We live in a world of boundaries- black and white, day and night, yes or no, positive or negative, male and female, masculine and feminine. But what about the people who do not fit into black and white, who are neither masculine nor feminine but are in the middle of it?
Androgyny, commonly defined as a case of enactment of the opposite sex, indicates a being representing characteristics of both male and female. It is about not following two different paths of being a man or a woman but about treading upon a third path which is somewhere in between, the path of blurring gender lines.
Androgyny, an unconventional mode of going back and forth between genders, without a gender dichotomy is what offered the flexibility of gender dualism. To understand androgyny, it is important to explore the difference between ‘sex’ and ‘gender’. ‘Sex’ is a physical construct while ‘gender’ is the social role of an individual based on sex. This can be better understood by saying that ‘sex’ means being biologically male or female while ‘gender’ means practising masculinity or femininity.
The word androgynous has been derived from Greek words, “androes” meaning man and “gynae” meaning woman; it blends theses gender traits. A person’s qualities can be chosen from both genders, but cannot be entirely genderless, and this is exactly what androgyny is about. Androgyny treats people not as the world at large might label them, as a ‘maid’ or a ‘youth’ depending on their behaviour or dress but as they appear in the course of everyday activities.
It is sad that most androgynous people face many challenges from the society and are often labelled as bisexual, lesbians, gay people and so on and so forth. Androgyny however is very different from all the above. While bisexuality is sometimes referred to a psychological condition, lesbians and gay people follow same ‘gender relationship’ whereas, hermaphrodites is yet another category where a person actually possesses some of the actual sex organs or both genders.
If we were to come back to talking of the common masses, we find evidences of our fascination with sexual ambiguity everywhere. Be it dressing in a certain way, a person’s interest or in a person’s choice of lifestyle. Fading away of gender difference and blurring gender lines is the unconscious way the society has begun to think in a unconventional, liberal set-up.
Though sometimes, the deviation from gender roles in a society can result in severe punishment, ranging from ridicule to harassment, androgyny has now been accepted conveniently sometimes, just as a substitute to masculine or feminine companionship with which, in my opinion, no conventional gender stereotype can compete with.