QUEER THEORY

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.