Androgyny

gdragon
G-Dragon

Apart from being *really* hard to spell, what is androgyny and how does it apply to this blog and indeed this blogger?

Note: As with pretty much all my blog posts, this is a “stream of conscientiousness” ramble

As with almost all such questions in this day and age, let’s jump over the the font of all knowledge that is Wikipedia! (Certain amount of sarcasm intended….although a lot of this article had it’s jumping off point there)

Androgyny as a noun came into use c.1850, nominalizing the adjective androgynous. The adjective use dates from the early 17th century and is itself derived from the older French (14th Century) and English (c.1550) term androgyne.

So straight away we can see that this is in no way a modern construct. The word itself is a mesh of two ancient Greek words:

Andr – Man
Gyne – Woman

Brian Molko
Brian Molko of Placebo

There have been references to androgyny for as long as we have records. The ancient Greeks had the legend of Hermaphroditus and Salmacis who fused to become one androgynous immortal being. Hermaphroditus of course gave it’s name to the term “hermaphrodite”, which in the common parlance is used to mean one living being/animal that expresses both sets of genitalia. I won’t be discussing this as it muddies the water at times and has no impact on androgyny at all.

One of the earliest mentions of androgyny is from Plato. He tells a tale of how humans used to be very different than how they are now, they were like two people joined back to back. A person which was both halves male was from the sun, both halves female was from the earth, and male-female was from the moon.

These people tried to usurp the gods and when they failed Zeus cut them all in half, leaving the navel as a reminder that if they tried it again he would slice them up even further and leave everyone hopping around on one leg!

Plato says that the people who are descended from the “Moon People” are now what we would call androgynous. Another interesting and important snippet from this story is that Plato states categorically that homosexuality is not shameful, thanks Plato! Seriously though, this is just one example of how someone many thousands of years ago, growing up in a completely different era with a completely non-christian set of morals saw what is blatantly obvious but missed by so many today…

Anyway, moving on…

luisacapatillo
Luisa Capatillo

Androgyny has, since the start of the 20th century at least, been closely connected with the gender equality movement. Luisa Capatillo is a great example of this. She was the first woman in Peurto Rico to wear trousers in public and a strong women’s rights campaigner in a very masculine culture during the late 1800’s and early 1900s.

The androgynous look soon got into fashion, most notably Coco Chanel promoted the androgynous look, and Marlene Dietrich took it on and ran with it, being the first female star to wear trousers to a premiere.

Up until the middle of the 20th century, it is primarily women who are identified as choosing to appear androgynous. In the 50s and 60s this started to change though. Something that I found quite surprising (until I actually thought about it and revisited soem early photographs) was that one of the earliest examples of male androgynous appearance was none other than Elvis Presley! As soon as you think about it, it makes sense though!

elvis

In his early incarnation and right up until the 70’s, Elvis was a “pretty boy” and enhanced his looks with makeup, one of the very first male pop/rock stars to do so. He was such a success (and I don’t need to say how much the girls loved him!) that the androgynous look was taken up by many other pop/rock artists.

Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, John Travolta and even Jimi Hendrix can all be said to have embraced the androgynous look to a greater or lesser extent, and to great success!

Outside of the music world, it was much more a “women dressing as men thing” than a “men dressing as women” thing. Yes I appreciate that this statement tramples all over modern thinking (thinking that I 100% subscribe to) but it is how it was seen at the time. The majority of people would probably still see it that way today.

The androgynous look continued in the pop world through the 80s with Grace Jones and Nick Rhodes to name just a few.

Skipping forward to the modern world, androgyny is discussed a little less than “gender fluidity”. I blow hot and cold on this term. In one way I like it, but in another I think that gender fluidity encompasses a lot more than androgyny, which tends to be a purely visual statement. Gender is such a hot topic and at the cutting edge of understanding for the world at large that I think any widely used term which includes the word needs to be very careful.

Lady Gaga VMA 2011Artists like Lady Gaga, Ruby Rose, Jaden Smith and Lily-Rose Depp are being pointed at with regards “Gender Fluidity”, but for me it’s unfair and impossible to label them (as well as plain wrong) as such because I don’t know what their Gender Identity is. I can see how they are dressing and how they are portraying themselves, but that’s it. Are they doing it for artistic reasons? Are they making a point? Or is this how they actually identify their own gender? I don’t know.

Wikipedia says that:

An androgyne is a person who does not fit neatly into the typical masculine and feminine gender roles of their society. Androgynes may also use the term “ambigender” or “polygender” to describe themselves. Many androgynes identify as being mentally between woman and man. They may identify as “non-gender”, “gender-neutral”, “agender”, “between genders”, “genderqueer”, “non-binary”, “multigender”, “intergendered”, “pangender” or “gender fluid”.

Using the above description, I would have to identify myself as androgynous. In a previous post I described how I do not identify with either male or female despite being in appearance an obvious male with a beard and a bit of a podge. My brain simply will not put me into either bracket when I think about my identity.

Out of interest, I recently carried out an online Bem Sex-role Inventory Self Assessment. This is a test designed in the 70s by Sandra Bem and is apparently one of the more widely used gender measures. The possible outcomes are Masculine, Feminine, Androgynous and Undifferentiated.  Interestingly, and fitting with my statement above my result was “undifferentiated” since I had Masculine, Feminine and Androgynous scores all under 70/100. I guess this reflects the fact that I really don’t care, and it’s not a “thing” for me.

I guess I am still a little confused about whether androgyny is a look, a lifestyle, a gender-type expression, or all of the above!

I would be really excited and interested to hear your thoughts. Shoot me down, educate me, discuss any of this post, please!

Above all, thanks for reading.

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Descartes (Work in Progress)

Another of the photographs for my upcoming collection along with a prose piece that is still very much under construction but I wanted to share it with you in its “as is” form.

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Descartes

The only thing that is truly real must be the way that we think and feel.

Questing for eudaimonia occupies so much of our lives it distracts us from the twisted thorns of reality.

If we truly are experiencing the world as a puppet of an evil demon then the only thing we can rely on is what we think and what we feel for if there are thoughts then there must be something real thinking them.

But when our feelings are at counterpoint to the experienced world what are we to do?

Grain

I sat;
the grain of the boards calling out to me.

Begging me to follow them,
to stroke them,
to dive into them.

I caressed them
stroked them
loved them

Spent my entire life swimming with them
in them
on them

for them.

Grain

I have been working on the photographs and writing for my planned book.

Anyone with depression will hopefully recognise the sentiment in the picture and short piece above, being completely lost in something and not able to escape, it draws you in like a Siren, singing beautifully and horribly all at once.

Nick Rhodes

Sat with my fiance watching Duran Duran on TFI Friday, I make a comment about Nick Rhodes and how he is one of those guys that I realise I have always fancied. Her response…?

“I thought he looked like your type”

She is most certainly a keeper 🙂

Putting these pictures up I just realised that as he ages there is a touch of Andy Warhol about him. Random…

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Confidence, depression and photography

I have never been the most confident person. I think that’s part of the reason that I am not very competitive; I have never really believed that I was better, faster, stronger, more talented than anyone else. Suffering from Depression doesn’t help that, obviously. Yes I have depression. I haven’t even alluded to it so far I don’t think. I was a bit self conscious about it since it’s such a common thing especially online, I think that people are getting blase about it, and even doubting people when they admit it.

But it’s part of who I am so I would not be completely honest with you (and myself) if I didn’t at least mention it. I take medication which helps immensely, to the point where I don’t think I could be myself without it, if I forget it then I am a different person the day after; morose, monosyllabic, distant and just not worth being around. Generally though it’s just a niggle, something that affects me but not to a huge extent thanks to the drugs and the therapy and the constant positive influence of my partner and our daughter.

So that’s two “outings” for me here now, I am a pansexual guy who suffers from depression.

Moving on 🙂

I have shared one photograph with you already, a picture of a window that I took at Fountains Abbey in North Yorkshire, UK. I have been using Flickr for quite some time and have been getting some good responses on there which is wonderful. It’s nice to be appreciated by complete strangers who have nothing to gain by “bigging you up”.

Buoyed up by this, I have decided to try and sell my photography. The first channel I am trying is Fine Art America. It’s a site where you can upload photos and people can buy them as prints, canvas, and all sorts of other things like iphone cases, pillows and even shower curtains!

Here’s a bit of my page:

FAA
My FAA page, an excerpt

Yes, that’s me. It’s a big step for me to do this. I have been “Fox” on here to be anonymous so far, but I think that if I am going to make any sort of progress at all then I needed to do this. It’s not like I am putting a poster up at work, but I feel a little less like I am hiding now.

So there we are, please take a look around. The picture is a link to my profile page where you can see all 25 photographs that I have for sale. Let me know what you think either in the comments here or on FAA if you have an account and can post.

I was in two minds about posting about it here because I don’t want this to be an advertising site for my photography, but at the same time, it’s something I am proud of and I value any and all advice and comments that my readership can offer, I really value your opinions.

Of course if you fancy buying something, I certainly won’t stop you 🙂

I will leave you with one of my most popular photos. I am not at all religious, but I think this sums up a position a lot of us find ourselves in from time to time, in the darkness looking towards the light, hoping that one day we get there.

Look to the Light
Look to the Light

Thin White Duke

For those of you that would like their own version of the full image that I use for the banner at the top (It’s the eternally gorgeous David Bowie for those who are struggling), here it is! (Click to see the full post…)

1976 - Copenhagen
COPENHAGEN, DENMARK – APRIL 29: David Bowie performs on stage on the Station To Station world tour in his Thin White Duke era at the Falkoner Teatret on April 29th, 1976 in Copenhagen, Denmark. (Photo by Jorgen Angel/Redferns)