Lesleigh J. Owen , "Dancing Resistance?
To summarize this narrative is to further complicate it, since I never reached a solid conclusion but instead find myself juggling opinions, experiences, and social theories in making sense of these fat, feminine, sexualized performances. While not all of us in the club were straight, feminine, or remotely interested in finding a sexual partner of any sort, most of my interviewees agreed that the space encouraged costumed forays into a type of sexualized femininity usually denied to fat women. We wore thin, feminine sexiness, sometimes pinning our own versions of gender and sexuality and always queering it merely by being fat women doing sexiness.
The embodiment of fat sexuality may not speak equally of empowerment to all persons and identities. As is often the case, while resisting some dominant discourses, we often end up reinscribing others. That said, not only can I not forget the empowered pleasure many of my research participants expressed when discussing the club, but it is impossible for me to think of this space as a purely heterosexist one, in spite of its ostensible meat market atmosphere. Yes, women and men ask one another to dance and oftentimes end up hooking up, but at least within my small group and among folks I interviewed, the emphasis was much more on interacting with other empowered fat women.
Even our sexy outfits were more about collaborating on colors and styles, embodying and reworking sartorially-influenced identities, and garnering feminine attention and approval. In fact, I constantly felt that my performances of sexiness and beauty were not competitive in nature with other fat women but sources of visual community and mutual empowerment.
Rockin' Out of the Box: Gender Maneuvering in Alternative Hard Rock (Paperback)
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