Being androgyne; inside and out.

I’ve talked about this topic before, but only peripherally because I had only just realized then myself what it means to be and feel androgyne. I also linked to this site but I feel I need to point to it again. It helps a lot in understanding this particular ambiguous part of the multicolored gender spectrum; both for those of you who may be androgyne or are in doubt if so and for those of you who simply are curious about the subject and want to understand more.

In this post I try to give an insight in my particular situation and explain the subject the best I can, but I must point out that I’m no expert in the matter and may have yet to understand and use some of the terms and definitions correctly. I do not, however, couple being an androgyne to that of being an INTP or vice versa. Personality type and gender are, after all, two different things. The chance that there are other female-born androgyne INTPs out there is pretty slim, I reckon, but if there are and you have found this, I welcome you with open arms. 🙂

Being androgynous has long been – and, I presume, still is among most people – associated with fashion and physical appearance where one – whether man or woman – combines male and female traits of clothing styles in one’s own and/or genetically bears traditionally and commonly associated looks from both sexes, thus making one appear both masculine and feminine or neither. Some of the best known examples are Coco Chanel, Marlene Dietrich, David Bowie, Prince, Patti Smith, Grace Jones and Annie Lennox, etc.. I guess being androgynous has – from the side of the onlookers – long been connected with an equal amount of intrigue and obscurity and high level of performativity due to its naturally undefinable, ambiguous attitude.

But being androgyne has of latest also been recognized as a gender. That is, where one’s gender is non-binary; both male and female or neither. A third gender. It’s a complex field to understand (go to the above-mentioned site to understand the intricate differentiations better) and it’s still in the progress of being understood and recognized properly, but what’s important to note here – or indeed always – is that one’s biological sex, one’s sexuality and one’s gender are three different components. They can, by principle, be combined in a multitude of ways that make up our identities; who we are as individuals. As such, androgynes do not necessarily want to become a different sex or gender, because we simply do not subscribe to any of them, per se. To quote the above site:

One cannot claim to be a man or woman and still be (an) androgyne, because androgynes are of a third gender: they are either a combination of the two binary genders or the absence of both of them. They can’t be (just) one of the two binary genders. One reason why the terms male-born and female-born are applied to androgynes is in deference to different sets of life experience, but another is to differentiate them from post-operative androgynes, who are not (trans)men and not (trans)women.

Yeah, it’s a bit confusing, but to scale down a bit: In my case, I was born female and am a heterosexual (or, more likely, demisexual), but I feel and now view myself as androgyne. Remember, gender is how you view yourself – and can in itself consists of several components according to gender theorist Judith Butler (whose work I can highly recommend reading).

On top of that, I actually look androgynous, although that is coincidental. My face has rather manly features (I’m no cute gamine, so I can hardly classify them as boyish) from my father’s side, and of average build with both curvy and lanky features (broad shoulders, bony hands, long legs and arms) from my mother’s side. My hair is fine, straight and ash-brown (and has its own life). I wish I had a husky voice à la Lauren Bacall or Emma Stone but I’m afraid mine is rather fair and bland.

It’s all an awkward combination to be honest. Never one thing and yet the same. Odd and yet rather unnoticeable. I guess it suits my INTP personality just fine: Never being just one thing, but rather puzzling and atypical. Chameleon-like. But I guess looking androgynous as well as being androgyne can also create all the more confusion among most people you meet when you – as an INTP – are already hard to place into anything definite and comprehensive. It’s both an advantage and a disadvantage to have this ‘combination’ I have, I guess.

But how you physically look or dress doesn’t have to have anything to do with how you feel inside and view yourself. Or vice versa. Thus, even if you happen to have what are typically classified as feminine features, you do not have to necessarily feel feminine inside. Or, in this case, masculine. You could feel both or neither at the same time. To better explain, I resort to quote good old Wiki:

For humans, androgyne (/ˈændrən/ an-drə-jyn) in terms of gender identity is a person who does not fit neatly into the typical masculine and feminine gender roles of their society. Androgynes may also use the term “ambigender” or “polygender” to describe themselves. Many androgynes identify as being mentally between woman and man. They may identify as “non-gender”, “gender-neutral”, “agender”, “between genders”, “genderqueer“, “non-binary”, “multigender”, “intergendered”, “pangender” or “gender fluid”.[25] However these terms are slightly different in definition. 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 genders and may disassociate the task with what gender it may be socially assigned to.[26] 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.[26]

It’s interesting to think about all this, had I been born male. At first I thought, hypothetically, nothing but my biological sex and thus certain features of my current body would have changed. I don’t imagine my face would have altered that much, actually, simply because I’m androgynous enough around my facial features to pass as male. At least in my eyes. All in all, it wouldn’t really matter because I would still have the same personality and gender; I would still be an androgyne INTP. My sexuality is another thing to consider though. Instinctively, I just thought heterosexual, because I would still be me and thus still attracted to men. But being male-born that would make me homosexual – which would be totally fine by me – but then I began wondering whether having a male body combined with having an androgyne gender could also make me hetero and attracted to women? Silly to question perhaps, and likely not as easily boxed-in like that, but I couldn’t help myself from including that possibility as well. I find it an interesting aspect to ponder upon and I don’t think I would mind if that was the case. But still – though I’m no expert in this area – I believe there must somehow be a correlation between your sexuality and whom you’re attracted to and your own, unique personality (i.e. not personality type) which would function the same way no matter your body or sex.

Anyway, it’s an interesting thought experiment. I would like to experience being male and all the privileges that entail for a short while. Especially travelling the world alone. I wouldn’t dare to do so as a female. On a smaller scale, I believe I would have less trouble combining clothes that should flatter my body type and be less modest about my physique. As a woman I generally hate showing too much cleavage or bare legs, but I also want the freedom to do so without being leered at or judged and I feel like that isn’t the case with men. That is, they can show skin without being leered at and judged the same way. I may be wrong, but I think there’s some truth in it as well. Then again, men, in turn, struggle to embrace ‘feminine’ values because the heteronormative and patriarchal society have taught them such values inherently points to weakness.

In the end, each sex has its different advantages and disadvantages, also depending where you live, what freedom and rights you have in that specific culture and society and what values you’ve grown up with. I’m lucky enough to live in a place where gender roles are fairly equal (not enough, but still), so being female luckily does not pose such a great hindrance here. (Well, as long as you are white and sorta Christian.. *sighs*).

Male or female; as an androgyne I would be just as comfortable and still be me.

I’ll end with an excerpt that struck a chord with me:

“Dionysus is a god who takes human form, a powerful male who looks soft and feminine, a native of Thebes who dresses as a foreigner. His parentage is mixed between divine and human; he is and is not a citizen of Thebes; his power has both feminine and masculine aspects. He does not merely cross boundaries, he blurs and confounds them, makes nonsense of the lines between Greek and foreign, between female and male, between powerful and weak, between savage and civilized. He is the god of both tragedy and comedy, and in his presence the distinction between them falls away, as both comedy and tragedy…”

— Paul Woodruff, The Bacchae (Translated and Annotated) – Euripides


PS. Since this discovery, I’ve realized that the title of my blog is rather incorrect or misleading, given that I am not female but a third gender. Thus I have been considered changing the title, putting in ‘androgyne’ in stead of ‘female’. I may decide to do so, one day or another, I’m still not sure.

*revised 09/15/17*


2 thoughts on “Being androgyne; inside and out.

  1. Pingback: Gender-Bender Award – Being Androgyne Inside and Out | Tiffany's Non-Blog

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