Discontents of Being and Becoming Fabulous on RuPaul's Drag U: Queer Criticism in Neoliberal Times

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22 Scopus citations


In this essay, I argue that RuPaul's Drag U reinforces an apparent postfeminist/neoliberal worldview through a rhetoric of “narcissism as liberation,” which inevitably rearticulates classic tropes of patriarchal domination. In particular, I find that Drag U relies on (and promotes) individualization and competition as primary logics that purport to signal liberation in a neoliberal economy. By the end of each episode, contestants are presumed to embody a corrected gender expression (read: feminine female). Rather than embrace gender-anormative expressions, they seek assimilation into a mythical normative center. Considering its lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) audience, Drag U works to integrate drag/trans/queer bodies into an unchanged homonormative and gender-normative mainstream that fails to address the various needs of those queer bodies that do not so easily yield to its demands. In the end, I advocate for a queer coalitional potentiality that resists individualization and competition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-186
Number of pages20
JournalWomen's Studies in Communication
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 3 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • cissexism
  • drag queen
  • feminism
  • homonormativity
  • neoliberalism
  • queer theory
  • television
  • transgender

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Communication


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