Saturday, May 29, 2010

There's a history is of gay men parroting the behavior of a certain type of unhappy woman: ugly ducklings who dream of being swans. The Stonewall riot was on the day of Judy Garland's death. But contemporary culture is full of images of women parroting the behavior of gay men, and female ugly ducklings are modeling themselves as drag queens. Usually this comes off as sad. But someone was very smart. Julianne Moore has a history of playing to gay male images of woman, in Todd Haynes' Safe and recently A Single Man. She's beautiful but no longer young. And the recent ads for Bulgari are the most striking images of sexual ambiguity I've seen recently in popular culture: the beautiful woman, of a certain age, as hermaphrodite.

For more on women and parrots in western art see this discussion of Manet's Woman with a Parrot (also JSTOR)

The subtle masculinity in the face in the first photograph is what first caught my attention. The sculpture is the most famous example of the Sleeping Hermaphrodite; at the Louvre.

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