The Third Sex
In June 1869, Harper's Weekly published a lithograph with the title "Pacific Railroad Complete." 1 The illustration shows a Chinese man, mustachioed, with a thickly braided queue hanging beneath a skull cap, dressed in a baggy Chinese tunic and trousers, standing arm in arm with a white woman dressed in middle-class fashion with a fancy hat and bustled dress. The couple are posed in front of the "church of St. Confucious." [sic] With its caption celebrating the geographic consolidation of the nation, the picture of the wedding of East and West is an ironic visual representation of the complicated anxieties that nineteenth-century Americans had about the changing nature of nation and their families.
The lithograph suggests that the transcontinental railroad ironically "completes" the geographic consolidation of the nation, but in doing so opens up a new set of class, gender, and racial contradictions. It offers a vision of the completed nation as a family, but one that is disturbingly biracial. The West can now be represented by the Chinese man, while the East is represented by the white woman. Their marriage not only is interracial but appears to cross class boundaries as well. The white woman, wearing middle-class attire, represents both the Victorian familial culture and the autonomous female public sphere emerging in the nation's cities; the mustachioed Chinaman represents the new racial and sexual possibilities and threats inherent in the incorporation of the "frontier" into the nation.
In the decades following the Civil War and the completion