A friend writes to me after reading a draft of my chapter in Bob's book: "There's another story connected to either Maughm or Hardy, I always forget which. They're both from the quaint West country. The author was writing something, and went to the Oxford English Dictionary to check on whether he had just written an actual word, or something of his own invention. He found it, but the only usage example was attributed to himself."
When I did a quick wiki search of W. Somerset Maugham, I found this info that adds another way to think about W. Sommerset. "Maugham's mother Edith Mary (née Snell) was consumptive, a condition for which the English doctors of the time prescribed childbirth." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._Somerset_Maugham
So, W. Somerset Maugham was within Mrs. Somerset in an attempt to cure her of consumptive condition. I can see from his life story that he performed masquerades as medical student, perhaps as hetero at times, and probably many other masks.
My friend also writes in response to my chapter: "Anyway, I was intrigued by the strategies for opposing socially-imposed identities. I think I may have been more successful than you in one respect, though. I've actually "passed" as "female" on a few occasions. I don't think you could do so as "unattractive," at least in person as opposed to a cyber-persona.
From the chapter: "Masquerading typically derives from desire for a power not possessed. Gender forms the “co-ordinates” that guide social interaction." My friend comments that "this has an ironic meaning when seen in the light of transvestism. Male-to-female transvestism often causes acute social discomfort, while female-to-male transvestism has become so commonplace as to no longer even has much meaning as a term. I think this has to do with the perceived inequality of power between the genders. A similar discomfort attaches to "blackface" performance, which is literally "denigrating" the performer. Non-whites "acting white" however, or in keeping with Euro-American norms, is commonplace and accepted."
From my chapter: "I have learned about myself by not being me." My friend comments that "This is a good way of stating the lesson learned by Dustin Hoffman's character in "Tootsie," when he comes to understand his own male-chauvinist persona by experiencing the world in a female modality."
And my friend reminds me of the purposeful disguise of gender as a frequent device in opera, but only in "trouser roles" in which female singer/actors portray males, usually youths.