La confusion des sexes: Le travestissement de la Renaissance à la Révolution

TitleLa confusion des sexes: Le travestissement de la Renaissance à la Révolution
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2001
AuthorsSteinberg, Sylvie
Number of Pages409

It is hard to imagine that so many French women dressed as men between the Renaissance and the Revolution. Among them, women who enlisted in the King's army to escape poverty, the so-called “Depraved” (debauchées)--noble women who defended their own land, mystics who claimed to imitate the holy transvestites of the past, revolutionaries who demanded their rights as female citizens... Even though the king's justice equated tranvestism with a "crime of forgery," judges often treated crossdressing women with leniency, unless they were engaged in prostitution or unseemly passions. Rarer were the men who dared to crossdress--l'abbé de Choisy, l'abbé d'Entragues and le chevalier d'Eon were exceptions. A man who openly enjoyed taking the appearance of a woman was scandalous. This was because he challenged the supposed perfection of the male sex that generations of doctors had demonstrated, relying on the ancient theory of humors. The diverse testimonies gathered in this book clearly manifest the behavioral code, the rules and the values of a society founded on inequality based on hierarchies of blood and sex. Under the Old Regime, the moral police closely surveilled transvestites, precisely because they went against the "proper difference of the sexes" defended for centuries by moralists and physiognomists, until the Enlightenment philosophers drew on "nature" to justify inequality between men and women. [Translated from the publisher.]     

Translated TitleGender Confusion: The Travesty of the Renaissance to the Revolution
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