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  Androgyny (Greek, ‘man-womanness’) is a term used to describe a person who has the characteristics of both masculinity and femininity. Androgynous figures appear in many art forms and in world mythologies. For example, in Greek myth, Teiresias lived life both as man and woman and so gained knowledge of sexual difference. The figure of the androgyne has occurred within feminist thought and is often used to embody the relation of biological sex type and gender. Many feminists have been fascinated with androgyny and have explored it theoretically and in practice.

In early feminism Virginia Woolf championed androgyny as a strategy to combat the unequal status of men and women. Later feminists have questioned the use of androgyny as a solution to male and female difference, believing that it does not take into account the way in which gender differences are imposed upon people. Some feminists argue that the figure of the androgyne in cinema (for example, Marlene Dietrich or Greta Garbo) is the transgression of masculine and feminine dress and mannerism codes.

Contemporary feminists, such as Catherine Clement, have claimed that the androgynous figures of myth and religion are a means by which the dominant masculine order can use femininity on its own patriarchal terms. Androgyny often appears in contemporary feminist theory within work on cross-dressing, masquerade and film. TK



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