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Free Content The hankie code revisited: From function to fashion

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The hankie code, a semiotic system of sexual advertising popular among the gay leather community of the United States in the 1960s and 1970s, is described, and changes in both the sign system and its varied interpretive communities, are analysed and documented. This ethnographic study draws from interview data and Internet discussion posts. The mythology of the code, differences in generational perspectives, and use of the hankie sign system among heterosexual men are examined. It is concluded that the system is now used as fashion among a new generation of gay men and as communication among heterosexual men.
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Keywords: gay; identity; semiotics; sexuality

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Hawai`i, Mānoa

Publication date: October 1, 2013

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  • Critical Studies in Men's Fashion examines the multi-faceted dimensions of men's appearance. It uses the holistic definition of dress as a means of examining the tangible and intangible aspects of creating and maintaining appearance. This journal is the first to exclusively focus on men's dress and topics of gender, identity, sexuality, culture, marketing and business will be discussed. Men's dress and fashion have been side-lined in scholarship, and this journal provides a dedicated space for the discussion, analysis, and theoretical development of men's appearance from multiple disciplines. All articles are blind-peer reviewed in order to maintain the highest standards of scholastic integrity. Theoretical and empirical scholarship in the form of original articles, manuscripts, research reports, pedagogy, and media reviews are welcome.
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