Attacks on drag are only another attempt by the GOP to control women’s bodies

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The ultra-conservative Christian majority on the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the 50-year-old precedent of Roe v. Wade with their ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in 2022. The decision allows states to set their own restrictions on reproductive care, resulting in several states outlawing the procedure. 

Since Dobbs, many state legislatures have banned the drugs used in medication abortions, mifepristone and misoprostol. The national drugstore chain Walgreens became the first to ban the drugs – even in states where abortion remains legal.

The Oklahoma state Senate approved a measure prohibiting gender transition procedures for youth under 18 by banning the use of any medications or surgical procedures for gender transition. While other states are considering replicating this legislation, some are also considering restricting gender-affirming care for adults. 

The Tennessee state legislature passed, and Gov. Bill Lee signed a bill banning drag shows in public spaces. Other states across the country are proposing similar legislation. 

“Woke; adjective: aware of and actively attentive to important societal facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice).” 

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has attempted to prevent awareness and activism surrounding racial and social justice issues with his rhetoric and support for the state’s “Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees (W.O.K.E.) Act.”  

Republicans in the state legislature, with the Governor’s backing, passed the act to supposedly provide businesses, employees, children, and families the legal means of opposing alleged “woke indoctrination.”

The bill bans teaching Critical Race Theory, discussions around the country’s racial history in schools, and diversity, inclusion, and equity training in corporations. The governor recently banned a nationally certified high school AP course on African-American history. 

DeSantis is not only criminalizing discussions of race and racism but also preventing Florida residents from actively attending to important societal facts and issues of sexuality and gender.

Florida’s so-called “Parental Rights in Education” law, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law by opponents, took effect July 1, 2022.

Passed primarily by Republicans in the Florida state legislature and signed into law by DeSantis, the new law reads in part: 

“Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”

Though Florida has positioned itself at the tip of the spear to cut and bleed to death school curricular materials on topics of race, gender, and sexual identity, school contexts, as reproductions of the larger society, function on an overarching system of racism, heteronormativity, and other forms of oppression.

Connecting Strands in the Right-Wing Republican Political Agenda

One misses the actual substance and consistency of the right-wing Republican political agenda without exploring the constituent ingredients in the mix. We must investigate U.S. society historically by following its recipe that combines racialized philosophies of white supremacy and add to the mixture of patriarchal, capitalist, and Christian imperatives that separate individuals into binary constructions of race, gender, sexuality, ability, and social class. 

Within a patriarchal, Capitalist, Christian white supremacist system, cisgender heterosexual white non-disabled male bodies matter more, while “othered” bodies matter less. These “othered” bodies include people of color, female and intersex bodies, and bodies that violate the “rules” for the reproduction and maintenance of the dominant system – such as trans, gender non-conforming, and gay, lesbian, and bisexual bodies, and bodies with disabilities. 

Examples abound of male domination over the rights and lives of women and girls. Men denied women the vote until women fought hard and demanded the rights of political enfranchisement, though women in some countries today are still restricted from voting.

Strictly enforced gender-based social roles mandated without choice that women’s only option was to remain in the home to undertake cleaning and childcare duties; women were and continue to be by far the primary target of harassment, abuse, physical assault, and rape by men; women were and remained locked out of many professions; rules once required that women teachers relinquish their jobs after marriage in the U.S. and remains so in some countries.

The institution of marriage was structured on a foundation of male domination, with men serving as the so-called “head of the household” and taking on sole ownership of all property, thereby restricting these rights from women.

In other words, women have been constructed as second-class and have pushed back on becoming victims because, through it all, women have challenged the inequities and resisted patriarchal constraints. 

Laws are built upon and reflect the society they are meant to affect. Patriarchal capitalist Christian white supremacist societies oppress and inhibit women’s reproductive freedoms, encourage the inequities in salaries between men and women and white people from people of color, establish and maintain the massive development of wealth by a very few while encouraging the enormous financial disparities between the very rich and everyone else, and many other issues. 

If a system of male domination can keep women pregnant and taking care of children following birth, they can restrict their entry, or at least their level and time of access into the workplace, and ensure women’s dependence upon men economically and emotionally. 

As women produce more and more children, expanding numbers of little consumers emerge to contribute to the capitalist system by constantly increasing the profits of businesses and industries. The patriarchal system necessary to control women’s bodies amounts to imperatives to control women’s minds and life choices.

In addition, the family’s incessant reification and promotion of hegemonic binary gender categories is now (partially) what drives families in the U.S. to ex-communicate their LGBTQ+ children and provides fuel for the socially conservative capitalist class to spread sexism, cissexism, and heterosexism because of capitalists’ direct benefit from traditional gender roles rooted in the family-household system. 

Trans people contest and disrupt the essentialized binary notion that what one is born with between one’s legs must determine one’s mandated course in life regarding gender expression, social roles, education, employment, reproduction, and other indicators. 

And drag demonstrates the instability of patriarchal mandated gender expression, which assures the system’s insecurity. 

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