Drag Queens and Gender Identity Notes (Ella)

Greaf, Caitlin. “Drag queens and gender identity.” Journal of Gender Studies, 2016. VOL. 25, NO. 6, 655–665. Electronic. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09589236.2015.1087308

  • “When it comes to drag queens, people may first think of individuals adopting a persona and appearance in the LGBTQI community.” (Greaf 565).
  • “Drag queens are one type of symbol exposing gender as merely a social construction. In other words, ‘gender is the activity of managing situated conduct in light of normative conceptions of attitudes and activities appropriate for one’s sex category’ (West & Zimmerman, 1987, p. 44). Drag queen performances possess a duel role of undoing heteronormative gender ideals while also reinforcing the current heteronormative social image of a woman.” (Greaf 655).
  • “As drag queens encompass a different gender, many place assumptions on their gender identity; such as a drag queen identifying as a transsexual. Unless a drag queen identifies as being transsexual, drag queens and transsexuals are two separate identities.” (Greaf 656).
  • “Through the use of heteronormative guidelines, Western societies socially blur the lines between gender, sex, and sexuality when trying to comprehend identities such as drag queens (Asiso, 2010).” (Greaf 656).
  • “‘Passing’ describes a situation in which the perception of gender of the subject is actually misread. It is a question of public and private clarity, and it requires a spectator in order to legitimate passing (Maltz, 1998, p. 276). On the other hand, ‘realness’ extends beyond gender expression alone (Maltz, 1998, p. 256). Within this paper, I use the world ‘realness’ in terms of one who encompasses the gender they are displayed as and seek to be that gender ‘without reliance on surgical or hormonal intervention’ (Maltz, 1998, p. 276).” (Greaf 656).
  • “Literature on drag queens heavily focuses on their performances on stage and/or gender performances (Berkowitz & Belgrove, 2010; Murnen & Byrne, 1991; Rupp et al., 2010; Taylor & Rupp, 2006). Rupp et al., state that drag queens ‘challenge hegemonic masculinity and heteronormativity’ during their performance (2010, p. 289). Rupp et al.’s research found that drag queen’s performances lead some audience members to challenge their pre-existing views of gender (2010). Berkowitz and Belgrave’ (2010) research presents a similar stance on drag queen’s stage performance. They state that ‘drag is a very powerful performative act, and a successful drag queen can hold a unique form of power over her audience’ (2010, p. 160).” (Greaf 656).
    • “Hyper-femininity”- can a costume be more feminine than a biological female?
    • “‘exaggerated adherence to a stereotypic feminine gender role’ (p. 480).” (Greaf 656)
  • “Gender is an act and performance that everyone does.” (Greaf 657)
    • “While presenting their female gender identity, drag queens may receive similar reactions and treatment that women in our patriarchal society receive if they are perceived as ‘passing.’ Outside of the club without their drag queen persona, their treatment and reactions will revert back to our society’s treatment of homosexual men. The dual gender identity that drag queens experience exposes our social arrangement of gender boundaries and divisions.” (Greaf 657)
    • “Genitals do not make one socially a female or male, it is the gender box we live in that consciously constructs our gender identity.” (Greaf 657)
  • “This paper draws from a wide variety of methods including natural observation, photo/video of performances, personal interviews, and my experience of deconstructing gender. I interviewed four drag queens, three homosexuals, one bisexual, two transgender, and one heterosexual, all of whom self-identified their gender identity and sexuality. I choose to have only 11 interviews in order to focus on the information from my fieldwork and interviews. By knowing their gender identity and sexuality, I could compare how different communities interpret gender identity, sexual orientation, and drag queen identity. The four drag queens interviewees associated themselves both in the LGBTQI community as well as the drag community. The four homosexuals associated with the LGBTQI community. The two transgender interviewees associated with both the trans community and queer community. The one heterosexual interviewee associated with the heterosexual community.” (Greaf 657-8)
    • I really like how Greaf studied this- possible Original Research idea?
    • “For the first drag queen interviews, I chose questions that allowed me to gain a general understanding of the drag queen’s persona and how they define the term ‘drag.’ I used such questions as the following: how did you choose your drag name; how would you explain your drag persona, and what makes it a lifestyle?” (Greaf 658)
    • “The most unique method I chose was to challenge my own comfortable gender identity. At the start of my research, I sought to focus on the audience’s self-interpretation. By deciding to challenge my own identity, I broadened my personal understanding of gender identity. I chose this method part way through this project. I found that by challenging my social understanding of gender identity and self-reflecting on the experience, I obtained a new perspective of gender identity and the social influences that this identity has even if one is already gender bending.” (Greaf 658).
  • “However, with the start of shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race (2009) and Orange is the New Black (2013), the mainstream culture both becomes aware and visually identifies queer bodies.” (Greaf 660)
  • “Drag queen’s identity and performance on stage furthers the deconstruction of heteronormative gender ideals; although, current feminine gender characteristics are being regurgitated and performed. By stepping into Steel [the gay bar where the methodology took place] , even heterosexuals can release a hidden or private side of themselves without negative social reactions.” (Greaf 661)
  • “In conclusion, my research revealed two primary findings regarding drag queens and their use of gender. The first is that drag queens provide an understanding that gender is both a social construction and a performance. The second is that drag queens, through their personas and performances, continue the heteronormative cycle of male and female gender roles and images: ‘the main use of any culture is to provide symbols and ideas out of which people construct their sense of what is real’ (Johnson, 2004, p. 101). Drag queens are one symbol that displays the flaws of our socio-cultural construction and teachings of gender. Drag queens break the heteronormative guidelines that our society has created to symbolize what a woman looks like and acts like. By choosing to use a certain wig style, feminine deemed clothing, and creating a female persona drag queens reflect the heteronormative female images found on many magazines and TV shows.” (Greaf 664)
  • “Drag queens are breaking the social rules/roles that feminine gender characteristics can only be performed by women. However, the image they choose to perform does not break the thought of what a socially ideal woman looks like; in contrast, persona actually reinforces it. By passing as the female gender through body language, voice, and persona, drag queens do not inflate female characteristics, but they imitate artists and stars who symbolize the gender they are performing. By releasing a restrained female side of their identity through one aspect of gender performance this reflects of the power of heteronormative gender roles.” (Greaf 664)
  • NOTE: I really liked this journal. It felt focused, well-researched, planned out, and also personal. It was relatively easy to read and provided a lot of great information!

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