bride_of_the_atom: (Default)
[personal profile] bride_of_the_atom posting in [community profile] monstrous_regiment

I have a kind of latent fascination for women who presented themselves as men in order to join the armed forces (or other exclusively male circles) throughout history. I say "latent" fascination because I've never really been able to delve into the subject, but keep thinking that I'd like to whenever I hear or read about one of those women. Does anybody here know about good places to start? Books, webpages?

There's also a related thing that has had me wondering for some time. As far as I understand, women disguised as men weren't that enormously uncommon in the armies of, say, 16th to 19th century Europe, but very, very rare in the navies. Being a fan of naval fiction, I'm assuming that the crowded environment and lack of privacy made it considerably more difficult to hide one's physical gender aboard a ship. The question I was wondering if anybody can answer, though, is this: I've been told that "show a leg" originally meant literally that - an order to the seamen to stick one leg out of their hammocks so any disguised women among them could be found. To me, it seems improbable and rings of the contemporary delusion that women's bodies are hairless by nature. Does anybody have any interesting ideas, or even better, facts about this?

Date: 2011-05-29 07:54 pm (UTC)
shadowvalkyrie: (Me)
From: [personal profile] shadowvalkyrie
A good and enjoyable read to get a first general overview on women disguised as men in the military is Julie Wheelwright's Amazons and Military Maids.

More specialised is Rudolf Dekker and Lotte van de Pol's The Tradition of Female Transvestism in Early Modern Europe, that, iirc, deals primarily, but not exclusively with the Dutch navy.

I don't remember "show a leg" being in either, though, but it's been a while since I read them.

Good luck with your research!

Date: 2011-06-17 08:16 pm (UTC)
thistleburr: A burr from a burdock thistle. (Default)
From: [personal profile] thistleburr
Thanks for suggesting these. I picked up your first suggestion and I'm really enjoying it.


The Monstrous Regiment of Women

May 2011


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