September 22, 2011

Androgynous femme nostalgia, a throwback to Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman

Hey there gender blenders,

Back when I was in elementary school, I had a very serious love affair with Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. Little me was inspired by the story of a woman with brains, guts, and drive, striking it out West on her own, and surviving.

What does this have to do with androgyny, you might ask. Well, in my favorite episode, Dr. Quinn cross-dresses as a boy so she can ride her horse in a race. Cross-dressing, horses, and Dr. Quinn? Count me in! (Is it any surprise that I loved National Velvet too?)

Part of why I love "The Race" episode is that it obviously recognizes gender as a performance, something that can be acted. My favorite part, aside from the badassery of Dr. Quinn in the race itself, is the process of her "putting on" masculinity (see the clip below).

The sequence is played off as funny--as cross-dressing often is in TV land--but at the same time, she is very serious about what she wants: the equal opportunity to ride her horse in a race. Because she is perfectly capable, because she effing wants to, and because it's her horse, dammit!

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