Avant-garde

In the article The She-man: Postmodern Bi-sexed Performance in Film and Video, Chris Straayer defines what she considers to be “the She-man.” She writes, “the She-man is glaringly bi-sexed rather than obscurely androgynous or merely bisexual. Rather than undergoing a downward gender mobility, he has enlarged himself with feminine gender and feminine sexuality” (263). In other words, “the She-man” in Straayer’s terminology is a post-modern performatvie figure, predominantly seen in music video or concert performance, which is a male performer who capitalizes on femininity to elevate their sexuality, while also making apparent their masculinity. Straayer uses the lead singer of Dead or Alive in the music video “Save You All My Kisses” as an axample. Straayer explains, “the lead (male) singer appears extremely androgynousbut emanates a distinctly feiminine sexual energy. This sexuality is both emphasized and kept separate by a silver codpiece prominently shown during a vertical track up his/her body. Also signaling maleness is is Adam’s apple” (276). Clearly, the She-man is more than just a drag figure, as feminine sexual energy is created or obtained by more than just putting on a dress. It is difficult to generate a list of examples that fit this rather distinct definition. I think where Straayer’s argument becomes most interesting is whether a “He-woman” is at all possible. Straayer believes that there are a few possible figures similar to a “He-woman” such as a “She-butch,” but these figure are yet to exist, at least at the time this article was written (Summer 1990). One such figure is what Straayer calls the “the nouveau lesbian butch” which is, “the contemporary lesbian who self-consciously deconstructs/constructs the male body via transgressive sexual prosthesis and practices” (280). Again, this is a hard descriptions to find examples for, but I beleive the closest a “performer” has come to achieving the “nouveau lesbian butch” would be Lady Gaga in 2011 at the VMA’s, an award show in which Gaga came as her alter-ego “Joe Calderone. To open the show, Gaga enters in a simple black suit and white t-shirt, her short, greasy black hair is swept back like a 50’s male pop icon. Gaga exudes a masculine sexual energy and embodies masculinity with her gestures and prosthetic sideburns extenders. To further project a hypermasculine image, Gaga goes on a [self?]depricating rant, in which she critizes Lady Gaga’s femininity. The performance ends when Joe, or lady Gaga, begin to sing one of her hit songs. All her masculine sexual energy is disrobed when her voice reaches that first, recongnizably feminine note of a song about a girl dealing with a break up. Suddenly, even though she has not changed her appearance, Gaga is no longer a “nouveau lesbian butch,” but instead a woman simply in drag.

                                                                                                     Works Cited

Straayer, Chris. “Chapter 4: The She-man: Postmodern Bi-sexed Performance in Film and Video.” Deviant Eyes, Deviant Bodies: Sexual Re-orientations in Film and Video. New York: Columbia UP, 1996. 262-80. Print.

  

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