labels are for jam jars

This film is clear and intelligent exploration of the concept of androgyny from the perspective of gender-variant people. Please take a few minutes to watch it. It’s brilliant.



“We think we’re a lot more free by not subscribing to a specific essentialized gender category, but by labeling ourselves androgynous or placing ourselves within the category of androgyny, we just present a whole new set of boundaries, a whole new set of rules, a whole new set of things to conform to. So i think androgyny as concept fails because it just creates another category instead of deconstructing and tearing apart gender constructions.

Posted by on February 11th, 2008 at 08:48 pm

Category: video 4 comments »

4 Responses to “labels are for jam jars”

  1. Emma McCreary

    Hmm. It’s all very interesting, but I wonder why it’s the people who are most concerned with “not having labels” who also talk about them the most?

    I also am not sure what else the author expected from the word “androgyny”. He/she/it/whatever said that androgyny “fails” because it’s just another label. Well of course it is. It’s a word, a category. Of course it’s going to have edges to its definition. Otherwise it wouldn’t be very descriptive and pretty useless as a word.

    This is what I think: one person is never going to get another person to define-or-not-define them in the way they most like.

    This is why my favorite motto is “what others think of me (or how they define me) is none of my business”. And this is why identity politics is fundamentally frustrating to me. It seems to miss its own point.


  2. Koan

    Maybe there’s some mileage in thinking of androgyny as what it isn’t, rather than what it is? Which isn’t a negative connotation, I just mean that by saying what it specifically isn’t, e.g. “a rigid adherence to the notion that there are only two genders”, *from the perspective of oneself*, then everything and anything that isn’t specifically excluded is potentially included.

    (I’m not saying that the above is either a necessary or sufficient condition, by the way, before anybody jumps on me for not understanding what androgyny is!)

    My own definitions of “woman”, “female”, “femininity” etc. would probably seem fallacious to some others – I don’t care, I’m not submitting them to the Gender Thought Police for validation. I’d hate to think that androgyny, those who proclaim it, and those who see it as a helpful model for who they are might end up subject to the same criticism, i.e. “you’re not androgynous enough”.

    Thanks for finding that video, Andi – I love to start my morning thinking about something other than work! :)


  3. withoutscene

    I think this is dealing with many of the same issues that we deal with in the creation and use of the word “queer”, only queer has a more actively political connotation (imho). This is discussed in gender and sexuality courses everywhere. “If we have a category that is broad and inclusive, can we still unite via that category in a politically powerful way?” Or for androgyny: “Does it break down gender/sex categories, or does it create another category that–because it’s discrete and because it’s still created using the traditional sex/gender concepts–doesn’t accomplish much at all?
    I think treating this like a yes/no question is confounding. It IS both yes and no. I think androgyny (and queer) does make a difference, it does have the power to disrupt, it does have political power…but does it obliterate gender and sex categories completely? Certainly not.

    And that’s my two cents.


  4. Jools

    And isn’t another problem the fact that the term androgynous in its most common use doesn’t actually mean partly male, partly female. As used, it most typically refers to skinny women with fabulous features and short hair.
    When was the last time you heard of a woman with broad shoulders, a strong jaw, thick legs or some other ‘male’ feature described as androgynous?
    It works the other way for men, too. Men who get called androgynous are gorgeous. What about the little guys with skinny limbs, soft muscles, little noses and all else? That’s right, the wimps…


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