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So, I've been thinking about this for a while. I'm not white, but also not black myself so I want to let black women speak about it in the comments. I see many women here talking about womanface, but I've never seen an actual GC black person's take on it.

So, I've been thinking about this for a while. I'm not white, but also not black myself so I want to let black women speak about it in the comments. I see many women here talking about womanface, but I've never seen an actual GC black person's take on it.

113 comments

[–] nessmo 148 points

I'm a black woman and I do believe that blackface and "womanface" are similar. They are both caricatures of an oppressed minority by the privileged majority. Seeing a man dressed as a woman and leaning into negative stereotypes of women (cattiness, vanity, etc.) is no different than seeing a white person painting their face black and leaning into negative stereotypes of black people (lazy, eating fried chicken, etc.). Womanhood is not a costume that men should be able to wear for a couple of hours, be celebrated for, and then take it off and go back to their normal male lives. Just like blackness (or any other race), is not something you just get to wear because you think it's cool and then take it off when it's time to go back to "real life".

I have seen people try to say it's not similar to blackface because gay men are also an oppressed class, as if gay men can't be misogynists just because they're gay. A gay man is a man, first and foremost. The fact that all these supposedly "woke" folks know that blackface is wrong yet fail to see how drag/womanface is extremely similar is ridiculous. It shows a lack of understanding why blackface is wrong. Then again, these are the same people who think identifying as transgender is valid, but identifying as transracial is somehow not when they're essentially the same thing.

I think part of the reason why 'womanface' is seen as acceptable is due to how normalised misogyny is in the fabric of society. So much so that no-one really bats an eye, but the second you replace 'women' by another group, people are far more likely to take offense. In the mind of many, 'being degraded/humiliated/violated' is associated with womanness (see 'forced feminisation') much more so than the idea of individual personhood. As 'non-people' we're just supposed to accept this treatment.

[–] SecondSkin 28 points Edited

Grayson Perry said that he dressed as little bow peep because little girls are the most sexually humiliating thing there is, and humiliation is intrinsic to sexual satisfaction.

Yes being degraded, humiliated, violated is what is seen as intrinsic to women, but also that mens entitlement to our degradation is seen as intrinsic to being a man. It’s two fold, which creates a more effective lock in the trap.

WHAT???? What is the logic behind that statement? Little girls are the most sexually humiliating things there is? That makes absolutely no sense...

Welp, that's one for my ever growing list of 'People I don't feel like looking into'.

And yes you're right, the idea of having agency being associated to manhood makes it even worse.

I would really love to see a video with side-by-side footage of Al Jolson and Dylan Mulvaney.

I have seen people try to say it's not similar to blackface because gay men are also an oppressed class, as if gay men can't be misogynists just because they're gay.

People actually say this?

That's like saying gay men can't be racist because they're an oppressed class. Which no one on the left says.

I guess what those people really mean is that they don't believe women are an oppressed class.

[–] MissBehaved 4 points Edited

The whole mocking of black people for enjoying chicken and watermelon has always been weird to me. Like what, do white people generally dislike those things? Wasn't Colonel Sanders a white man? Am I missing something here because last I checked both of those foods are delicious. I'm suddenly reminded of Dave Chapelle's "All these years I thought I like chicken 'cause it was delicious... turns out, I was genetically predisposed to liking chicken!" I am aware of the pickininny stereotype for the watermelon but it isn't like southern white kids don't sit outside and eat it too.

This Jim Crow was a nationwide thing post Slavery.

Cotton brokers on Wall Street would evolve into stock brokers.

Slavery was the Big Bang of the American Capitalism systems

Blackface, minstrel shows and newspaper cartoons inspired lynching, race riots and the rapes of Black women and the wholesale destruction of Black neighborhoods and townships.

Have Drag Shows inspired the same kind of violence used against White women.

That's why they should use it.

Blackface and minstrel shows inspired lynching, etc.? I could see maybe if a cartoon was inflammatory, but those other two?

Also, there's a difference between drag queens and TIMs. (A TIM can be both TIM and drag queen now, apparently, but those are still two different things.)

The cartoons were images of the 7 stereotypes of the minstrel shows. Postcards were made from pictures of lynching and distributed to friends and family members.

Except Blackface Minstrel shows were meant to be anti Black propaganda to continue the degradation and Sub human treatment of American Black people.

It inspired lynching, the stereotype we were all dumb so menial work was all we were worth, whole destructions of Black neighborhoods and townships and the rapes of Black women and girls.

Have Drag Shows had the same inspiration for violence and rape of White women?

They're different in many ways, but so is something like blackface and theatrical caricatures of Asian people.

What they do all have in common is it being someone who does not belong to a specific oppressed class wearing it as a costume.

Though I would argue that the "dumb bimbo" characterization is something that drag and anti-woman propaganda has in common. I've met so many sexist gay men who are obviously influenced by drag culture. Which contributes to the dehumanization of women.

Idk why you're saying white women either, womanface can be done of any race of woman.

One group was brought from Africa in slave ships in three levels with 18 inches tall spaces chained to each other, surrounded by fecal matter and urine for 23 hours. And the one hour that they were given was used to rape women and girls, and beat anyone who spoke their language. With the next 400 years of an established relationship with White people. With continued violence and targeted economic policies including redlining of our neighborhoods. That are currently food and opportunity deserts.

Asian people came over as immigrants and had their Cultures intact.

These are in no way the same.

If you look at the connection between the porn industry, porn culture etc and drag, i think there is an argument for the inspiration of violence and rape of all women there.

[–] SecondSkin 9 points Edited

And woman face is used to describe TiMs all the time.

They’ve removed women’s legal rights protections, children’s safeguards in many countries. Plenty very violent attacks and obviously a large scale organised attack on women as a group. How many women are cowering in fear, their mh and well-being destroyed by this attack world over? How many of our girls had their lives destroyed like Keira?

Enough death and rape threats to paper JKRs mansion, KS ran out of her career by burning effigies, women lost their jobs, freedom of speech, harassment from police if they say very moderate true thing about this: Jenni Swayne harassed by police and sent home alone at 3am on her scooter with no phone, a disabled woman bullied and isolated just because of pro women stickers. How many women lots their jobs, or raped by TiMs in schools prisons etc. how many girls sterilised. How long did women fight for rights and they are disappeared in a swift language game.

Womanface isn’t just used towards drag, it’s TiMs and all the pushing force behind gender ideology.

But unless women are lynched our experience isn’t valid. Must always defer to every other group that has it worse. Female socialisation in action.

[–] BlackCirce 🔮🐖🐖🐖 93 points

It’s not a comparison. 9/10 (speaking only in the American context) contemporary drag IS blackwoman face. The performers don’t simply portray women of their own race (if they are nonblack) or another race if they are black (and do you ever ask yourself WHY so many drag performers are black?) but frequently add elements of racist caricatures of black American women. American drag performance is derived directly from blackface minstrelsy. We aren’t comparing two discrete phenomena. It’s like comparing basketball in the 1920s to basketball in 2022. Or the original iPhone and iPhone 13. We are speaking of versions of the same thing.

Wow. I think you're right. Drag has completely flown under the radar because gay men, I guess. It's almost like men get away with everything.

[–] proudcatlady 11 points Edited

Where can I learn more about this? I had no idea that white drag queens were doing a form of blackface in most cases. I want to read more

Drag and minstrel shows have a history together. Popular minstrels did drag characters, there are more. Am black, feel they are very similar- "punching down" by playing as.

Except Jezebel and Sappjire characters justified the rapes if Black women and girls by White men.

That's why they are completely different things.

[–] pinklightsaber 70 points Edited

I think it’s an apt comparison because TRAs are willing to explore and understand why blackface is bad, but not gender identity.

A white person once asked me at the peak of the Rachel Dolezal drama about how black face was so different from men parading themselves as women in the public sphere if they were both based on stereotypes of each of the groups being imitated. I was still a staunch supporter and I had no answer for why pretending to be a different sex is somehow more acceptable than pretending to be a different race when race/ethnicity are actually a spectrum while sex isn’t. That haunted me for the rest of my TRA days.

This is close to my experience, too. I had already peaked much earlier, but I read Sheila Jeffreys’ take on what womanface is and why womanface is no different than blackface earlier this year. The comparison resonated deeply with me, and it’s what finally turned me away from finding entertainment in drag (which I wanted to believe was fundamentally different than TIP shit).

I still wonder if there could be room for it as an art form if the playing field was more even. Like, if drag kings were as prolific as drag queens, or if it was more abstract rather than leaning so heavily on blatant stereotypes.

GC black people? uhhh according to TRAs those don't exist and we are clearly a white supremacist movement only, thank you.

/sarcasm, obv

[–] PotatoParameter 39 points Edited

It is a fair comparison. Blackface is defined as "the use of makeup by non Black people to portray a caricature of a Black person". The most common use of womanface is to describe the use of makeup by non women (men) to portray a caricature of a woman. We have terms for when people not part of a racial group that isnt black use makeup to act as a caricature of that racial group: yellowface, redface, and brownface.

I find that people naturally defer to the example of blackface when they need a comparison to womanface because from an Western, especially American, perspective, blackface is the most egregious example due to the history of slavery, colonization, and minstrel shows. That being said, womanface can be just as easily be compared to yellowface, brownface, redface, etc because they are all examples of harmful and stereotypical depictions of minority group by and for a majority group. One may argue that being a woman isnt a race so that this isnt a fair comparison or argument. To that I say that one cannot change their sex like they cannot change their race, misogyny is more entrenched in society than racism (and possibly existed before or came to be around the same time as the concept of racism), and that if it was common that straight person put on a theatrical caricature of gay and bisexual people, the LGB commuinity would be pushing for the term gayface to be recognized. I believe that people, especially men, playing down the idea of womanface is centered in misogyny because it is not allowing us to name the issue that we are currently seeing and if we cannot name the issue it is harder to solve the problem.

[–] EternaEspiral evil latina terf 10 points Edited

tbh all of the spicy straights are kind doing "gayface" no? They're kinda dressing up and acting in ways that came from a group of opressed people they do not belong to.

So... kinda? I mean, they're performing the stereotypes to act as if they were gay?

(talking about all the "enby"/trans straights that appropriated homosexual non-verbal cues originally meant to locate each other in the wild and that made it into a fashion style or aesthetic and call themselves queer)

oops late reply.

i agree that they are but it isnt in fashion to call them out. the "queer" community is against all forms of policing because once its done to one group it can easily be applied to other groups. a large portion of them arent even same sex attracted and dont want to be called out for it.

[–] Peppermint 10 points Edited

I'm mixed race. I think the comparison is valid. We see people like Dylan Mulvaney doing a perfect womanface of all the stereotypes of women and its insulting as hell just as the blackface shows were.

[–] Yemaya 28 points Edited

I honestly don’t like the comparison. I just feel like “womanface” is something a non-black person probably came up with. I’m not saying drag isn’t misogynistic but I feel like another term should be used.

Also what exactly is “womanface”? Is it the drag queens wearing a dress, wig and makeup? Because I do none of those things yet I’m a woman. If we’re all “gender critical” and dresses heels and makeup isn’t inherent to womanhood, how is it “womanface”? If we’re saying all the time that femininity isn’t equal to womanhood then what about it makes it womanface is my question. My skin color, my lips, my nose, my hair texture etc that is something inherent to me as something I can’t take off and oppose to a drag queen taking off “womens” clothes.

[–] rady_aphroditie 51 points Edited

I think the issue with drag "queens" is that they are calling themselves queens, she, her, girl, sister, btch, cnt, f*shy, all because they are wearing feminine clothing and make-up. They are wearing fake breasts and hips to give them female bodies. It's isn't just men playing with feminine things. It's men putting on a misogynistic "woman persona" with the clothing and makeup. Everything they do they reference TO women playing AS women. "The second I put on this makeup and wig and dress I'm not John, I'm Felicity Suxwell, or Penny Tration, or Abby Bortion." They highly sexualize and objectify women. They use the worst stereotypes and the worst patriarchal views of women.

If they called themselves drag Kings, and men, it would really flip gender stereotypes on their head. Calling themselves men and not changing their bodies to look female, refusing to use misogynistic jokes/name, and removing the disgusting misogynoir performance they tend put on, it wouldn't be referenced as womanface.

That being said, I totally agree and think it needs to be named differently. One that in no way detracts from or references something another oppressed class uses to bring awareness to their struggles and history.

It's just like how the trans community appropriates "Women's Rights Are Human Rights", "Trans is Beautiful." etc when we use womanface.

Hopefully someone can come up with a new name, and with that we bring awareness to the history of women being dehumanized into caricatures for male entertainment without taking something from another very important class and movement.

This. It's not just make up, clothes and wigs. If that were the case we would be accusing 70/80's glam rockstars of womanface, too. Drag is also acting out misogynistic versions of what they think women are like, including using degrading slang and negative stereotypes of women.

Yep. Nicky Wire on stage in a skirt and eyeliner is not womanface. That’s men expanding the bandwidth of being a man, deconstructing stereotypes. All good.

Drag and TiMs are hugely harmful. Both derogatory, mocking, sexualised performance of womanface. One for kicks and one to remove our rights.

[–] Yemaya 18 points Edited

It’s definitely misogynistic and I can understand when it comes to them mimicking female bodies too. I have just heard some women take offensive because of how they dress too and I guess I don’t relate because I have never dressed like that.

I don’t have a problem with drag being called out I just don’t see why it has to be compared to blackface. Sometimes it just seem like everything has to be compared to what black people have been through as some measuring point, you know?

I completely agree. I wish we could all get together and come up with a different, new name, with no other reference to any another movement attached to it. One that encapsulates the male trans community and their dehumanization of women, drag "queens", and the history of men's portrayal of women as less than/sexualized for entertainment and how they view us. Women as a class have our own unique history and struggles. We don't need to piggyback off other movements, especially when it distracts from the movements we are taking from and devalues the struggles those names referenced.

I've heard some people say that blackfishing might be a better comparison, which refers to the phenomenon of people (often on social media) not just using makeup to make their features look more black, but also adopting AAVE and aesthetics often associated with black people. Often, they don't explicitly claim to be black, but drop enough clues to mislead people into believing they are black.

I'm not familiar enough with this myself to give a good example, but I remember there was some drama over people on Tiktok who were 'Asianfishing' by going by Asian names, drawing 'foxeye' makeup to emulate slanted eyes, and posing in sexualized costumes (i.e. schoolgirl outfits) that are often associated with Asian girls.

Would something like 'womanfishing' be a more appropriate term? Or does it fall into the same pitfalls?

Not all drag queens are trans though, or trying to pass as real women. There are also some (actual/biological) women now taking up drag performance.

I think it's important to distinguish between that and the AGP issue where they're putting on latex masks and fetishistic clothing and positioning it as "actual" womanhood.

Also what exactly is “womanface”? Is it the drag queens wearing a dress, wig and makeup? Because I do none of those things yet I’m a woman. If we’re all “gender critical” and dresses heels and makeup isn’t inherent to womanhood, how is it “womanface”?

The same applies to blackface. I don't particularly love chicken, I hate watermelon, I work in STEM and am absolutely not athletic, yet I'm black. Blackface and womanface both describe the caricatures, the sets of stereotypes people use to 'dress up' as black, to put their 'woman face' on so to speak. The terms do not legitimise the stereotypes themselves.

My point is with blackface they darken their skin, draw their lips bigger, some even put on Afros to mimic black features while performing stereotypes. Black people cannot remove our skin color and features. A woman remove a makeup, heels and a dress those these aren’t inherent to a woman.

But male drag artists and TIMs wear all sorts of prosthetics and padding to give them the appearance of having breasts, hips and butts shaped like women's. They try to mimic women's bodies, and they mock and make fun of our bodily processes - "fishy," "Ana Bortion." It's not just makeup, heels and a dress.

They also portray women as stupid, sluttish, catty, simpering, backbiting, naturally submissive... And they make it clear that they think women are inferior to them, and that our only use in life is to provide men with sexual pleasure and children, and to do the scut work.

Those things are the means by which women are oppressed.

We can’t take off our oppression.

Drag is mocking the means by which men subjugate us.

For sure, there's a physical and behaviour aspect. I listed the behavioural stereotypes in my previous reply, but if we were going to go with the physical ones when it comes to 'womanface', well... in extreme cases you end up with Kayla Lemieux. Women with big breasts can't take them off, yet you have dumbasses cranking this idea of 'woman = big tits' up to 11. See how drag queens also often exaggerate their hips while narrowing their waist, etc. They put the focus on the obvious distinguishing female features and parody them.

(I'm white; have mixed kids) I know "womanface" is easier to say, but I just prefer woman costume. Even if some black women use "womanface" others don't like it and there are fair reasons for it. I don't think the GC movement is harmed by not using it.

There are solid reasons why the term is....solid....as can be seen in the other comments. (I'm very tired; excuse the poor writing). But the objections are solid, too. So it's easy enough to skip.

I like woman costume. It relates to cosplay as well.

It sounds milder though. As if stereotypes are just something is silly women are choosing to perform and if we just take off the costume, just take off the stereotypes, we will be free of oppression.

And that’s not true.

It's accurate imo. They are both performances of something based on stereotypes. And the only reason people do it to get a reaction out of others.

Even if people performing woman-face do so this the best of intentions and truly believe themselves to be women, it's still hurtful.

And the thing is I don't care about feminine men. You can wear dresses and even get surgery as long as you know you aren't a woman.

Same for blackface. Rachel Dolazel believed herself to be a black woman. Deep down she knew it wasn't true. Rachel took positions that could have gone to actual BW and thus was no friend to BW despite how she tried to spin it.

Lastly Rachael could have done all she did as a white woman. Yet she insisted on co-opting as struggle that wasn't her own.

I don’t particularly mind it. They’re dressing as an oppressed group and mocking us

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