Cross dressing is about deliberately traversing meaningful boundaries. The cultural critic, Marjorie Garber, argues that Western civilization has long been obsessed with transvestite behavior. Garber's wide-ranging analysis (from Shakespeare to Madonna) stresses the disruptive aspect of the phenomenon, which, she claims, precipitates a “category crisis” by exposing the futility of all binary oppositions, including those of gender. Could cross dressing ever have been a commonplace part of the notoriously cautious bourgeois culture of nineteenth-century France? The very idea seems implausible on the surface, but in fact the mainstream stage presented the opportunity to see an enormous amount of transvestite performance (travesti). It consisted not simply of plays within which characters disguise themselves as the other sex. In hundreds of French plays before and after the Revolution, actresses assumed male roles, and, to a more limited extent, actors took female parts. Playwrights and producers, more concerned with fame and success than with social commentary, turned out a stream of such transvestite spectacles.