Imperial leather: race, cross-dressing and the cult of domesticity

Analyzing the S\M relationship of a Victorian couple, the author argues that Hannah Cullwicks’travestism and fetichism were a sustained attempt to negociate the perils attending the Victorian erasure of women's work - one of the most successful vanishing acts of modern history. Refusing to barter her unruly working-class strength for the halter of respectability, she decked herself in her own symbolic chains and threw dramatically into question the Victorian narrative of progress and the heterosexual Family of Man.

Fetichism; Sadomasochism; Domestic Work; Victorian Age

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