At this point, it’s no big secret. We’ve covered enough material for us all to know how sex and society are very much related and feed off of each other in the world we live in. We’ve learned how gender norms and identities limit and sometimes alienate certain groups or factions in society. It only takes one person in a group to do something wrong for society to turn its back on the entire group.
In a heteronormative society, males are expected to dress like males. What does that mean? Who defined what a male dresses like anyway?? All males are expected to wear khakis and polos to football games with Costa sunglasses with that tacky little strap attached to the back. Seriously, who makes these rules? We know that society conforms us and classifies us based on what group we identify with or the group of friends we have. Society around us has decided that if you’re a male, then you’re heterosexual. That’s all there is to it. Gay males are left out when it comes to defining what masculinity is, although there are very masculine homosexual males. My question in this situation is, where did these standards come from and what is being done to push against the current in this ocean of injustice?
Okay, so for Halloween I decided to do a little experiment of my own to see how things went down. I dressed in a (really fabulous) Cher costume and went to a couple places here on campus. Dressed in a completely inappropriate and scandalous outfit for anyone, male or female, I had quite a few stares. People just didn’t know what the fuck to thing about a guy dressed up in a really, really good Cher outfit! Just when I was getting ready to head home for the evening, I went, alongside my classmate and colleague Sarah Kirk, to a frat. As I walked up to the door, I was very interested in what was about to happen. I was greeted by some half-drunk, glazed over frat boy wearing a North Face. As I handed him my commodore card, clearly a male, he couldn’t figure out what was going on. After he looked me over for what seemed like 5 minutes, he shook his head, said ‘sorry bro’ and turned me away.
I understand that Greek life in particular has a certain image to uphold, but I found it very interesting how certain factors influence how people are perceived. I had never met that guy in my life, but just from the fact that I was dressed to kill in a barely-there crystal bodysuit, I was turned away from the all-inclusive VIP…. frat? Something’s wrong here. Regardless of my sexuality, etc. my very appearance and choice of costume led me to realize how gender standards and dominant sexual scripts connect with every facet of life, down to even the clothes on your back.
No, I don’t do drag usually. It was intended to be a fun Halloween costume, which ended up being a learning experience that opened my eyes to see what really goes on regarding gender norms and what’s ok versus what’s not. Thinking back, if I were dressed in a polo, khakis, and Sperry’s I wouldn’t have had a problem getting in. It’s just very interesting to me to see how people react to certain situations regarding other parties which they know little to nothing about.
According to one study done by Helen Bode, an undergraduate student at the University of Queensland, “Drag is meaningful in questioning gender. While it may not be the ultimate answer to challenging current gender norms, drag can act as a legitimate subversion and contestation of gender’s traditional dichotomous structure.”
I think this is pretty well defined in my experiences regarding drag. Drag is definitely something that is widely viewed as some way to express femininity or somehow become a women, when in fact it’s oftentimes little more than a theatrical stage production.
Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, right?
Luckily for me, this instance was a learning experience that I was very interested in. For others, however, that’s oftentimes not the case. In some situations, these fun little outings can go completely wrong if in the hands of the wrong people. These lines marked by society regarding how one should look are sometimes overly enforced. This is when hate crimes can occur. Hate crimes, meaning crimes towards an individual or group of individuals based on their gender or sexual identity, are widespread and very common in the LGBT community. Transgendered people and drag queens are most notably targeted due to their ‘incomprehensible’ or weird identity that doesn’t fit into the binary that is gendered roles.
How can problems like these that don’t necessarily occur on college campuses be addressed? How do we change the so hardcore, rigid gender expectancies and lines that society has so strictly indicated? What are some other ramifications if these lines are crossed besides hate crimes? What can we do to fix or eliminate some of the misunderstandings that surround these groups of people?
Ok, ok, I’ll include a picture since I know you’re dying to see it. Seriously though, I have no more time for autographs today. You’ll have to catch me next time. XOXO