should not be doing with my life and my body. I should exude a certain level of sexiness, but never cross the line into being downright slutty. I should be confident, but not bitchy. I should be ambitious, but not if whatever I want interferes with my abilities to “keep a man” and start a family. Everything I do should be perfect, because I am a representative of my gender, and what I produce is emblematic of the potential of all women.

*sigh*

Needless to say, this can all get a bit… overwhelming. So when one of my friends asked me to join her at a Drag King workshop over the summer, I was intrigued. Swap my feminine persona for an ace bandage and a drawn-on mustache? Why the hell not? As a heterosexual cisgendered woman, it’s not often I have the opportunity to indulge in my more masculine side. And, as a writer, I told myself it would be useful to develop a traditionally-male mindscape to help add depth to my male characters. I thought it would be interesting.

What I didn’t expect was for it to be an absolute fucking blast.

The workshop, taught by gender performer and magical glitter cupcake Goldie Peacock, went over drag king history, the basics of packing and binding, and drag routines. By the end of the session, the six of us attendees were sporting sideburns and proudly strutting around with our imaginary dicks proudly swinging between our legs. I was surprised by the profound transformation that happened – I suddenly felt Powerful. Impressive. Aggressive.

These are all words that, when applied to women, are deemed negative traits. Dressing up in drag allowed me the freedom to find those qualities within myself and act them out. I was A Man – in other words, a valid human with a voice that deserved to be heard. Not only deserved, but demanded.

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of joining Goldie again for Level 2. We dove into the finer points of drag as performance – how can one concoct a personality? A routine? And does one have to limit oneself to a single personality?

Not only had drag provided an outlet for my so-called “masculinity” (in reality, normal human traits assigned to a certain sex by millennia of societal “norms”), but it also has provided a new artistic space and community to become involved in. My aforementioned friend and several other attendees are forming a creative network, and we have several ideas for some collaborative projects. Drag has me feeling more artistically inspired than I’ve felt since moving to New York, and I find that to be very exciting.

To quote Whitman, “[We] are large, [we] contain multitudes.” I’m excited to explore this multitude further.

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3 thoughts on “Life’s a Drag

  1. I’ve done this and it was amazing. Have you had a go at emptying the garbage yet, or being an objectified construction worker, or being sent off to war, or being a security guard or dealing with custardy and alimony after a divorce? 😉

    > I suddenly felt Powerful. Impressive. Aggressive.

    Just remember the old saying “women’s facade of weakness is their greatest power, men’s facade of strength is their greatest weakness”. If a woman starts attacking you in the street and you so much as push her away in self defence you are the one who will get arrested for assault. And if a man attacks you and you fight back people will just assume you are brawling and nobody will come to help you. And if you don’t fight back nobody will come to help you either. It’s worth remembering because men are statistically much more likely to be be the victims of assault in public than woman.

    > I was A Man – in other words, a valid human with a voice that deserved to be heard.

    Except when asking for help, sympathy, compassion, leniency or protection LOL

    Grass is always greener…. 🙂

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    • I agree that gender roles are restrictive and detrimental to both men and women. However, I don’t feel that it is necessary to try and discredit my voice as a woman, which you are doing by posting your comment, in order to highlight the struggles men face. I could have just deleted your comment, but instead let’s turn this into a dialogue in order to facilitate further cross-gender understanding:

      “I’ve done this and it was amazing. Have you had a go at emptying the garbage yet, or being an objectified construction worker, or being sent off to war, or being a security guard or dealing with custardy and alimony after a divorce? ;)”

      Why yes, I have taken out the garbage. I participate in a relationship that acts as a mutual partnership – my significant other and I BOTH do chores, pay for things, etc. I’ve also worked in a factory and had manual labor jobs doing logistics/loading and unloading merchandise for a retail outlet. Part of gender discrimination includes assuming that women are incapable of or have no experience doing jobs like those you’ve described.

      > I suddenly felt Powerful. Impressive. Aggressive.

      “Just remember the old saying “women’s facade of weakness is their greatest power, men’s facade of strength is their greatest weakness”. If a woman starts attacking you in the street and you so much as push her away in self defence you are the one who will get arrested for assault. And if a man attacks you and you fight back people will just assume you are brawling and nobody will come to help you. And if you don’t fight back nobody will come to help you either. It’s worth remembering because men are statistically much more likely to be be the victims of assault in public than woman.”

      Both men and women are victims of violence, that’s a fact. However, said violence is usually distributed unequally, and the consequences of such violence are usually harsher for women.

      In Steubenville (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steubenville_High_School_rape_case), a young girl was not only raped by multiple people, but also had photographs and videos taken of the crime and distributed via social media. When the young men who committed this crime were sentenced, major news outlets reported that the real tragedy was that the future college plans/football careers of the two young men were forever jeopardized (http://www.dailylife.com.au/news-and-views/dl-opinion/there-was-only-one-victim-at-steubenville-20130318-2gaxy.html), and not that a young girl was subjected to horrific acts of sexual violence. On top of the violence she was already subjected to, the victim of the assault also received death threats on twitter from family members of her convicted rapists (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/she-the-people/wp/2013/03/20/steubenville-ohio-rape-victim-threatened-by-mean-girls/).

      This (http://www.cbsnews.com/news/fla-mom-gets-20-years-for-firing-warning-shots/) woman (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/21/florida-woman-warning-shot_n_5606101.html) got arrested for firing a warning shot against her “allegedly” abusive husband. Not only is she going to jail for 20 years, the news is casting doubt on the legitimacy of her claim by using the word “allegedly,” even though she had already taken a protective order out against him.

      > I was A Man – in other words, a valid human with a voice that deserved to be heard.

      “Except when asking for help, sympathy, compassion, leniency or protection LOL
      Grass is always greener…. :)”

      As in shown in the recent Shia LeBeouf case (http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/people/2014/11/28/shia-labeouf-i-was-raped/19608751/), men do not always receive the support they deserve when dealing with situations like these. However, this is also because of misogyny and the pressures that gender roles inflict on everyone, men and women included. And just because incidents/reactions like this exist for men does not mean that the oppressive, threatening, and sometimes downright violent experiences I have daily as a woman do not exist.

      If you’d like to join us in fighting for equality for all, I recommend you consider reading the following pieces. Some of them are about women, some of them are about being an ally in feminism, and some of them are about being an ally against racial violence (but the advice is useful for anyone from a privileged group supporting those from a non-privileged group):

      Time to Talk About Misogynist Bullying – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nina-burleigh/time-to-talk-about-misogy_b_3069764.html?utm_hp_ref=steubenville-rape

      UN Women Facts and Figures: Ending Violence Against Women — http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/facts-and-figures (Including the information that: “Women in urban areas are twice as likely as men to experience violence, particularly in developing countries [11].” – See more at: http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/facts-and-figures#sthash.r1KAakEv.dpuf)

      So You Call Yourself an Ally: 10 Things All ‘Allies’ Need to Know –http://everydayfeminism.com/2013/11/things-allies-need-to-know/

      How to Be an Ally if You Are a Person with Privilege — http://www.scn.org/friends/ally.html

      12 Ways to Be a White Ally to Black People– http://www.theroot.com/articles/culture/2014/08/ferguson_how_white_people_can_be_allies.html

      In the meantime, thank you again for proving that, as a woman, my voice is indeed NOT valid, even on my own blog.

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      • I was posting half in jest, and I meant no offence and certainly didn’t mean to discredit or mock your personal experience which I am all in favour of (cross dressing and gender role play should be compulsory for at least one week every year for everyone).

        And of course what you FEEL is perfectly valid. But (and I probably did not express this very well) what we FEEL and what is TRUE (in an objective sense) are often not the same thing.

        To flip the genders I’m sure men dressing in drag (especially if they are able to look good or even pass as female) also FEEL the enormous power of being able to manipulate men via men’s sexual attraction to women – as well as enjoy their new status as the more valued and protected sex.

        But the reality of being a woman in the real world is not all about having sexual power over men or being protected all the time……. just as the reality of being a man in the real world is not all about being a warrior or high flying executive or whatever.

        By emptying the garbage I meant as a job. I made those remarks because I was sensing (perhaps over sensing) the ‘male privilege’ feminist narrative and I just wanted to point out that most men are not privileged and never have been. Even today men die 20 times more frequently than women work place.

        Probably the happiest men and women in society ARE the ones in drag – lol – because they get to invent their own ideal persona and indulge in new privileges they are not used to experiencing…. and they’ve got no baggage too. So in that sense your experiences were totally valid and didn’t warrant my slightly knee jerk response. So I’m sorry if I came across as a bit of a party pooper.

        As for feminism itself …. (in case you hadn’t guessed already) I view it as a hateful movement which is lacking any consistent principles and is insulting to both men and women. Insulting to men because it defines men as sociopaths – because only sociopaths are capable of systematically oppressing the people they have their most intimate relationships with ie women. And insulting to women because patriarchy theory strips women – past and present – of all agency and reduces women to the level of ‘acted upon’ objects, as if women had no say in defining and negotiating their own gender roles throughout history which is just absurd. The reality is that women played AT LEAST as much of a role as men in defining both traditional female AND traditional male gender roles.

        Our core personality and gender identity is formed between 0-6 and women (mothers, aunts, nurses, female teachers) have always been the primary care givers. And in general women select men as mates from a range of willing and eager male suitors. So that’s two major, MAJOR ways that women mould and steer both male and female gender roles.

        Whatever traits happen to suit women and children at the time tend to become the default among men. When women demand men go off to war, off they go….. and if enough women stopped dating, socialising, approving of and having sex with soldiers then all wars would end within a month. Guaranteed. But we can’t have that. Instead feminists force us to buy our daughters Beyonce DVD’s with her singing “I need a soldier…. ” in a stadium full of girls while standing in a bikini in front of a fan (to blow her hair) with her legs open.

        The majority of men do what women want because women have always controlled who ‘belongs’ in society and who doesn’t, and so the idea that men have oppressed women is just ridiculous.
        When life was tough and everything required manual labour women selected burly, dutiful, self sacrificing, dominant, aggressive, patriarchal men and raised their boys to be that way – starving them of affection so they would be callous enough when the time came for them to go to war or go and work down the mines or out at sea. As technology raised living standards and enabled women to become more financially independent by creating service industry jobs (rather than just coal mining, shipyard work etc) women had less need for traditional patriarchal men and started to demand softer, gentler, less dominant men. Except when it came to voting for politicians, in which case most women still vote for total psychos.

        And of course feminism is really socialism in disguise. In many ways feminists have just identified the state as the new Alpha male in town and have formed an allegiance with the government because the government has the most guns which it uses them to steal money from everybody and give it to women ….. thus allowing the modern feminist to be supported without needing to secure a husband. Government profits from this partnership because feminism is gives them the excuse to expand, increase taxes and generally interfere in everybody’s lives even more.

        In fact the feminist movement was funded by the ruling classes specifically to get women into paid work (double the tax revenue = ka ching!) and to force women to abandon their children to daycare and state schools where they could be indoctrinated at an even earlier age to be good little war mongering socialist flag waving ‘comrades’. What feminism has done to children is criminal.

        The feminist claim that women were oppressed by men throughout history implies women actually envied men’s gender roles – yet for most of history until very recently men’s gender roles mostly consisted of digging resources out the ground, marching off to wars, ploughing fields and building infrastructure. These days most women (and most men!) do everything they can to AVOID those traditionally male jobs because they are dangerous, unhealthy, dirty, smelly and exhausting. Why on earth would women in the past envy them?

        The fact is *everyone* was ‘oppressed’ throughout history…… not by men but by a lack of technology. Patriarchy was not the problem it was the solution. An ideal solution? – no of course not, but no feminist has come up with a better alternative that could have worked. It was just how we survived as a species and women throughout history CHOSE the traditional feminine gender roles partly out of necessity, but also because those roles offered them the best possible deal at the time. If a meteor struck earth tomorrow and sent us back to the stone age feminists would be the first to demand protection and resources from strong, burly, traditional men again because feminism is just the modern incarnation of patriarchy / chivalry anyway.

        “Women and children first” has just been rebranded as “He for She”. Feminism is patriarchy minus the concern for the wellbeing of children which was what patriarchy was primarily all about!

        You seem like a nice, sane person with a normal, balanced gender identity and the best of intentions….. have you considered the possibility that you might be *better* than feminism?! 🙂

        I mean…… why? Why identify with such a ridiculous and offensive hate movement which is arguably more offensive to women than men (and it’s pretty damn offensive to men) which seems hell bent on pitting the sexes against each other and tearing society and the family apart?

        Feminism is just a race to the bottom…. we all need to get out now while we still can! 🙂

        OK that was a bit of a rant (sorry) but I get the vibe you can be saved….lol

        Oppression Olympics

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