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"You were born naked, and the rest is drag" - RuPaul

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Elyse Ostrow

on 12 June 2015

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Transcript of "You were born naked, and the rest is drag" - RuPaul

"We're all born naked and the rest is
" - Ru Paul

Is gender strictly performative?
Judith Butler used Reimer's case to argue that gender is performative- she sees Reimer as somebody who was forced to perform as a woman... but how is gender performed? Let's see what happens when I google search "feminine" and "masculine"
How did we come to describe gender this way?
Some people make their living performing gender
Others are forced to.
David Reimer
David Reimer was born a man, but shortly after his birth his penis was burned off accidentally in the hospital. David's parents took him to Dr. John Money, who created a vagina for David, turning him into Brenda.
Why is feminine pink and flowery and masculine grey with guns? David Reimer recalls that when he was Brenda, "I looked at myself and said I don’t like this type of clothing, I don’t like the types of toys I was always being given. I like hanging around with the guys and climbing trees and stuff like that and girls don’t like any of that stuff."
David didn't like girly toys
What makes toys or clothes girly? In order to perform as a woman, does one have to dress and act a certain way? David recalls that when he was Brenda he liked to play with more trucks and guns, which are commonly thought of as toys for boys.
But what does all of this mean?
David recalls that he found himself identifying as a man because he wanted to dress a certain way and play with certain toys. But do clothes and toys
define manhood?
What does this mean?
If we look at gender like Antrosio looked at his textbook, we would probably agree with Ru Paul saying that we are indeed born naked and the rest is drag. Ru Paul shaves his legs and wears dresses while still defining himself as a man; yet women do the same everyday and define themselves as women.
Do these ideas of 'feminine' and 'masculine' define gender?
Which comes first: the gender or the toys? Do we gender objects and activities or do they gender us? How did something as simple as XX and XY grow into something else?
Anthropologists have a different definition of gender
Jason Antrosio recalls an anthropology text book defining gender as, “observable physical characteristics that distinguish two kinds of humans, females and males, needed for biological reproduction." (Lavenda and Schultz 2012:365) Quite a different take on gender from my google image search earlier. If we think of gender this way, Brenda might have been given toys that liked- since this definition doesn't say anything about how boys and girls participate in different activities and dress differently from one and other.
What is my point?
David recalls that when he 'acted like a boy' as Brenda, his female classmates threatened "to “kill” her if she continued." I can't help but wonder if it were socially acceptable for women to be, as David says, "hanging around with the guys and climbing trees and stuff like that," would David had been comfortable as Brenda?
David struggled most as Brenda because his behavior wasn't socially acceptable
"A girly girl is the girl who embraces all the things girls are said to like. If you love pink, frills and cute things, then you're possibly a girly girl. Acting like one is part dressing girly style, part behaving like an eternal girl." Excerpt from WikiHow Article "How to Act Like a Girly Girl." This is the kind of behavior that could be forced onto someone like David, or that many choose act out in everyday life to fit in. Men could in turn "love pink, frills and cute things" and still consider themselves men.
People choose to perform a certain way
Acting like a man or acting like a woman is just that- acting. People find where they feel comfortable in their gender and play that role.
“A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.”
― Coco Chanel
"Part of being a man is learning to take responsibility for your successes and for your failures."
― Kevin Bacon
Men and women have different expectations dictated by society
Are they fair? Not necessarily. Can we do something about it? Yes. We can realize that gender is performative and respect that not everyone fits into the traditional image of feminine and masculine.
In closing,
David should not have had his gender identity placed out of his control. Everyone should have the right to express their gender in their own way. Going forward, take another quote from Ru Paul and ask yourself, "do you like where you're going?"
Works Cited
Antrosio, Jason. "Anthropology, Sex, Gender: Gender Is a Social Construction." Living Anthropologically. N.p., Jan. 2014. Web. 11 June 2015. <http://www.livinganthropologically.com/2012/05/16/anthropology-sex-gender-sexuality-social-constructions/>.

"Being A Man Quotes." BrainyQuote. Xplore, n.d. Web. 11 June 2015. <http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/being_a_man.html>.

Corsetti, Caitlin. "From The Message Boards: Does Being Feminine Make You Stupid Or Weak?" Web log post. Gurl.com. N.p., 17 Feb. 2013. Web. 10 June 2015. <http://www.gurl.com/2013/02/17/femininity/>.

Del Jefe, David. "A Manifesto On Masculine Happiness." Return Of Kings. N.p., 16 Nov. 2014. Web. 10 June 2015. <http://www.returnofkings.com/48010/a-manifesto-on-masculine-happiness>.

"Feminine." Web log post. Rediff Blogs. N.p., Feb. 2015. Web. 10 June 2015. <http://blogs.rediff.com/jamyla59/2015/02/09/feminine/>.

"Flowing Romantic And Feminine Wedding Gowns By Leila Hafzi." Weddingomania. N.p., 2014. Web. 10 June 2015. <http://www.weddingomania.com/flowing-romantic-and-feminine-wedding-gowns-by-leila-hafzi/pictures/8424/>.

Gerald, Drew. "The Masculine-Vulnerability Paradox." The Polyman. N.p., 01 Dec. 2012. Web. 10 June 2015. <http://thepolyman.com/2012/12/the-masculine-vulnerability-paradox/>.

Grey, Alex. "Meditations on the Divine Feminine - Alex Grey." Alex Grey. N.p., 24 July 2012. Web. 10 June 2015. <http://alexgrey.com/art/the-mission-of-art/meditations-on-the-divine-feminine/>.

Grey, Jordan. "8 Powerful Exercises To Increase Your Masculine Energy." Jordan Gray Consulting. N.p., 20 Jan. 2014. Web. 10 June 2015. <http://www.jordangrayconsulting.com/2014/01/exercises-to-increase-your-masculine-energy/>.

"How to Act Like a Girly Girl." WikiHow. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 June 2015. <http://www.wikihow.com/Act-Like-a-Girly-Girl>.

"Masculine Body." Masculine Body. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 June 2015. <http://www.imgbucket.com/pages/m/masculine-body/>.

Milligan, Lauren. "Own A Piece Of A Screen Legend." Vogue UK. N.p., 14 Mar. 2014. Web. 11 June 2015. <http://www.vogue.co.uk/news/2014/03/14/marlene-dietrich-auction-tuxedo-letters-from-ernest-hemingway>.

"Quotes About Women." GoodReads. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 June 2015. <http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/women>.

RuPaul - Born Naked (Stadium Remix) Official Music Video. Perf. Ru Paul, Violet Chatchki, Pearl, Ginger Minj. YouTube. WOWPresents, 26 May 2015. Web. 11 June 2015. <

"Sneak Peak: Feminine." TravelSimpleLife. N.p., 20 Feb. 2014. Web. 10 June 2015. <https://travelsimplelife.wordpress.com/tag/feminine/>.
"WHY WE NEED TO REIMAGINE MASCULINITY." San Francisco Sentinel. N.p., 21 Sept. 2010. Web. 10 June 2015. <http://www.sanfranciscosentinel.com/?p=89138>.
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