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Arresting dress : cross-dressing, law, and fascination in nineteenth-century San Francisco

Author: Clare Sears
Publisher: Durham : Duke University Press, 2015.
Series: Perverse modernities.
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
"In 1863, San Francisco's Board of Supervisors passed a law that criminalized a person's appearing in public in 'a dress not belonging to his or her sex.' Adopted as part of a broader anti-indecency campaign, the cross-dressing law became a flexible tool for policing multiple gender transgressions, facilitating over one hundred arrests before the century's end. Over forty U.S. cities passed similar laws during this  Read more...
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Genre/Form: History
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Clare Sears
ISBN: 9780822357544 0822357542 9780822357582 0822357585 9780822376194 0822376199
OCLC Number: 881560484
Description: x, 202 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm.
Contents: Instant and peculiar --
Against good morals --
Problem bodies, public space --
A sight well worth gazing upon --
Indecent exhibitions --
Problem bodies, nation-state.
Series Title: Perverse modernities.
Responsibility: Clare Sears.

Abstract:

"In 1863, San Francisco's Board of Supervisors passed a law that criminalized a person's appearing in public in 'a dress not belonging to his or her sex.' Adopted as part of a broader anti-indecency campaign, the cross-dressing law became a flexible tool for policing multiple gender transgressions, facilitating over one hundred arrests before the century's end. Over forty U.S. cities passed similar laws during this time, yet little is known about their emergence, operations, or effects. Grounded in a wealth of archival material, Arresting Dress traces the career of cross-dressing laws from municipal courtrooms and codebooks to newspaper scandals, vaudevillian theater, freak-show performances, and commercial 'slumming tours.' It shows that the laws did not simply police normative gender but actively produced it by creating new definitions of gender normality and abnormality. It also tells the story of the tenacity of those who defied the law, spoke out when sentenced, and articulated different gender possibilities"--Unedited summary from book cover.

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"Sears deftly uses a variety of well-placed illustrations (newspaper clippings, political cartoons, posters, and photographs) to explain and expand her arguments. She also, in a surprising twist in Read more...

 
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