This Gay Putin Dress-up Doll Is Problematic

gay putinWell, this is fun, but probably not helpful: a new site lets you dress up Vladimir Putin in stereotypically gay, fetishy clothing. Can you count the ways in which this is problematic?

Available accessories: a pink collar, a strap-on, a dress, fishnets, thigh-high boots, Bruno-style lederhosen, a muscle shirt, and strangely Sean Connery’s outfit from Zardoz.

In relatively short supply: tasteful garb. Anything that even remotely resembles an actual gay man’s wardrobe.

So, haha, we get the joke. If Putin’s going to be a jerk about gays, it’s fun to mock him. But oh, wait a minute, is this site saying that a fun way to mock someone is to make them look gay? That there’s nothing more embarrassing than being forced to be a gay slut?

Maybe, maybe, you could make the argument that context matters here. And that making someone look gay is only insulting if it’s something they wouldn’t want. Putin hates the gays, that argument might go, so dressing him up as one is insulting; but if it was Adam Lambert it would all be in good fun.

But then, in that case, we’re kind of stooping to their level, aren’t we? Forcing our opponents into a humiliating depiction? If there’s one thing that this dress-up site is not, it’s empowering: every outfit is mocking, belittling, humiliating. And that’s what the bad guys are doing to us. To be fair, they’re doing it in real life rather than in a silly web app, so what they’re doing is a million times worse. They attack us with fists, we attack them with a self-deprecating picture on the internet. Good comeback, gays!

And we’ll admit that the app is fun. Dressing up a doll in funny outfits is cute. Should we really be worried that the outfits are demeaning stereotypes? Well, let’s see … what if this was a picture of notorious racist Jesse Helms, and you were dressing him up in blackfaced minstrel garb?

“If you agree, support our fight, dress-up your own gay Putin and share with the world!” the website says. Okay.

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  • Steve Rider

    The not liking Putin part is good, and mocking Putin is excellent, but, yeah, not at all cool about using gay identity as a put down.

  • Harley

    Better to dress him up as a jack-booted right wing Nazi thug, otherwise known as a Tea Part Activist.

  • feminist

    The idea for this probably came from Putin’s own pix. He’s always showing off his barrel chest and saggy tits. The site is funny because it’s true.

  • jwrappaport

    Matt, you’re usually one of the more rational voices on here, but not today. First, humor has always been a meaningful way of challenging power. No, this isn’t Beaumarchais, but it’s reducing a tyrant to absurdity and laughter, which is always a good thing. Think Mel Brooks’ Hitler on Ice or The Producers: one of the most devastating weapons against totalitarianism is humor.

    Second, we are not stopping to his level by any stretch of even the most warped imagination. To do that we would have to perform acts that are morally equivalent to his, which would surely involve more than a few silly pictures. We would have to demonize an entire group of people, subject them to legal and social isolation, and inspire their torture and murder by their fellow citizens. Sorry kiddo, but it’s not the case here.


    Whoever wrote the article completely misses several points:
    1: This was a part of a not-so-much-as-coordinated-as-zeitgeist-generated multi-phase ridicule of Putin during the Olympics.
    2: The general psychological profile of homophobic people is that – unless they were victims of same-sex sexual abuse as a child or young adult – they are usually closeted gays.
    3: It makes no sense to put boring everyday J Crew or A-Futch clothes in order to convey gayness in a digital paper doll. Straight men have long since co-opted gay style in everyday wear. The only way to convey gayness in that context is with hyper-sexualized clothing and accessories. That’s the point.
    4: Nobody likes thin-skinned, humorless, meme-policing gays. Nobody.

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