Digging back through past blog entries, I came across a chat with author Alex Potter about the attractiveness of antagonist characters. I excerpted our thoughts in an entry with the subject line “Why villains are cool and gay villains even cooler.” In the chat, we clearly picked up on the characterization of many villains as evil and
attractive and queer. We focused less on their presentation as villainous and more on their irresistible and transgressive sexiness. We really liked them and agreed that they were pretty cool.
I see that I recognized queer coding back than — the clustering of evilness, sexiness, and queerness — even though I didn’t know the term. I also didn’t really recognize the negative connotations of queer coding. I was mostly happy just to have found characters that I thought were cool role models; I focused more on them being attractive and queer than on their villainy. I was so happy to have role models of any kind [finally, people in the media whose portrayals I could identify with!] that I didn’t think critically about how they were presented as evil because queer and failures because misogynistly presented as femme. I kind of skipped over the persistent link between, first, queerness and villainy and, second, queerness and transmisogyny. Of course, now I can look back and see how the queer coding and transmisogyny that I swallowed along with all my aspirational desire really messed things up, so blargh.