Intersectionality: Drag and Politics
Like it or not, but drag is inherently political, always has been, and always will be. The art of drag has been ushered into the limelight thanks to Rupaul’s Drag Race, and this mainstreaming of queer underground culture is now highlighted for the whole world to see. However. It is important to know that there is much more to drag than just Rupaul’s Drag Race, and this distinction is essential to make because the latter is a reality show which shows parts and parcels of drag but doesn’t show it in its integrality. Drag is the art of subverting heteronormative ideas of gender and gender expression, and this is one of the ways in which it is political.
Drag and Femininity
Drag is the reclamation of femininity that is ascribed to people at birth and is also a way to deconstruct Eurocentric ideas and norms of beauty. Nowadays, drag isn’t and has never been only for cis gay men, and drag is for everyone. The purpose of drag is to criticize society in a satirical manner and show you the grotesque pain that people who identify as women have to go through to be seen as feminine and desirable.
Drag is a powerful political tool which means it can be misused, misconstrued, and misunderstood. But it is important to acknowledge that drag is so much more than just female impersonation and the appropriation of womanhood. The performance of drag blur the line of gender and gender identity and shows that gender is not a rigid spectrum and it can be played with. This allows people to discover their identity through the art of drag. Drag subverts the notion of patriarchy and heteronormativity under which people of all gender and sexual orientation are oppressed and help to the impossible and non-existent standard of what it means to be a “man” or a “woman.”
Drag and politics
Let’s go back to Rupaul’s Drag race for a second; during season 8, one of the more notable contestants, who later became the winner of the season, talks about how drag is political. Bob the Drag Queen (my favorite winner alongside Jinx Monsoon and Trixie Mattel) tells us, the audience, how she was arrested while protesting to legalize gay marriage in the States. Bob is also a stanch queer activist, a queen for the people, and was in Albany, the Capitol when the marriage equality bill was passed.
Bob the drag queen alongside her drag sister Monet X Change has a podcast, aptly named Sibling Rivalry, that you can listen to it anywhere you listen to podcasts, and they talk about everything. If you have to listen to one specific episode, it will have to be “The One About The State of America” in this specific episode, they talk about America, systemic racism and the Black Lives Matter movement. Trigger warning, they talk about some pretty intense topics and prepare your tissue because this episode will make you cry.
Bob the Drag Queen was arrested in drag for protesting in 2011, and she tells us the audience that we don’t have to get arrested to be political, something as simple as voting is a way for us to use our voice. Marsha “Pay It no Mind” Johnson was a queer activist, a trans woman of color, and also a drag queen and is said to be the person to have started the stonewall riot. This shows how queer culture and politics are deeply inseparable from the art form of drag.
The art of drag is a political statement is rooted in a history of reclamation and resistance of otherness. It is the use of one’s body, clothes, and makeup to show a message of resistance against what is considered the norm or normal and is a form of activism. Just like with the Black Lives Matter Movement, we say that we should put white bodies on the front line to protect black and brown bodies from police brutality, especially during protests. We should do the same with cis bodies to challenge what is considered as normal.
Sound off in the comments section below and tell us if you want to read more about queer politics. I’ll end this post with a quote from RuPaul herself, who is one of the most famous drag queens in the world:
“Drag is dangerous. Drag is not politically correct, I know people say, ‘Oh, you mainstreamed it,’ drag will never be mainstream….the deeper level of drag is all about you’re born naked, and the rest is a drag.”