OPINION — As American society spins out of control, “drag queen” events have been pushed on wary Americans as legitimate, wholesome entertainment, worthy of bringing your children to enjoy. Drag queen shows — some of them packaged as story hours for children — are public displays of debauchery intended to desensitize us to perversion, and many argue when kids are involved, pedophilia. Now, according to West Texas A&M University President Walter V. Wendler, drag queen shows are harmful to women, too.
He announced March 20 that his office is forbidding them on the WT campus because a drag queen show has not one “single thread of human dignity.”
“As a performance exaggerating aspects of womanhood (sexuality, femininity, gender), drag shows stereotype women in cartoon-like extremes for the amusement of others and discriminate against womanhood,” he wrote.
President Wendler compared drag shows with other displays of discrimination including “black face” performances. He also said he was concerned when anonymous individuals on a social media platform debased Latinas in reaction to a quinceañera celebration performance on his campus.
He said, “Drag shows are derisive, divisive and demoralizing misogyny, no matter the stated intent. Such conduct runs counter to the purpose of WT.”
The Angelo State University Center Program Council is funded by student fees and uses those funds to hold an annual “Drag Rave.” Apparently, the UCPC promotes the “Drag Rave” as one of its top 5 events of the year, listed prominently along with Ram Jam, Spring Fest, and Crossroads Live. This year will be the ASU Drag Rave’s seventh year. ASU’s 6th Annual UCPC Drag Rave was held on April 27, 2022. We left a message with UCPC Director Lee Floyd to find out when the next and 7th annual drag rave was scheduled. We haven’t heard back.
Angelo State 4th Annual Drag Rave
Now that a university president from a comparable school (Wendler), albeit a campus of the Texas A&M University System not the Texas Tech University System, has pushed back against drag queen shows, what does ASU President and General Ronnie Hawkins have to say about his university’s Drag Rave?
Here is the entire letter from West Texas A&M University President Walter V. Wendler explaining why he canceled the drag queen show on his campus.
"West Texas A&M University will not host a drag show on campus. It was advertised for March 31, 2023, as an effort to raise money for The Trevor Project. The nonprofit organization focuses on suicide prevention—a noble cause—in the LGBTQ community. Any person considering self-harm for any reason is tragic.
"I believe every human being is created in the image of God and, therefore, a person of dignity. Being created in God’s image is the basis of Natural Law. James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, prisoners of the culture of their time as are we, declared the Creator’s origin as the foundational fiber in the fabric of our nation as they breathed life into it.
"Does a drag show preserve a single thread of human dignity? I think not. As a performance exaggerating aspects of womanhood (sexuality, femininity, gender), drag shows stereotype women in cartoon-like extremes for the amusement of others and discriminate against womanhood. Any event which diminishes an individual or group through such representation is wrong. I registered a similar concern on campus when individuals debased Latinas regarding a quinceañera celebration. Should I let rest misogynistic behavior portraying women as objects? While I am not a woman, my best friend I have been married to for over a half-century is. I am also blessed to have daughters-in-law and granddaughters. Demeaning any demeans all. This is not an intellectual abstraction but a stark reality.
"WT endeavors to treat all people equally. Drag shows are derisive, divisive and demoralizing misogyny, no matter the stated intent. Such conduct runs counter to the purpose of WT. A person or group should not attempt to elevate itself or a cause by mocking another person or group. As a university president, I would not support “blackface” performances on our campus, even if told the performance is a form of free speech or intended as humor. It is wrong. I do not support any show, performance or artistic expression which denigrates others—in this case, women—for any reason. WT intends to provide fair opportunities to all based on academic performance. Ideas, not ideology, are the coin of our realm. A university campus, charged by the state of Texas to treat each individual fairly, should elevate students based on achievement and capability, performance in a word, without regard to group membership—an implacable and exacting standard based on educational mission and service to all, sanctioned by the legislature, the governor and numerous elected and appointed officials.
"The WT community should live by the Golden Rule. As a Christian, I personally learned this in the book of Matthew, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Buddhism expresses it this way: “Hurt not others with that which pains yourself.” Judaism states, “What you yourself hate, do to no man.” The law of reciprocity is at work in every known religion and society on the planet. Colloquially speaking, it is a manifestation of Newton’s Third Law of Motion, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
"Mocking or objectifying in any way members of any group based on appearance, bias or predisposition is unacceptable. Forward-thinking women and men have worked together for nearly two centuries to eliminate sexism. Women have fought valiantly, seeking equality in the voting booth, marketplace and court of public opinion. No one should claim a right to contribute to women’s suffering via a slapstick sideshow that erodes the worth of women.
"When humor becomes harassment, it has gone too far. Any reading of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s purpose, coupled with common sense, affirms that acts of prejudice in the workplace and our campus is a workplace, even when not criminal, are harmful and wholly inappropriate. No amount of fancy rhetorical footwork or legal wordsmithing eludes the fact that drag shows denigrate and demean women—noble goals notwithstanding.
"A harmless drag show? Not possible. I will not appear to condone the diminishment of any group at the expense of impertinent gestures toward another group for any reason, even when the law of the land appears to require it. Supporting The Trevor Project is a good idea. My recommendation is to skip the show and send the dough.
"Offering respect, not ridicule, is the order of the day for fair play and is the WT way. And equally important, it is the West Texas way."
Reaction to Wendler’s letter was fierce. Here are a few tweets:
The congressman from Amarillo, Rep. Ronny Jackson (TX-13), applauds Wendler:
Like Jackson, I applaud Dr. Wendler for having the guts to push back against the debasing of the culture on his university campus. The question is, is this the start of a broader push back towards normalcy or will Wendler’s letter disappear in the west Texas wind? How other university presidents handle this will determine the longevity of Wendler’s effort.
General Hawkins, it’s your turn.