Stuck in the Binary

What is androgyny?  Dworkin said it’s a multiplicity of genders, where human interactions and expressions are not constrained by the polemic genders, or as queer theorists put it, the gender binary.  It’s a compelling theory, one that speaks to me and my personal struggle as a genderqueer person.

How do we practice androgyny?  Some of the more orthodox followers of Dworkin practice it by rejecting femininity, not just the aspects that are designed to enforce submission, but all of it.  They don’t have much practical rejection of masculinity, in most of these circles androgyny is imagined as women who are masculine.

In queer circles androgynous practice is a little more varied, there are soft butches, sissies, studs, queens.  The possibilities are much broader and the performance of femininity is incorporated as an aesthetic rather than subjugation, though it can be practised in ways that reinforce sexism.

In the mainstream imagination we have pictures of androgyny that include people like Ziggy Stardust, Ellen Degenerase, Boy George.

All of these models of androgyny have one thing in common, they incorporate some aspect(s) of the gender binary.  Is there any way to perform completely outside of the binary?  As long as it is in existence, it will inform our imagination of what androgyny can be.  The only way to destroy it is take all aspects of it and rearrange, bend, fuck and confuse it out of existence until what we wear and how we act is no longer considered masculine or feminine but just us.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Summerspeaker
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 19:19:20

    This is a critical issue. Your way forward sounds worthwhile but – as always – difficult in practice.


  2. Life In Neon
    Mar 17, 2011 @ 08:36:53

    I think the best way to dismantle the masculine and feminine “packages” is to rearrange them however we see fit, and hopefully the mainstream will pick up on the fact that any arrangement is fairly arbitrary. Rejecting all of one or the other is just as much a reinforcement that the boundary exists.


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