May. 14th, 2010

ilthit: (apples are red)
[personal profile] ilthit
This post is based on a suggestion in the discussion prompt gathering thread, which is still taking suggestions for new discussions if you have them.

Okay, here goes.

[personal profile] marshtide said:

Kind of following on from the general stuff about queer womanhood that's being discussed at the moment, I'd love some more specific discussion of Irene Adler as a possible bisexual character.

Some commenting re: sexual preference vs gender expression and "sex inversion" followed. The thread is here.

I'm better at making associations and connections than conclusions, but here are some subjects I'd love to see discussed:

1) If Victorian sexologists conflated of sexuality and gender, i.e., a woman who wants women is like a man, would that also work as a woman who is like a man necessarily wanting women? There were popular stories of women dressing up as boys for practical reasons or to follow their male lovers, like Viola in Twelfth Night, Fidelio and Sweet Polly Oliver, but on the other hand people would also be aware of the legend of the bisexual La Maupin for example. Also see point #3. 

2) Do you think Irene Adler may have been inspired by scandalous 19th century crossdressing women? I'm thinking of George Sand. 

3) Have some caricatures of women's rights activists wearing trousers and "reducing" their husbands to the role of the wife. 

4) Pornographers were certainly aware of woman-on-woman sex acts, and I vaguely remember (sorry, I have not prepared this post) reading an excerpt of a courtesan advising a recruit to playfully put on a man's jacket and hat to arouse her client. I've also seen an erotic drawing of a woman in trousers with her excited male lover saying "Miss, may I help you with your trousers?" and the cover of a turn of the century magazine where a beaming man is surrounded by a crowd of women in jackets and trousers, boasting "bifurcated girls". That was in The History of Girly Magazines, and the text claimed that women in trousers were quite naughty because it clearly showed that women had legs. Hum. So, does anyone know if there was a lesbian subculture that engaged in crossdressing or if this would have been more of a game for male-servicing brothels? What do you think Doyle was referencing with the character? 

5) Could Irene or her fellow female (real and imagined) gender rebels from the era compare to modern genderqueer identities? There's no way of knowing which of the many "women" caught "dressing like a man" throughout the history would now be identified as trans men, and how many were in it for the benefits, or could fall into some other category of trans. 

In other words, do you think her crossdressing closer related to "sex inversion" and lesbianism, female liberation, gender rebellion or straight titillation - or other, or all of the above? 

damned_colonial: Dr. John Watson (watson)
[personal profile] damned_colonial
So, this came up in a sub-thread on the asexuality post, and was threatening to get pretty tangential/deraily, so I thought it was worth creating a new post for it.

Sherlock Holmes fandom goes back a very long way, of course. And people have been writing H/W slash for a long time, too. Now we have this new movie, there's a whole new generation coming to the fandom who don't have experience with the older phases of the fandom, and while there is a lot of interesting stuff coming out of the newer fans' engagement with the canon, there are also older fans shaking their walking sticks at those kids on their lawn.

Personally, I'm fascinated by older Sherlock Holmes fandom even if I don't feel very much a part of it. I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who was involved with Holmes fandom in its earlier/older incarnations -- any of the Sherlockian societies, or zine-based slash fandom, or mailing lists, or even LJ/DW fandom prior to the 2009 movie -- about your experiences and the changes you've seen.

And to bring it round to the subject of this comm, I'm especially interested in talking about how different groups or generations of Sherlock Holmes have addressed his (potential) queerness. Obviously it's changed over time -- we can have another go-round on the Watson Was a Woman thing and whether or not Stout was really trying to point out Holmes and Watson's queerness, if you like, and if anyone has any other pointers to older Sherlockiana on gender/sexuality issues I would love to know about them!

As for fic-writing fandom, I know when I read older H/W slash online I find it has a different aesthetic and different tropes than modern LJ/DW-centred slash fandom commonly uses. We're Not Gay, We Just Love Each Other is part of it, for sure. I feel like slash fandom has really changed the way we address homosexuality in recent years, based on the fic I've read. We seem much more likely to show our characters having had previous homosexual experiences, or being happily and openly bisexual, or being connected to a homosexual subculture, or being non-heteronormative in other ways (genderqueer/transgendered, asexual, kinky, etc.) At least, I *think* we're more likely to do that... am I missing stuff from the older fic, and if so, where can I find the fic that talks about these things? And, is this happening because newer generations of fans are more likely to be queer, more likely to be out as queer, more likely to be used to discussing and dissecting queerness online?

Bringing in another post that I found this morning (via), by [personal profile] obsession_inc on the subjection of "Affirmational" vs "Transformational" fandom, do you think Holmes fandom is shifting from affirmational to transformational, and is that a generational shift? (I like obsession_inc's observation that "fixing" the story so that our beloved characters have sex is one of the most common forms of transformation.) I found myself pointing at obsession_inc's post and saying YES THIS and I know I'm going to be pointing to it a lot in future because it resonates very strongly with me, and I'm definitely feeling that resonance in what I see of Sherlock Holmes fandom in its various incarnations.

What do you think?

ETA: I know we're getting linked pretty regularly in LJ comms like [livejournal.com profile] holmesian_news, so if anyone comes in from there and would like a DW account to comment on posts here (or post your own), here are three invite codes:

SYMVMRXY9SGCNAAADRN7
ARHCWS7ZK2V66AAADRN8
3AKGFN8AF8B5XAAADRN9

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