As a huge fan of one Diamanda Hagan (I don’t think that any further elaborations on this are needed here at this point) I sometimes check the comment section on her works, or discuss said works on Internet forums. But those exchanges are often marred by frustration and anger. Why, you ask? Well, there invariably at least one self-absorbed moron who will insult her, implying that she is not a real woman.
Now, why would such a person think so? I think that the reason for that goes far beyond Hagan the character or even the person playing it. The crux is what people like that consider a real woman to be. But before we can go deep, we have to look at this exactly the way those people do: Superficially.
When we look at Hagan in-character and in full costume, what do we see? Well, first we notice that she is wearing heavy makeup. But she is not wearing it to appear more attractive. Quite the opposite, a thick layer of chalky white obscures her features instead of emphasizing them, and red markings exude an air of aggression, of dominance. Her hair is long, worn proudly and often dyed in jarring shades, bringing to mind tribal warriors of days long past. Her clothing is neither conservative nor seductive. Several items in red and black are layered in a way that is reminiscent of armor, accentuated with a net shirt that is equally goth and Predator, and usually rounded off with a purple overcoat, evocative not only of the murderous Joker, but also of royalty.
The message of this look is clear. This character is aggressive, independent and dominant. She does not make any attempts to be appealing or non-threatening because she has no desire to be desired. She already has everything she could possibly want, and she is has no need to make any compromises for the convenience of others. This is, of course, reflected in the character’s behavior, as well. She is a ruler, a malevolent dictator who will simply eradicate any obstacle in her path. She cannot be conquered.
And there we have the crux.
Whether they are consciously aware of it or not, many, if not most men (and even women) have deeply internalized a societal structure wherein men are seen as the default, the norm by which all things must be measured. Some of you who read this are certainly going to disagree, point to this movie or that magazine, even cite misandry in certain social standards. But before you do so, ask yourself: How often do you see a movie, or a game, or a TV show, or a novel in which the hero is a woman? And out of those examples, in how many isn’t the fact that the hero(ine) is a woman treated as a gimmick, a twist? And out of those, how many examples revolve almost exclusive around this woman’s quest to win the affections of a man?
Let’s face it, even in today’s 21st-century, sexually-revolutionized, politically corrected standards-and-practices world, a woman is still expected to conform to the expectations of men. “Look nice! Be agreeable! Don’t do a man’s job! ”
Don’t believe me? Then why is it such an insult for a man to be compared to a woman? Very few men want to be considered pretty, or delicate, or soft. That’s what nearly all of the traditionally-female attributes come down to in a man’s eye. Softness. Weakness. Men, on the other hand, are expected to boast their rough and tough exterior, their unyielding strength, their dominance.
So then what happens when a man encounters a woman who is not soft, but rough? Who is not submissive, but dominant? Well, that’s just wrong, of course! How could it not be wrong? It challenges the entire social construct of how the gender roles have been defined, chiseled in stone, untouched and largely unquestioned.
Because so many men are so used to the idea that a woman will automatically present herself as attractive, as a possible object of sexual attention, all of their interaction with women is subjugated to the potential of each woman as a sexual conquest - or at least masturbation fuel.
With that mind, we take another look at Hagan. What would otherwise be an entertaining character becomes a bewildering disruption of normality as they know it. This woman does not play her part. She leads everything that they think they know about how women work ad absurdum and catapults them out of their comfort zone. She doesn’t act like women should. She doesn’t dress like women should. She makes no attempt to be appealing to men, and worse - She will never have the slightest desire to do so.
So how does one solve such a mind-bending dilemma? How does one keep one’s fragile world from crumbling into a wasteland of uncertainty where man has no claim to the throne? Why, that’s simple: Deny that she is a woman at all. It solves all of the problems in one swift move. No need to question one’s perceptions or conventional wisdom. No fear of losing that cozy privilege. Isn’t that well worth inflicting the insult and indignity of denying someone’s very gender?
No. No, it is not.
Because that comfort is a hollow, unfair illusion that is not worth keeping. Because there is nothing to fear about equality. Because we all have only to gain from respect and appreciation of all of one’s qualities as a person. Because everyone deserves respect. And because one single person’s dignity does matter more than all the male privilege in the world.
And one more thing on the topic of Hagan herself… I believe that she does have one deep, dark secret that she keeps hidden in plain sight, invisible to all those who only see what they want to see (and maybe the inside of their own rectums). You wanna know that secret?