Phillip Patterson Take Home Exam #2 Friday November 2, 2018IntersectionalityThe Pilot episode of the television show Pose is full of various types of social identities and the varying ways that they interact with each other. Set in 1980’s New York, Pose gives viewers an inside look at ball culture of the time and takes them along for a ride through the lives of different members of the LGBTQ+ community that it impacts.
Although there are many types of media theories at play in this show, for the purpose of this essay, an intersectional analysis of Pose will be conducted in order to gain a better understanding the varying types of personalities and identities that are at play and how they respond to types of oppression. Intersectionality can be summarized as the way that various identities and personality axes of an individual cross and meet to work together and influence each other (Hill Collins ; Bilge, 2016). In today’s society when looking at or critiquing an individual it is easier to focus on one identifier of a person (their race, gender, social class, sexuality, etc). In doing this however, it is important to remember that these identities and constructs work in conjunction with each other. A good example of this would be the plight of African Americans over time. African Americans are often times considered to be the minority in various movements. In particular, the media places a large emphasis on the struggles of African American men and the ways that they are oppressed by society.
However, women and LGBTQ+ individuals are also constantly going through types of strife and misrepresentation. Adopting the ideals of intersectionality, a person can better understand the way that an African American, queer, woman goes through in relation to society and the struggles or oppressions that she may face. In an intersectional context, Pose can be analyze in many different ways.
It does a good job of touching on the ways that characters handle their intersectional relationships, but also by placing a large emphasis on issues of social inequality and power struggles between classes by setting the show in ‘Trump era luxury’. In terms of character backgrounds and identities, Pose is one of the most complex shows on television in this day. The plot is centered strongly around drag and ball culture and many of the characters identify as transexuals furthering ideals of intersectionality. Characters in the show include, homosexuals, heterosexuals, individuals who have HIV, and countless other races, identifiers, and descriptors.
One good example of a diverse character in the show is Blanca Evangelista. Blanca is a transgender African American woman who also has HIV. Even though she has so many different identities, for the majority of the show they are not addressed as individuals, only as a collective. When looking at the majority of the cast of Pose it becomes clear that it is crafted with the goal of representing numerous facets of society. Another important aspect of intersectionality is the role that it plays in the development of power struggles between individuals. In Pose Angel Evangelista is a female African American prostitute who is in the process of completing her transition to female.
She becomes infatuated with one of her ‘johns’, Stan Bowes. Stan initially reciprocates her feelings of affection but when she attempts to speak with him at work and gain employment he shuts her down and dismisses her. This drastic gap in power dynamic is exemplified through the ideals of social inequality that are portrayed throughout the episode. Hegemony is a term that is often used when analyzing intersectionality and it’s presence and role in Pose does not go unnoticed. Damon is a young, homosexual, African-American male who is thrown out of his home by his unsupporting religious parents. At this point in the 1980’s the large majority of hegemonic dominance was maintained by white, straight, males.
It is important to understand that due to this power imbalance, Damon always had poor odds of success (due to him being a male African American). In that fragile time it was not as easy for black males to come to terms with their sexuality and truly embrace who they are while still being taken seriously (Hooks, 1992). In summary, the episode does a good job of not only portraying intersectionality but also showing the cases of social inequality that it may unfortunately lead to.