cross-dressng-msg - 12/17/10
Cross-dressing in period. Women who dressed as men and men who dressed as women.
This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.
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Mark S. Harris AKA: THLord Stefan li Rous
Stefan at florilegium.org
Date: Mon, 13 Sep 1999 23:17:18 +0100
From: Tom Holt <lemming.co at zetnet.co.uk>
Subject: Re: Roaring Women (was Re: Women and swords....)
The message <slrn7tqquc.hio.zebee at zipper.zip.com.au>
from zebee at zip.com.au (Zebee Johnstone) contains these words:
> john enzinas <jenzinas at amikanow.com> wrote:
> >william thomas powers <powers at cis.ohio-state.edu> wrote:
> >>Its post medieval; but didn't the "roaring women" of elizabethan england
> >>go armed? (and drank and smoked and were a *scandle* to all right
> >>thinking folk---sounds like they had a lot of fun)
> >i have yet to hear about this in any of the (rather small number) of info
> >sources i have read. who were the "Roaring Women"? where can i find more
> I'm not sure there was more than one...
There was a play by Middleton & Dekker called "The Roaring Girl",
first produced in 1611. IIRC she was a female version of the Roaring
Boys (sort of urban Elizabethan middle-class Hell's Angels/punk rockers)
The title of this thread puts me in mind of the Sobbin' Women from
"Seven Brides For Seven Brothers". Which dates me, I guess.
From: rmine at iinet.net.au (Russell )
Subject: Re: Roaring Women (was Re: Women and swords....)
Date: Fri, 17 Sep 1999 12:47:51 GMT
powers at cis.ohio-state.edu (william thomas powers) wrote:
>There was a book on the Elizabethen "underworld" with a title going
>X, Y and Roaring women/girls?. I can't get to my notes to find the exact
>cite; I'm sorry we're in a crunch at work and I have not home time to speak of.
I think you might be remembering "The Elizabethan Underworld" by
Alan Sutton Publishing Ltd
It has a some very good background and an interesting biography of
Moll Cutpurse - an amazing and unrepentant character.
From: Maggie Forest <maggie at forest.gen.nz>
Subject: Re: Any sources for migration era danish underwear?
Date: Thu, 14 Sep 2000 09:40:33 +1200
Organization: Asia Online NZ
On Wed, 13 Sep 2000 19:44:41 GMT, Ciorstan <ciorstan at mediaone.net> wrote:
>IIRC, Jenny Jochens' "Women in Norse Society" mentions, in passing, an
>Icelandic divorce case where the basis/ground was Husband's objection to
>Wife's wearing fly-fronted pants (men's pants). I haven't succeeded in
>tracking down anything concrete about the 'case.'
Laxdaela saga. chapter 35, Gudrun's second marriage (in the Penguin
(Gudrun has divorced her first husband after making him shirts which
were so wide in the neck that his nipples are exposed)
One day when they were riding across Blaskogaheath in fine weather,
Gudrun said, "Is it true, Thord, that your wife Aud always wears
breeches with gores in the crutch, like a man's, and cross-garters
almost down to her shoes?"
One day Thord Ingunnarson asked Gudrun what the penalty was for a
woman who always wore breeches like a man's.
Gudrun replied, "The same penalty applies to women in a case like that
as to a man who wears a neck-opening so wide that his nipples are
exposed: both are grounds for divorce."
Date: Thu, 10 Jan 2002 00:46:38 -0800
From: "Laura C. Minnick" <lcm at efn.org>
To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org
Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] trans-gender clothing
Stefan li Rous wrote:
> Well, through most cultures and times we study, trans-gender
> clothing for either sex was looked down upon. There appear to have
> been a bunch more women who dressed as men than vice-versa though.
> There were probably a number of economic and cultural reasons for
> this, but the main one was that throughout period women generally
> had a second class status and trading up made a lot more sense
> than trading down.
Yes, this is generally the case. In fact, men dressing as women was
usually seen as almost sinister, and teh man was hiding for some
There is a very interesting 13th c French romance called _Silence_
(which is even in translation, by Sarah Roche-Mahdi) that addresses
these issues. Silence is a girl raised as a boy because of inheritance
laws- and grows up to be a highly esteemed knight, known far and wide
for 'his' prowess. At the end of the tale, due to a sort of 'Potiphar's
wife' scenario, Silence is unmasked as a female, and one of the queen's
'ladies' is unmasked as a male. The issues of identity and voice are
very important in the text, and clothing as social identity is central.
There is also a romance from around the same time where the hero/heroine
(I forget which) is found out because of their table manners and the way
they ate their food. But I can't remember the title...
From: b.scott at csuohio.edu (Brian M. Scott)
Subject: Re: Girls with Short Hair
Date: Sun, 03 Aug 2003 22:14:30 GMT
On Sun, 3 Aug 2003 20:43:45 +0000 (UTC), tmcd at panix.com (Timothy
>Cynthia Virtue <cvirtue at thibault.org> wrote:
>>Speaking likewise from theory, I doubt it. We're hard-wired to be
>>able to recognize members of the opposite sex for evolutionary
>>reasons, and the way they move is part of that pattern-recognition.
>>It takes work to move like the opposite sex after sexual maturity. I
>>doubt clothes mask it very much.
>Speaking likewise from theory and limited experience, I doubt you.
>I think sex recognition is learned far more than you think.
Some weak evidence in your favor:
An acquaintance who did a Master's in War Studies, specifically
on women in war, says that there are many well-documented
instances of women passing as men in 17th century fighting
forces; presumably there are even more who aren't documented.
She also mentions that '[t]he Arabs during the Crusades were much
given to remarking that they'd cleared up after a skirmish and
found yet /another/ Frankish woman in mail, fighting as a man
does'; these women seem to have been airbrushed out of history,
so there's no way tell whether they were passing, but I suspect
that at least some must have been.
>But GAD I'd like real data! Any people in here who were adult before
>women in pants became more common and can therefore testify as to
>whether they had trouble with sex recognition at the transition?
>Surely there are books on this subject?
I was born in 1948. The trousers that (some) women wore in
informal settings when I was a kid were for the most part cut
entirely differently from those worn by men. They were also
generally tight enough to leave little doubt in most cases, and
of course hair length was also a fairly reliable signal. It
isn't until you get to the 60s that you find significant numbers
of men and women wearing similar clothing and similar hair
styles. Real ambiguity was definitely possible, especially with
slender builds of either sex. It still is, under the same
circumstances, if the person doesn't have clearly masculine or
feminine gestures, stances, ways of moving, etc. At the same
time it's clear that many body types send clear signals as long
as the clothing doesn't conceal them.
To: Authentic_SCA at yahoogroups.com
Subject: Re: Same-sex couples and cross-dressing
Posted by: "Brad Moore" mamluk at yahoo.com mamluk
Tue Dec 16, 2008 11:34 am (PST)
Posted by: "adiebaren" adiebaren at aol.com
<<< My partner and I just participated in our first Ren-Faire as
vendor/artisans. I'm comfortable in skirts, but my partner hasn't
worn a dress since she left her family of origin. I outfitted us in
sketchy inexpensive costumes, skirt, smock and bodice for me,
breeches, shirt and leather apron for her. We're woodturners, which I
suspect would not have been a typical occupation for women in
Elizabethan times. >>>
A fascinating book on the subject is available, Clothes Make The Man: Female Cross Dressing in Medieval Europe, by Valerie Hotchkiss; ISBN: 0815323697 9780815323693, and the OCLC: 33983482. The work itself, and her bibliography should provide you with a starting point. Also, if you have access to a good research library, such as a university library, try some journals: Gender and History, Sexuality and Culture, Sexualities, Evolution, and Gender, Journal of Gender Studies, to name just a few. Most of these are available electronically through a university library's database.
I am not terribly familiar with the Ren Faire Circuit, but am a graduate student in Medieval History focusing on Gender/Sexuality and Clothing/Dress. If you prefer, you may contact me privately at mamluk at yahoo.com.
You might also check out the book, Tudor Tailor by Ninya Mikhaila, and her website, www.ninyamikhaila.com. The book does a good job of featuring what middle class people would have worn during the period. Janet Arnold's books Patterns of Fashion 3: The Cut and Construction of Clothes for Men and Women, C. 1560-1620 and Patterns of Fashion 4: The Cut and Construction of Linen Shirts, Smocks, Neckwear, Headwear and Accessories for Men and Women C. 1540-1660for more advanced costume ideas. Good luck in your endeavors.