Saturday, May 5, 2012
Submissive Men vs. Drag Queens
A quote from Andy Warhol:
"Drag queens are living testimony to the way women used to want to be, the way some people still want them to be, and the way some women still actually want to be. Drags are ambulatory archives of ideal moviestar womanhood. They perform a documentary service, usually consecrating their lives to keeping the glittering alternative alive and available for not-too-close inspection. ... I'm fascinated by boys who spend their lives trying to be complete girls, because they have to work so hard -- doubletime -- getting rid of all the tell-tale male signs and drawing in all the female signs. I'm not saying it's the right thing to do, I'm not saying it's a good idea, I'm not saying it's not self-defeating and self-destructive, and I'm not saying it's not possibly the single most absurd thing a man can do with his life. What I'm saying is, it is very hard work. You can't take that away from them. It's hard work to look like the complete opposite of what nature made you and then to be an imitation woman of what was only a fantasy woman in the first place. When they took the movie stars and stuck them in the kitchen, they weren't stars any more -- they were just like you and me. Drag queens are reminders that some stars still aren't just like you and me."
Warhol was a condescending fucking asshole, but he had a point (not about the self-defeating, self-destructive part). Drag queens were and are stewards of the female archetype. As are Dominatrices, which is why submissive men are drawn to us. Look at almost any Dominatrice's website: the nurse, the schoolteacher, the femme fatale, the equestrian. The list goes on. Drag queens express femininity in much the same way. Their focus is more on hollywood glamour for the most part, but the notion of playing a character remains.
Something really funny about straight men is that they get really uncomfortable around drag queens. You might be thinking to yourself, "Not me! All my best friends are drag queens!" To which I say, calm down, Princess. I'm not trying to attack anyone. It's just an interesting phenomenon-- which I was reminded of at a friend's brunch a few weeks ago. We had RuPaul's Drag Race playing in the background, and were commenting and screeching at it like any normal people would do :), when one submissive man (who until then I had thought was very open-minded-- and trust me, he should be) was totally flummoxed. He balked. He couldn't believe that they were embarrassing themselves like this... blah blah blah. I tried to explain how important I think drag culture is, but discovered he could not understand. Or didn't want to... Well, shit, man. That's so fucking lame. And so fucking banal. Oh really? You're a straight white dude who doesn't want to understand where a stigmatized group of people are coming from? Really? Surprise. But it's especially disheartening to me coming from a submissive guy, because I expect them to be smarter and more enlightened than the average Joe. By virtue of being stigmatized!! I see this discomfort over and over again at every drag performance I attend. The drag queens must see it too, or else they wouldn't take the men up on stage to perform simulated sex acts. The men with their girlfriends immediately seem out of their element. And I don't think it's just because they know they're going to get made fun of. They're going to be prey. Perhaps it's the first time they feel sexually vulnerable. I think most women have the experience of being around large groups of men and know they are being evaluated for their potential sexual whathaveyou. Men come to drag shows having never had this experience and their anxiety is palpable. They don’t know how to handle it. It's funny to see, actually.
But it also pisses me off. I'm sure there are a shit ton of cisgender female Dommes who are weirded out by drag queens. I don't mean to imply this is purely a sub or purely a guy thing. However, I don't think we realize how much we resemble drag culture not only in terms of powerful feminine archetypes, but also in terms of stigmatization re: being seen as scary or fucked up, or essentially leper-like untouchables. There is a cultural idea that there is something psychologically “gone wrong” with kinky people, which we all know is simply not true. Or more precisely, it’s an oversimplification of a world where fear or the threat of fear plays a strong role. Drag culture is no different in these ways. Gender fucking is scary to people. Even Warhol saw it as pathological. (He was one to talk!)
So this fear or rejection of people who fuck with gender is similar to a fear many express toward those with alternative sexualities. Or as I like to call us- sexuality fuckers. Until I think of something with fewer syllables... Fuck fuckers would be funny, but alas, a bit redundant.
Not familiar with drag culture? Watch the definitive documentary for free, here (it’s a little over an hour, and incredibly fascinating):
Paris Is Burning
Posted by Mistress Veronica NYC at 2:09 PM