Androgynycomes from combination two roots from Greek words which is andro means men andgyn? means women. It is someone who has both female and male traits, or notclearly masculine or feminine. There are two types of androgynous people orandrogyny which is, people who biologically or naturally have male and femalecharacteristic. These people are known as hermaphrodite. Another type ofandrogyny is psychological androgyny which is for someone who does notnecessarily look androgynous but identifies as one.
In other words, they wantto use androgynous gender identity as their identity even though they do nothave male and female characteristics. Their androgynous look is expressed throughtheir personality and cross-dressing. As opposed to biologically having bothtraits, they naturally look both male and female at the same time.
Androgyny means overcoming thecultural parameters defining a man or a woman, and raising the issue of commonhumanity (Visanathan, 1996) Androgyny applies to people who don’t want to beidentified by their gender and usually used to describe characters or personswhich have no specific gender, gender ambiguity, gender identity, sexualidentity, or sexual lifestyle. Genderqueer or gender-neutral terms commonlyused in the case of gender identity. Androgyny has a gender identity that canbe a blend of both or neither of the binary genders so that they may describe someonewho sees themselves as both male and female which is also known as genderqueer.They can also identify as neither feminine or masculine, or neither female andmale, also known as genderless. However, in our society, the identityof gender is closely related to particular gender roles. In 1982, Kimbrough R.
mentioned that the definition of androgyny in archetypal terms stems from itsuse in the personal/social sense because the unisexual myths of creation foundembedded within almost every culture suggest a being or entity or personhoodhaving beyond a physically generative power without need for or use of sexualorgans characteristics. There are no set gender roles inandrogyny. It makes this gender identity the most viable option for change inthe traditional structure of relationships in the near and foreseeable future.Androgyny functions using a model of “transcendence,” where androgynyindicates not a blend of masculine and feminine characteristics, but an absenceof them, and where androgyne are perceived to rely on neither masculine norfeminine behaviours and where “their assumed original ways of thinkingsuggest the likelihood of the foundation of a new society”. At this point,Lorenzo-Cioldi argues, “the androgyne became colourless, incorporeal, and indemonstrableat the empirical level. (McLaughlin L. 1999)Next, androgyny and their physicalappearance.
How exactly does a person with male and female characteristics look?In fact, we surely had ever seen a woman who had wide shoulders andsurprisingly deep voice or a man with a flawless skin or naturally kept eyebrowsor someone that, at a first glance, we can hardly define whether they are maleor female. That is what we described as androgyny. There is nothing wrong withandrogynous physical appearance but unfortunately, our society believes thatmen must have a well-built body, facial hair and tall, while women should havean oval or small face, plump lips and a slim figure.
Plus, not all women need to look cute andpretty all the time, neither must they look passive or naïve. While men aresupposed to control their ego, machismo and look fierce or aggressive. As whatJoy & Howard mentioned in 1972, every man has a feminine side, every womanhas a masculine side, which are rendered unconscious by culture. Concept ofandrogyny expresses ‘a natural unforced and uninhibited (male of female)sexuality’. Yet, to neither of their extremes.
Men do not need to exudemachismo, or women do not need to pretend to be naive and dependent. There is anatural biological opposition between men and women which is the basis ofcreativity, used to express androgyny. Mainly, androgyny uses fashion as theirplayground to express themselves. ANDROGYNOUS FASHION Androgynousfashion is a style that aims to avoid gender stereotypes. The androgynous dressor style themselves looks neither like a typical boy nor girl.
In the pastandrogynous fashion has held a huge stigma, with its ties to the feminist andLGBTQA communities. But in modern fashion, androgyny has become far moreaccessible. As previously mentioned androgynous style has ties with the LGBTQAand feminist communities due to their openness to gender fluidity, refusal ofgender norms and use of androgynous style to protest. But with contemporaryfashion, androgynous style is starting to be worn by more and more people. Someof these people are male style bloggers, high fashion lovers and designersthemselves. In the last couple of years,genderless designs in the clothes hitting our display windows have grown morecommon blurring the classic men versus women dichotomy. Androgynous fashion iscoming to the forefront in a big way, and it may come with underliningcommentary about where our society is heading.
Or better yet, what it’sevolving towards. There are other political threads to androgyny as well,whereby issues of feminism and the gay rights movement have intersected withexpressing a non-binary aesthetic through clothing. There was sort of 20thcentury of androgynous fashion, and how they questioned the extent to which thesociety should follow gender roles. In the1910s Coco Chanel gave women the gift of pants. When Chanel started creatingclothes in 1913, women were just getting used to the idea of leaving the stuffyroles of Victorian femininity behind, including lace necklines and petticoats.
Chanel personified the independent roles women were about to enter by providingthem with the option of pants and masculine-like silhouettes. Whereas the ’50swere largely characterized by suburban motherhood and career housewives, womenin the ’60s challenged the gender norms of their mothers by tearing into theirclosets and radicalizing them. According to The Guardian, Dr. Jo Paoletti’s SexAnd Unisex: Fashion, Feminism, And The Sexual Revolution claims that the unisextrend was a pillar of second-wave feminism and “was a baby-boomercorrective to the rigid gender stereotyping of the 1950s, itself a reaction tothe perplexing new roles imposed on men and women alike by World War II.”This started a revolution, whereby something so aggressively male and black-tiebourgeois became a symbol of female emancipation.
In the late ’60s, rock legends, JimmyHendrix and Mick Jagger, showed that it was men’s turn to shake loose of theirgendered tropes and constraints. Just as women were about to experience theirsecond wave of feminism, many men were just as seriously trying to see whatthey could find outside of their gendered expectations. Some grew their hairlong, stole eyeliner from their mother’s bathroom cupboards, dabbled in tight,feminine silhouettes, as the Berg Fashion Library put it.
They were embracingtheir feminine side without having their masculinity or sexuality come intoquestion. In the 1980s, the legendary Prince had a contradictory appeal to him.He was anything but traditionally masculine, but still felt like sex on a stickto many ladies of the world. This hetero man who embraced effeminacy championedthe idea that breaking out of gender roles didn’t have to have anything to dowith sexuality. Meanwhile, the world also had Grace Jones, who exuded anaggressive type of femininity, one that was balanced with a hard-handed touchof masculinity. With her flattop hair, chiseled features, and buff physique,she walked the line of androgyny perfectly.
Ten years later in 1990s, Kurt Cobainplayed with his long blonde locks, eyeliner, and babydoll dresses. For Cobain,this was a way of questioning the limitations society puts on us. He embodied anew variation on the masculine heterosexual norm: a direct rejection ofmachoism. Nirvana and the band’s grungy aesthetic stressed the likeness betweenthe sexes, showing that men can cry over pain and wear baby doll dresseswithout having to put into question their sexuality. As for women, grunge gavemany of them an androgynous outlet as well. Dressing in the same plaids, boots,and short cropped heads as their male counterparts, women were saying somethingabout their strict gender roles too. Borrowing from each other’s closets washelping both men and women express the different sides of themselves thatdidn’t fall into neat binaristic categories. Androgynyis a natural consequence of the evolvement of societies nowadays, where fashionis not limited to gender.
Selfridges, launched a campaign dedicated to theblend of fashion for both sexes. In stores, shoppers can now try on new “genderneutral” options, which keep multi-brand stores relevant in terms of selectionsand offerings. As is the case in stores, which mirror the reality of runways,in men’s and woman’s fashion weeks, models of both genders are appearing in thesame show making it a first in the norms of fashion weeks. At the same time, mixand match between those two worlds has become recurrent in many fashionbloggers’ styles. Therefore, androgyny is now seen everywhere from media to theonline world, as well as, stores and on the runways.
A trendsetter whoinnovated this gender blend concept that survived over a decade now and whichhas defied the trend curve of being a mere fad. Therefore, this phenomenonwhich was seen as unique, aesthetically new and appealing is now integrated inthe world of fashion and has become an overall dominating trend which isdefining the course of lines and cuts in the long run. Androgyny in Popular Culture Androgynybecame a big part of mainstream culture in the 1960’s, when the new generationbegan to reject past social conventions. The progression of their currentsociety at the time lead them to notice the racial injustice of their parentsand their blind obedience to existing authority which led them throughunnecessary wars (Petterson, 1996).
And so, they created the “Counter- CultureGeneration” where they soon began to defy the norms and step out of theirsocial conventional boxes, doing so as a way to “redefine” their generationinto a new mould. However,the most redefining moment in pop culture history was during the 1984 GrammyAwards. The colourful cast of androgynous musicians, most notably, Boy Georgeand Annie Lennox, competed for the Best New Artist spot. And Michael Jackson,who has been highly perceived as androgynous, swept seven awards that night.That night was considered to be a celebration of androgyny and sexual ambiguity(Kaufman, 2009).
This event sparked such an impact for androgyny in pop culturethat these musicians soon became the face of androgyny fashion and welcomed thebold and gender fluid looks that soon began to take over red carpets. Theglamorous ensemble that took over Hollywood in those days, started a new trendof unique, androgynous figures in Hollywood. The like of Lady Gaga and RubyRose made waves both in fashion and music using their gender fluidity as a toolto express themselves. The blend of feminine and masculine features transcendedfashion and soon was recognized as a gender identity in mainstream media. ActressRuby Rose has been the face of androgyny, being very vocal about her stance asa gender fluid individual, crediting the likes of David Bowie, Annie Lenox andPrince whom helped her understand her identity (DAILYMAIL, 2017). Currently,androgyny is no longer exclusive to Hollywood, the phenomena has turned global.Most notably, androgyny is mainly found in East Asian pop culture. Especiallyfound in South Korea, who’s music industry has exploded into a worldwidephenomenon known as K-pop.
As it takes on its dominant role in the Asian entertainmentindustry, the typical traditional beliefs are put aside to make space for theprogressing state of South Korea. Traditional roles for male and females arenow put aside as a new wave of trends begin to take its place. “Ggot-mi-nam”or “Kkonminam” directly translates to “Flower Pretty Boy”. This is a new androgynousideal in Korea where an attractive man has pretty facial features while stillretaining his masculinity (TYGlobalist, 2007). It is the blend of masculinityand femininity while still retaining to one’s true identity. While most Koreansare still against LGBTQ+ in Korea, they are accepting the societal shift intheir trends. In fact most women in South Korea even prefer the kkonminam types.Most of the male roles in South Korean dramas feature these androgynous men whohave very soft features similar to their female counterparts.
Theboyband industry in the country has also donned several androgynous looks. Ithas become a norm to see feminine men in the K-pop industry. It is even commonto see these K-pop stars wearing makeup in order to keep up with the harshbeauty standards in the country (Fickel, 2017). Most K-pop men are known tocontradict themselves in terms of how they dress. They are neither macho or traditionallymasculine in the sense, but they have their own idea of beauty typically havingmore softer features. Most K-pop stars even don trends that are typicallyassociated with women.
They have been seen wearing chokers, flower crowns andcrop tops paired with the perfect makeup look. Femaleandrogyny also exists in South Korean culture. Since the debut of the SouthKorean drama “Coffee Prince”, there has been a trend of female celebritiesacquiring “masculine” or “boyish” looks. They have been donning certain maleaffiliated trends like cutting their hair short, wearing male clothing andappealing to the non-conventional female look in their TV character roles. MoreKorean women are realizing that they no longer need to repress their dissatisfactionwith Confucian ideals that generally categorize women as “submissive”.
Conclusion Androgynyhas become a way of life for many. The progressiveness of our current society hasmade it more flexible for people to step outside of their typical norms. It isdue time we stepped out of the boxes of defining a certain type of masculinityis suitable for males and a certain type of femininity is suitable for females.Androgyny should not solely define a person’s sexual orientation, nor does itnecessarily determine one’s gender identity. Androgyny is reflected throughstyles and trends and people should be allowed to play around with thevariation of looks, not limiting themselves to what is considered male andfemale looks. Nevertheless, this should in no way erase androgyny or genderfluidity as a sexual orientation and should definitely not be erased from theLGBTQ+ movement.
They should be celebrated equally.