Grace Jones, Prince, David Bowie, Tilda Swinton, Ruby Rose, Janelle Monáe, Annie Lennox. All of these modern artistic icons utilize androgyny in their looks and style, taking a stand against the homogenous backdrop of typical feminine and masculine practices in a myriad number of ways.
Androgyny: “having the characteristics or nature of both male and female” – Merriam-Webster Dictionary
This definition presents a modern concept articulated through traditional ideas of social classifications in gender; it touches the surface, but avoids the depth of the complexities within androgyny. “Male” and “female” in this definition are palatable fictions of the natural world. Androgyny is more than a combination of opposing ends in a binary that ignores distinctions between sex and gender; it is a challenge to taught expectations of femininity and masculinity.
To be androgynous is to confront and oppose the mind of the stranger eyeing you cross the street, to be not within, rather outside the constructions they understand. Androgyny is not an in-between, a midpoint, a middle-ground of gender expression; Androgyny is an attack on the understanding of how humans are supposed to socially function. It impedes people in their constant unconscious internal gendering of others on which social expectations build and are reciprocally built.
Androgyny is all of this because of its base in identity and its relationship to nature. It confronts the idea that conformity is greater than genuine comfort, and elicits questions around social creations and their effects.
Written by Andrew Uhrig & Nakia Stephens