- Men dressed as women discuss feminism (Photo: TBD Staff)
Last night, District men gathered on 17th Street in elaborate feminine costumes—Cruella de Vil with Dalmatian puppy; Virgin Mary in thong jean shorts; Jersey Shore's JWOWW—then raced three blocks in teetering high-heels.
You would think that these men would be natural feminists. They are intimately aware of the performance of femininity; their gimmick is based upon societal discomfort with gender nonconformity; they are forced to perform absurd tasks in ridiculous footwear.
But according to interviews conducted with dozens of participants of the Dupont High Heel Race yesterday evening, an alarming number of men who dress in women's clothing do not have an accompanying interest in women's rights.
Many drag racers I interviewed were simply unfamiliar with the term "feminist". "I'm not sure what that is," one middle-aged man dressed in a high school cheerleader uniform told me. When asked if he identifies as a feminist, a man wearing a dress made from bloody tampons replied that he does not. "I've never been asked that question," he explained. Another participant eschewed labels in his drag performance: "Dressing up and having a good time doesn't mean you have to carry around a title," he told me.
Creative definitions of "feminism" abounded. One drag queen told me he was not a feminist "because I think boys and girls should have equal rights." Meanwhile, a man dressed as Jersey Shore's JWOWW says he identifies as a feminist because "I want us all to be whores." Cruela de Vil considers himself a feminist because "I carry power tools and drive a Subaru." "Absolutely," one man replied. "I don't shave my legs."
Shi-Queeta-Lee, one of the District's best-known drag queens, is not a feminist. "No," Lee told me. "I just do this part time from week to week."
Many men dressed as women, though, enthusiastically declared their feminism. "I love women and I think women's rights should be equal to men's in all aspects of life," one man in a black minidress and blond bob said. Another explained that dressing as a woman helps him "understand what a real pain in the ass it is."
But others used their fleeting femininity as an excuse to skirt the issue. A trio of men dressed in long evening gowns to promote DeKuyper brands of liquor are not feminists, they said. "This is my first time wearing a dress," Miss Sour Apply Pucker told me. "So, no."
And for some, just appearing in public dressed as an extreme caricature of a woman constituted a political act. "I'm a Barbie," one man explained. "Isn't that enough?"