A couple of years ago, my sister Kelly sent me what I thought was a terrific scholarly essay on drag and its analogy to blackface. Now, via Elayne Riggs, I learn that a part of that essay has finally found its way into print, in In These Times.
Women who dress as men are dressing up, seeking power or privilege. Onstage they’re often seeking leading roles (Dame Edith Evans as Hamlet); on the street they’re seeking immunity from the routine insults with which women dressed as women daily cope.
Men dressing as women are dressing down. Masters making fun of slaves, or at most making fun of themselves, do not equal slaves poking fun at masters. Humor is what masters get in addition to power, and what slaves get instead of it.