Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Posing as Female; or, the Awesomeness of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

(Note:  I've been working on this post for a few weeks now.  Not sure if it's done or not, but I'm sick of looking at it, so it's time to run it up the flagpole.)

When I was a feminist*, I disapproved of drag queens. (In fact, I disapproved of transwomen in general.) There's something especially infuriating about being told that women are supposed to dress a certain way, and then seeing men dressed that way.  Because it seems like men invented all these feminine trappings (I could certainly never have conceived of some of this stuff), and if they like them so much, maybe they should just keep them for themselves.  Why force them on me if I don't want them?  Perhaps men are really the ones who enjoy wearing makeup and slinky dresses.  That in itself doesn't bother me.  It's the expectations piled on me that drove me mad.  It's the ideal woman, that none of us can ever live up to. It's just not me.

Is it true that men are better at portraying an ideal woman, because for them it is purely imaginary?  I think that biological females tend to get distracted by biology.  Not very glamorous sometimes.

I once heard someone describing his first sight of a drag queen. It was in public, and at first he thought he was looking at a really magnificent woman, until someone clued him in. But he was still astounded. I don't recall if he actually said, "She was more of a woman than any real woman," but that's the impression I got. She had an air about her.

Now I think that the femininity of a transwoman is real. It can't be faked. Makeup and pretty clothes help; so do hormones and surgery; but the real thing is something inside you, and if you've got it, then you've got it.

Priscilla is one of the things that changed my mind, although, of course, ironically, the actors in that movie are not "real" drag queens, and so therefore they pretty much disprove my point. Terence Stamp, especially, was just amazing. That's acting!

And, of course, I've given up "posing as female" myself. That has removed a lot of my anger.  Like I said, I don't want to do drag myself.  But those who want to, and look fabulous doing it -- more power to them!  The funny thing is that I do care about my clothes a lot.  But I've always tried to create my own style. It has to look nice to me, and it has to be comfortable, which most feminine clothes aren't.

Haven't quite got my head around "posing as male" yet though . . . that is to say, I believe that masculinity is just as much of a pose as femininity -- perhaps even more so, given that men are generally expected to "excel" and not to show weakness. Fallibility is the human condition.  And I'm not interested in pretending to be superior.  Take superiority out of masculinity and what have you got?  I wonder about that.

Still feeling my way between the ideal and the real.  Still trying to avoid the unreal (by which I don't mean, the ideal.)

* I still believe in everything that feminism stands for. But traditional feminism has no concept of transgender, so it's much less useful to me now.

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