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"A Woman Make a Better Man": Butch Masculinity in Peggy Shaw's You're Just Like My Father

Creative Commons 'BY-NC-ND' version 3.0 license

Over the course of Peggy Shaw’s performance career, her name has become synonymous with butchness. As Alisa Solomon observes, “Peggy Shaw, the big butch Split Britches actor…is every feminist critic’s favorite example” (175). InYou’re Just Like My Father, Shaw’s 1994 solo show, Shaw uses her physicality and genealogy to construct a butch lesbian identity. Gayle Rubin defines butch “as a category of lesbian gender that is constituted through the deployment and manipulation of masculine gender codes and symbols” (467). Butches layer masculine gender codes onto female bodies—in Shaw’s case, at least. Shaw’s butchness is uninterested in passing; rather, her butchness is predicated on performing her masculinity and her refusal of femininity simultaneously. This performance maintains an ironic tension between her sexed female body and her butch masculinity.

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