Skip to comments.Barf alert: Santa Clara University hosts 'drag show'... and justifies it as educational!
Posted on 07/07/2005 1:27:50 PM PDT by nonsumdignus
How is a Drag Show Educational?
There are several important reasons why a drag show is not only entertaining, but of significant educational value.
Increase Involvement & Awareness
Primarily, the Drag Show/Lip Sync is an event that serves to advertise events of Queer Awareness Week on the Santa Clara campus, which include a panel discussion, an ally workshop, and a day of silence. Because the event is widely popular and a lot of fun for everyone, it can reach a larger university audience--an audience that might not ordinarily attend a workshop or discussion on homophobia.
People come to the drag show to be entertained. One of the biggest complaints at Santa Clara University is a lack of on-campus social events--probably a leading cause of the dangerously high levels of underage and binge drinking. Our goal is that students are safely entertained, leaving with not only a smile on their face, but also with a broader understanding of gender diversity.
A Celebration of History
In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, the police raided the Stonewall Inn, a private club in Greenwich Village with a predominantly gay clientele. The charge was illegal sale of alcohol; however, it was the second time that week the bar had been targeted by the police along with other gay bars. Police officers lined nearly 200 patrons to check identification. Most were free to leave, but the staff, as well as drag queens, male-to-female transsexuals, and "butch" lesbians were detained--those who were easiest to identify and unjustly discriminate against. A street rebellion that followed, known as the Stonewall riots, was largely led by sequined drag queens and "butch" lesbians. Thus, the drag performance is a tribute to the history of standing up against the discrimination people experience when they do not conform to dominant culture.
A Celebration of Diversity
Rampant homophobia on the Santa Clara campus lock all students into rigid gender-based roles that inhibit creativity, self-expression, and the development of an authentic self identity. The drag show exemplifies how we can be respectful of difference and enlivened by the dialogue that is generated by the event.
The Drag Show works against the homophobic conditioning that compromises the integrity of heterosexual people by pressuring them to treat others badly, actions contrary to their basic humanity. The event also seeks to appreciate gender diversity, increasing everyone's safety because each person has unique traits not considered mainstream.
Santa Clara University's need for this event is highlighted by the recent slaying of a 17 year-old transgender teenager only 25 miles away when three men learned she was born a male, but identified as, and dressed as a female. It is essential that this diversity is allowed to be celebrated and discussed--especially when we witness how homophobia can elicit a devastating homophobic response at the mere revelation that someone is transgendered. Students who represent campus diversity are made to feel unsafe when someone with experiences or traits that are not in the mainstream are targets of discrimination--we all have diverse attributes.
A Critique of Gender Binarism
The Drag Show utilizes art and entertainment to explore gender roles and gender constructions. Transgressing gender codes, such as cross-dressing, flares cultural anxieties. Why? We must be critically aware of these responses and recognize their roots in sexism and heterosexism.
Cross-dressing for women has been seen as a way of claiming power in a society that limits the social mobility of women. Today, women "cross-dress" every day by wearing pants, suits, ties, and other traditionally male clothing. We must ask ourselves why it has become far more acceptable for women to cross-dress than it has for men (1). A plausible explanation is that in a patriarchal society, the normalcy (and perceived superiority) of masculinity has reluctantly allowed women to break free of nonfunctional "feminine" clothing designed for the domestic sphere and wear "masculine" clothing out of pure economic necessity. Social anxiety now focuses its energy not on the performance of women dressing as men, but rather what it might signify, i.e. lesbianism. For men, dressing as a woman is still perceived as a performance because in a masculine dominated society, dressing "as a female" is not seen as serving a culturally useful purpose.
Cross-dressing is often explained as the desire to be that of the opposite sex. This interpretation, however, enforces our gender binarism-the idea that everyone is, or wants to be, either a man or a woman-it also, therefore, confirms the innateness of heterosexuality (2). Perceptions of sexuality are linked to gender expectations. Indeed, gay men and lesbians are often chastised not for being gay, but rather for not being "masculine" enough, or "feminine" enough. Thus, cross-dressing as an act is a cultural critique of these gender constructions and their impacts.
AIDS Walk Fundraiser
The free event is also used as a donation-based fundraiser for the San Jose Aids Walk.
Ultimately, not only is the show in line with the University's support of its students and community diversity, but it represents the University's uncompromising standard of academic excellence and unwavering commitment to academic freedom, freedom of inquiry, and freedom of expression in the search for truth (Statement of Purpose, Par. 2). In the end, the event seeks to improve the Santa Clara campus and the world in which its students will participate.
by C. Morris
1. Silberman, Seth Clark. "Cross-dressing" from The Gay and Lesbian Literary Heritage.
Well, it IS California, after all.
I've been to a couple of drag shows, and I can't imagine them helping anyone overcome their "homophobia". Anyone who has qualms about homosexuality should avoid a drag show like the plague.
Jesuits gone Wild!