Last updated

Androgyny is the combination of masculine and feminine characteristics into an ambiguous form. Androgyny may be expressed with regard to biological sex, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual identity. The different meanings of androgyny point to the complex interrelationship between aspects of sex, gender, and sexuality.

Sex differences in humans have been studied in a variety of fields. In humans, biological sex is determined by five factors present at birth: the presence or absence of a Y chromosome, the type of gonads, the sex hormones, the internal reproductive anatomy, and the external genitalia. Genetic sex is determined solely by the presence or absence of a Y chromosome. Phenotypic sex refers to an individual's sex as determined by their internal and external genitalia, expression of secondary sex characteristics, and behavior.

Gender identity is the personal sense of one's own gender. Gender identity can correlate with assigned sex at birth or can differ from it. All societies have a set of gender categories that can serve as the basis of the formation of a person's social identity in relation to other members of society.

Gender expression is a person's behavior, mannerisms, interests, and appearance that are associated with gender in a particular cultural context, specifically with the categories of femininity or masculinity. This also includes gender roles. These categories rely on stereotypes about gender.


When androgyny refers to mixed biological sex characteristics in humans, it often refers to intersex people. As a gender identity, androgynous individuals may refer to themselves as non-binary, genderqueer, or gender neutral. As a form of gender expression, androgyny can be achieved through personal grooming or fashion. Androgynous gender expression has waxed and waned in popularity in different cultures and throughout history.

Intersex Innate variations in sex characteristics such that individuals differ from norms for male or female bodies

Intersex people are individuals born with any of several variations in sex characteristics including chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals that, according to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, "do not fit the typical definitions for male or female bodies". Such variations may involve genital ambiguity, and combinations of chromosomal genotype and sexual phenotype other than XY-male and XX-female.

Non-binary gender Range of gender identities that are not exclusively masculine or feminine

Non-binary, also known as genderqueer, is a spectrum of gender identities that are not exclusively masculine or feminine‍—‌identities that are outside the gender binary.

Gender neutrality

Gender neutrality, also known as gender-neutralism or the gender neutrality movement, is the idea that policies, language, and other social institutions should avoid distinguishing roles according to people's sex or gender, in order to avoid discrimination arising from the impression that there are social roles for which one gender is more suited than another.


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. The terms are ultimately derived from Ancient Greek : ἀνδρόγυνος , from ἀνήρ, stem ἀνδρ- (anér, andr-, meaning man) and γυνή (gunē, gyné, meaning woman) through the Latin : androgynus , [1] The older word form androgyne is still in use as a noun with an overlapping set of meanings.

In linguistics, nominalization or nominalisation is the use of a word which is not a noun as a noun, or as the head of a noun phrase, with or without morphological transformation. The term refers, for instance, to the process of producing a noun from another part of speech by adding a derivational affix.

In linguistics, a stem is a part of a word. The term is used with slightly different meanings.


Androgyny among humans – expressed in terms of biological sex characteristics, gender identity, or gender expression – is attested to from earliest history and across world cultures. In ancient Sumer, androgynous and hermaphroditic men were heavily involved in the cult of Inanna. [2] :157–158 A set of priests known as gala worked in Inanna's temples, where they performed elegies and lamentations. [2] :285Gala took female names, spoke in the eme-sal dialect, which was traditionally reserved for women, and appear to have engaged in homosexual intercourse. [3] In later Mesopotamian cultures, kurgarrū and assinnu were servants of the goddess Ishtar (Inanna's East Semitic equivalent), who dressed in female clothing and performed war dances in Ishtar's temples. [3] Several Akkadian proverbs seem to suggest that they may have also engaged in homosexual intercourse. [3] Gwendolyn Leick, an anthropologist known for her writings on Mesopotamia, has compared these individuals to the contemporary Indian hijra . [2] :158–163 In one Akkadian hymn, Ishtar is described as transforming men into women. [3]

Sumer Ancient civilization and historical region in southern Mesopotamia

Sumer is the earliest known civilization in the historical region of southern Mesopotamia, modern-day southern Iraq, during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze ages, and one of the first civilizations in the world along with Ancient Egypt and the Indus Valley. Living along the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates, Sumerian farmers were able to grow an abundance of grain and other crops, the surplus of which enabled them to settle in one place. Prehistoric proto-writing dates back before 3000 BC. The earliest texts, from c. 3300 BC, come from the cities of Uruk and Jemdet Nasr; early cuneiform script emerged around 3000 BC.

Inanna ancient Mesopotamian goddess

Inanna is an ancient Mesopotamian goddess associated with love, beauty, sex, desire, fertility, war, justice, and political power. She was originally worshipped in Sumer and was later worshipped by the Akkadians, Babylonians, and Assyrians under the name Ishtar. She was known as the "Queen of Heaven" and was the patron goddess of the Eanna temple at the city of Uruk, which was her main cult center. She was associated with the planet Venus and her most prominent symbols included the lion and the eight-pointed star. Her husband was the god Dumuzid and her sukkal, or personal attendant, was the goddess Ninshubur.

Gala (priests)

The Gala were priests of the Sumerian goddess Inanna, significant numbers of the personnel of both temples and palaces, the central institutions of Mesopotamian city states, individuals with neither male nor female gender identities.

The ancient Greek myth of Hermaphroditus and Salmacis, two divinities who fused into a single immortal – provided a frame of reference used in Western culture for centuries. Androgyny and homosexuality are seen in Plato's Symposium in a myth that Aristophanes tells the audience. [4] People used to be spherical creatures, with two bodies attached back to back who cartwheeled around. There were three sexes: the male-male people who descended from the sun, the female-female people who descended from the earth, and the male-female people who came from the moon. This last pairing represented the androgynous couple. These sphere people tried to take over the gods and failed. Zeus then decided to cut them in half and had Apollo repair the resulting cut surfaces, leaving the navel as a reminder to not defy the gods again. If they did, he would cleave them in two again to hop around on one leg. Plato states in this work that homosexuality is not shameful. This is one of the earlier written references to androgyny. Other early references to androgyny include astronomy, where androgyn was a name given to planets that were sometimes warm and sometimes cold. [5]

Hermaphroditus Son of Aphrodite and Hermes in Greek mythology

In Greek mythology, Hermaphroditus or Hermaphroditos was the son of Aphrodite and Hermes. According to Ovid, he was born a remarkably handsome boy with whom the water nymph Salmacis fell in love and prayed to be united forever. A god, in answer to her prayer, merged their two forms into one and transformed them into an androgynous form. His name is compounded of his parents' names, Hermes and Aphrodite. He was one of the Erotes.

Salmacis nymph in Greek mythology

In Greek mythology, Salmacis was an atypical naiad who rejected the ways of the virginal Greek goddess Artemis in favour of vanity and idleness. Her attempted rape of Hermaphroditus places her as the only nymph rapist in the Greek mythological canon.

Aristophanes ancient Athenian comic playwright

Aristophanes, son of Philippus, of the deme Kydathenaion, was a comic playwright of ancient Athens. Eleven of his forty plays survive virtually complete. These provide the most valuable examples of a genre of comic drama known as Old Comedy and are used to define it, along with fragments from dozens of lost plays by Aristophanes and his contemporaries.

Philosophers such as Philo of Alexandria, and early Christian leaders such as Origen and Gregory of Nyssa, continued to promote the idea of androgyny as humans' original and perfect state during late antiquity.” [6] In medieval Europe, the concept of androgyny played an important role in both Christian theological debate and Alchemical theory. Influential Theologians such as John of Damascus and John Scotus Eriugena continued to promote the pre-fall androgyny proposed by the early Church Fathers, while other clergy expounded and debated the proper view and treatment of contemporary “hermaphrodites.” [6]

Origen 3rd-century Christian scholar from Alexandria

Origen of Alexandria, also known as Origen Adamantius, was an early Christian scholar, ascetic, and theologian who was born and spent the first half of his career in Alexandria. He was a prolific writer who wrote roughly 2,000 treatises in multiple branches of theology, including textual criticism, biblical exegesis and biblical hermeneutics, homiletics, and spirituality. He was one of the most influential figures in early Christian theology, apologetics, and asceticism. He has been described as "the greatest genius the early church ever produced".

Gregory of Nyssa 4th-century bishop of Nyssa, Asia Minor

Gregory of Nyssa, also known as Gregory Nyssen, was bishop of Nyssa from 372 to 376 and from 378 until his death. He is venerated as a saint in Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, and Anglicanism. Gregory, his elder brother Basil of Caesarea, and their friend Gregory of Nazianzus are collectively known as the Cappadocian Fathers.

Late antiquity period of transition from classical antiquity to the Middle Ages (Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Near East only)

Late antiquity is a periodization used by historians to describe the time of transition from classical antiquity to the Middle Ages in mainland Europe, the Mediterranean world, and the Near East. The popularization of this periodization in English has generally been accredited to historian Peter Brown, after the publication of his seminal work The World of Late Antiquity (1971). Precise boundaries for the period are a continuing matter of debate, but Brown proposes a period between the 3rd and 8th centuries AD. Generally, it can be thought of as from the end of the Roman Empire's Crisis of the Third Century to, in the East, the early Muslim conquests in the mid-7th century. In the West the end was earlier, with the start of the Early Middle Ages typically placed in the 6th century, or earlier on the edges of the Western Roman Empire.

Western esotericism’s embrace of androgyny continued into the modern period. A 1550 anthology of Alchemical thought, De Alchemia , included the influential Rosary of the Philosophers, which depicts the sacred marriage of the masculine principle (Sol) with the feminine principle (Luna) producing the “Divine Androgyne,” a representation of Alchemical Hermetic beliefs in dualism, transformation, and the transcendental perfection of the union of opposites. [7] The symbolism and meaning of androgyny was a central preoccupation of the German mystic Jakob Böhme and the Swedish philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg. The philosophical concept of the “Universal Androgyne” (or “Universal Hermaphrodite”) – a perfect merging of the sexes that predated the current corrupted world and/or was the utopia of the next – also plays a central role in Rosicrucian doctrine [8] [9] and in philosophical traditions such as Swedenborgianism and Theosophy. Twentieth century architect Claude Fayette Bragdon expressed the concept mathematically as a magic square, using it as building block in many of his most noted buildings. [10]

Symbols and iconography

The Caduceus Chambers 1908 Caduceus.png
The Caduceus

In the ancient and medieval worlds, androgynous people and/or hermaphrodites were represented in art by the caduceus, a wand of transformative power in ancient Greco-Roman mythology. The caduceus was created by Tiresias and represents his transformation into a woman by Juno in punishment for striking at mating snakes. The caduceus was later carried by Hermes/Mercury and was the basis for the astronomical symbol for the planet Mercury and the botanical sign for hermaphrodite. That sign is now sometimes used for transgender people.

Another common androgyny icon in the medieval and early modern period was the Rebis, a conjoined male and female figure, often with solar and lunar motifs. Still another symbol was what is today called sun cross, which united the cross (or saltire) symbol for male with the circle for female. [11] This sign is now the astronomical symbol for the planet Earth. [12]

Mercury symbol derived from the Caduceus Mercury symbol.svg
Mercury symbol derived from the Caduceus
A Rebis from 1617 Rebis Theoria Philosophiae Hermeticae 1617.jpg
A Rebis from 1617
"Rose and Cross" Androgyne symbol Earth symbol A.svg
"Rose and Cross" Androgyne symbol
Alternate "rose and cross" version Wheel cross.svg
Alternate "rose and cross" version

Biological sex

A statuette of Aphroditus in the anasyromenos pose. The ancient Greeks and Romans believed the pose had apotropaic magical power. Anasyromenos statuette, Rome art market.JPG
A statuette of Aphroditus in the anasyromenos pose. The ancient Greeks and Romans believed the pose had apotropaic magical power.

Historically, the word androgynous was applied to humans with a mixture of male and female sex characteristics, and was sometimes used synonymously with the term hermaphrodite. [13] In some disciplines, such as botany, "androgynous" and "hermaphroditic" are still used interchangeably.

When androgyny is used to refer to physical traits, it often refers to a person whose biological sex is difficult to discern at a glance because of their mixture of male and female characteristics. Because androgyny encompasses additional meanings related to gender identity and gender expression that are distinct from biological sex, today the word androgynous is rarely used to formally describe mixed biological sex characteristics in humans. [14] In modern English, the word intersex is used to more precisely describe individuals with mixed or ambiguous sex characteristics. However, both intersex and non-intersex people can exhibit a mixture of male and female sex traits such as hormone levels, type of internal and external genitalia, and the appearance of secondary sex characteristics.

Gender identity

An individual's gender identity, a personal sense of one's own gender, may be described as androgynous if they feel that they have both masculine and feminine aspects. The word "androgyne" can refer to a person who does not fit neatly into the typical masculine and feminine gender roles of their society. Many, but not all, androgynes identify as being mentally between woman and man. They may identify as "gender-neutral", "genderqueer", or "non-binary". [15] A person who is androgynous may engage freely in what is seen as masculine or feminine behaviors as well as tasks. They have a balanced identity that includes the virtues of both men and women and may disassociate the task with what gender they may be socially or physically assigned to. [16] People who are androgynous disregard what traits are culturally constructed specifically for males and females within a specific society, and rather focus on what behavior is most effective within the situational circumstance. [16]

Gender expression

Gender expression which includes a mixture of masculine and feminine characteristics can be described as androgynous. The categories of masculine and feminine in gender expression are socially constructed, and rely on shared conceptions of clothing, behavior, communication style, and other aspects of presentation. In some cultures, androgynous gender expression has been celebrated, while in others, androgynous expression has been limited or suppressed. To say that a culture or relationship is androgynous is to say that it lacks rigid gender roles, or has blurred lines between gender roles.

Gender and behavior

Lesbians who do not define themselves as butch or femme may identify with various other labels including "androgynous" or "andro" for short. A few other examples include "tomboy" and "tom suay", which is Thai for 'beautiful butch'. Some lesbians reject gender performativity labels altogether and resent their imposition by others. Note that androgynous and butch are often considered equivalent definitions, though less so in the butch/femme scene.

The recently coined word genderqueer is often used by androgynous individuals to refer to themselves, but the terms "genderqueer" and "androgyny" (or "androgynous") are neither equivalent nor interchangeable. [17] "Genderqueer" is not specific to androgynes. It does not denote gender identity and may refer to any person, cisgender or transgender, whose behavior falls outside conventional gender norms. Furthermore, "genderqueer", by virtue of its ties with queer culture, carries sociopolitical connotations that androgyny does not carry. For these reasons, some androgynes may find the label "genderqueer" inaccurate, inapplicable, or offensive. "Androgneity" is a viable alternative to "androgyny" for differentiating internal (psychological) factors from external (visual) factors. [18]

Terms such as "bisexual", "heterosexual", and homosexual have less meaning for androgynes who do not identify as men or women to begin with. Infrequently the words gynephilia and androphilia are used, and some describe themselves as androsexual. These words refer to the gender of the person someone is attracted to, but do not imply any particular gender on the part of the person who is feeling the attraction.

Louise Brooks exemplified the flapper. Flappers challenged traditional gender roles, had boyish hair cuts and androgynous figures. Louisebrooks1.jpg
Louise Brooks exemplified the flapper. Flappers challenged traditional gender roles, had boyish hair cuts and androgynous figures.

According to Sandra Bem, androgynous men and women are more flexible and more mentally healthy than either masculine or feminine individuals; undifferentiated individuals are less competent. [20] More recent research has debunked this idea, at least to some extent, and Bem herself has found weaknesses in her original pioneering work. Now she prefers to work with gender schema theory.

One study found that masculine and androgynous individuals had higher expectations for being able to control the outcomes of their academic efforts than feminine or undifferentiated individuals. [21]

Bem Sex-Role Inventory

The Bem Sex-Role Inventory (BSRI) was constructed by the early leading proponent of androgyny, Sandra Bem (1977). [20] The BSRI is one of the most widely used gender measures. Based on an individual's responses to the items in the BSRI, they are classified as having one of four gender role orientations: masculine, feminine, androgynous, or undifferentiated. Bem understood that both masculine and feminine characteristics could be expressed by anyone and it would determine those gender role orientations. [22]

An androgynous person is a female or male who has a high degree of both feminine (expressive) and masculine (instrumental) traits. A feminine individual is ranked high on feminine (expressive) traits and ranked low on masculine (instrumental) traits. A masculine individual is ranked high on instrumental traits and ranked low on expressive traits. An undifferentiated person is low on both feminine and masculine traits. [20]

Androgyny in Fashion

Throughout most of twentieth century Western history, social rules have restricted people's dress according to gender. Trousers were traditionally a male form of dress, frowned upon for women. [23] However, during the 1800s, female spies were introduced and Vivandières wore a certain uniform with a dress over trousers. Women activists during that time would also decide to wear trousers, for example Luisa Capetillo, a women's rights activist and the first woman in Puerto Rico to wear trousers in public. [24]

Coco Chanel wearing a sailor's jersey and trousers. 1928 Gabrielle Chanel en mariniere.jpg
Coco Chanel wearing a sailor's jersey and trousers. 1928

In the 1900s, starting around World War I traditional gender roles blurred and fashion pioneers such as Paul Poiret and Coco Chanel introduced trousers to women's fashion. The "flapper style" for women of this era included trousers and a chic bob, which gave women an androgynous look. [25] Coco Chanel, who had a love for wearing trousers herself, created trouser designs for women such as beach pajamas and horse-riding attire. [23] During the 1930s, glamorous actresses such as Marlene Dietrich fascinated and shocked many with their strong desire to wear trousers and adopt the androgynous style. Dietrich is remembered as one of the first actresses to wear trousers in a premiere. [26]

Yves Saint Laurent, the tuxedo suit "Le Smoking", created in 1966 Yves St Laurent le smoking at deYoung Museum San Francisco.jpg
Yves Saint Laurent, the tuxedo suit "Le Smoking", created in 1966

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the women's liberation movement is likely to have contributed to ideas and influenced fashion designers, such as Yves Saint Laurent. [27] Yves Saint Laurent designed the Le Smoking suit and first introduced in 1966, and Helmut Newton’s erotized androgynous photographs of it made Le Smoking iconic and classic. [28] The Le Smoking tuxedo was a controversial statement of femininity and has revolutionized trousers.

Elvis Presley, however is considered to be the one who introduced the androgynous style in rock'n'roll and made it the standard template for rock'n'roll front-men since the 1950s. [29] His pretty face and use of eye makeup often made people think he was a rather "effeminate guy", [30] but Elvis Presley was considered as the prototype for the looks of rock'n'roll. [29] The Rolling Stones, says Mick Jagger became androgynous "straightaway unconsciously" because of him. [30]

However, the upsurge of androgynous dressing for men really began after during the 1960s and 1970s. When the Rolling Stones played London's Hyde Park in 1969, Mick Jagger wore a white 'man's dress' designed by British designer Mr Fish. [31] Mr Fish, also known as Michael Fish, was the most fashionable shirt-maker in London, the inventor of 'the Kipper tie', and a principal taste-maker of 'the Peacock revolution' in men's fashion. [32] His creation for Mick Jagger was considered to be the epitome of the swinging 60s. [33] From then on, the androgynous style was being adopted by many celebrities.

Annie Lennox was known for her androgyny in the 1980s Eurythmics 06101986 02 270.jpg
Annie Lennox was known for her androgyny in the 1980s

During the 1970s, Jimi Hendrix was wearing high heels and blouses quite often, and David Bowie presented his alter ego Ziggy Stardust, a character that was a symbol of sexual ambiguity when he launched the album 'The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and Spiders from Mars'. [34] This was when androgyny entered the mainstream in the 1970s and had a big influence in pop culture. Another significant influence during this time included John Travolta, one of the androgynous male heroes of the post-counter-culture disco era in the 1970s, who starred in Grease and Saturday Night Fever . [35]

Continuing into the 1980s, the rise of avant-garde fashion designers like Yohji Yamamoto, [36] challenged the social constructs around gender. They reinvigorated androgyny in fashion, addressing gender issues. This was also reflected within pop culture icons during the 1980s, such as David Bowie and Annie Lennox. [37]

Power dressing for women became even more prominent within the 1980s which was previously only something done by men in order to look structured and powerful. However, during the 1980s this began to take a turn as women were entering jobs with equal roles to the men. In the article “The Menswear Phenomenon” by Kathleen Beckett written for Vogue in 1984 the concept of power dressing is explored as women entered these jobs they had no choice but to tailor their wardrobes accordingly, eventually leading the ascension of power dressing as a popular style for women. [38] Women begin to find through fashion they can incite men to pay more attention to the seduction of their mental prowess rather, than the physical attraction of their appearance. This influence in the fashion world quickly makes its way to the world of film, with movies like "Working Girl" using power dressing women as their main subject matter.

Androgynous fashion made its most powerful in the 1980s debut through the work of Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo, who brought in a distinct Japanese style that adopted distinctively gender ambiguous theme. These two designers consider themselves to very much a part of the avant-garde, reinvigorating Japanism. [39] Following a more anti-fashion approach and deconstructing garments, in order to move away from the more mundane aspects of current Western fashion. This would end up leading a change in Western fashion in the 1980s that would lead on for more gender friendly garment construction. This is because designers like Yamamoto believe that the idea of androgyny should be celebrated, as it is an unbiased way for an individual to identify with one's self and that fashion is purely a catalyst for this.

Also during the 1980s, Grace Jones's a famous singer and fashion model gender-thwarted appearance in the 1980s which startled the public, but her androgynous style of heavily derivative of power dressing and eccentric personality has inspired many, and has become an androgynous style icon for modern celebrities. [40] This was seen as controversial but from then on, there was a rise of unisex designers later in the 1990s and the androgynous style was widely adopted by many.

In 2016, Louis Vuitton revealed that Jaden Smith would star in their womenswear campaign. Because of events like this, gender fluidity in fashion is being vigorously discussed in the media, with the concept being articulated by Lady Gaga, Ruby Rose, and in Tom Hooper's film The Danish Girl . Jaden Smith and other young individuals, such as Lily-Rose Depp, have inspired the movement with his appeal for clothes to be non-gender specific, meaning that men can wear skirts and women can wear boxer shorts if they so wish. [41]


An alternative to androgyny is gender-role transcendence: the view that individual competence should be conceptualized on a personal basis rather than on the basis of masculinity, femininity, or androgyny. [42]

In agenderism, the division of people into women and men (in the psychical sense), is considered erroneous and artificial. [43] Agendered individuals are those who reject genderic labeling in conception of self-identity and other matters. [44] [45] [46] [47] They see their subjectivity through the term "person" instead of "woman" or "man". [44] :p.16 According to E. O. Wright, genderless people can have traits, behaviors and dispositions that correspond to what is currently viewed as "feminine" and "masculine", and the mix of these would vary across persons. Nevertheless, it doesn't suggest that everyone would be androgynous in their identities and practices in the absence of gendered relations. What disappears in the idea of genderlessness is any expectation that some characteristics and dispositions are strictly attributed to a person of any biological sex. [48]

Jennifer Miller, bearded woman Jennifer Miller Bearded Woman by David Shankbone.jpg
Jennifer Miller, bearded woman
X Japan founder Yoshiki is often labelled androgynous, known for having worn lace dresses and acting effeminate during performances Yoshiki Hayashi.jpg
X Japan founder Yoshiki is often labelled androgynous, known for having worn lace dresses and acting effeminate during performances
South Korean pop star G-Dragon is often noted for his androgynous looks G-Dragon in 2012.jpg
South Korean pop star G-Dragon is often noted for his androgynous looks

Androgyny has been gaining more prominence in popular culture in the early 21st century. [52] Both fashion industries [53] and pop culture have accepted and even popularised the "androgynous" look, with several current celebrities being hailed as creative trendsetters.

The rise of the metrosexual in the first decade of the 2000s has also been described as a related phenomenon associated with this trend. Traditional gender stereotypes have been challenged and reset in recent years dating back to the 1960s, the hippie movement and flower power. Artists in film such as Leonardo DiCaprio sported the "skinny" look in the 1990s, a departure from traditional masculinity which resulted in a fad known as "Leo Mania". [54] This trend came long after musical superstars such as David Bowie, Boy George, Prince, Pete Burns and Annie Lennox challenged the norms in the 1970s and had elaborate cross gender wardrobes by the 1980s.[ citation needed ] Musical stars such as Brett Anderson of the British band Suede, Marilyn Manson and the band Placebo have used clothing and makeup to create an androgyny culture throughout the 1990s and the first decade of the 2000s. [55]

While the 1990s unrolled and fashion developed an affinity for unisex clothes there was a rise of designers who favored that look, like Helmut Lang, Giorgio Armani and Pierre Cardin, the trends in fashion hit the public mainstream in the 2000s (decade) that featured men sporting different hair styles: longer hair, hairdyes, hair highlights.[ citation needed ] Men in catalogues started wearing jewellery, make up, visual kei, designer stubble. These styles have become a significant mainstream trend of the 21st century, both in the western world and in Asia. [56] Japanese and Korean cultures have featured the androgynous look as a positive attribute in society, as depicted in both K-pop, J-pop, [57] in anime and manga, [58] as well as the fashion industry. [59]

See also

Related Research Articles

Third gender set of gender identities that are not exclusively masculine or feminine

Third gender or third sex is a concept in which individuals are categorized, either by themselves or by society, as neither man nor woman. It is also a social category present in societies that recognize three or more genders. The term third is usually understood to mean "other"; some anthropologists and sociologists have described fourth, fifth, and "some" genders.

Femininity Set of qualities, characteristics or roles associated with girls and women

Femininity is a set of attributes, behaviors, and roles generally associated with girls and women. Femininity is socially constructed, but made up of both socially-defined and biologically-created factors. This makes it distinct from the definition of the biological female sex, as both males and females can exhibit feminine traits.

Bigender, bi-gender or dual gender is a gender identity that includes any two gender identities and behaviors. Some bigender individuals express two distinct personas, which may be feminine, masculine, agender, androgyne, or other gender identities; others find that they identify as two genders simultaneously. A 1999 survey conducted by the San Francisco Department of Public Health observed that, among the transgender community, less than 3% of those who were assigned male at birth and less than 8% of those who were assigned female at birth identified as bigender.

A gender bender is a person who disrupts, or "bends", expected gender roles. Gender bending is sometimes a form of social activism undertaken to destroy rigid gender roles and defy sex-role stereotypes, notably in cases where the gender-nonconforming person finds these roles oppressive. It can be a reaction to, and protest of, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny or misandry. Some gender benders identify with the sex assigned them at birth, but challenge the societal norms that assign expectations of particular, gendered behavior to that sex. This rebellion can involve androgynous dress, adornment, behavior, and atypical gender roles. Gender benders may self-identify as trans or genderqueer. However, many trans people do not consider themselves "gender benders".

A soft butch, or stem (stud-fem), is a woman who exhibits some stereotypical butch and lesbian traits without fitting the masculine stereotype associated with butch lesbians. Soft butch is on the spectrum of butch, as are stone butch and masculine, whereas on the contrary, ultra fem, high femme, and lipstick lesbian are some labels on the spectrum of lesbians with a more prominent expression of femininity, also known as femmes. Soft butches have gender identities of women, but primarily display masculine characteristics; soft butches predominantly express masculinity with a touch of femininity. The "hardness", or label depicting one's level of masculine expression as a butch is dependent upon the fluidity of her gender expression. Soft butches might want to express themselves through their clothing and hairstyle in a more masculine way, but their behavior in a more traditionally feminine way. For example, these traits of a soft butch may or may not include short hair, clothing that was designed for men, and masculine mannerisms and behaviors. Soft butches generally appear androgynous, rather than adhering to strictly feminine or masculine norms and gender identities. Soft butches generally physically, sexually, and romantically express themselves in more masculine than feminine ways in the majority of those categories.

Gender binary, is the classification of gender into two distinct, opposite, and disconnected forms of masculine and feminine, whether by social system or cultural belief.

Gender variance, or gender nonconformity, is behavior or gender expression by an individual that does not match masculine or feminine gender norms. People who exhibit gender variance may be called gender variant, gender non-conforming, gender diverse,gender atypical or genderqueer, and may be transgender or otherwise variant in their gender identity. In the case of transgender people, they may be perceived, or perceive themselves as, gender nonconforming before transitioning, but might not be perceived as such after transitioning. Some intersex people may also exhibit gender variance.

The distinction between sex and gender differentiates a person's biological sex from that person's gender, which can refer to either social roles based on the sex of the person or personal identification of one's own gender based on an internal awareness. In this model, the idea of a "biological gender" is an oxymoron: the biological aspects are not gender-related, and the gender-related aspects are not biological. In some circumstances, an individual's assigned sex and gender do not align, and the person may be transgender. In other cases, an individual may have biological sex characteristics that complicate sex assignment, and the person may be intersex.

Sandra Ruth Lipsitz Bem was an American psychologist known for her works in androgyny and gender studies. Her pioneering work on gender roles, gender polarization and gender stereotypes led directly to more equal employment opportunities for women in the United States.

The Bem Sex-Role Inventory (BSRI) is a measure of masculinity and femininity, and is used to research gender roles. It assesses how people identify themselves psychologically. Sandra Bem's goal of the BSRI was to examine psychological androgyny and provide empirical evidence to show the advantage of a shared masculine and feminine personality versus a sex-typed categorization. The test is formatted with 60 different personality traits which participants rate themselves based on a 7-point Likert scale. Traits are evenly dispersed, 20 masculine, 20 feminine, and 20 filler traits thought to be gender neutral. All traits in the BSRI are positively valued personality aspects. Numerous past studies have found that gender categorizations are correlated with many stereotypical gendered behaviors.

Gender schema theory was formally introduced by Sandra Bem in 1981 as a cognitive theory to explain how individuals become gendered in society, and how sex-linked characteristics are maintained and transmitted to other members of a culture. Gender-associated information is predominantly transmuted through society by way of schemata, or networks of information that allow for some information to be more easily assimilated than others. Bem argues that there are individual differences in the degree to which people hold these gender schemata. These differences are manifested via the degree to which individuals are sex-typed.

In Jewish tradition, the term androgynos refers to someone who possesses both male and female sexual characteristics. Due to the ambiguous nature of the individual's sex, Rabbinic literature discusses the gender of the individual and the legal ramifications that result based on potential gender classifications. In traditional observant Judaism, gender plays a central role in legal obligations.

Gender systems are the social structures that establish the number of genders and their associated gender roles in every society. A gender role is "everything that a person says and does to indicate to others or to the self the degree that one is either ï, į, or androgynous. This includes but is not limited to sexual and erotic arousal and response." Gender identity is one's own personal experience with gender role and the persistence of one's individuality as male, female, or androgynous, especially in self-awareness and behavior. Gender binary is one example of a gender system. A gender binary is the classification of sex and gender into two distinct and disconnected forms of masculine and feminine.

Gender policing is the imposition or enforcement of normative gender expressions on an individual who is perceived as not adequately performing, through appearance or behavior, the sex that was assigned to them at birth. Gender policing serves to devalue or delegitimize expressions that deviate from normative conceptions of gender, thus reinforcing the gender binary. According to Judith Butler, rejection of individuals who are non-normatively gendered is a component of creating one's own gender identity. Gender mainstreaming is a public policy concept, whereas gender policing is a more general social phenomenon.

Genderqueer fashion

Genderqueer fashion is fashion among genderqueer people that goes beyond common style conventions that usually associate certain colors and shapes with one of the two binary genders. Genderqueer fashion aims to be perceived by consumers as a fashion style that focuses on experimenting garments based on people's different body shapes instead of following the restrictions given by gendered clothing categorization.

Androgyny in fashion

Throughout most of twentieth century Western history, social rules have restricted people's dress according to gender. Trousers were traditionally a male form of dress, frowned upon for women. However, during the 1800s, female spies were introduced and Vivandières wore a certain uniform with a dress over trousers. Women activists during that time would also decide to wear trousers, for example Luisa Capetillo, a women's rights activist and the first woman in Puerto Rico to wear trousers in public.


  1. "Online Etymology Dictionary: androgynous" . Retrieved 13 July 2013.
  2. 1 2 3 Leick, Gwendolyn (2013) [1994]. Sex and Eroticism in Mesopotamian Literature. New York City, New York: Routledge. ISBN   978-1-134-92074-7.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Roscoe, Will; Murray, Stephen O. (1997). Islamic Homosexualities: Culture, History, and Literature. New York City, New York: New York University Press. pp. 65–66. ISBN   0-8147-7467-9.
  4. The Symposium: and, The Phaedrus; Plato's erotic dialogues. Translated and with introduction and commentaries by William S. Cobb. Albany: State University of New York Press. 1993. ISBN   978-0-7914-1617-4.CS1 maint: others (link)
  5. "Androgyn". University of Michigan Library. Retrieved 1 April 2015.
  6. 1 2 van der Lugt, Maaike, “Sex Difference in Medieval Theology and Canon Law,” Medieval Feminist Forum (University of Iowa) vol. 46 no. 1 (2010): 101–121
  7. Hauck, Dennis William (2008). The Complete Idiot's Guide to Alchemy. New York: Alpha Books. ISBN   9781592577354. OCLC   176917711.
  8. Atkinson, William Walker (2012). Marsh, Clint (ed.). The Secret Doctrine of the Rosicrucians. San Francisco, CA: Weiser Books. pp. 52–61. ISBN   9781578635344. OCLC   792888485.
  9. Rosicrucian Order, AMORC (13 December 2011). "Rosicrucian Prophecies" (PDF). Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  10. Ellis, Eugenia Victoria (June 2004). “Geomantic Mathematical (re)Creation: Magic Squares and Claude Bragdon's Theosophic Architecture”. Nexus V: Architecture and Mathematics: 79-92.
  11. William Wallace Atkinson, The Secret Doctrines of the Rosicrucians (London: L.N. Fowler & Co., 1918), 53-54.
  12. "Solar System Symbols". Solar System Exploration: NASA Science. Retrieved 31 December 2018.
  15. "Definition of androgynous: Dictionary and Thesaurus" . Retrieved 13 July 2013.
  16. 1 2 Woodhill, Brenda; Samuels, Curtis (2004). "DESIRABLE AND UNDESIRABLE ANDROGYNY: A PRESCRIPTION FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY". Journal of Gender Studies.
  18. "Psychological Androgyny -- A Personal Take" . Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  19. New world coming: the 1920s and the making of modern America. New York: Scribner, 2003, p. 253, ISBN   978-0-684-85295-9.
  20. 1 2 3 Santrock, J. W. (2008). A Topical Approach to Life-Span Development. New York, NY: The McGraw-Hill Companies. 007760637X
  21. Choi, N. (2004). Sex role group differences in specific, academic, and general self-efficacy. Journal of Psychology, 138, 149–159.
  22. DeFrancisco, Victoria L. (2014). Gender in Communication. SAGE Publications. p. 11. ISBN   978-1-4522-2009-3.
  23. 1 2 Ewing, E.; Mackrell, A. (2002). History of Twentieth Century Fashion. LA: Quite Specific Media Group Ltd.
  24. Valle-Ferrer, Norma (1 June 2006). Luisa Capetillo, Pioneer Puerto Rican Feminist: With the collaboration of students from the Graduate Program in Translation, The University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras, Spring 1991. Peter Lang Publishing Inc. ISBN   9780820442853.
  25. Köksal, Duygu; Falierou, Anastasia (10 October 2013). A Social History of Late Ottoman Women: New Perspectives. BRILL. ISBN   9789004255258.
  26. "Harriet Fisher". The Queen of Androgyny – Marlene Dietrich – Blog. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  27. Commentator, Sally Kohn, CNN Political. "The Seventies: The sex freakout". CNN. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  28. Moet, Sophie (1 May 2014). "Androgyny and Feminism". Sophie Moet. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  29. 1 2 "Elvis Never Gets Credit for One of His Greatest Gifts to Rock 'n Roll". Observer. 8 January 2016. Retrieved 23 May 2016.
  30. 1 2 Daniel, Pete (1 January 2000). Lost Revolutions: The South in the 1950s. Univ of North Carolina Press. ISBN   9780807848487.
  31. Baker, Lindsay. "His or hers: Will androgynous fashion catch on?". Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  32. Elan, Priya (13 March 2016). "Peacock revolution back with label that dressed Mick Jagger and David Bowie". The Guardian. London.
  33. "Mick Jagger's white dress cast him as a romantic hero". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  34. Lalovic, Itana (19 November 2013). "Androgyny in the fashion world". Wall Street International. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  35. Rehling, Nicola (21 June 2010). Extra-Ordinary Men: White Heterosexual Masculinity and Contemporary Popular Cinema. Lexington Books. ISBN   9781461633426.
  36. "Global Influences: Challenging Western Traditions". London: Berg.
  37. Andrew Anthony (10 October 2010). "Annie Lennox: the interview". The Observer. London, UK. Retrieved 2 October 2012.
  38. "The Menswear Phenomenon". Vogue; Conde Nast.
  39. "Global Influences: Challenging Western Traditions". London: Berg.
  40. "Androgynous Fashion Moments". Highsnobiety. 14 May 2015. Retrieved 23 May 2016.
  41. "Gender Fluidity in the Fashion Industry". Cub Magazine. 8 February 2016. Retrieved 19 February 2017.
  42. Pleck, J. H. (1995). The gender-role strain paradigm. In R. F. Levant & W. S. Pollack (Ed.s), A new psychology of men. New York: Basic Books.
  43. Butler, Judith P. (1993). Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of 'Sex'. New York: Routledge. pp. 2–3. ISBN   9780415903660 . Retrieved 12 October 2014.
  44. 1 2 Galupo, M. Paz; Pulice-Farrow, Lex; Ramirez, Johanna L. (2017). ""Like a Constantly Flowing River": Gender Identity Flexibility Among Nonbinary Transgender Individuals": 163–177. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-55658-1_10.
  45. Johanna Schorn. "Taking the "Sex" out of Transsexual: Representations of Trans Identities in Popular Media" (PDF). Inter-Disciplinary.Net. Universität zu Köln. p. 1. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 October 2014. Retrieved 6 February 2017.
  46. Galupo, M. Paz; Henise, Shane B.; Davis, Kyle S. (2014). "Transgender microaggressions in the context of friendship: Patterns of experience across friends' sexual orientation and gender identity". Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity. 1 (4): 462. doi:10.1037/sgd0000075 . Retrieved 6 February 2017.
  47. Sumerau, J. E.; Cragun, R. T.; Mathers, L. A. B. (2015). "Contemporary Religion and the Cisgendering of Reality". Social Currents. 3 (3): 2. doi:10.1177/2329496515604644.
  48. Erik Olin Wright (2011). "In defense of genderlessness (The Sex-Gender Distinction)". In Axel Gosseries, Philippe Vanderborght (ed.). Arguing about justice. Louvain: Presses universitaires de Louvain. pp. 403–413. ISBN   9782874632754 . Retrieved 6 February 2017.
  49. Ian Chapman, Henry Johnson, ed. (2016). Global Glam and Popular Music: Style and Spectacle from the 1970s to the 2000s. Routledge. pp. 203–205. ISBN   9781317588191.
  50. "Move over, Psy! Here comes G-Dragon style". The Independent. 17 August 2014. Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  51. "K-pop: a beginner's guide". The Guardian. 3 March 2014. Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  52. "Androgyny becoming global?". Archived from the original on 26 December 2010. Retrieved 17 December 2010.
  53. Wendlandt, Astrid. "Androgynous look back for spring". Reuters. Retrieved 17 December 2010.
  54. Peter Hartlaub (24 February 2005). "The teenage fans from 'Titanic' days jump ship as Leonardo DiCaprio moves on". Retrieved 17 December 2010.
  55. Cavendish, Marshall (2010). Sex and Society, Vol 1. Paul Bernabeo. p. 69.
  56. "Androgynous look catches on". The Himalayan Times. 13–16 September 2010. Retrieved 17 December 2010.
  57. "Harajuku Girls Harajuku Clothes And Harajuku Gothic fashion Secrets". Tokyo Top Guide. Retrieved 17 December 2010.
  58. "Profile of Kagerou". Retrieved 17 December 2010.
  59. Webb, Martin (13 November 2005). "Japan Fashion Week in Tokyo 2005. A stitch in time?". The Japan Times. Retrieved 17 December 2010.