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to talk me off the ledge regarding 'female impersonators'

109 replies

Morphene · 28/06/2017 18:55

before I give a friend on facebook both barrels?

Seriously can someone explain to me how being a 'female impersonator' is a career when it seems like being an 'ethnic minority impersonator' went out of fashion about a century ago? I also don't see any 'gay impersonators' or for that matter 'male impersonators' out there either.

Why is this a thing and how can I untwist my knickers before I lose a friend who continuously posts rupaul drag race BS all over facebook?

OP posts:

Crispyturtle · 28/06/2017 19:12

There are male impersonators, they're called drag kings.

I can't get upset about it myself I love Ru Paul's Drag Race but only you know if it offends you enough to take a stand and fall out with a friend over.


DoesAnyoneReadTheseThings · 28/06/2017 19:16

I agree with you Morphene.


Pemba · 28/06/2017 19:16

Genuine female impersonators don't bother me at all. Often they are good humoured and amusing and I don't see them as any threat to women,

Some of the more aggressive 'transactivists' do though.


Morphene · 28/06/2017 19:19

crispy can you explain the attraction at all? I saw a 5 min clip and it just seemed to be a gang of men arguing about who stole who's make up and yelling 'bitch' at each other as if this was a compliment?

OP posts:

Morphene · 28/06/2017 19:26

I totally support people wearing whatever they like while in possession of whatever genitals they happen to have. Not an issue at all.

I don't understand how making money out of performing an exaggerated version of the female stereotype while male is a thing, while performing an exaggerated version of the say, the black stereotype while white will get you fired from any job you are currently in.

OP posts:

CaoNiMartacus · 28/06/2017 19:32

I'm with you, Morph. It's akin to blacking up. But standing against it is unpopular. Why? Because it's women who get thrown under the bus with drag, and hardly anyone gives a flying fuck about women.


Crispyturtle · 28/06/2017 19:34

I like watching the transformations, I find it remarkable how much a person can change their appearance. There is a bit of arguing (there is in most reality tv) but there's also a lot of humour.


ExcuseMyEyebrows · 28/06/2017 19:37

I absolutely agree OP.


ChazsBrilliantAttitude · 28/06/2017 19:40

I agree. Drag is pure stereotyping.


IfYouGoDownToTheWoodsToday · 28/06/2017 19:44

Hear, Hear, It boils my piss.Angry


RandomDent · 28/06/2017 19:44

Drag is funny because women are funny, look at that man in a dress and massive breasts, that's funny because breasts are funny.

I think that's my issue.


KERALA1 · 28/06/2017 19:45

Totally agree. Remember feeling uncomfortable about watching the ugly sisters in a panto as a younger teen but not being able to put my finger on why and that everyone else seemed fine with it.

And bloodly Les Dawson as an old woman. Old women. Ha ha ha ha Hmm


TopangaD · 28/06/2017 19:47

I'm going to place a bet this will be on daily mail and the right stuff by Friday..


MrsDustyBusty · 28/06/2017 19:47

Women are funny. They have higher pitched voices than men! Oh my sides.


Lottapianos · 28/06/2017 19:54

The term 'female impersonator' is gross and I totally agree with your comparisons with 'black impersonator' etc - no one would tolerate it for a second and quite right

However, Ru Paul etc don't bother me because they look absolutely nothing like actual women. They dress and perform in a ludicrously exaggerated feminine style, miles away from how most women present, even make up and heels loving women. They make no effort to 'pass' as women, and the whole thing seems to be about being as fake and over the top as possible. I'm in awe of their costume and make up skills and ability to walk in heels but I don't find it offensive.

What I would find offensive is a person with a penis (also known as a man) telling people that he's really a woman because he loves heels and tight skirts and has a lady brain Hmm


Fauchelevent · 28/06/2017 20:00

I'm a regular on the feminist boards and I really appreciate drag. Drag race isn't for everyone - even some other drag queens l hate it and actually transactivists hate it too because they say it's appropriation, there were anti-trans slurs and Rupaul really doesn't give a fuck about catering and bending to the demands of transactivists. Really it's equal parts trash tv and equal parts pretty interesting.

In terms of drag itself, there are lots of drag queens who go about dressing up and making jokes about being "slutty" women, prostitutes and all these stereotypes which are misogynistic. But also there is a more complex side to it. Famously (as in from drag race) Sasha Velour, Nina Bonina Brown are not what you'd consider female impersonators. In London you've got queens like Virgin Xtravaganzah, Bourgeoisie and even Meth to some extent. It's also interesting to look at what's happening in Birmingham at the moment - their drag scene is becoming quite famous for it's unique and forward thinking styles and then of course there are women who do drag - not as men, but as drag artists who experiment with music, performance, make up, lip sync and all things traditionally associated with drag.

You can also look into historical aspects of drag - 90s club kids and the movie Paris is Burning gives an insight as well into the history not only of drag but much of current culture. I consider it a valuable watch for any one of my friends or people my age into pop music and pop culture, meme culture and all these current things.

As someone very into studying these cultures and LGB history (and T by extension), drag is fascinating and for me so much more than a man in a bad wig singing ABBA and insulting women. There is a lot of really fucking awful misogyny in drag - the word fish for one. That's because there are misogynistic men, and gay men are by no stretch exempt from this. But there is also a lot of really really good stuff.


ClearEyesFullHearts · 28/06/2017 20:17

One thing that occurs to me is that blackface, for example, didn't originate from a minority group trying to express itself. It was white people who didn't want to put black people on a starring role, so did it themselves rather than hire black entertainers and paying them.

Female impersonators, on the other hand, have grown from a culture of gay men who wanted to show their "feminine" side. For me it's a highly exaggerated femininity, and couldn't be mistaken for real female. It's drag.

Compare it to Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, Diana Dors. To me, they were also, on many roles and in their public personae, female impersonators (who happened to be female).

I don't confuse drag with trans-activism. They're quite different, though, yes, misogyny is present in both.


MrsDustyBusty · 28/06/2017 20:25

Misogyny present in a format of entertainment where "fishy" is a compliment? For reals?


WombOfOnesOwn · 28/06/2017 20:30

If it's all in such good fun, why is it that women would be regarded as shallow, vain, and silly for indulging in a similar amount of sequins and lace and exaggerated nails and wigs?

Show me one woman who gets praise for the kind of overdone makeup and hair done on a drag queen. Just one. Show me one woman who wouldn't be relentlessly torn down for doing the same thing, or acting in the same exaggerated "catty" way. Show me all the people saying women who wear wigs and thick makeup and call other women "bitches" are "fierce" revolutionaries.


Notmyrealname85 · 28/06/2017 20:45

Welllll I'm biased... but I do love answering questions on drag :)

Firstly - if this is regional drag, then yeah it's probably pretty poor. A bit like how Jim Davidson touring the smaller venues. You're really not going to get the good performers! They probably do rely on crass speech and probably look a bit shabby. That's just my experience of small time queens :(

But not so the good performers!! Instead it's electrifying and they're just beautiful - like putting together the most "feminine" or punk theme, or whatever. And they're competitive and fight to be original. You end up with incredible queens like Violet Chachki.

Now is that offensive to me? Yes if they're crass (ugh), just for providing no entertainment. I don't want to go to their shows and I don't! As I wouldn't Jim Davidson. So am I offended if someone like Violet Chachki can look more feminine than me? No!

Why? Firstly if they appropriate "feminine" stuff... I'm not that territorial on it. I'm not traditionally "feminine" and don't know why lots of societal "feminine" stuff needs to be associated with us women. Like...we spent generations fighting being told to be beautiful and be these angels - I'm happy not to have to don a dress and heels! If anyone else (m or f) wants to do it, I don't give a rat's ass.

Then... as another poster has said, this culture didn't come from a place of maligning women. Go back to Georgian times to see some of where it actually started. These guys literally didn't have safe spaces to express themselves - they couldn't be the very butch and unemotional men society wanted them to be, they couldn't pass as manly men, so they went with the other option. They weren't trying to oppress women or make us redundant in society...these were just the options open to them.

And even now queens aren't doing drag to oppress women. They just want to wear something beautiful - some of the newer queens don't do "feminine" drag anymore, some are circus-y or punk-y or whatever. It's all about the show - who can be the best showman!

There are sooooo many truly amazing queens out there. Please please don't think the rubbish queens represent them all! They're truly a minority


ClearEyesFullHearts · 28/06/2017 20:47

Show me one woman who gets praise for the kind of overdone makeup and hair done on a drag queen.

Joan Collins (especially as Alexis)?

Marilyn Monroe (again), who won praise from straight males, females, and is a gay icon.

Etc... (gotta go watch House of Cards now, with Claire Underwood about to take over the world...)


Notmyrealname85 · 28/06/2017 20:47

womb the "bitches" thing is tongue in cheek - cattiness is a sign of comraderie. It's done to take the piss, these aren't actual insults.

And yes women would be torn to shreds for being like this!! By horrid people - and we should ignore them!! I'm not having the funner aspects of my life being dictated by some old bloke! :)


Notmyrealname85 · 28/06/2017 20:50

MrsDusty I get where you're coming from. "Men mocking women?!" ... but these are gay guys, performing to gay guys... and usually not "apeing women", they just want to look beautiful and glamorous - which is traditionally something men have tried to make us do (yawn!)

I'm happy not to have to be glamorous - happy for them to do it! We shouldn't associate attributes like that with women any more than we do "gentleness" and "meekness". Ugh!

But again... I do get that regional performers can come across as crass and boring


shinynewusername · 28/06/2017 20:56

I agree with Fauchelevent

I completely get why many feminists equate drag with black-face and, in its nastier forms, that's a good analogy.

But I also think there is a much more benign version, which is men dressing up as women to give themselves permission to escape male gender stereotypes. This version is more like cos-play, where the costume gives you the freedom to move outside your normal social boundaries. It's not about parodying or demeaning women and it can be celebratory.


MrsTerryPratchett · 28/06/2017 21:02

Why isn't it 'cultural appropriation'?

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