Black Women and Drag Queens

This week we focused on perception and in one of my other WGST classes we spoke about perception as well so I thought this would make for a great blog post.  The perception of black women in terms of drag queens; I’ve noticed that black women cannot stand drag queens they do not want to associate with them or be around them. It has become more evident in recent times with the premiering of RuPauls drag race. I never understood why until I read the article “Is Paris Burning “-bell hooks.  In the article she states that black women are not too keen on black drag queens because they feel that the black drag queens aid in the stereotyping and discrimination of black women. The glamorous beings in all their makeup and over exaggerated hair and costumes “give women a bad reputation.”  Usually the black men depict black women as the object of ridicule and scorn. In popular culture Eddie Murphy as Raspushia, or Jamie Foxx as Wanda, even Tyler Perry as Madea. These images meant to be funny are disempowering to the black woman. In a world where black woman are the objects of abuse and ridicule black man aid in the reinforcement of everyone’s power over black women.  I also came across an article concerning black women and Drag Race show.  In October before the show premiered Loretta Devine was recruited to be on the show as a guest judge and she accepted well this caused a big frenzy because many prominent figures in the black church were outraged at her supporting the “gay lifestyle” and this type of behavior.

My thoughts used to be well let them be, allow those drag queens to do what they do best. I believed that what they did was an art and still do to some sense. I was once a huge fan of the Madea movies until I seen the more complex meaning behind them. Understandably Tyler’s inspiration comes from his grandmother but the media has screwed the meaning and understanding behind the movies. They all have a special and important message behind them but I hate the way the women are portrayed in the movies. For example Angela in Why did I get married; a smart woman who has a degree in college and started her own product line and owns her own salon. Well you would think that positive and shows a powerful woman. Wrong! Because on the other hand you have Angela the insane woman always insecure about her man arguing with his baby mama and acting all ghetto, she is also a heavy drinker. Then you have Dianne who is so career crazed she neglects her family. Last but not least there is Trina the typical whore who is willing to sleep with any man that has money and doesn’t think twice about stealing a man from his wife.  This is just one movie if you actually took the time to watch a movie or a play and look at the deeper meaning it might change your mind about his films. I am far from a Tyler Perry Hater. I just want the public to take notice to these stereotypes portrayed in films. I admit his films have always been funny and I will occasionally pop one of the stage plays in and laugh but not as hard and I take notice to what is really going on in the media.

More Reading

“Reel to Real: Race, Sex, and Class at the Movies”-bell hooks

“Drag Queens and Drag Kings: The Difference Gender Makes”– Leila J Rupp

“Gender Trouble“- Judith Butler

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Tyra Sanchez

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Sheneneh

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Rupaul Charles

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Wanda

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Raspushia

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Mabel "Madea" Simmons

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Bebe Zahara Benet

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About nyeshamarie

A junior in the Biology/Pre-Med Department. I am not the usual. I like to think of myself as eccentric. I live life out of the box and I certainly think out of the box. Enjoy -Nyesha

Posted on March 6, 2012, in BP #5. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I agree with you in your opinion of drag queens. Your blog was very interesting to me. In the popular culture Tyler Perry has taken the Drag Queen to a new level along with Jamie Foxx. Even though I have been following Tyler Perry and his career with Madea I really did not look at that character as a drag queen, just a man playing a womans role. Even though he is portraying a woman for some reason it does not appear to be offensive . I think people get in an uproar if you hear the word “drag queen” and automatically try to find something wrong with that person. In my opinion let each person live the life that make them the happiest.

  2. I completely agree with you and your opinion on drag queens. Before reading your post I had never really thought about this topic much. The films that these drag queens star in are all very funny and most often times they do have an overall positive message, especially the madea movies. While the movies are funny they are also very sterotypical. Most of them women portrayed by the drag queens are all the negative sterreotypes we discuss in our reading. Most of these women are over weight, loud, and very dramatic. There is nothing wrong with being a drag queen but some of the stereotypical things they do should be taken into consideration.

  3. I have no problem at all with drag queens, but I am personally a Tyler Perry hater. I agree with what you have to say about the women in his movies being portrayed as almost cartoons of black women, and he is the biggest cartoon of all, Big Momma. I think that drag queens in movies are negative because a. they never put actual drag queens in movies(with some exceptions, including Rupaul), just men ‘passing’ as women and b. they are stereotypical and negative portrayals of women that simultaneously degrade the women they portray and the man within.

    After Dave Chappelle’s ended his show, he went on Oprah to somewhat explain his actions. A part of the interview that stuck out was him talking about him working on a movie and the writer and director insisting he wear a dress for a scene. He was offended and refused because he said it wasn’t even important for the scene, he states everyone was insistent. I believe this is very telling, and it makes me wonder how many of those actors are truly proud of their portrayal of black women.

  4. *side bar* I was cracking up at the “Tyler Perry Hater” comment!

    *back to the post* I completely agree with you about your analysis on popular cultures and their portrayal of black women. (I didn’t get to read the articles regarding drag queens, so I’m a little indifferent on that) I feel that many of the negative stereotypes are constantly re-inforced in the media and not only by the dominant culture, but by African Americans as well. It makes it challenging for black women to overcome these stereotypes as simple behaviors can get exploited!

    Good blog!

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