Alternative Sexuality in Mainstream Media Essay

  • Length: 2 pages
  • Sources: 3
  • Subject: Gender / Sexuality
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #42948744

Excerpt from Essay :

Alternative Sexuality in Mainstream Media

Representations of transgender individuals have traditionally been highly stereotypical in mainstream media. According to Mocarski (et al. 2013), this is why the inclusion of Chaz Bono in the popular reality television show Dancing With the Stars was viewed as particularly radical, given that Bono is an openly transgender man. Bono participated in the competition as a male dancer, just like any other male involved in the show. But ballroom dance, the authors argue, is an inherently transgressive practice. On one hand, it reaffirms gender given that male and female roles are quite rigidly defined within the context of a dance. On the other hand, the costumes, sequins, and theatricality of dance, even for males, can be quite gender-disturbing. It is not uncommon to hear jokes about the sexual orientation of male dancers as a result.

On the other hand, some argued that as a white man who is heterosexual, Bono’s supposed category defiance was not nearly as transgressive as might be thought. He is still a man, dancing and playing a male role, even though he is transgender rather than cis-gendered. The idea
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that ballroom dancers must be gay likewise simultaneously affirms notions of hegemonic masculinity. “The gay characters are cast as stand-ins for heterosexual partners. These men have heterosexual access to their counterparts and are rarely shown in sexual contact with other men,” thus rendering not only masculinity in dance in a relatively neutered fashion but also “the portrayals of gay men safe because they are either unsexed or sexed in a heterosexual way” (Mocarski et al. 2013, p.252). And arguably transgendered individuals themselves may be viewed as reaffirming gender binaries by viewing sex as intrinsic to their personhood, rather than gender as something which is separate from their essential character and easily performed.

Still, the presence of an openly transgendered male during a ballroom dance highlights the notion of gender as something which is fluid. Furthermore, given that the roles during a dance, although fixed are assigned by the rules of the competition, rather than are innate to the performer’s body, dance itself can be a fluid construct. It also highlights the extent to which gender roles can be mutable in the strength shown by female as well as male dancers in the dance, and the softness male dancers likewise can communicate in their responsiveness to the music. If heteronormativity…

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