Androgyny is a term derived from the Greek words ανήρ (anér, meaning man) and γυνή (gyné, meaning woman) that can refer to either of two related concepts about gender. Either the mixing of masculine and feminine characteristics, be it fashion statements, or the balance of "anima and animus" in psychoanalytic theory.
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Androgyne[edit | edit source]
Androgyne derives from two Greek words, but makes its first appearance as a compound word in Rabbinic Judaism (see, e.g., Genesis Rabba 8.1; Leviticus Rabba 14.1), most probably as an alternative to the Greek Pagan-related usage of hermaphrodite.
The Online Etymology Dictionary dates its appearance in English to 1552, although it is sometimes (wrongly) claimed to have been coined by Prof. Sandra Bem, who helped to popularize the concept.
An androgyne in terms of gender identity, is a person who does not fit cleanly into the typical masculine and feminine gender roles of their society. They may also use the term ambigender to describe themselves. Many androgynes identify as being mentally "between" male and female, or as entirely genderless. They may class themselves as non-gendered, agendered, between genders, Intergendered, bigendered or, genderfluid
Androgyne was once used as a synonym for hermaphrodite, a term since replaced by the word intersex. Androgynes sometimes refer to themselves using gender-neutral pronouns or the singular they. A few even take steps toward transitioning from their birth sex into a physically androgynous form, such as Genesis P-Orridge.
Prof. Sandra Bem's work on androgyny preceded the current widespread use of the term as a gender identity, and uses the term more in terms of character traits than core gender identity. She considers an androgynous balance of traits to be desirable, stating that those who are able to draw on both traditionally masculine and feminine emotions and behaviors are best able to cope with life's challenges in a well-rounded way.
Androgynous traits[edit | edit source]
Androgynous traits are those that either have no gender value, or have some aspects generally attributed to the opposite gender. Physiological androgyny (compare intersex), which deals with physical traits, is distinct from behavioral androgyny which deals with personal and social anomalies in gender, and from psychological androgyny, which is a matter of gender identity.
To say that a culture or relationship is androgynous is to say that it lacks rigid gender roles and that the people involved display characteristics or partake in activities traditionally associated with the other gender. The term androgynous is often used to refer to a person whose look or build make determining their gender difficult but is generally not used as a synonym for actual intersexuality, transgender or two-spirit people. Occasionally, people who do not actually define themselves as androgynes adapt their physical appearance to look androgynous. This outward androgyny has been used as a fashion statement, and some of the milder forms of it (women wearing men's trousers/men wearing skirts, for example) are not perceived as transgendered behavior.
Lesbians who don't define themselves as butch or femme may identify with various other labels including androgynous or andro for short. A few other examples include lipstick lesbian, tomboy, and 'tom suay' which is Thai for 'beautiful butch'. Some lesbians reject gender performativity labels altogether and resent their imposition by others. Note that androgynous and butch are often considered equivalent definitions, though less so in the butch/femme scene.
A recently coined word, often used to refer to androgynes, is genderqueer. However, this term can be used to refer to anyone who identifies as transgender, or even someone who identifies as cisgender but whose behavior falls outside the average standard gender norms. An androgyne may be attracted to people of any gender, though many identify as pansexual or asexual. Terms such as bisexual, heterosexual, and homosexual have less meaning for androgynes who do not identify as male or female to begin with. Infrequently the words gynephilia and androphilia are used, which refer to the gender of the person someone is attracted to, and do not imply any particular gender on the part of the person who is feeling the attraction.
Androgyny in culture[edit | edit source]
See also[edit | edit source]
- Glam rock
- List of transgender-related topics
References[edit | edit source]
- Feldman, Stephe. Androgyne Online. Transgender Tapestry Issue 107 (Fall/Winter 2004), pp. 38–39.
- Sell, Ingrid M. Third gender: A Qualitative Study of the Experience of Individuals Who Identify as Being Neither Man nor Woman. Doctoral Dissertation, Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, 2001). UMI No. 3011299.
- Bem, Sandra L. (1974). The measurement of psychological androgyny. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 42, 155-62
- Dynes, Wayne Androgyny Encyclopedia of Homosexuality. Dynes, Wayne R. (ed.), Garland Publishing, 1990. pp. 56–68.
- Lilar, Suzanne, Le couple (1963), Paris, Grasset; Translated as Aspects of Love in Western Society in 1965, with a foreword by Jonathan Griffin, New York, McGraw-Hill.
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- A Different Da Vinci Code The missing pieces of Leonardo's puzzle point to plain and simple Hermeticism (altreligion.about.com article).
- Androgyne Discussion group at Tribe.net
- Androgyne Online
- Androgyne Talk at Susan's Place Transgender Forums
- Neutrois people who identify as being non-gendered
- Sandra Bem and androgyny
- Sphere gender as a sphere, where male and female are just two of a number of possible points
- The Two-Spirit Tradition
- What is Gender support forum WhatisGender.net Support forum for transgender and non-binary persons and their friends, allies, therapists and people who have questions
LGBT and Queer studies
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