Redefining Gender Through Opposite Gendered Acts

Gender is defined through traditional societal behaviors. In these photos, I captured how gender is being redefined through some of the most simplest acts by reversing the gender of the person who would normally be performing them.

1) Cisgender Man Manicure

In this photo, you see a woman painting a man’s fingernails. The women is my sister, Hayden, and the man is a family friends, Chase. I would consider this photo undoing gender. Nail polish has always been historically used strictly by cisgender women, so the fact a cisgender man is getting his fingernails painted would be considered undoing gender. I’ll admit, the first time I seen a man have his fingers painted I was drawn back. Although, nail polish on cisgender men is becoming through the vast, welcoming identities of a person today, I feel it may still be awhile until this gendered binary is completely lifted. These cisgender men who paint their nails are redefining gender.

2) “Sweet Transvestite”

If anyone redefines gender, it’s Tim Curry as Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. This musical was controversial, obviously, when it was released in 1975 due to the many acts performed in the film. In this specific part, Frank-N-Furter enters. He sings, “Sweet Transvestite,” as his introduction of himself to Janet and Brad. He says to not judge him like a book, for he is more than just a man dressed in a corset and lingerie. More accurately, they shouldn’t judge him by this song either because he turns out not to be a “sweet” transvestite, but is selfish and arrogant for his own sexual desires. My point is, throughout the film, Tim Curry’s character should have been judged by his personality and mind, not his looks which sadly the audience tended to do when they watched the movie. In the film, Tim Curry redefined gender not only being a transvestite, but how his character used it (to get what he wanted).

3) Cisgender Man – Nail Technician

In this photo, I took a picture of the roles reversed from the first photo. I had Chase painting Hayden’s fingernails. I wanted to show that even though there are few men who paint their nails or others’ nails, it is done. The only men that have painted my nails or got a manicure were Asian nail technician. Chase is a cisgender male so having his nails painted seems dramatic, however he doesn’t mind. He pushes the gender binary in what defines masculinity by doing this and his other acts of femininity that he performs.

4) Grayson: Him

This is Grayson, a friend and co-worker. He is a transgender man who recently made the official and legal gender and name change. He is so happy and gay. I say this because his sexual identity is also gay. His backpack is proof (his backpack says “GAY” on it). Even though Grayson identifies as male now, he says he has a “very effeminate behavior”. He admits to still wearing “booty shorts” in public, wearing makeup, dying his hair bright colors like pink or purple, getting his nails done, etc. So is he he? Yes. This is how he identifies himself. And that’s OK. Gender is not about staying in a boundary so you can be easily identified. Gender is whatever you make it. That’s the beauty of it and living in today’s society. Gender identity and awareness is allowing more acceptance of this reality. Grayson redefines what gender means.

5) Gendered Careers

Here is another picture of my sister, Hayden. She is in her normal work outfit as an intern and soon to be certified paralegal at a law firm in Saint Louis. I would say she is doing gender because, as a paralegal, it is traditionally a woman’s job. This does not discredit her abilities and knowledge of the law still. The two differences between her and a lawyer are one: she can’t practice law, and two: lawyers are dominated by men. Nevertheless, Hayden plans on getting her Bachelor’s degree so she can attend law school, and become a lawyer. Even though she can’t represent a client now, she and other women can begin to break this traditionally, gendered career, and redefine who a lawyer is.

2 thoughts on “Redefining Gender Through Opposite Gendered Acts”

  • i enjoyed your post because it challenged Multiple topic of what people think gender is, and the stipulations put on them. i personally enjoy nails, wearing them and painting them. i’ve faced several looks from people, but then i simply respond with “what about men wearing nails, makes you uncomfortable?” The answer is societies constant push of the image of the perfect man and how he’s to act. Especially with your friend Grayson(love him by the way), he wears make-up and booty shorts, and dying his hair colors, i also do these things too. we’re both males yet the public refuses to acknowlege it, based solely on the idea that we don’t express the stereotypical male presence in behavior and look. Total BS. looooove this

  • Your take on doing gender is diverse and interesting. I like the way you showed gender through actions as well as personal image. Elaborating on gendered jobs is a great way of recognizing gender segregation in the workforce.

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