Androgyny, Maleness and Effemimania

dossier_issueYesterday, May 16, Jezebel wrote a story on how Barnes and Noble requested that art and culture magazine Dossier needed to censor their new issue cover bearing an androgynous model, Andrej Pejic (pictured right).  Reason being? Nudity — of the top torso.  “Our customers may think it’s a woman,” states B&N.

While this censorship of a male chest is virtually unheard of, it certainly doesn’t suprise me that androgyny, and particular effeminizing men can be considered “obscene” by many.

Of course, Jezebel, a publication I respect, does a fine job at pointing out the strangeness and flaws of comparing male imagery and how more buff dudes get no flack while an androgynous one does.  But I think they miss a underlying issue of why this is androgynous and how unsettling

Pejic’s hair, make up and slender body are clearly the effeminizing qualities under scrutiny.  But if he looked like a “normal” beefy dude they would be no fuss!

This is the same issue brought up a month ago of an online ad of J. Crew fashion designer Jenna Lyons painting toenail polish on her son.  Innocent enough? Hardly, when the media questions this mother’s motives and mental state.  It’s just nail polish!  Or is it?

It is these two examples which trans feminist activist Julia Serano calls effemimania – the obsession of male or transgender MTF-spectrum expressions of femininity.  Our society teaches men to “smell like a man,” eat like men, and all the rest. Of course, effemimania is a sly way to criticize femininity itself – you can hear them screaming scandal! How could you do that to your little boy! Or, how could you put rollers in your hair to pretend like a woman and not expect censorship!

I say it’s high time to accept and portray the diversity of maleness in feminine, masculine or any other points between or beyond.  It’s time to rip off the cellophane wrap and celebrate the beauty of different bodies.

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