‘Pinky Smith Looks Gorgeous!’ Female Impersonators and Male Bonding in Prisoner of War Camps for British Servicemen in Europe

Title‘Pinky Smith Looks Gorgeous!’ Female Impersonators and Male Bonding in Prisoner of War Camps for British Servicemen in Europe
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsMakepeace, Clare
EditorRobb, Linsey, and Juliette Pattinson
Book TitleMen, Masculinities and Male Culture in the Second World War
Pagination71 - 95
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
CityLondon
Abstract

Female impersonators were a familiar sight in prisoner of war (POW) camps, appearing in theatre productions, at dances, at tea parties as ‘waitresses’ and in auctions to raise money for welfare funds. This chapter explores British POWs’ reactions to them, as an insight into conceptions of sexuality and gender during the Second World War. Men in drag provided prisoners with a release from their single-sex society and POWs’ admiration for these ‘women’ enabled them to assert their collective male superiority. However, there were limits to this ‘safety valve’ interpretation of drag. Prisoners’ attitudes towards female impersonators also blurred the boundaries of male heterosexual desire, reflecting a fluidity in attitudes towards male sexuality, more generally, in British society during this era

URLhttps://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1057%2F978-1-349-95290-8_4
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1011229001

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