‘The Aggressives’


“My sexuality has nothing to with my gender,” says Rjai, one of the six lesbians profiled in Daniel Peddle’s doc, succinctly summing up the last decade of queer theory. Thankfully, Peddle’s film is much more illuminating than a grad school seminar. A term popular among black and Latina lesbians, aggressive, like butch, reflects, as Flo, the film’s sole Asian interlocutor puts it, “being a special kind of man,” usually eschewing hormones or gender-reassignment surgery. Iron-jawed Marquise hopes to be a good role model for her little brother, noting, “You don’t have to be a man to teach somebody else how to be one.” For dapper heartbreaker Rjai, who once appeared on Ricki Lake as an expert “lesbian stud,” masculinity is enacted on the ball-scene runway. But The Aggressives is more than just performance studies, as Peddle includes ample footage of real-life hardship: Marquise enlists in the army for the cash; Flo can’t find a job; Octavia’s behind bars. Yet when sprung, she laments, “I miss the girls.”

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 27, 2005

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