Week 4 – Avant-Garde

In Chris Straayer’s article “The She-Man: Postmodern Bi-Sexed Performance in Film and Video,” he chronicles the timeline of the creation of the concept of the she-man, of which he provides the definition being as such: “glaringly bi-sexed rather than obscurely androgynous or merely bisexual. Rather than undergoing a downward gender mobility, he has enlarged himself with feminine gender and female sexuality” (Straayer 263). I think the origins are really fascinating. The fact that throughout earlier history, male sexuality was a dominating factor; female sexuality was purely for reproductive purposes. However, through the feminism and LGBTQ+ movements, female sexuality became more threatening. So in order to remain in that dominant position, men came to embrace elements of femininity, the female gender, and the female sex in order to enhance their own sexuality and retain that familiar dominance. As soon as I read the first few pages of this article and learned what Straayer defines a she-man to be, I immediately thought of David Bowie, which is particularly fitting since as I read on, I realized Straayer focuses heavily on male (and female) performance in music videos and does mention Bowie. David Bowie is not a person who is merely androgynous; I suppose that could be one interpretation of him, but I don’t think that’s accurate. He really is a man who embraces elements of the feminine in order to enhance his own male heterosexual sexuality, and I think he is a very successful incarnation of this concept. Coming into this article with my prior knowledge and understanding of Bowie as an artist was significantly helpful in illustrating this concept.

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