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

By Efrat Tseëlon | Go to book overview

FOREWORD

Susan B. Kaiser

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’.

-xiii-

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Masquerade and Identities: Essays on Gender, Sexuality, and Marginality
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Plates ix
  • Foreword xiii
  • Preface xvii
  • Acknowledgements xix
  • References 15
  • 1 - Reflections on Mask and Carnival 18
  • 2 - Stigma, Uncertain Identity and Skill in Disguise 38
  • 3 - Lesbian Masks 54
  • 4 - Fashion, Fetish, Fantasy 73
  • References 81
  • 5 - Is Womanliness Nothing but a Masquerade? 83
  • 6 - The Scarf and the Toothache 101
  • Note 112
  • 7 - The Metamorphosis of the Mask in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century London 114
  • References 133
  • 8 - Masked and Unmasked at the Opera Balls 135
  • References 150
  • 9 - On Women and Clothes and Carnival Fools 153
  • References 170
  • Index 175
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