My article “The Third Sex is Here to Stay”: Rhetorical Reconstructions of Lesbian Sexuality” is out in the Journal of Lesbian Studies! Please contact me for a free eprint PDF of the article.
Here is an abstract for the article: Vice Versa, published in Los Angeles from 1947–1948 and regarded as the first lesbian periodical in the United States, was authored and edited by Lisa Ben (anagram for “lesbian”). While Vice Versa is lauded for inspiring later lesbian publications, little scholarship has analyzed the magazine’s contents. Queer rhetorical analysis allows me to demonstrate the integral role Vice Versa played in counteracting cultural and medical classifications of lesbians during the 1940s. Through an analysis of Vice Versa’s book and movie reviews, an editorial, and creative writing, this article analyzes the way Ben uses queer rhetoric to turn narratives of medical and psychological deviancy and inferiority into a means for empowerment and community building. By foregrounding queer rhetorical and discursive means through which the periodical engaged with and pushed back on culturally dominant views of lesbians as psychologically or biologically “inverted” and deviant within newspapers, film, and novels, my analysis of Vice Versa calls attention to the processes through which the magazine negotiated lesbian identity creation with dominant tropes that categorized lesbian bodies and desires as debased.