It is long enough to be a beautiful word. It as an almost metallic ring to it. What is it?
Well, according to Wikipedia, “Androgyny is the combination of masculine and feminine characteristics. Gender ambiguity may be found in fashion, gender identity, sexual identity, or sexual lifestyle. It can also refer to one’s singing or speaking voice.”
The gist of the etymology is that androgyny and androgynous have been used since the early 17th century. Both words are derived from the older French and English term androgyne but are originally Ancient Greek, with anér, andr- meaning man and gunē, gyné, meaning woman.
Apparently, there’s an ancient Greek myth about Hermaphroditus and Salmacis, two divinities who were fused into a single immortal being. I’ll write a post about that soon (with illustrations yay!).
There is of course an incredibly rich history of androgynous fashion, which I’ll keep exploring in the future. For now, I just learned about Luisa Capetillo, the first woman to wear trousers in public in Puerto Rico (and also a women’s rights activist). And get this…SHE WAS SENT TO JAIL FOR IT…damn. Fortunately, the judge dropped the charges later.
Check this bad bitch out:
(That’s Luisa wearing men’s clothes, she looks gooooood dang)
In music, Elvis Presley is actually considered to be the first one to introduce the androgynous style to rock’n’roll. In turn came Mick Jagger, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie and Ziggy Stardust, John Travolta, Prince, Marilyn Manson, Boy George. Damn that’s a lot of men. Grace Jones gets a shoutout too!
Here’s another interesting snipped from Wikipedia: “In the ancient and medieval worlds, androgyny and 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.”
The Caduceus The symbol for Planet Mercury
Another common icon of androgyny is the sun cross, which conjoins the the cross for male and the circle for female. This symbol is the astronomical sign for our very own planet Earth.
The Sun Cross
And from Urban Dictionary…