Is burlesque pro-female? Here is what I see:
When women are restricted from certain behaviors due to looksism, on dire pain of being derided or made fun of, and they engage in those behaviors anyway, it’s a clear and present “fuck you” to the looksists.
When women want to try out certain roles they feel have always been denied to them, and they get to play out those personas, they are highly likely to gain courage to try other things they believe have been unfairly denied to them.
When women play with drag and exaggerate the appearance of gender, they gain a sense of control of it, and have an opportunity to lose some of their fear of gender restrictions and gender appropriateness.
When women have the opportunity to play out a dangerous role in a safe environment, they learn to believe in, evaluate, and seek out safe environments.
When women celebrate the skill sets developed by burlesque performers of the past (even if those skill sets were not required to get the job of burlesque performer), they celebrate the enduring creativity and spirit of women who were left behind simply because they were sexualized and their skill set couldn’t be employed on television or radio. They are not celebrating the sexist standards that enabled the culture of the time period.
When women who had believed they have to choose between the roles of Madonna (nonperson who is required to sacrifice selfhood for the benefit of others) or whore (nonperson who is required to sacrifice security and integrity in order to use her sexuality) find an undomesticated role in between the two, it opens up their minds to other possibilities.
When a woman deliberately puts herself into a position where she is well aware that some people will celebrate her, it makes her aware that this is a choice she can sometimes make.
When a woman deliberately puts herself in a position where she is well aware that some will mock her and then survives it, it can make her less fearful of being mocked in general, and less likely to make decisions based on that fear; this is a form of confidence with a value that cannot be underestimated.
If some men read it as an appeal to their tastes, they may be wrong. The fact that they may perceive it so does not make it so, even in a patriarchal society. One of my biggest problems with some of the discussions about the male gaze is the assumption that because the male gaze says it is so, we must treat it as if it is true. I don’t even believe all men have the male gaze, much less that if it did indeed dominate, it would be the primary way to define the social impact of my actions.
I believe what I see, and what I see are women who once believed looksism was an actual method of evaluating their worth, one that would control every aspect of their lives forever, who are now being released from that cage of anger and hopelessness. It may not be breaking the glass ceiling, it may not make healthcare more affordable, but it brings real joy to the performers, the audiences, and the people in their lives who get to enjoy the incredible changes they experience.
That is value.
The above is an excerpt from The Burlesque Handbook. by Jo Weldon, Headmistress of The New York School of Burlesque (est. 2004). You can purchase or download it immediately at amazon.com. Learn moves, costuming tips, history, and more, for less than the price of a single burlesque class!
Kyary responding to a Moroccan fan’s message saying that she loves wearing kimono but doesn’t really wear it out since overseas people are a bit surprised by it and think she’s doing cosplay (rather than appreciating something she feels really connected to that comes from another part of the world).
"Rainbow Lights" LIVE at Metrocon 2014 w/ Metrocon Glo Team!!
Zoe VanWest at Metrocon massive 2014
hahah this is still my fav pic of the concert XD