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Drag Culture Meets Mainstream Culture

Drag culture is becoming mainstream

Malerie Wilkins, Contributor

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For most people, when they hear the word “Drag Queen” or “Crossdresser,” a stereotype will naturally come to mind. However, with judgments put aside, this type of entertainment is more than watching a man dress up like a woman, it’s an art that is forever evolving. With the popularity of RuPaul’s Drag Race on television, drag has arguably become mainstream.

Many terms used on drag shows or RuPaul’s Drag Race are very similar to the slang words people might use on a daily basis. Drag queens have been using these terms for years, but the sayings have just recently gained popularity, thanks to social media websites like Twitter and Instagram.

It has been established that dressing up in drag can be an act of resistance to the male gaze against the pressure of ideal beauty standards.

Cal State LA, Communications Major, Nick Owen stated, “Drag queens may be the clowns of the LGBTQ community but they are the ones who are fearless in what is going on. They speak up for people who can’t.”

While many people may see drag culture as a fake aspect of femininity, what mainstream culture does not see is the fun aspect of this type of art and entertainment. There are queens who aren’t super feminine like the others.

Also, another form of drag culture not very common is a thing known as “Bio-Queens.” These are females who enjoy dressing up in drag.

Catuih Campos, English and Rhetoric Major at Cal State LA, says that she has been confronted by feminists about this because of the fact she is involved in the Drag Queen community. She claims that “Drag associates intelligence and wit with femininity, and there aren’t a lot of people who are open and accepting to make that connection in an open and positive way.”

Those who are faced with challenging gender expectations feel like dressing up in drag allows them to freely express themselves. Owen shares his viewpoint on identity and expected gender roles made up by society, “Drag is anything that explores identity in any way and tricks the expectations of gender roles I see it as a huge slap in the face for those who mistreat and disrespect the culture of drag.”

While our gender may begin with the label of our sex, it doesn’t end there. A person’s gender is the complex interrelationship between three dimensions: body, identity, and expression. Our body, our experience of our own body, how society genders bodies, and how others interact with us based on our body.

For identity, a deeply held, internal sense of self as male, female, a blend of both, or neither; who the person internally know themselves to be, and lastly, expression on how Queens present gender in the world and how society, culture, community, and family perceive, interact with, and try to shape a specific kind of gender.

Gender expression is also related to gender roles and how society uses those roles to try to enforce conformity to current gender norms.

Each of these dimensions can vary greatly across a range of possibilities. A person’s comfort in their gender is related to the degree to which these three dimensions feel in harmony.

Campos shares her experience in what it is like being a female and dressing up in drag, “People make fun of me for liking to dress up but I don’t care, I do it for me and no one else. Feminists are always talking down on me calling me a hypocrite, I just don’t see it as making fun, but I can totally see why people may think of it like someone who is making fun of the idea of it.”

Drag queen culture has influenced American culture for many years without most people realizing it. More people should give credit to these queens for their impact on igniting the LGBTQ movement, “Voguing” and slang.

Drag, in its most commonly understood form, might be defined as gay men portraying sensationalized women for entertainment purposes, but those who do drag describe it as something more significant. Each queen has their own personal reasons for doing drag and expectations for what they hope can accomplish beyond making an audience laugh.

Ultimately, drag queen culture will continue to have a huge influence on American culture. It is time we give these queens more recognition, whether that be for starting civil rights movements or popular dance and make-up obsessions.

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Drag Culture Meets Mainstream Culture