Boots, Boots, Boots


McClintock seemed to set her readers up for surprise by beginning her discussion of fetishism with Munby’s particular interests and ending with the private life (or lives) of Hannah Cullwick. She tells of the Freudian impossibility of female fetishism only to frame it around the actual fetishes of Cullwick. I thought everything about Cullwick crossed boundaries, her behaviors caused problems with the common theories of psychoanalysis and made it necessary for them to be reconfigured.

I thought the most interesting aspect of Cullwick was that she never had any interest in sticking with one identity, or one class distinction. She couldn’t even identify herself with a single one because of how often she cross-dressed. McClintock references cross-dressing as a historical phenomenon that shouldn’t be surprising. Even back in the Ancient world in Rome purple was the color of the upper class and would be worn by those imitating someone from a different economic class, a form of cross-dressing. Today we can mistake people for being part of a certain economic status based on what they wear, probably one of the reasons as to why people try to find the most realistic knock-off brands. Which if they aren’t successful ends up being an even more obvious signifier of their actual class.  

Cullwick was successful in her cross-dressing transformations and was the epitome of Munby’s fetish, and he couldn’t seem to keep up. She was the one in control, yet another aspect of their unconventional relationship. She would tell him what they would be doing and how they would be dressing. Along with their relationship Cullwick also had an intense boot fetish, the diaries she kept detailed how many boots she cleaned , tallied for every month and every year. She mixed her fetishes of cross-dressing and boot cleaning, performing a labor that was perpetually unfinished.    

-Annie Grant


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