By Rudolf M. Dekker, Lotte C. Van de Pol
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Extra resources for The Tradition of Female Transvestism in Early Modern Europe
The 22 The Tradition of Female Transvestism manservants, who were young wags, poked their noses in at this sound and then began to produce such peals oflaughter that the house echoed with them. ' Private living space was exceptional for the common people of the time. Servants would sleep together, often in one bed, not seldom with the children of the house. Travellers often slept together in one bed while staying at an inn. The forecastle of a ship could be a most difficult place to keep one's identity secret, especially when one was sick or drunk.
Maybe we should be less surprised by the discoveries, than by the fact that so many women succeeded in passing as men so long under conditions of such limited privacy. People did not wash frequently nor undress lightly, but a better explanation for their Women Who Lived as Men 23 success lies in the strictness of the differentiation between the genders at the time. A sailor, in trousers, smoking a pipe, with short and loose hair, would not easily be thought of as anything but a man. In several instances, children, not adults, were the discoverers of female cross-dressers, as was the case with Johanna Catharina van Cuylenburg and, the first time, for Maria van Antwerpen.
She had, she said, enlisted 'out oflove, affection, and a pure passion for the fatherland'. She stressed the motive of patriotism in particular to the military court in 1751. Not all cases were as complicated at Maria's. There were different varieties of cross-dressing and a range of intentions. Temporary masquerades for carnavalesque festivities were often M olives and Tradition 27 undertaken just for the fun of it and functioned as traditional escape from reality. During extended or dangerous journeys, it was an obvious solution to certain problems for a woman to clad herself in men's clothing.
The Tradition of Female Transvestism in Early Modern Europe by Rudolf M. Dekker, Lotte C. Van de Pol