Dec 8, 2009

Queens, Knaves and other Cross Dressing cards.

Today’s post is addressed to all visitors of course, but is especially intended for the growing number of Voyages en Rose followers of the natural born woman variety.

When we of the CD/TG inclination explore our wants and investigate our desires, I think it is safe to say that our first big hurdle is self-acceptance. When we find out that we are not alone, well that is helpful. My one year of blogging and lurking around online has been therapeutic to the max. I am OK with me, and on the whole, greatly comforted by the smarts and sensitivity exhibited by my sorority mates. Or sisters. Hmmm. Never mind. Never was much with pro-nouns.

For me, (and I suspect I am not alone in this either), the next group of people whose acceptance we would seek are the important women in our lives. There are a whole host of reasons that this can be a difficult and dangerous bridge to cross. I won’t recapitulate the particulars here today, but I have to say that I have not tottered fully across that bridge. Yet.

I am preparing to though.

As I prepare for this ...( words fail me) event, I wanted to pay you a little tribute, by way of thanks for your happy, non-judgmental acceptance of me here. It helps me to “normalize” my cross dressing. Ladies, as individuals and as a special group, you have my respect. Respect is important. It is the core theme of this post.

Perhaps you have been exposed to gender bending in nightclub settings. Remember the be-wigged and bombshell breasted drag queen at the microphone, lip synching Half Breed or some other syrupy musical tribute to the mighty Cher? That was not me.

But for a straight guy, I have seen a fair amount of this class of cabaret over the years. At the peak of her game, the dedicated gender illusionist is something to be admired. For contemporary theatrical female impersonation, I would single out for positive notice, the statuesque RuPaul (pictured right, photo credit to Albert Sanchez). Respect for performance craft is displayed in RuPauls’ work, and to my thinking, a sincere respect for women too. Those traits are borne of self respect. Self respect is a precondition for anything of value. So, a tip of the Tiara to RuPaul and the select few (or perhaps countless) who approach their own transformations from that place of respect.

All too often though, Cinderella’s step-sister, the Drag Queen is more spectacle than spectacular. Knavish behavior is seen often under the spotlights. Something catty, something demeaning gets brought to the ball. Traits are exaggerated, the walk, the hands, the hips. Colors are unnatural, the hair, the cheeks, the lips. Body parts and prosthesis are poured in and pressed up, the boobs, the butt, and god help us, the bulge. Often there is skill in the craft, but not much evidence of respect for the fairer sex. It sometimes approaches and passes mean-ness. Mean people are not known for self respect and I suspect that this is a reason that this sort of show gets old for me awfully quickly.

Drag performance does have its uses though I suppose. The weaponized, inflated and slightly distorted parody of femininity is satire, and satire does make us think. The drag artist forces men and women both, (but mostly men) to challenge their own feelings about what is attractive, if only for a few gin soaked moments. This too is a healthy and periodically life changing challenge to orthodoxies. The performer of course has the experience, the microphone, the spot light and therefore all the power too, and often spends it mercilessly on defenseless amateurs in the audience. Again, a nice challenge to typical power structures.

Drag performance pre-dates Shakespeare and perhaps goes back in time through Classical Greek drama and, for all I can surmise, may have taken it's first pre-historic, hip-sprocketed baby steps after supper one night around the fire in front of the Caves of Altamira. I am not knocking the tradition. There is room in the world for a little over-the-top spectacle. The the women I know and love are able to stand a little lampooning, and able to enjoy a laugh at their own expense. Furthermore, if someone is able to make a living not swindling widows and orphans, well, who am I to complain?

The larger than life performing Gender Illusionist is designed and presented in such a way that they cannot be ignored. I, however do want to be ignored. I mean to say that when out, en femme, in the big wide world with my somewhat bigger hips on, I aim to blend in, to disappear, to not illicit undue attention. To, as much as possible, just be one of the girls. I suspect that too is the objective of regular visitors here who share my inclinations.

I remain as hopeless baffled in my attempts to understand what “real” women want at any time as I have since puberty. But I remain dedicated to figuring you out as well as a guy can. And so to you natural women, I say:

… I appreciate your acceptance. I hope to have your respect. On those occasions when I have the privelege to unearth, explore and present my undeniable feminine facets, I truly aim to respectfully represent the beauty that I see in you everywhere, and especially close to home, every day.

You have helped me see that I can cross the bridge in front of me. Thank you.


Nikki Fatale said...

Dearest Lady Petra,

I can’t help but throw a thought or two in on this post. This is an issue that pulls a strong cord in my circle.

First, I totally agree with your opinion of acceptance from women born whole. There is no greater compliment or more fulfilling feeling than being seen in a positive light by genetic girls. I have been blessed in that area. I hope you are as well.

It has been my pleasure to know several “Gender Illusionists" in various areas of the world that brought grace to our planet. These individuals were classy gals, bringing style & panache to their salute to womanhood. All of these ladies were great entertainers and I support that art wholeheartedly.

The problem as of late that I have seen in person and online is the infiltration of very unsavory characters into the Drag Queen community. My own recent experience (while out with my wife) is the subject of a two part post on my blog. I hope you get a chance to read it. After the unpleasant event, I began to research these individuals and what I found wasn’t good. The brilliant Lady Erin P gave me the assessment of the research she had done and classified these people as women haters, pointing out that the more negative attention they could project on the female gender, the happier they seemed to be. In my experience this is right on!

On the night I speak of, the attention these people were drawing was anything but flattering to anyone, least of all themselves. Ladies don’t act like that! The funny thing is I’ve seen these individuals radiate to transgender women and latch on like squids. This certainly doesn’t help our cause.

As for myself I think that womanhood that doesn’t come easily is much more appreciated! My wife says I’m a tuff girl but I always act like a LADY! It’s my privilege to represent femininity to the best of my ability.

Anyway, on a positive note I hope everything works out perfectly when you cross your bridge.



Treacle said...

These are really fantastic essays. Have you ever thought about publishing offline?

Petra Bellejambes said...

Nikki - we have had similar experiences it seems. And there is some supressed anger in the same performances. I will look for your post and see if I can rattle out a new thought or 2.

Treacle ... your comments are so incisive. Have you ever thought about being a publisher? :)

Seriously, I think about it all the time. Its not an impossibiilty, but its tough. Comments like yours are really encouraging. Thanks and again thanks...

Leah said...

Hi Petra! I almost missed this is a good read, so real and I guess, very accurate.

First: you have my respect. And you are right, respect will be gained if you have self-respect. And judging from the past posts that I've read, you have elevated the CD/TG spectrum into a higher level.
I see you as a very unpretentious person. But you've got class, no doubt about that.

Next: my posts are nothing compared to yours. You are one intelligent person, I can sense that.

And lastly, about the comfort factor, well I tend to gravitate to style in exchange for comfort with a lot of downsides like blistered feet and all.

Have a good day Petra! Hugs!

lynnd said...

Dear Petra,

Thank you for the kind tribute (natural born woman here). You are so right, respect is key for all people, as is self acceptance.

Not to worry about being baffled by what "real" women want, we often don't know ourselves, so how can anyone else know.

The gender illusionist is respected for her talents, as she can even stir up a bit of jealousy for looking so good. The over the top drag queen, in my humble opinion, can be respected for a sense of humor and courage to go way out on a limb. Women need to be able to laugh at themselves a little more. I am a child of the eighties, I had the unnaturally big hair, too much eyeliner, and G.. forgive the fashions I wore, lol!

Petra you have my respect and acceptance. I wish you well crossing that bridge in front of you. Sometimes they are wobbly so remember...when walking in high heels slow small steps are best.

Couture Carrie said...

Gorgeous post, darling Petra. Self-acceptance can be the toughest form of acceptance, indeed.
Love your commentary on drag...

I understand that you want to be one of the girls, but sometimes that means wanting to stand out. I know I get all gussied up to get attention on occasion... is that wrong?


Petra Bellejambes said...

More terrific stuff my dears.

Leah - Thanks. A little discomfort in the service of beauty is of course acceptable. Ooo though, blisters? Don't go that far please. A nice smile and lively eyes you can wear painlessly at any time.

Lynn - wonderful advice. And I mean this as a complete complement. Your high heels / small steps wisdom is so so good, and pure poetry. The next 1000 fortune cookies would ... well .. crumble. Good luck with all the exams.

Carrie - of course there is the desire to be desirable. There are lines that we all have to be careful of though, CD and GG alike. You have given me an idea for a post next week, bless your stylish heart...

Thanks again all...

Leah said...

Hi Petra! I won't mind you taking a snap or two or three... Hahaha! Anything for you my dear.

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