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Author Topic: drag show question
applet_jacks
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Yes, I think everything about cross dressing is fine. My question lies in the upcomming drag show my dormitory is presenting. They don't really have real people who practice drag involved that I am aware of, they don't do a good job of it it seems top make derogatory commentary more than anything else, and it is counted as a "cross cultural" event for the housing programming.

They've done it a few times before, but my main concern is that it seems like they do it making fun of cross dressing.

Do real people who cross dress find fault with the giigles and what I have seen as a mocking of what some people make their own everyday clothing and fashion choices?


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Heather
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Ultimately, without seeing the show, no one can know, doll.

I mean, I've seen pro drag that poked fun at drag itself, at cross-dressing, at gender or orientation (and in many ways, that's what drag exists to do in the first place -- it's not generally a serious endeavor, it's about play in great part). I've also seen an act or two that clearly was mean-spirited in pro groups, towards someone.

And untilately, drag, pro or no, is about messing with gender types, norms, expectations and trying TO make it be something taken a lot less seriously than it is.

But generally, I think most people are able tpo separate entertainment from actual life. Obviously if this particular showing seems to you to truly BE not about drag at all, but about folks finding a convenient way to be mean-spirited, you can always bring that to the attention of your school.


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wobblyheadedjane
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I think this is as good a forum as any, but my one experience with a drag show was at a gay bar in a relatively big city. The show itself was a great deal of fun, and sauciness, and I was enjoying myself a lot, until the queens started up the "Best Chest" contest, which basically involved pulling unwilling participants onto the stage and forcibly beginning to remove their clothes. There was one young lesbian in particular who looked especially upset at the thought of having her breasts exposed for her, and it kind of soured the rest of the night for me. It was obvious the girl was saying no, and really did not want to be there (even the audience looked a little shocked).

Is this common? I'd hate to think this was the normal practice for these kinds of shows, and I'm willing to wager that they're not. I certainly won't patronize this particular bar ever again, but there was a definite aura of non-chalantness from the drag queens about exposing what some people feel is very private, whether they're queer or not, that made everyone I was with pretty uncomfortable.

So while this was a very open place in terms of drag queens, transgendered, GLB, etc., the attitude of the people running the show made it feel really unsafe at the same time.
I was just curious at to how often this occurs, or if mine was a special circumstance.


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applet_jacks
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Miz Scarlet- If I am available that night I will go take in the show and find out more. If I see that it is nothing more than mean spirited I will say something. I know a few kids in my dorm who are part of the U's GLTBF club and will talk to them. If anything maybe we can write a few letters to student congress and the paper to address anything that seems like it needs help.

I guess I understand what you mean about making fun of stuff as a way to break down walls, but still when I get laughed at I hurt sometimes. Since I don't personally cross dress I just wondered how people who might know more would feel about the topic.

As I said, I guess I will go see.

About being revealed in public, everyone whatever they chose to go out wearing should be their choice and especially if it is going to be removed. I don't blame her for being offended. As for you not returning, I wouldn't go anyplace where I felt people were being exploited.

But I have no real experience with any kind of local bar scene here, and besides that it's Oklahoma Which reminds me I should find out where all my Baptists are today. Um, I mean friends...


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Heather
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Thing is, unless it's intended as malice, drag IS cross-dressing, on various levels, some of which intersect with why some people cross-dress offstage (as identity, as sexual expression), and some of which don't.

And drag for good fun, expression, enetrtainment and exploration is no more poking fun at cross-dressing than it is as NOT cross-dressing, in other words, at dressing specifically to meet, rather than buck, normative or default gender roles and cultural standards.

(It should perhaps be said that while I hate performing, and thus am NOT a drag performer, I do regular photographic, journalistic and promotional work with many local drag performers and troupes, a pile of my closest friends are both male and female drag performers, and my current flame is a drag king. So, suffice it to say, I may not be the most objective source on the matter, but I also do have a lot of close experience with such. YMMV.)


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applet_jacks
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Maybe I view it like I viewed Gwyneth Paltrow in "Shallow Hal". On terms I can explain about how I felt when someone was dressed in a fat suit. I thought really that there are real people who could have performed that role, etc. But I think my biggest problem with it was that it was someone who didn't have that as part of their reality who seemd to be taking it and making it into a comedic piece and really I don't think she ever had a real grasp of what it was like to be huge. So good for laughs and to that I say whatever.

As for the drag show, I think if they had someone, who actively chose to lead a life where cross dressing was a reality to them , speak to the crowd a tiny bit about even as much as simple tolerance or just one personal story.

I may be weird that way, but I like personal visions of reality as a basis over just someone's perceptions without thoughts about how maybe there being a context they aren't taking into account.

Last word I got was from my friend who is a floor president. He said as far as he knew it was just a back drop for making the center coordinator dress like a girl, sounds like a humiliation type of attitude attached and I really don't feel like that paints anyone in a good light.

I know a tiny bit from another friend also a part of the GLTBF and he said he might could get one of his acquaintences to come to the show. The guy occasionally dresses in drag. This friend says he doesn't think the program is getting support from the GLTBF and so that also looks a tiny bit bad to me. If anyone would be glad to co-host a program with cross dressing, I would think the GLTBF would.

Like I said I will go see for myself and I'm trying to see what people who might really be effected are thinking right now. I just can't see a positive thing goin on yet though, just a lot of non cooperation of people I thought would have cared about it.


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Heather
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I think, though, that you're misunderstanding drag. Or perhaps even gender art/entertainment/performance in general.

Because something may be (again, not having seen this show you're referring to, I have no way of knowing if this does or doesn't apply) entertaining, fun or funny, does not mean it also need be careless, thoughtless or mocking. Drag isn't really about cross-dressing, though again, they have aspects that intersect.

Drag is about pointing out that gender is in many ways, onstage and off, performance. That what we typically accept as biological gender roles very much are not, but are cultural norms, attitudes, postures and costumes. I know one of my closest friends here, for instance, who runs our dyke drag troupe as a drag king, tends mainly to do male characters who are spare, who show the gentleman role or archetype. Not only is it fun because it's terribly sexy, has great choreography, etc. but what she also is doing with that is showing that there are more male roles in life than say, being macho or being a nerd. A comparison made to an issue simply of size isn't very apt, because gender is incredibly more complicated.

I've yet, in work for years in sexuality and gender, to ever hear or see anything from a cross-dresser or groups of crossdressers (or those of us who are genderqueer, for that matter, or transgendered folks -- heck, in two of our local troupes one of the lead performers IS TG, and that's pretty common) having issues with drag, most likely because they're essentially doing drag themselves. If anything, most enjoy drag an awful lot because they can sit in a room with a bunch of people clearly enjoying drag and genderplay, rather than being ooked out or skittish about it, as so many people are so much of the time.

To boot, you'll find that the great majority of drag performers are often queer. But that's more likely to be because those of us who are queer tend to be more aware of gender roles, and more used to having ways to explore them in, and communities which support us in doing that. In many ways, IMO, straight or hetero folks are very rarely supported in playing with that, exploring that at all, when you know, they, by virtue of fitting better into mainstream gender/orientation, may need more encouragement to do so, more places to do that in, than anyone else, when it all comes down to it. So, assuming drag MUST be/should be queer, etc (and you keep using the term cross-dressing as exchanageable with drag, or as neccessarily what drag is, when again, it really isn't, it's not simply about costuming or clothing, it's also about roles) just because it often is strikes me as fallacious and really, quite limiting/ed. When you say something doesn't have "real people who practice drag" involved, in other words, I'm not even sure what you mean. Because most drag troupes/performers? Are very varied -- people of all genders, orientations, and a gazllion gender roles, both on and offstage, tend to be represented. The majority of drag performers aren't people you'd recognize on the street or offstage as such, because they're usually looking and acting just like anybody else.

I'm a big fan of empathy and compassion, and think it's really vital for us to have an empowering and healthy culture. In other words, I don't doubt for a minute that you have the best of intentions. But I'm also a big fan of making sure we aren't co-opting other people's issues, or chamioning others issues without them asking for our help, or even voicing complaint. I know as, say, a sexual abuse survivour, I've had many times when I feel truly resentful of people who decide that something must be bad for me, or insensitive and they need to help when I don't feel it is at all, and would prefer to represent myself, thanks.

So, in terms of your show, if you're concerned someone who does cross-dress might be offended, how about you let them decide for themselves and communicate with them? Or contact a local TS group and ask someone about it? Because ultimately, we can't ever decide -- without being truly patronizing and pretty assumptive -- what a certain group we don't belong to or communicate with thinks about anything unless that's who we ask about it.

Empathy and sympathy are great, so long as that's what they are, not us inventing issues for groups we don't belong to who may not even have them. That's why in my experience, it's often best to give the most airtime and energy to your own issues you CAN represent, and give aid to other groups and issues when they ask or have made a need/problem apparent.

[This message has been edited by Miz Scarlet (edited 02-18-2004).]


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applet_jacks
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Well I think that the whole thing that made me aware that there may be a problem is that there are some of the people in this building where I live have been saying stuff. And while you don't see it as a problem in possibly my own ignorance about their ignorance, they are making fun of it and when they listen to me it falls out the other ear. So they make their statements without understanding and I can't tell them that running over to see it will better their understanding.

As for the people I know, we're pretty close as for the president guy and my friend who is very involved in GLTBF, so when I talked to them it's been helpful, but they still don't see any true value in the program either.

I'm not trying to decide that this is truly hurting anyone, but I can't see that it helps, especially if the housing reps just really wanna put it on to see the coordinator in a dress. As I said I could careless what he wears or doesn't wear.

My point is the nature of all the lack of substance /information i've heard being presented that night sounds like it may just perpetuate name calling and stereotyping, which is what I though most people were against. Cos it sounds like another case for someone to yell look at that boy in a girls' outfit. Another point is that it's maybe not drag at all but a thinly veiled prank, which still drags out the worst in people.

Anyhow, I may be sorry I asked. Not because the answers you're giving but because you're damned if ya do and damned if ya don't often.


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Heather
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I think it's less that, applet, than it is a matter of it being so obtuse. In other words, without knowing how this particular performance is and what it includes, it's just really impossible to get a good bead on the issue as it pertains to your individual scenario.

In short, it seems like you're just not sure if this is a drag show at all, etc. And until you know that -- and the reaction of the group you're concerned about to it -- it's all academic.


Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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