Again I found myself wondering, why are these men so threatened by our bodies? What was so necessary about reserving the space for men, and exclusively for men with penises? The whole instance raises a distinction for me: the type of masculinity that vigorously and violently clings to bodies for substance—to cocks and flat chests, particular height range and fat distribution—requires the expulsion of femininity, and those bodies thus associated, in the name of integrity, as if what it means to be a man, or male identity itself, would crumble without such boundaries. This story of territorialism, replete with the trimmings of body fascism, speaks quite literally of the gender police. The effect is not only the expulsion of trannies, queers, and women, but also the degradation and invalidation of the gendered identities of all the exiles. Oh, Mr. Gay Bar, defender of gays the world over, model of post-feminism! But really, where is the line between transphobia and misogyny? Between misogyny and a fear of faggotry? Or female-bodied faggotry? Or trans faggotry? However I might like to say this sort of misogynistic gender invalidation is exclusive to mainstream gay male spaces, the trope of “gender authenticity”—or natural, inherent, and true gender—is also used to question, judge, and ultimately control bodies in queer spaces. In my experience, a drag king who identifies as femme or dresses girlie on the street every day is rarely granted the masculine authenticity of a drag king who identifies as butch or trans. This often translates into less respect for femme-y drag kings by other king performers who end up taking the “authentically” masculine performers the most seriously. How ironic for what is supposed to be a culture of performance! This hierarchy in king-dominated drag communities has incited the formation of groups such as the Femme Mafia Milwaukee and the Femme Affinity Group (FAG) in Portland, both social activist femme empowerment groups born partially out of the marginalizing experiences of femme-identified drag performers of an array of bodies and genders. Perhaps these groups’ most significant function is to assert femme identities as legitimately queer gender expressions. Within king-dominated drag scenes, this means working to spread a politic and promote a culture that doesn’t automatically privilege non-effeminate masculinities. To draw a few parallels, femme performers are shut out of masculine privilege in queer drag king communities much the same as trans male folk are shut out of gay male spaces, much the same as gay men are ostracized by dominant straight culture. In all cases, people are either accepted or rejected based on their ability to approximate various components of dominant masculinities and/or manliness.

Kristen Stoeckeler, Something Resembling Power, Why Are Faggots So Afraid Of Faggots?

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