I don’t know what to make of this ‘changed man’ bikini. It actually does my head in.
I saw this ‘mangina’ swimsuit on Jezebel the feminist site but I am not linking to the article, as I hate Jezebel. One thing that did spring to mind is how this style of bikini imitates that prank young men sometimes play, where they put their dicks between their legs, creating a ‘mangina effect’. I expect boys have been doing that forever, it is called ‘tucking’, I now learn. But in this age where increasing numbers of trans men and women are living openly and transitioning including via surgery, the ‘prank’ can take on nasty connotations (then again, maybe it always could).
Today Mark Simpson wrote about Andrej Pejic, the ‘androgynous’ fashion model that I have written about before, and placed him in a tradition of contemporary ‘gender bending’ pioneered by pop stars such as Marilyn from the 1980s.
As I had written previously about Pejic, referring to Simpson’s work:
‘For me, the notable thing about all the fuss around Pejic, is how the concept of ‘androgyny’ is really quite quaint and out moded in this postmodern, Metrosexy world. As Mark Simpson pointed out recently, if ‘macho’ figures such as Shane Warne are starting to become obsessed with being beautiful, and matching their glamorous girlfriends, wax for wax, pluck for pluck, accessory for accessory, shouldn’t we reconsider what our sense of ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’ mean?’
And Mark put it today more succinctly, by describing
‘The way, in other words, that gender is undressing itself. Or at least, teasing us with an elbow-length glove or two and an unhooked bra-strap.’
But what is going on with this ‘tease’? When a man can buy a bikini that gives him the appearance of owning a vagina, and still be a man, but a man can’t wear long hair and colourful make up and still be a man? Or, when a man loses weight and primps himself up and needs to reassure us and himself that I’m still a man. What are the rules and how do you know when you are breaking them and when you aren’t? And, how do women break the gender rules? That is a question Mr Simpson rarely concerns himself with. I know he thinks that in terms of gender expression, ‘it’s all right for women’, they are ‘free’ to dress and even act how they please (and to fuck who they please). As a woman who is constantly called into question in terms of her gender identity and her ‘pale imitation’ of being a woman I am not so sure. I actually think that examining gender bending without examining women, or, for example, trans men, is pretty ridiculous. But we are all ridiculous when it comes to gender so I don’t hold that against Mr Simpson or the validity of his thesis (well maybe a little bit).
As I said in the comments under Mark’s post, I think when it comes to gender we are all ‘pale imitators’ or ‘failed impersonators’. Though some people such as Pejic and Marilyn seem more comfortable with performing the ambiguities of gender than others. Like PJ for example. Who I would love to even begin to be able to palely imitate. Mansize.
‘Silence my lady head
Get girl out of my head
Douse hair with gasoline
Set it light and set it free ‘.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/offer-listing/0304328081 Male Impersonators by Mark Simpson, the best book I have read about masculinities apart from Metrosexy, and maybe Homos by Leo Bersani. Ok well, Gender Trouble by Butler is about masculinities too and that’s just brilliant but you know what I mean.