Why Cis Female Drag Queens Are A Form Of Cultural Appropriation

Why Cis Female Drag Queens Are A Form Of Cultural Appropriation

Cis women are dressing up in something called "extreme femininity" and calling themselves drag queens. Why is this such a bad thing?
71996
views

Across the globe, men, women and non-binary individuals practice cross-dressing and drag as a form of expression. The encyclopedia Britannica identifies individuals in drag as performers dressing as the opposite sex or rather, outside of their assigned gender. It is a way of experimenting with the aspect of “the other” in terms of identity.

This practice can be seen in a myriad of settings, including the television show, Ru Paul’s drag race. Individuals who practice drag and cross-dressing have often been persecuted throughout history, resulting in violent discrimination that can even lead to death. Although it has become more socially acceptable over the years, the stigma against it persists. Drag performers have been associated with the LGBTQA community, as it gives individuals the freedom to explore gender identities outside of the norm.

One recent event I found out about was that of cis women dressing in “drag” by wearing dresses and excessive makeup while identifying as drag queens.

They sum it up as a form of experimenting with “extreme femininity”. I was confused as to why cis women would choose to identify as drag queens when all they are doing is putting on dresses and makeup, which is something within their gender norm. I discussed this odd occurrence with some non-binary individuals and one of them quickly pointed out that this can even be considered homophobic.

But why is that?

The Cambridge Dictionary indicates that cultural appropriation is the act of using things from another culture, especially without showing understanding or respect for said culture. One example is using cultural appropriation as a “learning experience” (white non-muslims wearing a hijab).

When cis women perform as drag queens, they are dipping their feet into the performance of it, this being the positive experience, without receiving any of the backlash of stepping out of their gender norms and being discriminated against for it.

In addition, cis women are justifying this action by claiming they do it out of admiration for drag performers. So again, why is this act to be considered homophobic?

Because appropriation is a form of discrimination. Essentially, individuals outside of that culture, conveniently steal certain aspects of it, for their own use, without receiving the prejudice and discrimination individuals from that culture are faced with. It's the same as Katy Perry wearing cornrows and sporting the gelled baby hair look.

The LGBT community, as many other social groups, has formed their own culture, meaning they have their own social symbols, histories, traditions, and movements that are iconic and exclusive of the group in itself. Drag plays an active role in the movement, as it again, allows individuals to experiment with different aspects of other forms of gender.

Drag gives individuals the freedom to experiment, roleplay and shatter gender norms. Not only that, but drag performances are usually a safe haven for LGBT people, not only for the audience but for the performer as well. It is a sort of symbiotic relationship, where each individual is able to receive support from the other, in a world that does not always accept them as normal members of society.

To clarify, everyone should have the freedom to explore their gender, meaning they can practice their own gender roles, as well as “the other” as much as they want. But, cis women in dresses and costume makeup should not be labeled “drag queen,” as they are simply practicing things within their own gender norms. Drag is supposed to shatter gender norms and cis women calling themselves “drag queens” can have a damaging effect on the legitimacy of the movement.

Drag could be reduced to fun dress-up, while individuals who continue to be treated with prejudice and discrimination will go ignored. Additionally, the history, the traditions and the culture of drag will be reduced to a mere afterthought, along with the true meaning of dressing in drag.

Cover Image Credit: Vice

Popular Right Now

Just Because I'm From Hawaii, Does Not Mean I'm Hawaiian

My residency is not my race.
2014
views

Let me start off with a few things about myself. I am a first generation American who is primarily Filipino, Spanish and Hungarian. With that said, I am a woman of color, who frankly, looks all white. I was born and raised on the North Shore of O'ahu, but currently live in the mainland.

Now, let me tell you a little bit about Hawai'i, because I'm sure you don't know much about it since it's only given like, a paragraph of recognition in our history books. The Ancient Hawaiians traveled by canoe for thousands of miles using only the stars to navigate and found themselves in the Hawaiian Islands. They settled and their culture spread throughout the mountains and shores.
In 1778, Captain Cook "discovered" the islands, despite the thriving population residing there (he can be compared to Christopher Columbus). In the 1830s, the Sugar Industry was introduced, bringing a diverse range of immigrants from China, the Philippines, Japan and many other countries to work on the plantations, creating the diverse and ethnic population that makes up the islands today. In the 1890s, Queen Lili'uokalani (lily-oo-oh-kah-lah-nee) was imprisoned in an upstairs bedroom of her palace and soon after, the monarchy was overthrown. Hawai'i became a state in the 1950s.

With all of that said, we can now discuss an issue that I have realized needs to be addressed.

Since I moved to the mainland, I have had many encounters where people assure me that I am Hawaiian, despite my rebuttals that I am definitely not. The conversation usually goes something like this:

Them: "So you're from Hawaii, are you Native Hawaiian?"

Me: "Oh no, I'm Filipino, Hungarian and Spanish."

Them: "No, I mean, were you born and raised there?"

Me: "Yeah, but I'm not Hawaiian."

Them: "Yeah you are. It's the same thing."

No, it is most definitely not the same thing. If you were in Japan and saw a white person or any person not of Japanese descent, would you ask if they were Japanese simply because they lived there?
No, you wouldn't because you should know that residency does not equate descent. Sure, you might be curious and ask, but if they told you they weren't Japanese, you wouldn't try to convince them that they are. As I mentioned, Hawaii's population is made up of a ton of immigrants, and just because someone's family may have been there for generations, they are still not Hawaiian unless they actually have Hawaiian blood.

Not only do people assume that I am Hawaiian simply because I am from there, but they will continuously say that I look Hawaiian even if they have no idea what someone of Hawaiian descent looks like. Hawaiians are people of color, as are many of those who reside in the islands. However, as I previously mentioned, I do not look like a person of color even though I am, so why would you associate me, a seemingly full white person, to be Hawaiian? It makes no sense.

There are many things wrong with choosing to misidentify an individual or a group of people.
One, is that by you convincing yourself that I am something that I am not, you are diminishing who I am, and how I identify myself.
Second, you are creating an illusion based upon your own desires of who Hawaiians as a people are.
Third, by using me specifically, you are whitewashing the image of an entire race. I could go on, but there is not enough time in the world to name them all.




Their culture has been reduced to leis, aloha shirts, surfing, and tiki torches. Aloha has become a household word used by people who have no understanding of what Aloha truly means. Girls go as hula dancers in an effort to show skin on Halloween without any second thought. Please stop. We cannot continue to misidentify, appropriate and basically erase Hawaiian culture, just as has been done to the Native Americans.

Hawaiians have already been stripped of their land. I will not allow them to be stripped of their identity as well.

Cover Image Credit: TourMaui

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Ladies, Saying You Hate Feminism Makes You Sound Ignorant

Saying "I hate feminism" is equivalent to saying "I hate having rights and being treated fairly."

2507
views

In the last few years, being a "feminist" has become a bit of a trend. It is very common to see women protesting for fair pay, equal rights, and other issues that effect women. Even more recently, however, it has become a trend to not be a feminist, and some women have even gone as far as to say they hate feminism.

I could understand if they were saying "I hate modern feminism" or even "I hate the way being a feminist is portrayed," but saying you hate feminism is basically equivalent to saying you hate having rights. Early feminists fought for your right to vote. Feminism is what allows you to work jobs that are more traditionally masculine if you want.

Feminists fight for equal pay and fair working conditions between genders. Feminists have been fighting since basically forever for women to have the same basic human rights as men.

If it weren't for feminism, women would not have a voice. Period. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Feminism isn't just about "freeing the nipple" and abortion rights (although those issues are important and should definitely be discussed too, regardless of which way you believe.) It's not "abolish dress codes altogether" it's "make dress codes just as strict on boys as girls and value our education as much as you value theirs."

Feminism, in its truest form, isn't "women are better than men," but "women are equal to men." We don't want more rights than men or to be allowed more freedoms than men are allowed, we simply want those same rights and freedoms to start with.

I beg you, before you say "I hate feminism," do some research and learn what true feminism actually is. Understand that you can be a conservative republican and still be a feminist. You can be religious and still support feminist ideals. Don't limit yourself to a stereotype, and don't let social media trick you into thinking that feminism is all about marching naked down the street.

Feminism is about supporting and empowering other women, and wanting them to be treated fairly. It's about women banding together and fighting for what is right, not just for ourselves, but for our fellow women. And that looks different to everyone. And maybe that's okay.

Related Content

Facebook Comments