Category Archives: sexuality

A Third Gender: Beautiful Youths in Japanese Prints

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Laurie says:

I love the wood block prints from the Ukiyo-e (“floating world”) in the Japanese Edo period.

Kitagawa Utamaro – From the Series Fujin tewaza jūnikō (Twelve Forms of Women’s Handiwork)

There is an excellent article by Susan Chira in the New York Times about a stunning exhibition of prints from the Edo period in Japan. They are of a wakashu, who were considered a third gender. The article is thoughtful and discusses these works and their context both in Edo Japan and
in the present time.

A figure in a translucent kimono coyly holds a fan. Another arranges an iris in a vase. Are they men or women?

Wakashu and Young Woman with Hawks

As a mind-bending exhibition that opened Friday at the Japan Society (in New York City) illustrates, they are what scholars call a third gender — adolescent males seen as the height of beauty in early modern Japan who were sexually available to both men and women. Known as wakashu, they are one of several examples in the show that reveal how elastic the ideas of gender were before Japan adopted Western sexual mores in the late 1800s.

Suzuki Harunobu Youth on a Long-Tailed Turtle as Urashima Tarō

The show, “A Third Gender: Beautiful Youths in Japanese Prints,” arrives at a time of ferment about gender roles in the United States and abroad. Bathroom rights for transgender people have become a cultural flash point. The notion of “gender fluidity” — that it’s not necessary to identify as either male or female, that gender can be expressed as a continuum — is roiling traditional definitions. …

The wakashu are a case in point. The term describes the time a male reaches puberty and his head is partly shaved, with a triangle-shaped cut above the forelocks that is a telltale way to identify wakashu. During this stage of life only, before full-fledged adulthood, it was socially permissible to have sex with either men or women. …

It is one of the many reflections on contemporary society that this provocative exhibition raises. Walking through it is a reckoning with categories, definitions and how they resonate in societies still uncertain about whether lines between genders should be bent or blurred.

You really need to read the whole article to get a sense of what this means. There is also fascinating information and a video at the Royal Ontario Museum site , where the exhibition originated.


Hosoda Eisui – Wakashu with a Shoulder Drum

It runs til June 17th and I’m hoping to see it when I’m in New York.

A Few Choice Links

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Debbie says:

My links list is longer than your browser window, and my time is limited, so here are a few favorites:

frontI have one friend in particular who rages about “unisex” t-shirts with no space for boobs, and I thought of them when I read this Alice Goldfuss piece:

So, why didn’t I make a shirt that says “JUST USE ‘FOLKS’” and offer it in every cut? Because, sometimes, the best way to expose privilege is to take it away. Many men expected me to include men’s sizing by request. By telling them no, I gave them a choice: don’t participate in something you enjoy or adapt to the only option given.

This is a choice marginalized people face every day. …

Something this campaign also helped expose was society’s very limited view on what it means to be a woman. Society expects women to be short and slight, and any deviation from those rules is not supported. Despite offering women’s shirts up to 4XL in size, some women still couldn’t buy them due to women’s sizes being smaller and shorter than men’s. Usually these women have to buy men’s shirts, because they have no other options.

To those women (and nonbinary individuals, and people with gender dysphoria) I accidentally excluded with this campaign, I am truly sorry. You have my permission to take the design and make a shirt for yourself that fits.

My next shirt campaign will have both women’s and men’s sizes, but I want to emphasize that this is bullshit. Labeling clothing this way forces our bodies into a binary that doesn’t exist.

You can buy Alice Goldfuss’s shirts at Outreachy.

***

emily-ratajkowski-760x760

I had never heard of Emily Ratajkowski until I came across her essay in Glamour earlier this month. Ratajkowski is an actress, a model, and a Bernie Sanders supporter, who (strangely enough) does not think those things are contradictory.

I’ve been called an attention whore so often that I had almost gotten used to it….  [A]s women we are accused of seeking attention more than men are, whether for speaking out politically, as I did, for dressing a certain way, or for even posting a selfie. Our culture has a double standard that runs so deep, many women have actually built up an automatic defense—attempting to be a step ahead of potential critics by making sure we have “real” reasons for anything we say or do. …

It’s absurd to think that desire for attention doesn’t drive both women and men. Why are women scrutinized for it more, then? And if a woman dresses up because she does want attention, male or otherwise, does that make her guilty of something? Or less “serious”? Our society doesn’t question men’s motivations for taking their shirt off, or shaving, or talking about politics—nor should it. Wanting attention is genderless. It’s human.

Ratajkowski is funny, a clear thinker, and a good writer. If we didn’t know what she looked like, if she used a different name or kept her personas separate, would we read her writing differently? And if she was a funny, clear thinking male model, would that be different again?

***

Most articles on disability are either “medical model” perspectives of one kind or another, or they are “my story”: anecdotal experiences. The staff at The Mighty found a new approach: short descriptions from 28 people to build a big picture. One capsule take on what brain fog feels like is just one perspective: 28 stories provide a solid foundation.

“Brain fog is like stumbling around in the dark with no clear path out. It’s like your brain being trapped in quicksand constantly.” — Rachel Johnson

“Brain fog is needing a reminder to remind you what your reminders are for.” — Selena Marie Wilson

“Brain fog for me is feeling completely lost in a familiar place.” — Cherie Rendon

I have never experienced anything I would really call brain fog, but reading these descriptions gave me a much fuller concept than I had before. Now I want to see this model applied to different experiences of disability … and longer stories.

***

We can always count on Ragen at Dances with Fat to find the most important stories and write about them clearly. This post is no exception:

Brookhaven Elementary school in Mississippi prioritized students not seeing a 9 year old girl in a “too snug” t-shirt, over that girl’s education.  She was removed from her classroom and put into in school suspension her mother then brought another outfit which was also deemed inappropriate.  The school has verified that they are standing by their decision.

Here’s the first inappropriate outfit (Ragen also has a picture of the second one):

dress-code-1

After dissecting the story behind the story, Ragen concludes:

mostly what I want to say is that this kid is fricking nine years old and she deserves to be able to go to school to learn in pants and a t-shirt without having to worry about being dragged out of class in front of her peers and put into in school suspension because of a ridiculous fat shaming dress code and the sizeist teachers and administrators who choose how and when to enforce it.

***

Stacy Bias provides a fine antidote. Her twelve Good Fatty Archetypes include:

comic_7_mamahen_color

The others range from No Fault Fatty to Fatshionista, and nine more. You’ll enjoy them.

Aside from my usual sources of links, Lisa Hirsch sent the Dances with Fat link (and a couple of others that didn’t make it into this post), and Body Impolitic’s own Lynne Murray sent the Stacy Bias link. Thanks to both!