Androgyny is in. From supermodel Andrej Pejic to gender-neutral parenting articles, the media can’t get enough of us non-binary (“boy” or “girl”) folks lately.
But is not identifying as male or female really about androgyny? Is being elsewhere on the gender spectrum the same as being gender neutral? I look at pictures of Pejic and I wonder if I’m missing something everyone else sees. It’s hard to recognize androgyny (showing characteristics of both sexes) in a person walking down the street in five-inch heels, short shorts, and a flowing top, blonde locks perfectly coiffed Marilyn Monroe-style. The same is true for us average non-binary folks. Many of us identify, like Pejic, as neither male nor female, yet our gender presentation is not neutral either. Trying to get us into that box takes a lot of squeezing, tugging, and tucking.
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When Helen Gurley Brown passed away earlier this week at the age of 90, female journalists and writers came out en masse to laud Brown for her contributions to the sexual liberation of women and heralded her a feminist icon.
It’s true that Brown’s incredible 32-year reign at Cosmopolitan marked a sea change for women’s publications, offering a fresh, sexually liberated image of women “having it all” (which in Brown’s world meant sex, money and power). Brown wanted women to harness their femininity to get ahead, and many took to her female-forward, pro-sex message. But let’s not pretend Helen Gurley Brown’s “stiletto feminism” — to borrow a phrase from Washington Post writer Kathleen Parker — wasn’t also problematic. Keep reading »
If you find T Magazine‘s Model-Morphosis as utterly transfixing as I do, then prepare to be stunned: photographer Leland Bobbé’s incredible new portraits will blow your mind. The ongoing series depicts men who masquerade as women as one dichotomous (and, it must be said, beautiful) persona — half masculine, half feminine, neither male nor female. Says the artist, “My intention is to capture both the male and the alter-ego female side of these subjects in one image … These are composed in camera and are not two separate images joined together.” The result is a powerful and welcome addition to the conversation of gender and a segue into Nietzche’s overman, “the man that goes beyond, who is beyond.” I’ll drink to that! Click through to check out the full series. Fair warning: there are many. [Refinery29 via Vogue Italia]
I’m a person who gets on kicks. I see an autobiographical movie and I spend the next five hours researching every iota of information about the person on the internet. The great thing is, whatever you current obsession — no matter how vaguely random — there’s probably a book to satiate it. Here are but 10 topics you might be obsessing over and mostly recent/new books to satisfy your craving.
The combination of tits and drive can, apparently, cause the internet to crash. In the past six months I’ve watched as publications and writers I admire scrutinize Lana Del Rey for representing a “passive femininity,” gawk at young writer Marie Calloway for sleeping with older, more established male writers and shake their heads at Rihanna for not giving a f**k anymore and Instagramming intimate moments from her party-fueled lifestyle. What is more controversial than a woman using her sexuality in order to get ahead? I guess, not apologizing for it.
The main reason for feminist criticism in these cases is that the image of sexuality projected by these women doesn’t look “transgressive” — it looks too much like the role assigned by mainstream, for the benefit of the male gaze. These images read socially as “hot,” seemingly heterosexual and femme. I mean, I love it when women rock the boat with their sexual expression. I enjoy the “man repeller” fashion trend, I like seeing stars like Amy Poehler not in suggestive poses on the pages of magazines, I like the ugly-funny sex in “Girls.” But I also think there should be room for more. Why can’t a fantasy-driven femme, submissive, seemingly heterosexual display of female sexuality be a genuine one? Why can’t the image of a self-destructive Lana Del Rey in heart-shaped sunglasses be one of her own creation?
With those questions in mind, click through for a celebration of famous women who are using their sexuality and not apologizing for it.
Last month, the student society at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada, approved $30,000 to establish a men’s center. The center’s main supporter, a student named Keneen Midgely, said the volunteer-run men’s center would only be equitable, considering SFU already has had a women’s center since 1974. It would be a space, he pointed out, for men to support each other and deconstruct masculinity and gender roles just like SFU women can.
I couldn’t agree more. Yet somehow, establishment of the SFU men’s center is controversial. Instead of being seen in a positive light as a “safe space” for men, it is being seen as an unnecessary, even frivolous, expense to give men their own space in what is already a patriarchal culture. Keep reading »
The issues of male rape and sexual abuse get plenty of sensationalistic air time on “Law & Order: SVU,” but not so much substantive awareness in our day-to-day lives. While it is true that reported sexual abuse of girls and women is far more prevalent than male abuse, I also assume acknowledging or discussing male sexual abuse brings up uncomfortable feelings amongst guys about masculinity and what it means to be a “strong man.” There’s even vicious stereotypes that dog gay guys — who are routinely denigrated as being “not manly enough” — that they must have been sexually abused as kids. In a way, that’s kind of all you need to know about what some (perhaps many) people think of male sexual abuse survivors.
So it makes sense then, from a messaging standpoint, that to reach male victims of sexual abuse, the UK group Survivors UK would address “masculinity” head-on. Their new campaign, which launches this week in time for a rugby tournament in London, features a rugby ball (speared by a nail, I think?) and the slogan: “Real men get raped: and talking about it takes real strength.” Keep reading »
Abortion rights are being screwed with yet again! The Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act seeks to criminalize abortions based on the race or the sex of the fetus. That might sound good to some people: supporters of the bill quickly point out how many female fetuses are aborted in China, where there is a one-child policy in most areas and a nationwide preference for boys. However, a closer look at the bill reveals that it’s yet another tricky-dick move by abortion opponents to restrict abortion rights and make life more difficult for abortion providers. Keep reading »