The popularity of the reality television show RuPaul’s Drag Race is often framed as evidence of Western societies’ increasing tolerance towards queer identities. This paper instead considers the ideological cost of this mainstream success, arguing that the show does not successfully challenge dominant heteronormative values. In light of Rosalind Gill’s work on postfeminism, it will be argued that the show’s format calls upon contestants (and viewers) to conform to a postfeminist ideal that valorises normative femininity and reaffirms the gender binary. Through its analysis of RuPaul’s Drag Race, I further intend to develop our understanding of the relationship between neoliberalism and postfeminism. It will be argued that neoliberalism conditions postfeminism and yet at the same time neoliberalism is in some ways dependent on postfeminism for its own survival. Thus, this paper will demonstrate the importance of caution with regard to superficially subversive cultural objects in an era which has witnessed the increasing entanglement of progressive and regressive politics.
Postfeminist Hegemony in a Precarious World: Lessons in Neoliberal Survival from RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Journal of International Women's Studies, 21(3), 22-35.
Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol21/iss3/3