Sex sells, as the old adage goes. But while we market everything and anything with innuendos and euphemisms, we must ask if we are hurting ourselves in the process.
On Nov. 15, the Activities Program Board (APB) hosted a “Drag Bingo” where drag queen Anastasia Diamond danced around the room and threw around sexual jokes. Whereas drag shows can be great opportunities for freedom, expression and fun, Diamond ranted about male genitalia and oversexualized the experienced for students. Students who tied for bingo had to dance erotically and be rated by the audience to win the prize.
Drag shows are often places of freedom and liberation for those dressed up, as it gives them an outlet for their own gender expression and a community of which for them to be a part. However, this event was not a drag show — it was a bingo event MC’d by a person in drag, and with that comes the experience of having a person in drag host an otherwise innocuous event.
This is symptomatic of an inherent fetishization of sexuality in our modern day culture. We live in an image-based culture in which it is often difficult to distinguish between advertisement and image. We spend most of our days glued to cell phones that reinforce commercial principles of buy, buy, buy using imaging. And at the epicenter of this imaging is the idea that sex sells.
And we, the consumers, buy it. Lesbians are valued not for their intelligence or strength, but for the woman-on-woman interaction that straight males love. Gay men are often reduced to flamboyant archetypes of femininity, instead of being praised for courage and compassion. Within the LGBTQ+ community, there are even further divisions.
What’s more is that within heteronormative cultural scenarios, men are praised and uplifted for soaring body counts and women are ashamed to admit to sleeping with one person — although they are oftentimes pressured to dress in provocative ways to allure men.
It is for this reason that oftentimes members of our society are pressed into a sexualized situation. Some members of the LGBTQ+ community (though, at large, plenty of straight people do this) make their sexuality their entire identity. And even though they are more than permitted to do this, it sometimes overshadows members of the community who are not as loud and would not like to be perceived as a token gay best friend. Oversexualization forces members of the LGBTQ+ community into the spotlight who may prefer to stay out of it altogether.
In the process of seeking acceptance and representation for all, society has allowed sexuality to dominate us. And in the process, we have diminished our identities and allowed ourselves to become stereotypes and fetishes.