Les Masculines, 1922

I feel terrible for forgetting where I got this image.  It was recently, too.  So I apologize to whomever I took this from for not crediting you.

This is from the French fashion periodical Gazette du Bon Ton (Currently there is an exhibit at Kent University Museum, ending May 30, 2010).

What I love is that the women have adopted riding clothes as their masculine-styled costume.  This makes sense.  Since the 18th century, women’s riding habits had been the first type of clothing to consistently borrow from male costume.  These women in 1922 would have been shocking, but not nearly as shocking as if they had worn everyday male dress.

Gazette du Bon Ton, 1922

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Where do you fall on the masculine/feminine continuum? (1939 style)

These diagrams are from a book called Sex and Heredity by Amram Scheinfeld, published in 1939. Sorry about the bad scans, I didn’t want to crack the spine of this priceless tome.

"How various men and women rank according to average scores in the M-F test"

What Men Don’t Like About Women (1945)

What Men Don’t Like About Women by Thomas D. Horton, 1945.

This book really has nothing to do with lesbianism…except maybe to illuminate why women became lesbian-feminists in the 1970s.

I have no words for this book.  It is simply indescribable.  It contains not a hint of irony.  I urge you to find a copy and enjoy it.  To whet your curiosity, here are two short excerpts:

“In the entire history of the world no woman has been a good literary critic…If she has ever uttered a single original thought, a brief investigation will reveal that she borrowed it from a man.”  (page 98)

“2. Their discourtesy. There are few things in this world that offend a man more than to be directed in the sex act by his woman.  It is pretty near the ultimate humiliation, beyond forgiving and forgetting.  Nature demands that the male be dominant in bed if nowhere else.  The trials and tribulations of life, for a man, are numerous and harrowing enough, for him to be spared the final blow by the bossiness of his beloved during the embrace.  Some women think it is modern, sophisticated, and healthy for them to tell their men what to do and how to do it.  The truth is that it is degrading, that it sets up a terrific inferiority complex in the man, and that the upshot is marital misery or- divorce.” (page 138)

Cross-dressing in the Orchard

Naturally.  What do you do in the orchard?

This is another adorable photograph from Women in Pants.  It is dated c. 1910.

"Couple posed in a relaxed embrace, c. 1910"

Dapper

The bouncer at Cubbyhole last night had a hand-made badge reading “Dapper not butch.”  I think that the lesbian community (specifically the non-femme) is in the process of co-opting the word dapper.  For example.

I’m using this post to highlight one of my favorite books, Women in Pants by Catherine Smith and Cynthia Greig.  It’s chock full of fascinating, beautiful, and downright sexy photographs of “manly maidens, cowgirls, and other renegades.”

This woman is dapper, don’t you think?

Group of women having a smoke, gelatin silver print, c. 1896

I like that she is in full masculine garb  but retained her soft poufed hair.

Pockets and Lesbians

Cabinet Card c. 1890, collection of Catharine Smith

In “Idle Hands and Empty Pockets,” published in Volume 35 of Dress,  historian Hannah Carlson discusses the gender-bending power of hands in the pockets.  In the eighteenth century, for example, a man with his hands in his pockets projected a certain air of effeminacy to his contemporaries.  Conversely, when women cross-dressed (as in the photo above), they stuck their hands deep into their trouser pockets to signify masculinity.  This makes sense when we remember that women didn’t really have pockets in which they could rest their hands until the mid-20th century.

I just want to note that the women in the photograph above were probably not lesbians.  Female cross-dressing was largely separate from Victorian ideas about sexuality.

I think we still read pocketed hands as masculine, even though women have been wearing pants for over fifty years now.  Interesting, huh?