On Androgyny, Masculinity and Non-Binary Genders

Publishing this despite the fact that its kind of rough around the edges because its been forever and a day since I posted something. Enjoy.

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I’ve touched on it in a couple of posts, but androgyny or an androgynous presentation is the closest one can get to being perceived as genderless by a society that understands gender as binary. The problem here, at least for me, is that while genderlessness is more or less my current goal in terms of presentation, androgyny isn’t how I want to go about achieving that.

Androgyny is most commonly defined as “being both male and female” or having both male and female characteristics” so to be androgynous is to have a gender, be it both male and female or a mixture of two. My gender does not fall within those parameters, so androgyny isn’t really right for me. The problem here is that I have to deal with societal perceptions of my gender, which is perceived as female based on my physiology. In order to counteract this perceived “innate femaleness” of my body I have to add masculine markers, and if I can get the balance right, by adding and subtracting different attributes that are considered either markers of masculinity or femininity then they will all cancel each other out and I’ll be read as genderless. But this just seems stupid, that’s not how gender works, mixing two genders doesn’t equal no gender. and adding a second gender to the one society already sees me as having doesn’t remove the one I was originally assigned, it just adds a new and equally ill fitting gender. ugh.

Its also really frustrating just trying to maintain a state of androgyny, because as a FAAB person I can’t access anything remotely feminine or else that combined with the mere fact that I have boobs will completely outweigh anything else. This isn’t  problematic for me in the same way that I hear other FAAB people talk about it, I don’t want to wear make up or nail polish or other femme-y things. I just want to be able to wear  my goddamn t-shirts, but even t-shirts in “girly colors” are too much in the direction of female and I get automatically dumped back into the “F” category again. That’s the thing, t-shirts and jeans are unisex for the most part, but somehow not androgynous enough, because they don’t actively counteract my assigned gender with its “opposite”.

My other problem with presenting androgynously is the way that androgyny is generally achieved by a FAAB person. to create a fairly masculine presentation which is then dubbed “gender neutral” or “androgynous”. This idea of a masculine aesthetic as being gender neutral reinforces the patriarchal idea of man as the “standard” or the “default” from which female is a “deviation”. There’s a lot more room for masculinity then femininity in an androgynous presentation, even for a MAAB person, because a “masculine” body is viewed as already being somewhat androgynous or having the ability to be more ambiguous, all that is required is the addition of a little mascara or nail polish to be dubbed androgynous. It seems to me that, as it is currently conceived, androgyny is two parts masculine to one part feminine, and that a lot of the aesthetic surrounding it reinforces patriarchal ideals.

All of this is a huge part of my general internal gender chaos, because while I want to be perceived as genderless,  I would be really uncomfortable going about it in a way that is in direct contradiction with my actual gender or lack there of. Ah, the headaches.

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4 thoughts on “On Androgyny, Masculinity and Non-Binary Genders

  1. “There’s a lot more room for masculinity then femininity in an androgynous presentation, even for a MAAB person, because a “masculine” body is viewed as already being somewhat androgynous or having the ability to be more ambiguous, all that is required is the addition of a little mascara or nail polish to be dubbed androgynous. It seems to me that, as it is currently conceived, androgyny is two parts masculine to one part feminine, and that a lot of the aesthetic surrounding it reinforces patriarchal ideals.”

    This is so insightful. Thank you for putting these thoughts into writing.

    Reply
  2. Interesting discussion on androgyny, people should really read your blog for a better understanding of gender. Very thorough and great to read the amount of effort put into this blog.

    Reply
  3. Pingback: There can be no winner… « Battle of the Sexes

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