You've heard of the F word - that incredibly diverse word used to show a range of emotions from pure excitement to pure hatred. But you may not have heard of the other F word: feminist (collective gasps heard throughout the South). The difference, you ask? I'm not afraid to say feminist on a family-friendly blog. Yet, so many people hear that word and their automatic response is to mock, belittle, and question. Whether it's out of fear or anger, it often baffles me how emotional people can grow just from hearing that word.
I'm not naive as to why, of course. I understand that equality for all doesn't benefit some people. I also get that it doesn't seem fair when someone believes they are superior to you. Yet, I have to laugh because the feelings that cause so much hatred also help validate exactly why we still need feminism. No logical person would argue that historically, men and women have not been treated equally. We see this in women's lack of rights: voting, owning property, reading, writing. Yet, when we are faced with inequality on a day to day basis, we suddenly become blind, especially if we currently have the upper hand. It is easy to ignore inequality when you are coming from a place of privilege.
Yet there it is - plain as day! The truth is that many men and women that view themselves as feminists want equality for both genders. A power imbalance hurts the powerful just as much as it hurts the weak. We see this in the way young boys are taught to suppress emotion. We see this when middle school boys realize that the biggest insult they can give another male is to call him a bitch or a whore (names that historically refer to women). We see this when the majority of violent crimes are committed by males. Feminism helps boys as much as it does girls.
I went to a Drag Bingo event this past Saturday. It was Broadway themed which made me giggle like a school girl and even though I didn't win bingo, it did get me thinking. I love Drag. Sure, the costumes, make up, and theatrics make my heart swoon... but I also love Drag. for what it means to me as a feminist.
In general, men, and some women, have been systematically taught that women and feminine traits. are inferior. We see this when homosexual men with "feminine qualities" such as a higher pitched voice are mocked and ridiculed. Yet drag turns that up on its head. Drag embraces what makes a person feminine. Drag goes to the extreme to show the world that being a woman is something to be proud of. It helps us begin to question the negative labels we place on people.
If you've never gone to a drag show, I encourage you to go with an open mind. Don't go to mock the men in dresses. That's not what drag is all about. Go, observe, and experience how accepting and embracing the drag community is of difference. Appreciate the art of drag, the talent it takes to entertain so many people. I hope that experiencing this world will help more people realize how important it is that we continue to work to break these gender labels and expectations we continue to live by.
I think the most important thing I've learned from my analysis of my drag experiences is that drag needs feminism and feminism needs drag.
Drag Bingo was brought to you by the Alliance of AIDS Services - Carolinas, an alliance created to serve community through compassionate, nonjudgmental support, education, and care for the prevention of HIV/AIDS/STI.
Visit their website to see how you can get involved: https://www.aas-c.org