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Drag: Sexist Stereotypes or a Respectful Homage to Womanhood?

The reality television show, Rupaul’s Drag Race, has unquestionably brought the art of drag into mainstream culture. The show has particularly been praised for its inclusion of gay and transgender voices, yet feminists seem to disagree about what the popularisation of drag means for women. Do Rupaul and the drag queens on his show represent femininity and womanhood in a positive light, or encourage feminine stereotypes and rigid beauty standards? By dressing up "as women", are the queens showing an appreciation of femininity and reclaiming stereotypes of gay men? Or are they simply reinforcing harmful ideas about how women should look and behave? Would love to read people’s views on this topic!

  • A discussion of Trans rights (Rupaul has come under fire from the Trans community many a time) as well as the ambiguity and contestation of gender/"womanhood" as such would be prudent to explore here, too. – ees 3 years ago
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  • I have binge watch Rupaul's show all week and although it is highly entertaining I have also been trouble by some of the dated definitions of gender on the show. I like the fact that clearly biological males are referred to repeatedly as women/girls because it does disturb our visual concepts of what is defined as 'womanhood'. But I am often troubled with the fact that 'womanhood' is then further described as pink, 'glittery', feminine, etc. etc... also, the beauty standards are definitely set at glamour and that further isolates not just the expectation of women but also men. – imaenad 3 years ago
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  • These queens are encouraging feminism an womanhood. Their goal is to look and act like confident women. RuPaul refers to the anatomically correct males and women, girls and queens. By doing this he is throwing out the typical genre roles and treating these people the way they fee and want to be treated. Feminism is making women equal to men and if these men feel like women then they should be treated equally. They encourage men who feel like queens to stand up and own themselves, they encourage women be true to their femininity while breaking the classic view of women having to be proper, pink and perfect. RuPaul's show portrays real life and real people. Nothing harmful towards women come from that show. – princessmia 3 years ago
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  • I am a fan of the show too and agree that it is positive in many ways. It definitely encourages tolerance which is fantastic. I also agree that lots of the queens subvert feminine stereotypes by being crude and “unladylike” and I think that this should be included in the discussion. But if I were to give an example of something harmful towards women which has come from the show, I would direct you to the championing of Violet Chachki’s thinness in season 7. She even did a runway where she happily joked about being dangerously thin by wearing a fake life support machine and an extremely tight corset. I definitely think this is harmful to women’s body image, and insensitive to eating disorder survivors (who are mostly women). – Indigo 3 years ago
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  • It would be interesting to explore the problematic nature of Rupaul's comments at various times throughout the running of Rupaul's Drag Race. It seems that every once in a while, Rupaul says something terrible about trans people, or her comments seem to imply a disrespect for trans individuals. So incorporation of that into something like this topic would be interesting! – nathanl 3 years ago
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