I decided to make a page where we can post ideas for final projects, solicit collaborators & feedback, link to relevant readings, etc.
I've been thinking about how I can get back in touch with my politics for this project. I decided to look for inspiration in an action that I devised for a radical queer group. This action created a public discourse about gendered restrooms through public drag performance and explicitly gendering public space.
For me, drag in itself has political potential. From woman to man, man to woman, between the two or beyond both, drag powerfully engages sex & gender at the level of practices: how you walk, how you talk, your clothes, hair, body, affect & affectations.
(Theoretical Excursus: read at your own risk)
Some discourses "deconstruct" (in the weakest sense of this term) gender by [declaring] it an immaterial construct that is attributed to material bodies; oppressive gender constructs are posited as entities to be battled in the pages of academic journals, a form of false consciousness. By contrast, drag asserts the materiality of gender as practice. Drag brings gender into materiality not in order to say that gender is absolute, but to play with it--to look under the hood, as it were. Drag is often read as a form of mimesis: a man dressed as a woman, a woman dressed as a man. But for me, drag is not a question of representation, but a question of becoming: a becoming other that mobilizes the resources of identity. Drag is not just about gender, but about all forms of identity. Drag does not merely mimic another identity, but puts identity in a zone of indistinction. In an atmosphere like Brown where homonormativity is as rampant as heteronormativity, I think drag could prove useful.
So for the project, I would like to bring drag off of the stage for a mobile drag workshop. I was thinking about doing some advertising playing around with the phrase "out of the closets & into the streets." I want to get together a bunch of second-hand clothes, shoes, wigs, fake mustaches, fake eyelashes, press-on nails, makeup, feathers, fur, spandex, latex, hose, hats, &c and then try to get folks to do some drag. I've been thinking that doing an unpermitted drag march might also be cool, borrowing from a radical queer tradition of staging unpermitted marches outside of sanctioned gay pride events.
I don't anticipate telling people "this is how you look exactly like a real woman" or anything like that--I don't think that drag that strives to 'pass' is very interesting; i also would like to get away from some of the classism drag often embraces - high-budget designer drag - in favor of a more creative approach to new gendered practice.
I'm toying with the idea of inventing a character who would lead the workshop instead of going in Patrick-drag. But I worry that inventing such a character might distance would-be participants from the workshop too much.
I would really love to hear suggestions / feedback, and collaborators are more than welcome--the project is in a very malleable stage right now, so don't wait until critique to let me know what you think!
I haven't received any feedback on this idea yet; I think that participation is going to be an issue as the semester wears on; furthermore, i'm not sure if claiming some kind of public space is the right move--should I be thinking along the lines of a RTS-style party? The weather could be a limiting factor for an outdoor event. PLEASE give me some feedback!
I've come up with another issue I'd be interested in addressing:
-tenants' rights, perhaps via a web-based "rate my landlord" website (this is inspired by a project of Chris Csikszentmihalyi's called Landman Report Card), which could serve as a platform for addressing abuses by landlords (or alternately, for identifying those whose practices are fair and humane); having experienced a terrible landlord situation this summer, I think it would be useful to have a website where renters in the providence area could give feedback on their landlords. if the site grows in popularity, landlords might have an incentive to behave more ethically or adopt better practices.