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Rebecca Jennings

2 The ‘all-out career woman’ and narratives of lesbianism at work In 1964, The Times published an article entitled ‘Bachelor Girl’, describing the plight of the young unmarried woman in her late twenties with nothing to occupy herself but her career. ‘Feminists and writers in the more sophisticated magazines’, the correspondent explained, ‘may argue persuasively about the superior position of the bachelor girl … How much more exciting life can be for the bachelor girl, they say, than for married couples like themselves, weighed down with families. Think of the

in Tomboys and bachelor girls
Author: Kathrina Glitre

Hollywood romantic comedy inevitably ends with the union of a heterosexual couple. But does this union inevitably involve marriage? What part does equality play? Are love and desire identical? This book explores the genre's changing representation of the couple, focusing on marriage, equality and desire in screwball comedy, career woman comedy and sex comedy. The shifting discourses around heterosexuality, gender, romance and love are considered in relation to such socio-historical transformations as the emergence of companionate marriage, war-time gender roles and the impact of post-war consumerism. Going well beyond the usual screwball territory, the book provides an understanding of the functions of conventions such as masquerade, gender inversion and the happy ending. This is complemented by a distinctive focus on individual films and their star couples, including detailed discussion of Myrna Loy and William Powell, Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, and Doris Day and Rock Hudson. The book offers foundational explanations of genre and an analysis of cycles and films.

A lesbian history of post-war Britain 1945–71

This book examines the ways in which women were able to deploy ambiguous concepts such as the 'career woman' and the 'bachelor girl' to simultaneously indicate and mask a lesbian identity. Contemporary anxieties about female same-sex desire which attached to these figures offered the opportunity to deploy them as an indication of potential sexual deviance. But their very ambiguity simultaneously afforded a protection from censure which more explicit terms such as 'lesbian' did not. These cultural connections between 'deviant' and 'normative' models of sexual identity have become the focus of considerable attention by queer theorists and historians in recent years. Queer historians have sought to analyse the institutional practices and discourses which produce sexual knowledge, and the ways in which these organise social life. They have concentrated their research on the binary opposition of homosexuality and heterosexuality as the dominant epistemological framework of knowledge about sexuality. The book seeks to explore the connections between space and cultural practices in lesbian history and is therefore concerned with the material world of post-war Britain. Identities such as 'tomboy' were invested with specific meanings in particular spatial contexts. As a child in rural Essex in the early 1950s, Nina Jenkins could use the term 'tomboy' to explain and excuse her desire to climb trees and be part of a boys' street gang.

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Equality and the career woman comedy
Kathrina Glitre

Equality and the career woman comedy 91 4 A little difference: equality and the career woman comedy It may seem paradoxical to discuss the theme of equality in relation to a cycle of films that is apparently obsessed with proving sexual difference. Most critics have understood the career woman’s final acceptance of more conventional femininity as reactionary.1 According to Sennett, ‘this was the lotus-land of Hollywood, where women must remain women, and so the “feminist” attitude was really a sham: the “liberated” lady had to discover romance before the final

in Hollywood romantic comedy States of the union, 1934–65
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Kathrina Glitre

Equality and the career woman comedy 89 Part III Equality A little difference: Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy in Adam’s Rib (1949). Courtesy of Turner Entertainment. HRCC04 89 27/4/06, 8:53 AM 90 HRCC04 Equality 90 27/4/06, 8:53 AM

in Hollywood romantic comedy States of the union, 1934–65
Kathrina Glitre

” [. . .] does justice to the idea that while these films shared generic conventions, they were also part of a socially volatile formula in flux’ (1999: 4).8 In direct contrast to a transhistorical approach, then, analysis of distinct cycles elucidates shifts in generic meanings and functions, as well as the relationships between genre, industry and culture. The rest of this chapter outlines the screwball comedy, career woman comedy and sex comedy cycles. Although the cycles are treated chronologically, this does not involve a comprehensive history of Hollywood romantic comedy

in Hollywood romantic comedy States of the union, 1934–65
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Kathrina Glitre

to dominate the genre in successive decades, suggesting shifting cultural priorities. It is for this reason that I have singled out three cycles of romantic comedy: screwball comedy in the thirties; the career woman comedy in the forties; and the sex comedy in the late fifties.3 By analysing three separate cycles of romantic comedy, it is possible to give due attention to the contemporary cultural discourses surrounding marriage, equality and desire. In each case, these discourses are also embodied by an iconic star couple: Myrna Loy and William Powell; Katharine

in Hollywood romantic comedy States of the union, 1934–65
Why some of us push our bodies to extremes
Author: Jenny Valentish

This book is about people willing to do the sorts of things that most others couldn't, shouldn't or wouldn't. While there are all sorts of reasons why people consume substances, the author notes that there are those who treat drug-taking like an Olympic sport, exploring their capacity to really push their bodies, and frankly, wanting to be the best at it. Extreme athletes, death-defiers and those who perform incredible stunts of endurance have been celebrated throughout history. The most successful athletes can compartmentalise, storing away worry and pain in a part of their brain so it does not interfere with their performance. The brain releases testosterone, for a boost of strength and confidence. In bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism (BDSM) play, the endogenous opioid system responds to the pain, releasing opioid peptides. It seems some of us are more wired than others to activate those ancient biological systems, be it through being caned in a dungeon during a lunchbreak or climbing a sheer rock wall at the weekend. Back in 1990, sociologist Stephen Lyng coined the term 'edgework', now frequently used in BDSM circles, as 'voluntary pursuit of activities that involve a high potential for death, physical injury, or spiritual harm'.

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Rebecca Jennings

evidence suggests that many women were challenging the cultural emphasis on domesticity as women’s defining concern and presenting radically alternative modes of femininity, decades before the organised women’s movement. The ambiguities and contradictions in post-war notions of femininity afforded women a surprising degree of flexibility in the expression of alternative gender and sexual identities. Concepts such as ‘tomboy’, ‘bachelor girl’ and ‘career woman’ enabled women to forge social identities as single, economically independent and active women and to deploy

in Tomboys and bachelor girls
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Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy
Kathrina Glitre

process of moderation embodied by the Hepburn/Tracy union is further validated by extratextual knowledge of their love affair (they had a relationship for over twenty-five years, although Tracy remained married to another woman, with whom he had a child). The textual and extratextual discourses confirm each other, authenticating the sense of their ‘natural’ attraction and balanced equality. Indeed, the ‘real’ love story seems to play out the narrative of a career woman comedy. Taming the star In one vital respect, the plot of the career woman comedy serves a conflicted

in Hollywood romantic comedy States of the union, 1934–65