Masquerade and Identities: Essays on Gender, Sexuality, and Marginality

Masquerade and Identities: Essays on Gender, Sexuality, and Marginality

Masquerade and Identities: Essays on Gender, Sexuality, and Marginality

Masquerade and Identities: Essays on Gender, Sexuality, and Marginality

Synopsis

Masquerade, both literal and metaphorical, is now a central concept in many disciplines. This timely volume explores and revisits the role of disguise in constructing, expressing, or representing marginalised identities, and in undermining easy distinctions between 'true'identity and artifice.The book is interdisciplinary in approach, spanning a diverse range of cultures and narrative voices. It provides provocative and nuanced ways of thinking about masquerade as a tool for construction, and a tool for critique. The essays interrogate such themes as:* mask and carnival* fetish fashion* stigma of illegitimacy* femininity as masquerade* lesbian masks* cross-dressing in Jewish folk theatre* the mask in seventeenth and eighteenth century London and nineteenth century France* the voice as mask.

Excerpt

By what seemed to be an amazing coincidence, as I was beginning to work on this foreword I happened to hear that Oprah Winfrey’s show that day dealt with the theme of ‘taking it off’ or ‘shedding your disguise’. In this show, a series of individuals described as hiding who they really are behind their ‘masks’ or ‘disguises’ parade through the show and are persuaded to ‘help themselves by simplifying their looks’:

A man who has been ‘working the strip’ of remaining hair on his head, trying to disguise his baldness, loses the strip; the audience cheers his baldness.

A woman in the audience reveals that she has been stuffing her bra with toilet paper; as she strategically removes it, Oprah cheers ‘Free at last!’ And, ‘We have some bras for you - just your size.’

Oprah describes how it is ‘time to liberate these brave women’ who have been ‘hiding’ behind their very long (waist-length) hair. When these women return later with new, professional ‘bobs’ and suits with turtleneck sweaters, the audience applauds and family members cry. The women are now described as ‘beautiful, and so modern!’ Their former hairstyles are characterized as ‘security blankets’.

A man with a ponytail gets it clipped off.

Mothers who have been ‘hiding behind’ their sweats during the day at home are ‘made over’ with the latest loungewear styles.

Oprah herself is wearing designer silk pajamas and laughs at how she ‘used to wear suits every day’. . .

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