Representations of gender and sexuality in films
‘The street’s getting worse everyday here. The whores were bad enough but the drags are wiping us out. I can’t stand the drags. (…). They confuse transvestism with a circus. Worse, with mime’. In All About My Mother (Almodovar; 1999), the character Agrado stresses the importance of distinction between cross-dressing, transvestism, and drag. Indeed, Bruzzi (1997 :147) defines cross-dressing as ‘the questioning and blurring of gender identities that occurs when characters do not wear the clothes deemed socially appropriate to their sex’ while Stoller argues that ‘transvestism should only refer to fetishist cross-dressing’ and ‘drag’ is exclusively applied to cross-dressing as theatrical performance’ (1985 :176 in Bruzzi ; 1997 : 149). In the mainstream cross-dressing comedy, the male dresses as a woman to generate comic effect based on the ridicule, whereas in the French film Ma Vie en Rose (Berliner; 1997), the implications of a little boy thinking he is a girl are explored, while All About my Mother provides us with a more accurate representation of the world of transvestites and transsexuals.
[...] Indeed, the mainstream cross-dressing comedy finds reasons to dismiss the potential danger of cross-dressing, while independent and foreign films such as Ma Vie en Rose and All About My Mother tend to offer a representation which is crude and possibly more accurate. Dyer’s idea that representation of women and other oppressed groups was, and by and large still is, a relentless parade of insults.’ (1993:1) is acknowledged in such films where an effort is made to break the taboos concerning cross-dressers, transvestites, and transsexuals. Bibliography Ackroyd, P Dressing up, Transvestism and Drag: The history of an obsession. London: Thames and Hudson, p All About My Mother by Pedro Almodovar. Bell-Metereau, R Hollywood Androgyny. [...]
[...] In Search of Eve: Transsexual Rites of Passage, p in Lorber, J Paradoxes of Gender. Yale: Yale University Press, p Bruzzi, S Undressing Cinema: Clothing and Identity in the Movies. London: Routledge, pp. xx, 147- Dyer, R The Matter of Images: Essays on Representation. London: Routledge, p.1. Everything you always wanted to know about sex* but were afraid to ask by Woody Allen. Haskell, M From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women in the Movies. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, p. [...]
[...] However, Tootsie and Mrs Doubtfire succeeded in making the male characters grow because of their cross-dressing experience. As Macaulay (2004:14) points out, Apart from the obvious visual gags of a man trying to be ladylike, the better drag films did show the man developing more female characteristics. ( ) Dressing as a woman helped Dustin Hoffman become a better man. Robin Williams learns to be a better father by being a responsible woman. In the end, the male cross-dressers in Tootsie and Mrs Doubtfire return to their true identity. [...]