Carry on Understudies: Theatre and Sexual Politics by Michelene Wandor

By Michelene Wandor

`one hell of a seminal learn ... here's a e-book that grapples, with power, ingenuity and incredible highbrow rigour, with a bewildering wooded area of matters round gender and politics ... illuminating, insightful, perceptive.' - Women's evaluation

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191) The connections between the roots of gay oppression and the oppression of women were clearly made; but at the same time different forms of gay oppression were identified, and although the Gay Liberation Front continued meeting formally until 1972, these differences helped lead to its dispersion. In particular, the conflict between gay men and lesbians proved problematic; women were a minority in the Gay Liberation Front, and they felt that general patterns of male dominance in society were being reproduced within a supposedly radical movement.

Here various ranges of acceptable (even occasionally dangerous) heterosexuality are used for commercial ends. In the past fifteen years there have been many radical critiques of the ways in which advertising is constructed, what the images mean, how they work on the consumer (whether s/he buys the product is in one sense irrelevant, since these are images which are consumed for pleasure as well as use). And even though fashion and the turnover of current ideas always ensures that images are constantly renewed, very little has fundamentally changed in the past fifteen years.

But with actresses now part of the official theatre world, very soon they became the source of a different kind of cross-dressing—women in men’s clothes, in the ‘breeches parts’, which displayed women’s legs, and which were the precursor of the convention of the pantomime principal boy played by a woman. Yet again anxiety about the immorality of the theatre and the dangers of the appeal of female sexuality found public voice in the words of John Evelyn in 1666: This night…was acted by Lord Broghill’s tragedy call’d Mustapha before their Majesties at Court, at which I was present, very seldom going to the public theatres for many reasons, now as they are abused to an atheistical liberty, fowle and undecent women now…permitted to appear and to act, who inflaming several young noblemen and gallants, became their misses, and to some their wives…to the reproach of their noble families and ruine of both body and soule.

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