Friday, May 12, 2006

Intermediacy [II, 32]

The popular imagination tends to view male homosexuals as partaking of the feminine, while lesbians are considered to be masculinized. In this way, both categories are relegated to a middle terrain between the two poles of male and female. This notion of a realm in the middle underlies the old term third sex, a concept stemming ultimately from classical antiquity.

This view has led to confusion. Hermaphrodites are individuals who have ambiguous genitals. The old term epicene describes an individual whose gender is hard to interpret. Androgyny is the aspiration or achievement of gender indeterminacy, without regard to sexual orientation.

Bisexuality is another form of intermediacy.

According to most etymologists the origin of the common English adjective “bad” lie in the Old English words baeddel and baedling. The first means “hermaphrodite,” while the latter had the connotation of sodomite.

The first major scientific periodical to treat homosexuality was founded by Magnus Hirschfeld in Berlin in 1899. It was entitled Zeitschrift für sexuelle Zwischenstufen, or Journal for Sexual Intermediates.

Popular culture gives some play to shemales or chicks with dicks. These are individuals with large male members who have also had breast enlargement and wear feminine apparel. The appeal seems to be largely voyeuristic, though there may be some prostitution involved as well.

Older German texts supply Mannweib. In British Polari lingo a gay man is called omee-palone, or man-woman

In the early twenty-first century the term intersex came to enjoy new life as an umbrella expression for individuals with ambiguous genitals. This reflected the greater willingness of such persons to come out, and also sobering reassessments of the often unfortunate effects of “corrective” surgery that sought to make them more acceptably male of female. The Intersex Society of North America, founded in 1993, distributes information about this concept. Some of these individuals were featured in an HBO television special of December 2005, bearing the title “Middle Sexes: Redefining He and She.”


Post a Comment

<< Home