I’m not a fan of Mary Cheney. We are both lesbian but I can’t think of much else we share in common.
One of the major short comings of identity politics is the questionable thinking that leads people to believe that sexuality, race, sex, or core gender identity means you share anything beyond that with other people who have that same trait.
But Mary Cheney raises a valid point even if she does so in questionably broad terms.
“Why is it socially acceptable — as a form of entertainment — for men to put on dresses, make up and high heels and act out every offensive stereotype of women (bitchy, catty, dumb, slutty, etc.) — but it is not socially acceptable — as a form of entertainment — for a white person to put on blackface and act out offensive stereotypes of African Americans?
Shouldn’t both be ok or neither? Why does society treat these two so differently?”
For example I find it offensive for non-trans male actors to portray trans-women yet at the same time I have far less trouble with non-trans female actors portraying trans-women. At the same time I think the roles should go to trans-women.
Not all Drag Acts are created equal. Some performers are actually transgender, some later come out as transgender. Many of the acts are celebrity impersonations, homages to various female stars. These too tend to be recreations of performances by those stars.
But then there are the patently offensive such as Shirley Q Liquor, whose act manages to include both drag and blackface. What about Tyler Perry’s often nasty portrayals of African American women?
For the record the person Mary Cheney found offensive was RuPaul.
On top of that there is little love lost between transgender/transsexual women and gay male drag queens. That goes double for RuPaul.
One has only to look at the controversy of recent years regarding the now forbidden word “trannie”, a word used for nearly half a century or so in the drag and trans communities.
For the record I personally believe that like Charlie Hebdo, drag performances can be and often are offensive affairs and the targets of their offensiveness are often women, the humor often misogynistic in the extreme.
People have the right to be offended, others have the right to laugh at both the performance and at those offended. In a world where people are free to think for themselves we are all free to be offended or laugh at nasty offensive humor. Better freedom than dictatorial rule by politically correct puritanical prudes.
Here is where the overly broad transgender umbrella comes into conflict with the social reality of gay male drag queen. We tend to hold the other groups in contempt. Drag queens don’t much like transgender/transsexual women and vis versa.
Remember this from the movie “Better Than Chocolate” that was popular some 20 years ago?
One of the great things about being post-transsexual is not having to participate in the Trans-wars that will surely erupt from Mary Cheney’s Facebook comments. I’d sure hate having to defend her right to say what she said because then I would have to sort through my own mixed feelings on drag and drag queens.
For the drag queen response:
Huffington Post: Mary Cheney, Here’s Why Drag and Blackface Are Different