Masculinity sits within a gender role that I whole heartedly embrace, along with my gender of being female; I am all of these things and so much more. It seems through my life I have grown up and not been 'clear' enough about my identity to people around me, I have never sat firmly in one gender role and this confuses people, confusion can breed fear and sometimes anger.
If I had a pound for every time someone stares at me or has told me I am in the wrong bathroom I would be very rich, when I was younger it used to upset me I would take my jacket off and stick my boobs out and have a ridiculous gay man mince just to make sure there was no confusion that I was indeed in the right bathroom.
Nowadays I don’t care about it, I smile and say really? Are you sure? And walk away amused, leaving the person looking so confused. That is enough for me; it’s not my job to be 'clear' for other people. I know who I am, my friends and family know who I am, I am a gentle, loving, proud highly polished boi who traverses gender roles and makes no apologies for not being 'clear'.
I’ve always just been me and it wasn’t a question. The hard part was looking around me and seeing not everyone gave me permission to just be me. I am just being me and it turns out that’s masculine. I always embraced the term because of that and because for me masculinity feels comfortable. In an odd way, masculinity has been a mother to me. Nurturing me and making me feel at home when no one else was. The feeling I have in my clothes and from those around me who recognize my masculinity is what allows me to keep going. As I grow into my masculinity, I’m noticing that people are telling me what that is suppose to mean for me and I get that masculinity is so many things to so many people, but I will always just be me and be at home in the corner of the word I create for myself.
I thought it would be easy to write about what masculinity meant to debut the more I thought about it the more malleable and elusive it seemed to become. For me masculinity is very much at the core of my being, it embodies both strength and vulnerability - it is a way of challenging the binary on a daily basis but equally not being labelled or put in a box so others feel more comfortable. I identify as androgyne for those who require a label, althoughI prefer not to label myself at all. All humans regardless of biological gender encompass both the masculine and the feminine, for me personally the masculine part has always been more dominant. From the age of 3 or 4 years old I knew I was not cis-gender even though I didn’t have the vocabulary to express it and back then in Malaysia I didn’t know there was anything outside of cis gender or heterosexuality for that matter. It was a long and at times arduous road to being able to dress how I wanted and to cut my hair.
My great-grandmother had film studio books from the 30’s and early 40’s and it was a great treat to sit with her and look at the beautiful photographs of the Hollywood stars as she read the biographies - I had no interest in the female stars, but I was obsessed with the likes of Gregory Peck, Tyrone Power, Clark Gable and Cary Grant. I wanted to be them, in the way they dressed, their gentlemanly personas but I’ve never wanted to transition. Growing up in in patriarchally dominated asian society I was well aware of male privilege so masculinity to me meant the ability to be a risk taker, to be dashing, to be a gentleman, and I knew from observing my father that being a true gentleman meant treating everyone equally, honestly and at all times with respect. It’s been a long road but now at 50+ I am comfortable with me and how I portray myself. I love and I am as excited by men’s fashion as much now as I was as a kid so being part of this project has been a huge privilege and honour.
This is the first time, i think about the meaning, that the word masculinity has to me and i really don't know what to say. Many people associate masculinity with strength, dominance, demonstration of force, independence, self confidence and (of course) short hair. I associate the word masculinity rather with a specific look, charisma or coolness than with these characteristics. It doesn't matter if it's a woman, a man, a trans-person or whatever. For me, i have a masculine look and i am pretty sure that, in a few situations, i am more a macho than a barbie but nevertheless, i see myself as a woman...even though others often don't see me that way.
Das ist das erste Mal, dass ich über die Bedeutung nachenke, die das Wort Maskulinität für mich hat und ich weiß wirklich nicht, was ich dazu sagen soll. Viele Menschen assozieren Maskulinität mit Stärke, Dominanz, Machtdemonstration, Unabhängigkeit, Selbstsicherheit und (natürlich) kurzen Haaren. Ich assoziiere das Wort eher mit dem Aussehen und einer gewissen Ausstrahlung oder Coolness. Ob es Mann, Frau, Trans oder was auch immer ist, spielt dabei keine Rolle. Ich für mich habe ein maskulines Aussehen und sicherlich bin ich auch hier und da mal mehr Macho, als eine Barbie aber ich sehe mich trotzdem als Frau...obwohl andere es oftmals nicht so sehen.
Frankfurt, Germany (Photographed in Dettelbach, Germany)
I feel more masculine than I look. There is a lot of space for me, to feel more comfortable. Looking more masculine would make it easier for others to see ME and to treat me like they would treat the person I am. The female, but androgynous looking body I'm living in, confuses other people and let me feel in chains. Changing my clothes or style is not enough. There is another level of masculinity. It's being male and feeling free.
I dont try to be masculine, i do what feels natural to me. In the absence of femininity my appearance comes across as masculine.
When I´m in a public restroom and again I've been made aware of the fact that I have obviously entered the wrong room, I try to stay polite and respond by stating that not every female person has to follow society's rules when it comes to the alleged female dress-code.
I don´t quarrel with the fact that I am a butch. In fact, it's the opposite.
I consider the gender binary and the constraints coming with this "either... or" - system a prison. As far as I'm concerned, being able to live my life somewhere in between is a real privilege.
Berlin, Germany (Photographed in Amsterdam)
A few weeks ago I met a six year old boy who said to his mother after our encounter: "I think she's a boy!" And this is probably the best sentence to describe my gender I ever heard.
I'm a proud stud, a rebel with a cause, butchy, strong-willed and
powerful, with a sometimes maybe clear non feminine mind and behaviour AND I'm deeply identified as a genderfluid, but always female human being, I was born with a female body and I love it. Having a female body & being packed in male clothes most of the time, makes me feel like the most interesting gift to explore ever.
My masculinity has been at the core of my identity as long as I can remember, and I enjoy the freedom to wear the clothes that make me feel good. When I was a child, I had to wear dresses and long hair like my younger sisters. It was such a relief when my parents finally gave up, sent me to the hairdresser to get my hair cut short, and bought me a pair of jeans.
I grew up as a tomboy in a small conservative town in southern Germany and I moved to West Berlin in my early twenties. At that time Berlin was still divided by a wall. Though I struggled to make peace with my female body when I was younger, I'm glad I was not born a man.
I'm so thankful for my friends and lovers who have taught me to see myself the unconditionally loving way they did. They stood up for me, spoke out for me and took care of me whenever the world saw me as an alien that was not normal.
When it comes to gender labels, I guess the tag "queer butch" probably fits me best. But my gender has always felt fluid. When I started to dance Argentine tango it felt only natural for me to lead, but now I also enjoy following. The best thing is to flow with changing roles during the dance.
Being able to embrace my female traits as much as my male qualities has given me inner peace. I consider myself as to be a twospirits human being, and it feels good to live the best of both worlds.
I'm feeling blessed to be born in a country where I don't have to hide myself just to survive, and I'm glad to work for a company that values the diversity of its employees.
My thoughts on masculinity? Well...for me I am who I am. A naturally androgynous woman. I'm almost 6 feet tall, wide shoulders, confident andstrong. I'm called sir more often than I can keep track of and I don't care. I understand that most people don't look at who they are interacting with throughout the day. Many find it comforting to put others in a box. I've been a dyke for a long time and I've grown into myself. A woman very much in touch with all aspects of me. Masculine just happens to be one of many.
Masculinity is more than just the attire and having muscles. These aspects help exude how I choose to present myself, but do not make up all of me in totality. My masculinity was earned and I wear it like a badge of honor. Life and experiences have taught me to have strength and to be bold. I've learned how to hold my own and be independent through being assertive and having courage during difficult times. The Handsome Revolution is exposing how individuals, like myself, can hold pride in celebrating our masculinity and it really showcases a spectrum of people who deserve to be represented.
My thoughts on masculinity is that it is not simply defined by any specific gender. Masculinity to me equals strength; in the way one feels and presents themselves. And, it's a type of confidence that isn't cocky; but proud. Growing up, I was a tomboy (I guess I still am haha), but it wasn't until last October that I made the decision to cut my hair. And it wasn't until then that I realized that I could finally relax. Because finally, how I physically portrayed myself matched how I felt on the inside. What I love about being masculine (and what I love about your project) is that I can show the world that being masculine isn't just for men. Because it isn't just about physical strength, it's also the strength we carry within ourselves. And that strength is represented in the way we dress and the way we carry ourselves.
I go by the nickname Reni. Born and raised in Sacramento, CA. I have been a tomboy for as far back as I can remember. I have always been rough and rugged. I am the girl that would play with hot wheels and G.I Joes instead of barbies. I have never felt comfortable wearing women's clothing. Just because I am a tomboy and dress masculine does not mean I wish to be a man. I am simply not afraid to be who I am. I am very comfortable with embracing my inner tomboy. I am a mother of two beautiful children and they mean the world to me. I have had people tell me that because I am a stud that I don't know how to be a mom to my kids. That is far from the truth. I am still a woman. I believe that my being masculine gives me the best of both worlds. I am strong like a man but I am also caring, understanding, and sensual like a woman. I applaud all masculine women for being themselves and embracing who they are.
Masculinity for me is comfort. Ever since I was a kid, I have always felt more comfortable wearing masculine style cloths and looking masculine. To me masculinity represents strength, independence, comfort, and confidence. I would always cringe and feel awkward with the feminine look as a kid, but would also feel ashamed that I liked masculine clothing and looks. In and of myself I wasn't ashamed, but I would get shamed at times by my authoritative figures. They would let me know it wasn't "normal" to wear boys clothing, and make me feel like I was wrong for liking it. I was also shamed for wanting to play with and like the boys on occasion as well. So when I was younger I loved masculinity/boyhood as a secret. It was ok to be a tomboy to a certain level, but not quite the level I truly felt I was at. Masculinity at that time was tainted with shame. It was a slow process to allow myself to fully be myself and express my desire to look masculine as well as portray some masculine behavior. I started out being androgynous feminine, and then in 2010 made the big shift. Before that I would go in and out of masculinity and femininity trying not to rock the boat too much; though at times not being able to hold myself back. After 2010 I cut my hair short for the first time and prepared to no longer be secretly masculine. I prepared myself for the new attention, the judgment, being called "sir" all the time. Masculinity then was wearing thick skin and being myself no matter what outside elements tried to effect me. It was still tainted with separateness and fear. Luckily shame was not something I allowed myself to feel anymore. Fast forward to the present and masculinity is simply a part of me. I'm so comfortable in my style choices and self that confusing people about my gender doesn't bother me. I'm so comfortable in my own skin and expression of masculinity that I forget it even makes other people uncomfortable. Sometimes I have to remind myself that my looks and actions are confusing to some people. It just makes sense to me now that I would be this way. It's my style and how I express myself. It's how I feel sexy, cute, handsome, and balanced. My true self I would say is androgynous leaning towards masculine appearance though character wise I am very effeminate. My outer self balances my inner self. I would say I am blend of masculine and feminine, and I express those qualities in different ways. I can't really say why masculinity in outward appearance makes me more comfortable, it simply does. It wasn't something I consciously chose to like, I have always liked it. I did however have to consciously choose to allow myself to be me, and express my preference and like for masculine look and behavior. What is masculinity? It is an expression of me.
Masculinity is feeling comfortable in your own skin. Today, as we fight against all those patriarchal colloquialisms, such as masculinity, it's more important than ever to understand that its definition is not branded in gender or sexuality. It means embracing our intelligence, strength, and passions in order to support ourselves and the ones we love. It's the stamina to be driven, to keep fighting for what you believe in, not bullying others, but instead bringing them up, and knowing that chivalry isn't dead. Honestly, it's about being a genuine human being that doesn't necessarily have the biggest balls in the room.
I am masculine in my own way. I actually don't really think of it as being masculine, but more of being who I am and how I feel comfortable. For so long I dressed in a way and also looked a way that wasn't me but how everyone else thought I should be. This is me and this is how I feel comfortable. I am finally comfortable in my own skin and who I am!
I grew up in a small town. I've always been masculine but it took a long time to embrace it because I saw how the out people were judged. Now that I'm comfortable with my masculinity I run into older folks that talk about "family" yet judge those who identify differently than them. Ex. A butch woman once told me that she was proud to know me because she thinks i am a proud lesbian who goes by my "real" name. I gave her a strange look which prompted her to explain that she was happy that I wasn't trying to be a man or go by some made up name to sound like a boy. I was shocked. This isn't why I dress the way I dress or act the way I act. It's not to please one set of people over another. I dress this way because this is how I'm comfortable and I think I look pretty damn good.
I don't want to be judged even by those who are supposed to be part of this community i was so worried about being a part of when i was younger, just as much as I don't want to be judged by those outside of this community. That's why I support this project. I want everyone to be able to be who they are without judgement. The more people understand ALL the different kinds of masculinity, the more it will help become everyone's norm.
Masculinity is a vibe you get from someone; it’s an energy that someone exudes. You don’t necessarily need a three-piece suit to be masculine. But it can definitely enhance your sense of self. My masculinity is what makes me feel the most “me.” The most genuine, authentic version of who I am and how I relate to others. I’m so grateful for my masculinity. And my femininity, too (I will rock the shit out of a dress). I’ve been so blessed to learn from others and grow into myself over the years. My idea of masculinity has definitely evolved over the years.
If you look at the definition in the dictionary it states: having qualities traditionally ascribed to men, as strength and boldness.
I do not agree with this just as I do not agree with the fact that people say that only women can be "feminine" . I am firm believer that people are born the way they are. My mom may have dressed my in dress and wanted me to be "feminine" but in side I wanted to play with the boys and wrestle play baseball. I could be referred to as masculine for the things I do and the way I look but I am not a man My boob's and vagina remind me everyday.
Masculinity, similar to femininity and gender, is a very fluid concept. One of the beautiful aspects of masculinity is that it can appear in many different forms. While masculinity encompasses qualities typically associated with men, I have always identified as a more masculine women and have embraced it. About five years ago, I decided to explore my masculinity further. Since then, I have found I am much more comfortable expressing the more masculine side of my personality. Masculinity can have different meanings for everyone, and people express it in different ways. For me, my personality traits that I view as more masculine, such as my competitive nature, my athleticism, and my love of adventure, have always been crucial aspects of my character. Over the past several years, I have begun to mirror how I felt internally with my outward appearance. I love a good suit and tie, I feel more confident and comfortable in men’s clothing, and I feel that by matching my outward appearance with my personality I have developed a very clear sense of self.
Gender roles are defined by society and more specifically cultures. The definition of masculinity is not the same across the globe. It's in the eyes of most other people that I'm masculine strictly based on my appearance.
In truth, I am both masculine and feminine as is every person. My outward appearance has never been based in the desire to be a man. I don't even like being referred to as a Boi within the gay community. I'm female. I love that part of me. I embrace it and am proud of it.
I grew up playing sports, getting dirty and shopping in the boys section for as long as I can remember. It used to hurt my feelings when people would tell me I looked or acted like a boy. I was confused when I was told to "act lady like". I always felt like I was behaving like a lady, my "lady like" was just done differently. I really wanted people to understand that girls look like me too. You don't have to dress or look a certain way to be a girl. Recently, when my 6-year old niece started asking questions, I simply explained that all girls are different. She understood right away.
Ultimately, to me, masculinity is about being comfortable with yourself and knowing who you are. It's about being strong enough to be yourself in a world that may not understand. It's about feeling free to express that strength through your style and how you carry yourself.
To move forward with gratitude, compassion and grace. To be loyal. To allow yourself to love deeply and to be loved. This transcends clothing or behavior. The perfect summation; the Latin phrase "Esse Quam Videri" which translates "To be, rather than to seem (to be)". Just be.
I've always had a hard time with feminine and masculine. Growing up I knew I was a girl but did not feel feminine and I thought if I acted too masculine I would continue to get called a boy and all I wanted to be was just me, a girl who just happens to feel more comfortable in "boy" clothing. But as I've grown up, I've embraced it cause every morning when I look in the mirror there stares back a feminine and masculine woman and I love it! I embrace my broad shoulders, deeper voice and short hair. I am feminine, I am masculine, I am me!
To me, masculinity is a feeling. Growing up I didn't know how to feel and as I got older I found myself and began to really love who I have become. I have never felt comfortable in girls clothes, when I was young you wouldn't catch me in a dress. When I was a teenager, it was apparent that I had no idea who I really was. Going to prom in a dress, having long hair, feeling completely lost as an individual....it wasn't until my mid to late 20's that I realized who I really was and how I really felt about masculinity. I dress the way that I do because it makes me feel confident and handsome. Because I dress this way, people assume that I am masculine.....I can say that yes I am, but I am definitely feminine as well. I am who I am and I don't want to put a label on myself.
Masculinity & being a Handsome Woman for me is definitive...it is who I am in my soul. It allows me to present with clarity, style, freedom and confidence.
My struggle was never with my masculinity, I loved that part of me. I had challenges accepting the feminine part of me; especially when it came to fashion. I couldn’t really present my fashion style with confidence, because I didn’t know what it was. If I wore boy’s pants & my sisters’ cool necklace, or a woman’s blouse and my father’s tie, did that make me less masculine or more feminine? Fashion magazines weren’t that helpful either. I never really saw myself on those pages, though I did like lots of the clothing. And without 'Ellen' on TV or the word 'Transgender' in the news, I didn't really have a lot of guidance. Tomboy suggested at some point I would grow up, stop playing sports, snap out of it & become feminine.
Butch was constant, it is what I am to my core, but did that have anything to do with my fashion sense? I didn’t relate to butch as a fashion style. Even though I dressed like a boy, I wasn’t comfortable when addressed as ‘sir’ because I was female. I needed a word or a vision that described my style with confidence. My sisters had words: pretty, beautiful, lovely etc. How could those words also embrace my masculinity? I was very uncomfortable when hearing these words wrapped in a compliment, mostly in an apologetic sort of way.
K.d. Lang changed my perception. She was Masculine & Feminine & Handsome, all in one. From the moment I saw her, something clicked for me: Permission to dress in a way that meets me where I am. From then on I owned and embraced the masculine & feminine. The fashionable Handsomely dressed package I present is sheer confidence & power! It definatley speaks to my self assurance and the respect I demand from others. Today, if someone says I’m pretty; I’m ok with that, and if someone says I look Handsome, I’m more ok with that.
Los Angeles, CA.
I believe that masculinity is a state of mind and attitude. It can be whatever we want it to be. I've always been more masculine than feminine and fought it for a long time because of society and their so-called norms. I spent my childhood as a tomboy with a feminine twin sister. She was Barbie and I was Ken...and Star Wars. I was criticized for 'being a boy' by others from time to time and it changed me. When high school came along, I became completely feminine with no trace of my former self. I forced myself to fit in; to be the girl that everyone thought I should be. It wasn't until I moved away for college that I realized it was okay to be different. Slowly, I gained the confidence to let my true self show.
For the past ten years, I have embraced it more and more because of the many positive influences we have available to us in our lives now. It's an amazing feeling to own one's 'boi-ness' and to be a part of this community that supports one another. We have come to know that are not alone. Wear those pants! Tie that tie! Be ourselves.
Masculinity is where I finally feel like my body is home. Growing up, I used to study women's magazines and make-up and clothing guides, feeling like something was missing, something I couldn't understand. It wasn't until I came to a butch identity when I was about 20 that I finally started playing with fashion and appearance in a way that felt comfortable, let alone celebratory. Finally, my body made sense in the clothes I wore. Finally, I felt visible—like I was, for the first time, really me. It took me at least another five years to feel comfortable in that butch identity. Reconciling my own feminist values was hard for me, at first—I was plagued by the question, "What is masculinity without misogyny?" And building my own answer to that question has been a serious quest. Now, 15+ years later, I spend more time thinking about the privileges I receive because of my masculinity, rather than the challenges of whether or not I'm masculine or how to be masculine. Finding this home in this gender has been one of the most liberational parts of my process.
I have spent my life knowing I was a different kind of woman but not feeling like there were any role models that looked like me. But now, at this time in my life I get that it’s up to me and others to push the boundaries of the definition and visual image of WOMAN, because there is most certainly room under the tent for all that want to be there. My female masculinity has ease and comfort in it and swag! I finally feel comfortable in my own skin.