Joanna McIntyre is a Lecturer in Screen and Media Studies at the University of the Sunshine Coast. She has written refereed articles on transgender representation in reality TV, the history of transgender in Australian film, cinematic depictions of queer space, transgender celebrities, and transphobic violence onscreen.
Volume 33, November 2015
In Australia, hetero-masculine drag is a generally accepted cultural practice associated with laddish behaviour. This mode of drag consists of hetero-masculine, cisgendered men performing deliberately erroneous feminine imitation with the intention of being funny. For example, a crowd of mates out on a stag night might wear dresses and wigs to enliven a pub-crawl. It is a mode of drag enacted for the purposes of fun and comedy, and neither demonstrates an exploration of gender nor celebrates the feminine. Instead, it articulates stark distinctions between the ‘wholly masculine’ performer and their ‘badly’ performed femininity. I argue here that in its parody of femininity, hetero-masculine drag as it manifests in Australian social traditions and mainstream media functions to verify a specific form of hegemonic Australian masculinity and devalue femininity. This article establishes that in Australia this ostensibly amusing practice is aligned with Australian football culture. Footballers are often criticised in the media for offensive/sexist behaviour, yet this particular custom of derisively parodying femininity receives little if any negative attention. I contend that certain cultural structures render the gendered discriminations of this activity all but invisible. This article investigates the socio-cultural functions of this mode of drag and the reasons it is sheltered from public condemnation.