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Queering the borders: Lorraine Hansberrys 1957 Letters to The Ladder
Unformatted Document Text:  Queering the Borders: Hansberry’s Letters to The Ladder, 20 intellect than on hypertrophied anatomy.” 59 It is unclear from the essay whether or to what extent, if any, Stephens is responding to Bradley’s or Hansberry’s May letters -- she directly refers to neither letter -- but does she write that “Conformity has been recommended as a solution, but too often forced conformity is the mother of further neuroses” 60 Stephen’s political analysis of non-conforming women’s dress was supported by two subsequent letters published in July – one of which stated “We consider dresses, high heels and stocking holders the most uncomfortable contraptions men have invented to restrict the movements of women so they cannot walk very far, lift many things, or sit with their legs apart in warm weather.” 61 Another writer critiqued dress conformity in the lesbian community from a different perspective: “The cult of conformity itself remains to be questioned… Those who depart from the rules are punished for the ‘crime’ of not behaving like a typical Negro, professional worker, or feminine woman. The homosexual world is as guilty as the rest, when they would confer the straitjacket of ‘Butchhood’ upon its embryo members.” 62 I found no other writing in the Ladder on the topic of dress conformity for another year. Like her May letter, Hansberry’s August letter again opens with matters financial: an enclosure of $5.00 to “make good a so far neglected earlier promise of financial support.” The tone of this letter is somewhat less breezy than the May letter, though it is still quite informal. Further, while Hansberry does not number her points as she did in May, she moves very quickly to her argument. The vast majority of this longer letter addresses a discussion on married lesbians initiated in the June issue by Nancy Osbourne in an article titled “One Facet of Fear” and then further developed by Marion Zimmer Bradley in an essay in the July issue titled “Some Remarks on Marriage”. Whereas Osbourne recommends that the heterosexually married lesbian might best “keep her secret,” Bradley recommends the lesbian divorce 59 Ibid., 13. 60 Ibid., 13. 61 A.C., NY, NY, “Readers Respond,” The Ladder, July 1957, 28. 62 B.S., San Leandro, “Readers Respond,” The Ladder, July 1957, 29.

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Queering the Borders: Hansberry’s Letters to The Ladder, 20
intellect than on hypertrophied anatomy.”
59
It is unclear from the essay whether or to what extent, if any,
Stephens is responding to Bradley’s or Hansberry’s May letters -- she directly refers to neither letter --
but does she write that “Conformity has been recommended as a solution, but too often forced
conformity is the mother of further neuroses”
60
Stephen’s political analysis of non-conforming women’s
dress was supported by two subsequent letters published in July – one of which stated “We consider
dresses, high heels and stocking holders the most uncomfortable contraptions men have invented to
restrict the movements of women so they cannot walk very far, lift many things, or sit with their legs
apart in warm weather.”
61
Another writer critiqued dress conformity in the lesbian community from a
different perspective: “The cult of conformity itself remains to be questioned… Those who depart from
the rules are punished for the ‘crime’ of not behaving like a typical Negro, professional worker, or
feminine woman. The homosexual world is as guilty as the rest, when they would confer the straitjacket
of ‘Butchhood’ upon its embryo members.”
62
I found no other writing in the Ladder on the topic of dress
conformity for another year.
Like her May letter, Hansberry’s August letter again opens with matters financial: an enclosure of
$5.00 to “make good a so far neglected earlier promise of financial support.” The tone of this letter is
somewhat less breezy than the May letter, though it is still quite informal. Further, while Hansberry does
not number her points as she did in May, she moves very quickly to her argument. The vast majority of
this longer letter addresses a discussion on married lesbians initiated in the June issue by Nancy
Osbourne in an article titled “One Facet of Fear” and then further developed by Marion Zimmer Bradley
in an essay in the July issue titled “Some Remarks on Marriage”. Whereas Osbourne recommends that
the heterosexually married lesbian might best “keep her secret,” Bradley recommends the lesbian divorce
59
Ibid., 13.
60
Ibid., 13.
61
A.C., NY, NY, “Readers Respond,” The Ladder, July 1957, 28.
62
B.S., San Leandro, “Readers Respond,” The Ladder, July 1957, 29.


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