Essay on Physical Sexual Assault, And American Sign Language ( Asl )

Essay on Physical Sexual Assault, And American Sign Language ( Asl )

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Over the course of instruction, I have gathered an understanding that Burlesque differs from other kinds of strip-tease in it’s humor and current commentary, sometimes specifically on social or political situations. The theoretical portion of the performance was the most entertaining part--the performance portion was a bit more difficult for me. As a sexual assault survivor, on-stage vulnerability (particularly involving the removal of clothing) will always been a challenge for me, but incorporating my feelings about those kinds of situations made the exercise more plausible. While any commentary on physical sexual assault is a long way off for me, other components (specifically verbal) are still a source of tension among society at large. Slow Down with Tom Foolery was designed to use two contrasting personae, song choice, and American Sign Language (ASL) to make commentary about modern male heterosexual pick-up culture by examining and exposing cat-calling.
Like some of the Drag Queens we read about in Mother Camp, my intention for the piece was not to appear as a convincing man, or even to replace the traditionally feminine parts of myself with masculine parts. Rather than disguise my distinguishing female characteristics (my breasts, my hair) I wanted to portray a woman portraying a man. The cat-calling, “gangsta” style persona is characterized by his tilted snapback, baggy pants, wife beater, lax posture, and confrontationally sexual gestures. He abrasively pursues women, unconsciously dismissing the notion that his attention is unwanted while firmly believing that his behavior is complimentary. When he strips away these pieces of clothing, he does so confidently, as he pursues a theoretical woman in the audience. The more ...


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... was able to guide myself through the performance without having a heart attack. Additionally, hip-hop style dance is something I love to do. The style of the cat-caller allowed me to utilize this skill and make myself more comfortable on stage. I don’t necessarily characterize myself as a prude when it comes to the style of entertainment I enjoy, but studying burlesque in this capacity gave me a new outlook on the kind of media I may have dismissed as purely sexually grabbing. Undoubtedly, there are forms that aren’t deeper than an alluring sexual performance, but studying burlesque made me understand that sexually and humor aren’t mutually exclusive. And if you cannot “lose” certain aspects of yourself--whether it be your body type, your physical ability, or your comfort boundaries--use them to your advantage. There’s a lot more wiggle room than you think there is.

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