Today’s society is riddled with labels for everything you can possibly think of. These labels often attempt to define people in the best way they can, which usually results in them being confined. Drag is no stranger to these labels, and the modern society certainly doesn’t hold back when assigning them. I, for one, have been subjected to labels for a lifetime, and so I’m sure you can guess my feelings on them (I’ll give you a hint – they aren’t that great)!
The History of Drag
Back in the day (and I mean the day), drag meant to dress up in the opposing gender’s clothes. Take from this what you will, but if you’re looking at it from a historical point of view, it is entirely suggestive that a ‘woman’ cannot take part in drag whilst posing as a ‘woman’, given the lack of opposition in gender.
However, moving through the times slightly, drag took on a different meaning whereby it related to the literal dragging of skirts upon the floor (predominantly in the theatre). This particular meaning has strong links to men, given the lack of female actors in the 19th century.
The lines are clearly beginning to blur – wouldn’t you agree? Fast-forward through to the late 20th and early 21st century (now), and drag means a performance art – one where lip-syncing, death-drops, and a chorus of ‘yass queen hits’ at gay clubs and bars all across the world. I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to see a dip in restrictions, so let me carry on with this a little longer.
The term ‘Drag Queen’ (with specific notability on ‘Queen’) means the accentuation of what it means to be a stereotypical woman of the time. This accentuation and exaggeration of the gender has no limitations on what a person needs in order to exaggerate.
What does womanly exaggeration mean to you? Because to me – and I’m sure it’ll match your ideas quite well – it means an overt amount of makeup, huge hair, larger-than-life heels, and legs legs legs for days! So guys, let’s be real for a minute here. Obviously, there are certain things that are harder for male bodies to achieve when getting into drag. We are simply not blessed with feminine faces, the right accents on a body (if you catch my drift), and we even have a little more accent than females – oh yeah, the euphemisms are on fire today. But, just because we have to put in a little more work, it’s no reason to downplay what females do… If you think about it there’s a really cool statement happening here.
Female Drag in Today’s World
And so commences the main point of this; our modern society. In today’s world, drag has taken on one final definition; if you haven’t figured it out yet, it is the embodiment of a middle finger to the labels that have been thrust upon us in this modern world of ours – including gender. It began with males (who generally came from the LGBT community), who decided that enough was enough when it came to the belittling of our more feminine ways. If the world wanted to give us this label, we were going to take it, blow it completely out of proportion, and thought we might as well make a living out of it whilst we’re there. This movement became such an empowering and fun way of life, that of course others would want to join in, but that’s not all they did.
I think we’re all aware of the backlash a female has nowadays, simply for being born with a different set of parts. Well, we thought the LGBT community made a splash, but I think it’s fair to say that none of us were prepared for the politically-infused, entertaining, and powerful tsunami caused by females taking back their own power. With this ever-enforcing idea that females have to wear makeup, heels, and short dresses to even think about being someone, it was time to make a change. Or rather, it was time to make these restrictions and labels a dramatic reality. The adopted huge hair, exaggerated eyes, and humongous heels make for a stronghold in what it means to be a woman; whatever the hell they want it to mean.
Where We Should Be
The drag community progressively developed in an attempt to scupper the negative viewpoints of labelling a person, and thus it became a place of acceptance and belonging. As a community whose foundation is based in love and understanding, there is not enough (how many of you started singing Cher with me then? I bet it was all of you). The rise in female drag queens has increased ten-fold, and if we want the drag community to continue making its mark, we need even more.
So, while some may be stuck in history (including a large part of the LGBT community) and the assumption that male drag queen ‘thunder is being stolen’, the reality is that we aren’t in that world anymore, although there are some elements still lingering. I mean, how can we be stuck in one part of history and weighed down by its labels, and yet still moving forward even though those labels are still influencing our lives? Well guys, therein lies the bulk of the fight. In order to break free from those restrictive labels, we need to take them, own them, and discard them ourselves. Female drag queens are just as welcome in the community because they stand for something we all believe in – whoever we want to be, is exactly who we are. The drag community needs more people to take these labels and destroy them.
I guess in closing, I hope this has given you some food for thought. If not the knowledge, then my witty euphemisms and Cher references must have made somewhat of an impact. I mean, how often does Cher get referenced with drag?
There are many different kinds of people in this world; if there are approximately 8 billion souls on this earth, then there are approximately 8 billion individual and unique creatures. Be kind to one another, because we all know just how scrappy us queens (and I’m talking about all of us queens) can get. Trust me, you wouldn’t want these nails coming at you!