Men_Just_Werent_Made_to_Do_This_Perform.pdf - MEN JUST...

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MEN JUST WEREN’T MADE TO DO THISPerformances of Drag at “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” MarchesTRISTAN S. BRIDGESUniversity of VirginiaThough there is a vast literature on performances of drag, performances of gender and sexual transgressions outside of drag clubs are less studied. This case study of men’s marches protesting violence against women—“Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” marches—examines the politics of such transgressions. Cross-dressing to various degrees is strategi-cally utilized at these events in an attempt to encourage men to become empathetic allies. This article suggests, however, that context is critical to the political potential of perfor-mances of drag. The author’s observations of the interactions at the marches suggest that drag at “Walk a Mile” marches often symbolically reproduces gender and sexual inequal-ity despite good intentions. At these marches, feminism is gendered when performances of politics and protest are contextually framed as gender and/or sexual transgressions when “feminism” is understood as “feminine.”Keywords:Walk a Mile in Her Shoes; drag; gendering feminism; masculinity; masculini-ties; doing genderWe’ve done this for a few years now. It went well this year. . . . Sometimes I wonder what is actually getting accomplished here though.March Organizer (woman)Wincing in anticipation of pain, a businessman in a mini skirt and red high heels called out, “This is ridiculous; I just can’t do this” after breaking AUTHOR’S NOTE: I would like to thank Tara Tober, Rae Blumberg, Michael Kimmel, Judith Lorber, Portia Bridges, Elizabeth Gorman, Allison Pugh, Matthew Hughey, Benjamin Snyder, Greta Snyder, Jennifer Silva, and Jeffrey Johnson for insightful com-ments and ongoing support with this article and the dissertation from which it emerged. I would also like to thank Dana Britton for excellent editorial advice and guidance as well as the anonymous reviewers at Gender & Society.GENDER & SOCIETY, Vol. 24 No. 1, February 2010 5-30DOI: 10.1177/0891243209356924© 2010 Sociologists for Women in Society5
6     GENDER & SOCIETY / February 2010off a loose heel and clumsily continuing with only one left. Another man, similarly attired, comforted him by shaking his head, smiling, and saying, “Men just weren’t made to do this!” Both were participating in an annual march in which men walk in high heels to protest violence against women. Though such marches are intended to create empathy by having men liter-ally walk a mile in women’s shoes, their political effects are unclear. Do these presentations of drag undermine gender inequality and stereotypes or reinforce them? This article illustrates the overt and covert ways that “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” marches may strengthen gender stereotypes and inequality at least as much as they attempt to undermine them.

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