TOPSY-TURVYDOM: Gender Inversion, sapphism, and the Great War

TOPSY-TURVYDOM: Gender Inversion, sapphism, and the Great War Topsy-Turvydom Gender Inversion, sapphism, and the Great War Laura Doan published Women and Soldiers, a tendentious extolment of British women’s wider participation in the public sphere in which she even advanced the radical suggestion that women might be allowed to fight alongside men in the trenches of the Western Front. With hyperbolic flourish she cheerfully welcomed the new world order, declaring it a state of “topsy-turvydom” wherein “every man is a soldier, and every woman is a man.”1 Read as a kind of syllogism, we might infer that every woman is therefore a soldier — or, to put it less literally, every woman is doing her bit for the country; yet the statement could also be taken in other ways. On one level, the claim speaks to the general upheaval in British national life during World War I. In response to the rapid changes in living and working conditions at home and in the zones of conflict, both women and men had become something other than their prewar selves. As gender historians have amply documented, Alec-Tweedie depicts not an imaginary utopia of an all-female workforce but rather a reasonably accurate picture of how, beginning in the autumn of http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies Duke University Press

TOPSY-TURVYDOM: Gender Inversion, sapphism, and the Great War

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
© 2006 by Duke University Press
ISSN
1064-2684
eISSN
1064-2684
D.O.I.
10.1215/10642684-2006-001
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Topsy-Turvydom Gender Inversion, sapphism, and the Great War Laura Doan published Women and Soldiers, a tendentious extolment of British women’s wider participation in the public sphere in which she even advanced the radical suggestion that women might be allowed to fight alongside men in the trenches of the Western Front. With hyperbolic flourish she cheerfully welcomed the new world order, declaring it a state of “topsy-turvydom” wherein “every man is a soldier, and every woman is a man.”1 Read as a kind of syllogism, we might infer that every woman is therefore a soldier — or, to put it less literally, every woman is doing her bit for the country; yet the statement could also be taken in other ways. On one level, the claim speaks to the general upheaval in British national life during World War I. In response to the rapid changes in living and working conditions at home and in the zones of conflict, both women and men had become something other than their prewar selves. As gender historians have amply documented, Alec-Tweedie depicts not an imaginary utopia of an all-female workforce but rather a reasonably accurate picture of how, beginning in the autumn of

Journal

GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay StudiesDuke University Press

Published: Jan 1, 2006

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