The Body in Society- Identity, Cross Gender, Gender Performativity

The first piece of text we read as a class ‘Identity’ explained how identity was hard to define due to the fact that there isn’t  a ‘single over arching definition of what it is. But tends to be known as a combination of ‘sameness’ and ‘differences’ (how our similarities and differences with each other makes us ‘identical’ with ourselves).

It is then further discussed how difficult it is to define people into these identity categories. For example you may identify someone as a woman, but they may not chose to be identified in that way, they may chose to be identified as a man. And within that identity category of a women there are may more categories such as white, black, Christian, Muslim, atheist. Although binaries help simplify this, for example you must identify as; man/woman, black/white.

The next text we discussed fitted in well with the topic discussion, it was ‘Cross gender/ Cross gender’ by Mike Kelley. Out of the whole text read, the abstract below is what stood out for me the most.

‘As in the Cockettes, the Mothers’s version of drag was an incomplete version. But there are differences. The Cockettes, despite the ridiculous nature of their image, have a playful and positive quality that is absent in the Mothers. The Mothers’s use of drag has more in common with the traditional comedic adoption of female garb by the male, and in that sense it is an abject usage. In Western culture, men who dress in female clothes are considered funny, while the opposite is generally not the case. A woman dressed in male clothes has little comedic value. The sexism at the root of this difference is obvious, for why else should the adoption of feminine characteristics by a man be abject’

I found it interesting how the idea of being incomplete in terms of your gender category could be seen as humorous, and the suffering that Trans-gender people must go through, throughout their transition period. Yet Kelley brought up the fact that it is less humorous for a girl to be thought of and dressed like a boy and then explained how this is due to misogyny, as to be female is to be seen as less worth, where as to be male is not to be a joke. I would consider using this idea for my final end of year essay.



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