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DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631207535.1997.x


Derived from the Greek anr, andros (male) and gyn (female), “androgyny” literally refers to hermaphroditism, or the presence of both male and female reproductive organs in a single organism. Historically, the term has been most often used by biologists, especially botanists discussing certain plants. However, in the 1960s and 1970s, the concept of androgyny became popular among feminist theorists to describe the combination and expression of both masculine and feminine appearances, traits, qualities, characteristics, and virtues by human individuals. The feminist argument for androgyny proceeded from the axiom that sex and G ender are not identical. Sexist thinking, which is generally both dualistic and dichotomous in its approach to human nature, tends to conflate the two. Sexist cultural systems first establish two categories, “male” and “female,” then ascribe the traits by which people are sorted into these categories, evaluate the categories and their traits (devaluing the female and traits associated with females), and finally, order the categories through a variety of cultural moves (such as situation, standardization, and distribution of perspectivity), ultimately to enforce relations of dominance and subordination between human beings classified as male and female ( Messer-Davidow, 1987 , pp. 81–3). Since sexism is only possible when human beings are able to distinguish ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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