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  • Print publication year: 2014
  • Online publication date: December 2014

11 - Cross-Dressing, Queerness, and the Early Modern Stage

from Part II - Renaissance and Early Modern


Female-female eroticism had no formal space in the dominant premodern discourse on sex, which posited the phallus as indispensable to a woman's social and sexual fulfillment. For this reason, inevitably this chapter largely focuses on male, rather than female homoeroticism. The chapter provides a review of some of the earliest Chinese sources on male-male relations, especially because they gave rise to a classic lexicon of homosexuality. The expressions "longyang", "shared peach", and "cut sleeve" are the most prominent of such lexicon, and are still used. Some pornographic narratives from the second half of the seventeenth century indeed feature a new type of libertine, who can be sexually penetrated without his masculine credentials being compromised. The homosexual initiation takes the form of a rape, with the husband taking advantage of the libertine young scholar's intoxicated state. A discursive orientation more critical of homoeroticism can certainly be detected in eighteenth-century fiction.

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