- Scarf – Echo
- Sweater – J Crew
- Denim Pencil Skirt- BR Outlet
- Belt – New York & Co
- Boots- Banana Republic, via ebay
As promised I want to talk a little bit about drag. I have done quite a bit of thinking about drag because in my studies I continually wrestle with Judith Butler and because I am writing my dissertation on a male artist who often poses as a woman in his photographs. I also love a good drag show for entertainment and believe that drag has significant political potential. This political and radical potential was confirmed for me this past weekend – I saw some amazing activist performers.
I also heard an interesting suggestion about daily drag. I have long believed that to some degree we often all dress in drag – this is because I believe that gender is a construction and that clothing works to construct and perpetuate gender identity. However my thoughts on this were pushed further by a speaker at the conference who argued that we have two options when getting dressed: we either dress in drag or in a uniform. If we don’t think about the message our clothing is sending that we are wearing a uniform, if we are conscious of it then it’s drag. According to her definition, drag is a conscious dressing that sends a message about gender identity and makes people laugh, cry, or think. If we take this definition then S. E. and I are dressing in drag everyday (at least everyday we post here) since we are certainly very conscious of what we are wearing and the messages it might convey. I’m still working though these ideas but what do you think about this uniform vs. drag thing?
Ok, so why do I find this a powerful idea? Sal asked yesterday if anyone made any comments or asked any questions about my attire.
I was very comfortable and confident in my appearance and I felt totally accepted (I think this feeling had a lot to do with my own confidence) but I did have a few students ask me questions about how I dressed. One student asked if I felt like I “passed,” if people assumed I was straight because of how I dressed. I think our default is usually that someone is straight so while perhaps my clothing could reveal my sexuality, I would still “pass” on the phone, on paper, etc. I explained to my students that I am confident in my clothing and that helps me feel confident about my identity, my relationship, and my scholarship.
I think the idea of dressing in drag appeals to me because I am aware that my clothing is a choice and that it sends a message and I like that my daily performance challenges people’s notions about what it means to be a lesbian and what it means to be feminine. Our words and actions have to work in conjunction with our clothing and when you take my whole package into account there are some great seeming contradictions at work: I love pencil skirts and I am a lesbian, I wear heals and run marathons, I like pink and hot sauce and dark beer, I wear ruffly dresses and work boots and gloves. I agree with most of you who said you pick what you wear based on the situation (pencil skirts for teaching, jeans for the bar, trendier items for campus, conservative wear for an interview, etc) but I have found that my overall sense of style doesn’t change as much as it once did (in an attempt to fit in with different groups of people). Yet, it is empowering to remember that if it is all drag, a dramatic costume change is always an option!