April 5th, 2011
Okay, it’s time to cut through the academic crap flotsam and jetsam and straight-up name the questions I want to ask in my paper and why they are worth answering.
1. What is androgyny and does/can it really exist?
(At this moment I believe that androgyny is fractured between the unisex and the gender bricolage, I want to consider both and determine if one is the true source of androgyny, or if each is valid or if neither is valid, and why.)
2. Is androgyny one-sided?
(By that I mean, is androgyny exclusively for women, and if so, why might that be? Also, if androgyny is for women alone, is that then not actually androgyny? Could androgyny ever work for men?)
3. Regardless of whether or not androgyny does or doesn’t exist, should it? Can it do anything for us?
Gender, to me, is a system of categorization that marks human bodies. Androgyny appears to fluctuate between an ideal and a source of fear for humans. The androgynous figure challenges gender boundaries by presenting a body immune from classification according to our current system. Lacan (yeah, I know, I’m back to the academic stuff) identified the mirror stage where humans learn to identify themselves by acknowledging the differences in their physical attributes. Humans define themselves by what they are not. So, androgyny offers one way of subverting a process of othering. It has the potential to equalize the sexes. Also, androgyny as a source of fear suggests human discomfort with the unknown and the inherent comfort of boundaries – with strict and specific distinctions and regulations things are easier, although not necessarily better. Additionally, if androgyny is applied by one gender alone to mimic the other, then things get sticky. Elevating one gender inevitably denigrates the other. Androgyny has the potential to equalize or skew the gender binary. And in contemporary Western societies that are becoming more lax (relatively speaking in terms of history at least) in regards to dress code and what men and women can wear and when, androgyny is a complex, relevant topic worth exploring for both its possibilities and its problems.
“Albert Einstein.” Photo. 30 April 2009. 5 April 2011. <http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/GjDQ5Kaci6CvCUc8OOtIiQ>