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From the times of Shakespeare

In the original days of Shakespearean performance, women were forbidden from acting on stage and all of the roles, male and female, were performed by men. The class is also reading Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.

“Twelfth Night is a play that has a female character disguising herself as a man. When you think about what that was like in Shakespeare’s time, that means a man was playing a woman disguising herself as a man, creating three layers,” Scudera says.


Everytime a man dresses in drag, it's done in a mockery form towards women. Why is it racial appropriation is bad but appropriating women and getting laws passed in favor of men with feminine "feels" is applauded?

Sexism is the oppression that is the big elephant in the room. Racism gets called out ALL THE TIME. Sexism is filled with people being shamed for calling it out, barely talked about it and plenty of people wanting to bully you for even mentioning it from all sides.

Here is a video of a speech from lesbian in 1973 at a Gay Rally who says she is tired of the costumes of women men are wearing. THIS IS NOTHING NEW. Women knew back then and many of us know now.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USWWUVEFLUU

And Here is what happened after...the women in the crowd weren't having it either..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AynSaJ74ri8

From the times of Shakespeare In the original days of Shakespearean performance, women were forbidden from acting on stage and all of the roles, male and female, were performed by men. The class is also reading Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. “Twelfth Night is a play that has a female character disguising herself as a man. When you think about what that was like in Shakespeare’s time, that means a man was playing a woman disguising herself as a man, creating three layers,” Scudera says. ------------------------- Everytime a man dresses in drag, it's done in a mockery form towards women. Why is it racial appropriation is bad but appropriating women and getting laws passed in favor of men with feminine "feels" is applauded? Sexism is the oppression that is the big elephant in the room. Racism gets called out ALL THE TIME. Sexism is filled with people being shamed for calling it out, barely talked about it and plenty of people wanting to bully you for even mentioning it from all sides. Here is a video of a speech from lesbian in 1973 at a Gay Rally who says she is tired of the costumes of women men are wearing. THIS IS NOTHING NEW. Women knew back then and many of us know now. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USWWUVEFLUU And Here is what happened after...the women in the crowd weren't having it either.. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AynSaJ74ri8

30 comments

[–] SkettiNoodle 35 points (+35|-0)

Yes absolutely. Thank you for sharing these videos! I've been waiting for more discussion on this.

On r/GenderCritical the argument that often followed the 'drag is like blackface' thing, was that people felt it was trivialising racism, or appropriating the anti-racism movement. I always wondered, is it not justified to want sexism to be taken just as seriously as racism? They have their differences, but I really think the analogy is incredibly beneficial.

[–] Totallyrad [OP] 24 points (+24|-0)

Women have been subjugated for thousands of years and slaves too....of all races. I think what it really boils down to is it seems many men that were also in the oppressed historically categorically don't mind throwing women under the bus if they feel it gives them brownie points with their historical oppressors for power. I see even gay men trying to be "manly men" yet their oppression coincided with femininity. Now they are trying soooo hard to be more like straight men and get in on bashing women. Most organizations have always put men first. Religions too. For men to wear woman face and declare we no longer exist and must make room for woman 2.0 which isn't even a woman with all these politicians on board just shows women have every right to disengage from their supporting everyone else when they don't care about us.

[–] babayaga 20 points (+20|-0)

people felt it was trivializing racism

I've heard this argument a number of times. Honestly, I think it's people who don't want to look at drag in a critical light, because they've either participated in it themselves or they've enjoyed watching drag performances. I've enjoyed movies like To Wong Foo, The Birdcage, and Kinky Boots. Not to mention all the other "magical drag queen" characters that pop up in movies and tv shows. The ones who brighten up the lives of boring, sexually & emotionally repressed, straight people. And, of course, Ru-Paul's Drag Race has a large, passionate fanbase.

I very much doubt that black-face performers (past or present) ever thought of themselves as bad, racist people. Same thing with the people who were entertained by it. It can be quite difficult re-examining something that brought you enjoyment or provided a paycheck.

[–] Verdandi 16 points (+16|-0)

I agree with this 100%. More often than not if someone gets bizarrely aggressive in an argument about something like drag... it's because they personally enjoy it and feel guilty for not wanting to stop. They feel way too uncomfortable critically examining their own actions (while ironically tearing other people a new one concerning other topics).

You'll get the most insanely libfem defensive responses if you dare criticise drag, or say, makeup. These women really REALLY don't want to look at their own actions, but feel fully comfortable criticizing others. They just don't want to admit they still have biases and socialization they can't shake. It's perfectly OK to struggle with these issues, but we need to seriously examine WHY we're engaging with them.

And yeah it often feels like we're shamed for the blackface comparison because yet again their internalized misogyny breaks through and they deem women's hundreds of thousands of years of oppression among all the races on the planet not as bad as 18-21st century US centric racism.

[–] bellatrixbells 5 points (+5|-0)

You will get weird ass responses. Somewhere I've got a screenshot of a convo where I state that it is common for drag queens to refer to women as fish and say they're better women than us, and that even some drag performers have come to question themselves about the misogynistic character of the practice.

And the TRA responds by saying "boohoo, this one drag queen was mean to me therefore all drag is bad". Then it became "she was mean to you and your friend" and I was like wow do you listen to yourself speaking sometimes.

I think they might not.

[–] bellatrixbells 8 points (+9|-1)

I also think that what happens is we're being raised in a world that is very much mostly by men and for men, therefore we all get raised with the idea that racism is very bad while sexism gets glossed over, simply because racism includes men while sexism is against women pretty much all the time.

I remember someone making a post about blackface on the R/ once and a black woman was outraged and began explaining how it was offensive because racism is so much worse... Only to eventually kind of realize that Black men often treat women like shit too. Another WoC remarked how Black men would be outraged over racism but would turn right around and shit on "their" women's heads.

Truth is, I think men of most communities want equity for the ethnicity, but they want to keep power over some, and that is women.

[–] ClaraReed1 33 points (+33|-0)

I can't @ that drag queen claiming HIS PEOPLE started the Stonewall riots. It's a lie that continues to this day. So many brain-washed idiots give all the credit to Marsha Johnson and Sylvia Rivera (who weren't even THERE at the start of the riots, credit due to Marsha for actually being honest about this), completely obfuscating that it was a black lesbian who actually started them.

Typical. Men are always the victims, they are the ones that do everything and never get any credit. Fuck outta here.

[–] Totallyrad [OP] 21 points (+21|-0)

Narcissism runs rampant with TRA's. Re-writing history, gaslighting etc.. did you look at the dismissive looks on the men's faces as usual in the crowd? It's obvious lesbians were just tossed in for sheer numbers and to confuse the public into thinking it wasn't just all about what the men want.

[–] ClaraReed1 17 points (+17|-0)

Yeah, I noticed that. They see us as props in their lives, nothing more.

[–] noralily23 30 points (+30|-0)

Drag has always felt off for me. Even in college when I was basically a tra drag felt insulting. I think because I've never naturally felt inclined to wear make-up I've always looked at it from a 3rd person POV and yeah why is it allowed for men to make fun of women that way.

[–] hystersyster 28 points (+28|-0)

So much of male drag is portraying women as the male conception of a woman. I used to watch RPDR, and so many of the skits portrayed women as stupid, "slutty", bitchy, or childlike. Even in "Snatch Game" they always made fun of the famous women they were portraying, again by making sexual jokes about them, or portraying them as stupid. If they were portraying a lesbian character, the punch line was that she was... a lesbian. Also the countless "humorous" portrayals of prostituted women.

There are some drag performers that take an absurdist or gender critical approach to drag, but they are few and far between. On the contrary, I've seen a few drag kings, and they seem to be more inclined to critique male archetypes, although some just celebrate the hypermasculine, which I can't get behind.

[–] Whatshername 13 points (+14|-1)

This is a slightly related topic but you know how people say that feminine gay men act like women? I very rarely meet women who have the mannerisms or speech of a feminine gay man. One of the ways I usually clock TW is because they act more like feminine gay men than women.

There is nothing wrong with a male person having those sort of mannerisms, but I wish we as a society recognized that this doesn't make them "closer to women than to men".

[–] SilkySquid 7 points (+7|-0) Edited

Haha, yes, I noticed that while watching Contrapoints (when I was close to peaking and trying to examine the issue). To me in his later videos, he visually "passed" reasonably and I found him physically attractive (I'm bisexual so this didn't faze me... a lot of women and men I find attractive are a little androgynous, too). But his mannerisms/voice! Every time he spoke, and the way he talked, the words and demeanor... all I heard was what sounded like a gay man and not at all like a woman! After watching detransition videos of women whose voices have been made very deep, I figured out it wasn't the pitch of Contrapoints' voice trying to be higher that made him sound gay, it was something else... but I'm not familiar enough with linguistics/speech to put my finger on what, exactly.

[–] bellatrixbells 4 points (+4|-0)

I remember reading something, I believe it must have been an essay or maybe even a master's thesis, by a Black woman, who was explaining that (mostly white) gay men were appropriating Black women's culture.

And I'm sure I know what she was saying. It's the "catty" (not sure about the word) 'tude. Obviously it's not everyone and it definitely depends on where they're coming from, but have decidedly met a few Black women who acted exactly like this, they just didn't speak about sex 157% of the time.

[–] moody_ape 9 points (+10|-1)

if drag mocked men the same way it mocks women, i don't think it would be so popular. people get defensive and say it's not as bad as racism because they themselves don't feel offended by drag. if it doesn't offend me, than it's ok. i hate this logic!

[–] Avadavat 6 points (+9|-3)

"Womanface"..."Blackface"...I'm a woman of European ancestry, and know that in, juxtaposing these two words in a single sentence, I'm in danger of being labeled a bigot for appropriating the historical oppression of people of African ancestry. But, I hope that black women on Ovarit reading this will forgive me for this offense (if it is considered an offense), because....throughout the past century and a half, feminists have often come to understand their own oppression only through fighting against the oppression of others* first*. For instance, in 1840 the World Anti-Slavery Convention refused to seat female delegates because, presumably, the males present felt that women were not entitled to participate in such public, civic roles.

Some people even claim that the early women's rights movements of the 19th century arose because women with experience in campaigning against slavery came to realize that they had their own, particular misogynist oppression to fight.

My own understanding of "womanface" came to me through my understanding of "blackface": white men wearing black face make-up with outrageous facial features (exaggerated red lips, wide eyes, etc) and behaving in a servile, petty, even childlike manner. Sound familiar?

But, unlike the OP, I don't think "Everytime a man dresses in drag, it's done in a mockery form towards women." I think there are times...rare occasions...when feminine men pretend to be women they admire...great female performers, for instance, who combine great creative skill and courage on the stage. Just like there are times (again, rare occasions) when white men don black makeup to portray great black men (Shakespeare's Othello comes to mind).

[–] Totallyrad [OP] 19 points (+19|-0)

That is tokenism and the "not all men" we've heard for many years. How many drag queens are currently defending women's rights to not be gaslighted, women's rights to our own spaces, women's rights to know we exist on a biological level and because of that we have been treated as less than. If the answer is only a few...then it's fine to round off. Why do we always have to be "fair" they sure as hell aren't fair to us.

[–] Avadavat 2 points (+2|-0)

"That is tokenism and the "not all men" we've heard for many years." Is it? I'm trying to work out my own feelings about drag....perhaps I should have not done so so publicly? What I wrote above is pretty much the totality of my opinion...I've gone from extreme disgust and discomfort after watching Divine's dehumainzing womanface in "Pink Flamingoes" to a more nuanced position after seeing drag queens on stage performing more respectful portrayals of female stars...back to absolute disgust again over some of the more monstrous images of womanface on Ru Paul's show, and, after learning that drag queens are now delivering food to shut-ins for charity in New York City (this seems to bother me most of all - I feel that, in providing charitable services, attention, affirmation, care should be directed toward the recipients in need, not toward narcissistic individuals delivering the services in need of affirmation).

But, I'll think more about what you wrote....I certainly didn't mean to criticize or even shut down the OP for expressing her own opinion....

[–] babayaga 12 points (+13|-1)

I don't really have an issue with a gay man putting on a cabaret show where he dresses effeminately/wears makeup and sings a Lady Gaga song. It starts to become insulting with the addition of fake tits and over-the-top drag makeup. I think there are situations where a man can play around with gender signifiers without it turning into a misogynistic caricature.

Otoh, a white man playing Othello is still appropriation and treating race like a costume. There have been a number of "respectful" [color]-face performances. The one that comes to mind is The Good Earth with Luise Rainer and other white actors donning yellow-face. However well-intentioned it might be it still takes roles away from actual people of color, and makes it seem like only white performers have the talent to play those roles. Also, it can be pretty damn distracting and off-putting seeing a performer try to look like another race.

[–] SilkySquid 3 points (+3|-0)

Have you watched Cloud Atlas? (For anyone who hasn't: the basic idea involved these "souls" who kept meeting each other during different reincarnations. The same actors portrayed different characters in different time periods throughout the movie, and in doing so sometimes they were made to appear a different sex or race, carefully sidestepping blackface but definitely using "yellowface," "whiteface," "womanface," etc at times.) I don't think Cloud Atlas would have had at all the same feel without the sex/race changing (it would have implied that our "souls" - although I don't believe in the concept of souls - have a sex/race). And arguably this is one instance where no one was losing out on a representative acting job (if they'd still tried to do the sex/race changes but by swapping out actors, it would have too tough to even follow a "soul" arc unless they found some way to make a blatant way to signal... and I'm not sure if swapping out actors would have changed the deja vu feel in some parts). There's always a rare exception, and as a culture we limit ourselves if we say, "X in a performance is always wrong" ...but we do need to talk about why it is usually offensive and unnecessary while keeping in mind that there are super rare occasions when it can possibly elevate a work.

[–] babayaga 5 points (+5|-0)

Well, I have actually seen Cloud Atlas, and (tbh) I think it would've worked so much better as an animated film. The yellow-face, woman-face, white-face, and whatever-else-face completely took me out of the movie and I found it to be very weird. Also, it's surprising that the Wachowski ""sisters"" don't think that souls have a gender, but both transitioned to be their 'true selves.'

[–] Avadavat 2 points (+2|-0)

"Otoh, a white man playing Othello is still appropriation and treating race like a costume."

"Otoh"? I'm not familiar with this term (?)...this name (?). And, I'm still trying to wrap my head around cultural/ racial/ sex appropriation...still trying to understand whether and when it is permissible (if you're a member of the dominant demographic) to engage with the culture and portrayal of members of an oppressed demographic in your society, and under what circumstances. I do agree 100%, though, that if talented black actors are available to portray the roles of black characters, those roles should go to them. I also think that, if talented black actors are not available, producers and directors should think long and hard about hiring actors of other backgrounds to portray them...should even think of contributing some proceeds of the production to ensure that more black actors (and black directors and black crews) are available to work on such projects in the future.

[–] babayaga 2 points (+2|-0)

Otoh = on the other hand.

I don't really know why there wouldn't be any talented black actors to play those parts. Usually with blackface in Hollywood it was about wanting to cast famous actors to play the parts, or there was an issue with the Hay's Code forbidding miscegenation/ interracial couples. Orson Welles managed to put on a well-received production of Macbeth with an all black cast in the 1930s. So, the talent has always been there. It tends to come down to marketing more than anything else. Nowadays, Hollywood hesitates casting black people in lead roles, because there's the perception that those films won't be profitable in overseas markets.

I don't want to limit what an actor can portray though. I mean, some actors play serial killers. Actors play roles and if it's well-done, I'm not bothered. That Italian man who played an American Indian in the "sheds a tear for pollution" ads that ran non-stop in my childhood -- he was an ally not a mocker. At one point Cher was trying to pass herself off as Cherokee iirc, and now she is majorly Woke (irony).

Drag, esp in the LGB context (I'm soooo glad that 1973 footage is out there!) seems way too close to AGP hatred of women.

[–] babayaga 2 points (+2|-0)

That Italian man who played an American Indian in the "sheds a tear for pollution" ads that ran non-stop in my childhood -- he was an ally not a mocker.

If he was an ally, wouldn't he have wanted the part to go to an actual Native person? I'm assuming he just wanted the work & paycheck, and wasn't trying to mock anyone. But, I don't think wearing race & sex like costumes is the same as pretending to be a serial killer. Serial killers aren't a historically oppressed group of people. There are plenty of talented people of color out there to take these parts. You're not so much limiting what a white actor can play as limiting the amount of work actors of color can find.

Also, that sort of reasoning could easily be applied to men playing women. As long as the men were being "respectful" and did their research.

To me, the racism vs sexism debate is like "heart disease vs cancer." I don't need to be told one is worse than the other. That in no way makes mockery of women something minor to be dismissed.

Think about how the Woke compare every single thing to "nazis" -- every politician they don't like, every celebrity, everyone with an opinion they don't like, they scream "nazi!" Then someone gets offended that "you're minimizing the evil of nazis!" Why do we have these pointless arguments.

Men dressing up in "women costumes" and calling each other vulgar names is offensive. Fact.

[–] Womenssafety7 5 points (+5|-0)

And ironically, a lot of "woke" people are virulent antisemites, and thus also hypocrites