By Tracy Hargreaves
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Extra info for Androgyny in Modern Literature
Medical typologies identified androgyny as a form of bisexuality, as hermaphroditism, and with cross-gender identification and homosexuality. Texts like the Autobiography of an Androgyne both legitimised and subverted the authority of those categorisations by inhabiting and then relocating them. In doing so, they made the androgyne synonymous with specific sexual practices within a specific sexual milieu: for Lind, with the passive transvestite fairy on the Bowery. Monsieur Vénus is a narrative that continuously gestures to a series of sexual, gender and erotic transformations, but does so indecisively, since transgression is, in the end, rewarded by alienation.
Androgyny-gynandry was his appellation for the individual who possesses the secondary sexual characteristics of the sex with which he identifies, as was the case with Lind (in the book’s photographic illustrations, a plumpish man with the appearance of breasts), but the binomial term indicates that androgyny is the provenance of the womanly man (as Lind understands it), gynandry the provenance of the manly woman. (In Idols of Perversity, Bram Dijkstra writes disparagingly of The Gynander, the ninth volume of Josephin Peladan’s The Latin Decadence.
Raoule enters his tomb dressed sometimes as a man, sometimes as a woman. ’90 When Raoule and Jacques’ wedding guests leave the Vénérande mansion, they declare that they are leaving a tomb, effectively enunciating a moratorium on the womanly man and the manly woman. The androgyne exists spectrally, as though it is always brought into being by the gaze,91 lacking a secure ontology. Incarnated, the androgyne’s deconstructive potential is always defeated by the circularity of argument it brings into being: the androgyne (and the idea of androgyny) concretises and simultaneously undoes gender binaries.
Androgyny in Modern Literature by Tracy Hargreaves