By Lisa Walker

Looks might be deceiving, and in a society the place one's prestige and entry to chance are principally attendant on actual visual appeal, the difficulty of ways distinction is developed and interpreted, embraced or effaced, is of super import.

Lisa Walker examines this factor with a spotlight at the questions of what it potential to appear like a lesbian, and what it skill to be a lesbian yet to not appear like one. She analyzes the ancient creation of the lesbian physique as marked, and reviews how lesbians have used the widespread analogy among racial distinction and sexual orientation to craft, emphasize, or deny actual distinction. specifically, she explores the results of a predominantly obvious version of sexual identification for the female lesbian, who's either marked and unmarked, wanted and disavowed.

Walker's textual research cuts throughout various genres, together with modernist fiction equivalent to The good of Loneliness and Wide Sargasso Sea, pulp fiction of the Harlem Renaissance, the Fifties and the Nineteen Sixties, post-modern literature as Michelle Cliff's Abeng, and queer theory.

In the book's ultimate bankruptcy, "How to acknowledge a Lesbian," Walker argues that innovations of visibility are now and then deconstructed, every now and then reinscribed inside of modern lesbian-feminist theory.

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Additional info for Looking Like What You Are: Sexual Style, Race, and Lesbian Identity

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Further, because visible/invisible is in popular usage, the distinction between metalanguage, which critiques the visibility trope, and object language, which can replicate the assumptions that this book wants to question, is easy to collapse. On the other hand, visible/invisible can account for the cultural invisibility specific to the experience of marginalization in a way that marked/unmarked cannot. While visible/invisible is not as sensitive to external power relations as marked/unmarked, it accommodates an analysis of the fluidity of power relations within the economy of the gaze and enables the theorization of agency for the oppressed within that economy.

Stephen’s very desire to occupy Roger’s position endorses it. As an adult, Stephen will gain the independence that allows her to approximate this masculine upper-class style, even as her attire draws attention to her mimicry of its codes. She wears men’s suits, ties, and shoes, short hair, and a shrapnel scar on her face (it functions as an accessory) that she acquired driving ambulances during the war—the closest to fighting on the front lines that a woman could get. The novel codes Stephen’s masculinity as noble; the shrapnel scar blurs the distinction between body and costume, recalling Krafft-Ebing’s confused description of case number 165, where he cannot determine whether it is “nature” or “culture” or both that makes his client look mannish.

Though I make this decision in order to explore the specific analogy between the black and the homosexual more fully than I could if I were to open up the category of race to include diverse identities, I am quite aware that in doing so, I replicate the effect of the analogy that I critique throughout the book—that is, in reducing race to blackness, I fail to complicate discourses of race as I complicate discourses of gender/sexuality. Analogy repeatedly produces an inability to question the construction of more than one difference at a time.

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