Discussione:Passing women

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TRANSVESTITES, ANDROGYNOUS WOMEN, AND PASSING WOMEN Some of the most well-documented phenomenona regarding lesbian desire in history rb10_gunslingersweb.jpgemain the women who passed as men and the women who wore traditional male attire. Examples of women who “passed” in society are abundant, although their reasons for doing so appear varied. Some cross-dressed for material benefits or jobs: “The courageous women who could pass not only earned more money for the same work; they could also open bank accounts, write checks, own houses and property, and vote in local and national elections” (Duberman et. al 1989, 185). On other occasions, these women passed as men to fight in wars. Jonathon Katz relates the story of Deborah Sampson (a.k.a Herman Mann) who “enlisted in the Continental forces under the name of Robert Shurtleff…fought in several battles, and was wounded in one near Tarrytown” (1976, 212). Vicinus notes that many times these war heroines were discovered to be biological women, yet remained admired when they went back to traditional roles as wives and mothers (1993, 437). In other situations, thb11_hitchcockweb.jpgese passing women did not give up their masculine personas, and sometimes married other women (Katz 1976, 225). These examples of passing women, many theorists believe, represent early articulations of lesbian identity and desire, emerging even as laws changed to contain them as gender deviants: “Public attitudes towards passing women also changed in the early 20th century, imposing stricter penalties on cross-dressing. In addition to the older legal sanctions against passing women, new medical and psychiatric theories labeled these women as ‘sexual deviants’” (Duberman et. al. 1989, 192). Regardless of the difficulties faced by passing women, many still participated in cross-dressing and living lives as men, or at least adopting masculine styles. In this way, we might say that passing women were early forerunners of the modern “butch” identity, which became visible in the 1920s (Vicinus 1993, 440).