Feminism And A Pixie Cut: Why Does My Hairstyle Define My Sexuality?
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Politics and Activism

Feminism And A Pixie Cut: Why Does My Hairstyle Define My Sexuality?

Feminism And A Pixie Cut: Why Does My Hairstyle Define My Sexuality?

Imagine you are walking down the street in a busy city. You see many different and individual interpretations of gender portrayal. A girl in a skirt. A man wearing a tie. A girl’s hair in a braid. A man’s hair dominating his face instead of his scalp. These are just a few examples of how our culture separates men from women, feminine from masculine. The concepts of feminine and masculine are two opposing “terministic screens,” a term coined by Kenneth Burke. These screens provide definitions for both gender and sexuality. These definitions come from the analytical approach to language, as well as the nature of society. Our humanity needs definition in order to make sense of reality, therefore we cling to such terms as feminine and masculine to not only define gender but sexuality as well. The scientistic, or in other words, definitive, view of gender in our society says that there are only two genders and the degree to which a person demonstrates their gender identity underlines their sexual orientation. For example, a man who is perceived as more effeminate because of his voice, trimmed facial hair, or interest in fashion could be viewed as homosexual. This determination of his sexuality is made simply on the basis of feminine interests and characteristics. Going off of this idea, I can use myself as an example in the case of drawing conclusions about a woman’s sexuality. When I was in my junior year of high school, I decided to chop off my hair. It wasn’t for any purpose other than I had wanted to cut my hair off since I was a five year old. My sister did not support this decision, however, because she said that I would “look like a lesbian.” I found this rhetoric very confusing because I was unaware that one could tell a woman’s sexual orientation based on her haircut. Later on in the same year, my family was at dinner and for some reason my hair came up as a subject for discussion. My brother looked me straight in the face and said, “Y’know, if I didn’t know you, I would assume you were a lesbian just from looking at you.” All I could do was scoff and shrug it off. By this time I had learned to accept peoples’ assumptions and dismiss them. On a more recent occasion, the relationship between my hair and my sexuality was called into question by a catcaller claiming that I had “a nice lesbian ass” as I walked with my friend from Panda Express to McDonald’s at two in the morning. Granted, it was not the best time to be out but what difference should that make to how people interpret me? Why should my hair be a symbol of my sexuality? This inherent relationship between my haircut and my sexuality all goes back to the symbolic nature of human beings. In our society, my hair can be viewed as a symbol of my assumed preference to date women. However, a man with long hair is not misconstrued to be homosexual even though long hair is an effeminate hairstyle. This disconnect of feminine and masculine characteristics is an example of the fine line we draw between the genders, a line that many do not even realize is there.

We live in a society of misperceptions and labels that fail us, yet we continue to shove people into these little boxes and say, “You have a penis, therefore you must exhibit these characteristics or you are not a real man.” The same goes for a woman – you have a vagina? Oh, then ribbons and flowers and delicate things are your calling. We must come to terms with the fact that a hairstyle cannot dictate a person’s sexual identity. Also, we have to understand that there is more that defines a man and a woman than their sexual organs. This terministic screen of gender will cause more harm than good, as we have already seen in the transgender community. Let us make a push beyond these symbols of gender and sexuality. Perhaps then we will be able to understand that a pixie cut on a woman does not equal homosexuality or define her level of femininity.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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