Drag isn't a gateway drug to the dark side of college
Published: Thursday, January 10, 2013
Updated: Thursday, January 10, 2013 01:01
Dr. Jennifer Morse, a spokesperson for the Ruth Institute, a project of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), posted a video on YouTube over the Thanksgiving holiday a few months ago. In the video, Morse warned parents about the dangers of college, saying “the other side has RAs in the dorm where your young people are going to school.” The video was prompted by an anecdote from a student who spoke with Morse about an RA who had asked the student to participate in a dorm-wide drag party.
Morse makes the assumption that an RA organizing a drag party must, ipso facto, be gay — which is an outdated stereotype — as well as the assumption the RA was attempting to lead the student down the dark path of homosexuality by asking the student to participate in the event.
In response to the no longer popularly-held stereotype of drag queens and drag kings being gay, lesbian or queer, it is not difficult to find a heteronormative romantic comedy, whether it is set on a college campus, that has the lead dressing in drag — think Van Wilder or Sorority Boys. And we’ll just ignore the whole Monty Python ouvre entirely, even though I haven’t met a single person in my life who doesn’t find it funny. Then again, I haven’t met Morse.
“It [discrimination] plays on people’s fear of the unknown and that everlasting obsession with superiority,” Tyler Curry wrote in The Advocate in his Jan. 7 column “Are You Affected by the Discrimination Virus?”
Morse’ video on YouTube, as well as similar videos and other anti-LGBTQ propaganda, play on the fear of the unknown — the “other” — and the need to feel superior to others to promote the anti-LGBTQ cause, rather than relying on rational facts or logical reasoning. This is done because there are no rational facts or logical reasons why the LGBTQ community would be trying to “convert” heterosexuals to the dark side, unless the dark side is the acceptance and celebration of other peoples’ differences.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines discrimination as a “prejudiced or prejudicial outlook, action or treatment.” In Morse’s Thanksgiving video, she is not only discriminating against the LGBTQ community, but against the heterosexual men and women who dress in drag.
“Clothing typical of one sex worn by a person of the opposite sex” is one of the definitions Merriam-Webster assigns to the term: drag. Nowhere in the definition does the dictionary mention the sexual orientation of the wearer.
“No correlation can be drawn, for instance, between drag or transgender and sexual practice,” writes Judith Butler in her 1990 book “Gender Trouble.” Butler continues by informing the reader that “the distribution of hetero-, bi-, and homo-inclinations cannot be predictably mapped onto the travels of gender bending or changing.” Butler’s book was published by Psychology Press 12 years before Morse posted her YouTube video: I know who I think appears more legitimate, don’t you? Then again, on the other hand, everything the Internet says is true — the TV told me so.
It’s a tricky conundrum, figuring out what online information is trustworthy these days, in the age of social media and misinformation and all the sketchy sources proliferating on the Internet. Yes, Wikipedia, I’m talking about you. Wave to the nice people. We have all the information we could ever want right at our fingertips, and only our intuition to tell us, sometimes, whether it is right, wrong or an outdated April Fool’s prank.
Sometimes we need to trust our gut, while other times we need to use logic.
When it comes down to deciding to trust Butler or to trust Morse, my gut and my logic agree — Butler’s book has been cited 21,863 times, according to Google Scholar, while Morse has disabled comments on her YouTube video and has been lampooned by what seems like, considering the blogs, zines and online newspapers I read, pretty much the entire Internet.
Morse hasn’t caught on yet to something our generation is beginning to embrace. Curry summed it up succinctly in his column on discrimination: “Ignorance is unacceptable and acceptance is everything.”
Irene Drage is a senior in English. The opinions expressed in her columns do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Barometer staff. Drage can be reached at email@example.com.