Feminine Boys

Feminine Boys

Nowadays when a woman is pregnant, there is so much emphasis on the babies’ expected gender. It is even more telling when you notice the explosion of gender reveal video’s and photo’s on social media. People still hold onto a very stereotypical way of thinking about gender. With this series, I’m focusing specifically on boys. I wish to highlight the frustration that boys/ men feel who are more in touch with their feminine side and wish to express that in whichever degree or way they want without the fear of being shamed for it.

My intention with this series was not necessarily to focus on sexuality, but to honour a feminine expression in men or boys regardless of their sexual or gender identity. Hoping to bring a normality to the idea of a more feminine male.  I later learnt that the models I was intuitively attracted to and that I chose, do represent people from a variety of sexual and gender identities, including heterosexuality. I hope that the images and the models I chose will challenge stereotypes and the viewers own projections. I think it is disheartening that a boy who is more in touch with his feminine side is more subject to bullying and being made fun of or forced to hide that side of themselves. This further highlights the shame surrounding the feminine.  Sadly one of my models expressed being bullied growing up and called derogatory names. But another model expressed that because he is more in touch with and allowing of his own sensitivity and emotions, his most “mucho” male friend lets his guard down around him and reveals that deep down he has a “soft heart”. I was really touched by this.

I recently discovered that Native American culture has high respect for people that are either intersex, androgynous, a feminine male or a masculine female. They are referred to as two-spirit. *“Rather than the physical body, Native Americans look at a person as a spirit, they are honoured for having two spirits, and are seen as more spiritually gifted than the typical masculine male or feminine female. The emphasis of Native Americans is not to force every person into one box, but to allow for the reality of diversity in gender and sexual identities.” In western and many other cultures the opposite is true , gender roles are so ingrained, and people who are perhaps non conforming, “need” labels and are ostracised. There is especially more shame around the feminine expressed in men. In Jungian psychology we also learn that each person has an inner feminine and inner masculine. And that it is integration of our Anima and Animus that leads to wholeness. I wonder if the message then is that we start looking at ourselves, each and every person as “two spirit” and recognise that we all possess something of this giftedness. I also think it is so important that we teach and model for our boys to embrace their sensitivity, nurturing and feminine sides and to be proud of it. I think we have much to learn from Native American culture, and I can imagine that if more people had this mindset or point of view, we might have a much more balanced, accepting and integrated society.