Sunday, April 19, 2009

Adam Lambert: nail polish and eye liner is for girls

No, I'm not telling him this--but a conversation with one of my co-workers made me realize there are plenty of people who are. I love how inanimate things such as make-up become so entangled in our ideas of gender, that if someone outside of that gender identity uses said things, some people have a complete freak out.

Society has labeled certain things as strictly for boys or for girls. When I told my co-worker that I'm rooting for Adam, she said she was not. When I asked why, she said it is because he wears eyeliner (no, I will not be referring to it as "guyliner" because it's an already ungendered thing, which means men can wear it without me changing its name, which some people think makes it okay at that point--it was okay to begin with) and nail polish. Note that this judgment has absolutely nothing to do with his talent as a singer, which I thought American Idol was about (though I will admit appearance is taken into account when we're talking about women).

At any rate, I don't buy into this is a girl thing, this is a boy thing kind of rationale, since it's all bullshit anyway. I wanted to ask my co-worker if what really bothers her is not only does he wear so-called girl things, but also that he kisses boys, since she's a fan of rock and roll, and Adam Lambert is not the first to utilize eyeliner in the genre.

On the left here, is Freddy Mercury of Queen prepping for a show. While searching for more pictures of rock stars sporting make up (of which there is an astounding abundance) I stumbled upon this post over at jotiumich regarding glam rock:

"Glam established the idea that identity was fluid and malleable, and was certainly not predetermined. In this definition of identity, glam included gender and sexuality. Whether David Bowie was performing as a man, a woman, or a bisexual space alien, his identity was part of his creative expression of self. Through this belief, glam rock was able to challenge repressive social constructs of gender and sexual identity."
Adam Lambert is just a modern-day rocker, whose self-expression on stage, and in real life includes the use of eyeliner. By this he, like others before him, is breaking down gender barriers and illustrating the fluidity of identity. I suppose it doesn't help when people like Bill O'Reilley treat Adam's kiss pictures like pornography, making an issue of his sexuality while simultaneously censoring it, basically illustrating that this is dirty and unacceptable (though I can't imagine why--I mean, really, is there anything hotter than two dudes kissing?? I say, HELL NO!!).

So I say, good for Adam, and a big STFU to everyone criticizing what he chooses to wear. It's perceived as attractive when a woman wears makeup; how is it any less attractive for a man to spruce himself up a bit? More people should be willing to challenge these gender barriers, because there are many forms of beauty. That being said, I'll leave you with Johnny Depp in drag (which is seriously the hottest thing I've ever seen).


Anonymous said...

I stumbled onto this post while searching "Adam Lambert" on Google Blogs and I have to say I agree with you 100% - everything from how what Adam is doing is nothing new to Rock & Roll to the idea that inanimate objects should not be so rigidly engendered and that playing with gender has to be about the hottest thing I've ever seen.

Great post.

M. said...

I can't believe a guy wearing eye-liner and being masculine at the same time is why your co-worker won't root for him to win. But i love your dissection of it! you rock!


Jemima Aslana said...

Look up any picture of Alice Cooper, Marilyn Manson, the blokes from KISS, Billy Idol etc etc that should give you visual fodder in the males-with-eyeliner-department.

RachelB said...

Hi, FG. I'm here from Shakesville. Metal and hard rock musicians from the '80s played (visually) with gender signifiers-- makeup and long, permed hair-- even as their lyrics tended to be heteronormative (and, sadly, misogynistic). So really, what's the big deal, co-worker?