Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Kings of Drag
We have become well aware through the increasing presence of drag in our social media, of it's potential for commentary, humor, and satire. But it's not just the boys who get to play in this particular sandbox. The tradition in theater and literature of women in men's costume is an ancient one. We have maintained a long understanding of women wearing male attire. In literature it is often in order to escape some difficulty, or to evade discovery while doing something that would be otherwise unacceptable for women. The same is true for theater, though in opera it is sometimes the case that a role requires a particular type of voice that is much more likely to be a woman's than a man's, so a "trouser role" is not always meant as a particular comment, merely the best way to get to the right sound qualities. So we accept "trouser roles" as a normative, even though we would not accept, till recently, a man dressed in women's clothing, in theater or literature as anything other than comedic, or pathetic. Mercifully these attitudes are beginning to change.