Gender Fluidity In Theatre

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Historically, the process of drag was not always considered a deviant activity. Within the realms of entertainment gender fluidity has been embraced because a woman 's presence in the theatre had been the exception rather than the rule. The theatre was grounded in religion, and having women on stage was not considered correct or modest. This belief, initiated by The Greeks and bolstered by the Christian insistence on female chastity, believed that allowing women to perform publicly would be too dangerous since their realm was the home. Therefore, having men portray women within the theatre neutralized this danger. However, this ban only remained in force until the seventeenth century because, during the Restoration period, there was a vogue…show more content…
This allowed male actors, drag queens, to flaunt femininity and embrace gender fluidity by performing a separate identity that they could put on and take off. However, this outlook of drag shifted from it being viewed as a performance to a deviant activity in the early 1970’s as a result of Esther Newton’s (1972) definitive ethnographic study.
This research was ground-breaking as it was the first major anthropological study and first book-length ethnographical study of a modern, urban homosexual community in the United States (Rubin 2002 p.46). This initial research on drag was framed by literature in the sociology of deviance dealing with sexuality (Rubin 2002 p. 47) and as a consequence, it laid the grounding framework for subsequent theorists to discuss drag as a deviant, stigmatizing, and pathological activity which was associated with the transgendered community (Baker 1994; Elkins and King 1966; Perkins 1996; Tewksbury 1993, 1994; Newton 1972; Benjamin 1966; Docter 1988; Hopkins 2004; Wise and Meyer 1980; Newton 1972). In
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In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, numerous theorists approached the drag community with a different framework: to understand drag culture and its motivations through a drag queen and kings eyes rather than through the eyes of dominant culture (Schacht 2002a p. 162). The overwhelming majority of writings explored drag by examining the gender and sexual representations that were conveyed in these performances, while other theorists analysed the way gender and sexuality shaped the personal and collective identities of drag kings and queens. (Butler 1990, 1993; Garber 1992). As a result, they were able to clarify that not all men who dress as women are drag queens or that all females who dress as males are drag kings. Other categories include: transvestites or cross-dressers, generally straight men or women who wear the opposite gender’s clothing for erotic reasons; preoperative male-to-female/female-to-male transsexuals; and transgendered people who display and embrace a gender identity at odds with their biological sex (Fleisher 1996; Brubach and O’Brien 1999; Meyerowitz 2002; Schacht 2002a; Taylor and Rupp 2004). They argue, in contrast to previous

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