The girl is important to Gurlesque II
To be clear, this is my thinking about gender & the Gurlesque. Lara says she'd consider Johannes Goransson & Mayakovsky (to name just two men) Gurlesque. I wouldn't--I'd consider their work of an affinity-aesthetic yet unnamed. Perhaps I'm over-specializing, but I suspect there are a number of highly specific categories with gender-bender affinity, and each of them would be important not only for the bending, but for the mode of bending. A Written on the Body category, for instance, shouldn't be lumped in with the kitschy performance of the feminine, or the hypermasculine, or etc. And I should clarify that I don't believe in an essentially feminine or masculine experience, but I do believe that girls/women and boys/men experience significantly different culturing in the US and abroad, and while we question, challenge, and subvert the binary, we also remain to some degree subject to it.
Questions I'll advance answer to:
1. Could a man/male/masculine manifestation write a Gurlesque poem? Sure, but the speaker to my thinking, would still have to reside in some manifestation of feminine. Or the poem would have to mess with femininity a la the grotesque/burlesque/girly kitsch/etc. that Lara & Arielle describe. I don't think Lara (or Arielle?) agrees with me on this point, and you may find me changing my tune if I see poems + persuasions.
2. Does a human need female biology to perform feminine? No, of course not. But the way girls/women/feminine manifestations are cultured cannot be divorced from our notions about the female body. Consider: testosterone, from testicle, from the Latin root meaning to testify. Estrogen? From oestrus, Latin for gadfly or frenzy. Culture informs biology informs culture...and this to me seems quite central to the poets in whom Gurlesque has been identified. It's vital to examine how these poets confront the powers that police and define female bodies. Further, the female body has long been a site on which aesthetic camps planted flag in a way the male body has not, so there is some very different, necessary work to be done on that stomping ground.
Other questions that seem to be nagging at the borders of discussion:
3. Does the Gurlesque envision gender as a spectrum? Or some other non-binary model? (Answer probably = yes.) And, if so, would that be more significant than, or overwrite the work it does to interrogate explicitly feminine gender roles and the cultural responses to the female form?
4. Do the Gurlesque poets go drag? Do they mess with masculinity? Do they create types neither masculine nor feminine?
5. If so, #4, are those Gurlesque things they do, or are those things they do in addition to the Gurlesque?
There's also discussion afoot over at Johannes Goransson's.