You’re sitting in the audience and your eyes are blinded by hot pink lights and sequins not even Tinker Bell could match. A spotlight appears and out struts a drag queen complete with huge stilettos, a larger than life personality, and an age-old subject matter that’s so complex it makes the performer’s makeup look rudimentary.
Drag queen performers, with their histrionic over the top personalities have a je ne sais quoi no one can deny. The absolute commitment and confidence performers exhibit onstage has proven their entertainment value is timeless. Drag performances were popular even before Vaudeville. Recently, drag shows have played an even bigger role influencing the dance realm and appearing at numerous events to correspond with the Pride Alliance Movement
So what makes drag performers so entertaining?
Maybe it’s because the world they’re creating isn’t real. Drag queens dramatically articulate men’s unrealistic stereotypes toward women. They typically dress down to reveal more skin and explore the absurdities of what people believe femininity entails. Their bodies are objectified amidst a crowd of catcalling. While they embrace self-acceptance, they also depict a distorted perception of women.
This being said, I want to make it clear that I think drag performers are wonderful. In no way am I suggesting that drag queens are masochistic, sexist men trying to hinder the advancement of women. In fact, I think quite the opposite. They’re taking absurd misconceptions about women and exploiting them through satire and humor. In doing so, they explore stereotypes while simultaneously embracing a nondiscriminatory sense of self that isn’t restricted to gender constructions. They reinforce that the gender we’re born with doesn’t necessarily dictate every decision we make in life nor should it inhibit us from any particular lifestyle.
Drag queens scream self-acceptance, singularity over a significant other, and strength in lifestyle choices. No longer is the woman’s role to be rescued, get married, be impregnated, and live happily ever after life. It’s about accepting oneself to enable the acceptance of others. Drag queens have a strong voice in exploring how hard it is to live the contradictions that society places on women. They just communicate that voice onstage, and in heels.
I love a good drag show. Not because of the glitter stilettos, massive eyelashes, or skimpy clothing but because it reveals how society unfairly puts women in a box. Yet while they point toward the unfair restrictions women face, they simultaneously adopt self-acceptance.
A drag queen’s performance isn’t meant to portray women. Instead their work illuminates how ridiculous and flawed society makes gender constructions. They teach a viable lesson about the presence of sexism in today’s culture and inadvertently prove that women (or men for that matter) don’t need to fit any archetype. It promotes a new image of men and women that challenges gender and encourages us to celebrate whichever identity we choose.