‘PERFORMANCE DOES NOT CHANGE THE SEX’: A STUDY OF JUDITH HALBERSTAM’S NOTION OF FEMALE MASCULINITY IN THE LIGHT OF SCIENCE, SOCIETY AND LITERATURE
Keywords:Gender and sexuality, drag king performance, biological anthropology
Gender and sexuality are two dominant aspects in queer and feminist studies. The idea of feminine masculinity has been extensively discussed in Judith Halberstam’s Female Masculinity (1998) to bring attention to masculine manifestations by female actors in butch-femme interplay and drag king performances. Halberstam’s arguments are based on the prevalent socio-political and cultural monopolization of gender identity that endorses patriarchy as the dominating force of economic and state manipulations. In a bid to challenge the status quo, Halberstam has propagated the notion of an alternative masculinity evident in childhood tomboyism that may lead to gender fluidity, frequently reflected and enacted in lesbian films and the American nightclub theatricals within an emergent drag king culture. The present article contends that Halberstam’s arguments for a feminine masculinity in his non-fictional prose work Female Masculinity (1998) are flawed in view of biological science, fictional representations of sexual orientations in dramatic performances, and real-life experiences. The results of the study indicate that outstanding human performances do not erase gender identities evident in biological anthropology.
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