Drag as blackface

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.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

One thought on “Drag as blackface”

  1. Celebrating Women – 27 March 2004

    Mark Kleiman has, in the comment section and his blog, confirmed that Kelly is his sister, and suggested I reread her essay, which I now have and, you know, she really does answer all the "but what about…?" questions I had. Worth a second glance, a…

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