Between Masking And Unmasking


As children we see a lot of violence on television. And I do not mean the violence in films or in the day-to-day affairs shown on live news channels. I mean the cartoons we watch where our favourite toons engage in fierce battles with super powers or use the most technologically advanced gadgets. A recent conversation with a friend made both of us realize how dark the entire series of Batman actually is.

I bring this up because it says something fundamental- it talks about the idea of disguise. In case of cartoons, a ludicrous animation hides the actual ongoing violence that in an otherwise real life movie would deem it unsuitable for children.
This article isn’t a cautionary tale for children drawn to violent imagery. It is nothing of that sort. It is about the necessity of disguising the explicit when certain narratives need to be told but telling them “appropriately” becomes the only way out.
I was chatting with a friend casually about a lot of things. But the subjects weren’t casual. We were talking about the spaces allowed to non-heterosexuals to represent themselves. Here representation entails a person’s mannerisms, his or her dress code and how he or she culturally, socially and politically uses that space. He raised concerns about the attitudes raised both within and outside the community with regard to behaviour. Certain gay men prefer straight acting chaps. Some prefer feminine guys. While others judge the mannerisms from the dress one puts on. Another issue which got raised was consistency in such behaviour.

If a guy likes to put on make-up and dress in ladies wear on parades, why does he dress normally at home or at work. Be yourself.

Between masking and unmasking

That attitude exists within the community itself. For the outside space I don’t think I need to repeat the cliché.

But there is another irony to it. On pride marches, the mainstream media looks out for the girl dressed as a tomboy or the guy with lipstick and curled eyelashes in feminine attire. Otherwise they might not look as gay as required for the masses.

The mainstream insists on using non-heterosexuals as props for marketing their ideas but only if they fulfill through gestures and dress codes the behaviour expected of them. Straight talking and straight acting non-heterosexuals confuse the media as patriarchy has naturalized the distinction of who is who based on who talks how and who wears what. This is not to say that the mainstream does nothing for the crowd targeted for otherness. But there is an attitudinal permissibility attached to the specificity of behavioural latitude expected of the LGBT as distinct and separate from the definition of the straight world. Where these two worlds intersect, the division between the explicit and the implicit gets blurry- it challenges the patriarchal structure.


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