Drag queens like these embody femininity to an exaggerated degree.] Effeminacy is a trait in males that generally contradicts traditional male (masculine) gender roles. It is a derogatory term frequently applied to femininity; or womanly behavior, demeanor, and appearance displayed by a man, typically used implying criticism or ridicule of this behavior (as opposed to, for example, merely describing a man as feminine, which is more neutral). The term "effeminate" is most often used by people who subscribe to the conventional view that men should conform to traditional masculine traits and behaviors. Generally, the description is applied to individuals, but may be used to describe entire societies as an inflammatory allegation. Although in the Western tradition, as described below, effeminacy has often been considered a vice, indicative of other negative character traits and often involving a pejorative insinuation of homosexual tendencies, in other societies men who do not conform to male gender roles may have a special social function, as is the case of Two-Spirits in some Native American groups. Furthermore, in contemporary culture, effeminacy has come to be seen by some to be simply one characteristic or trait which might be a part of a particular person's "gender role", and in this sense would not be considered a vice or indicative of any other characteristics. An effeminate man is similar to a fop or a dandy, though these tend to be archaic identities that are taken on by the individual rather than insulting labels.

ocial acceptance and intolerance

In most cultures, effeminacy was traditionally considered, if not a vice, at least a weakness, indicative of other negative character traits and more recently often involving a negative insinuation of homosexual tendencies.

The definition of what constitutes effeminate behavior varies greatly depending on the social and cultural context, as well as on the time period. While some effeminate behavior evokes impressions of homosexuality in some people, others may simply view the behavior as "unmanly" without questioning the sexual orientation of the person in question.

Examples of behavior noncompliant with conventional masculinity have included:

* Interest in women's fashion.
* Discussing personal feelings and emotions with other males.
* Speaking in a high voice, possibly with a lisp.
* Cross-dressing or use of makeup.

These examples have changed over time and will always vary depending on different contextual factors. During the Enlightenment, period fashion prescribed stockings, elaborate knee-length robes and long wigs for men, things that would most certainly be considered unacceptable for men (and women) in contemporary society. During the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, men idolized the "Renaissance Man" who was skilled in all walks of life - a "real" man of this time was to be skilled in armed combat "and" knowledgeable of literature and art, among other things.

Effeminacy and gay men

In the United States, boys are often homosocial (Gagnon, 1977), and gender role performance determines social rank (David and Brannon, 1976). While gay boys receive the same enculturation, they are less compliant, Martin Levine summarizes: "Harry (1982, 51-52), for example, found that 42 percent of his gay respondents were 'sissies' during childhood. Only 11 percent of his heterosexual samples were gender role nonconformists. Bell, Weinberg, and Hammersmith (1981, 188) reported that half of their male homosexual subjects practiced gender-inappropriate behaviour in childhood. Among their heterosexual males, the rate of noncompliance was 25 percent. Saghir and Robins (1973, 18) found that one-third of their gay male respondents conformed to gender role dictates. Only 3 percent of their heterosexual men deviated from the norm." Thus effeminate boys, or sissies, are physically and verbally harassed (Saghir and Robins, 1973, 17-18; Bell, Weinberg, and Hammersmith 1981, 74-84), causing them to feel worthless (Harry 1982, 20) and "de-feminise" (Harry 1982, 20; Saghir and Robins 1973, 18-19). (Levine, 1998, p.15-16)

Prior to the Stonewall riots, inconsistent gender role performance had been noticed among gay men (Karlen, 1978; Cory and LeRoy, 1963; Newton, 1972), "They have a different face for different occasions. In conversations with each other, they often undergo a subtle change. I have seen men who appeared to be normal suddenly smile roguishly, soften their voices, and simper as they greeted homosexual friends....Many times I saw these changes occur after I had gained a homosexual's confidence and he could safely risk my disapproval. Once as I watched a luncheon companion become an effeminate caricature of himself, he apologised, 'It is hard to always remember that one is a man.'" (Stearn 1962, 29) (Levine, 1998, p.21-23)Pre-Stonewall "closet" culture accepted homosexuality as effeminate behaviour, and thus emphasized camp, drag, and swish s _sw. Seneca adds, "If I must suffer illness, it will be my wish to do nothing out of control, nothing effeminately." ("Epist". 67.4)

In his commentaries on the Gallic Wars, Julius Caesar wrote that the Belgians were the bravest of all Gauls, because "merchants least frequently resort to them, and import those things which tend to effeminate the mind". ("Commentarii_de_Bello_Gallico", I,1)

The Bible

"Malakos" is listed among other vices in the New Testament book of 1 Corinthians. 6:9. Translations use different terms to express this: "The JB (1966) chooses 'catamite,' the NAB (1970) renders "arsenokoités" and "malakos" together as 'sodomite,' others translate "malakos" as 'male prostitute' (NIV 1973, NRSV 1989), and again some combine both terms and offer the modern medicalised categories of sexual, or particularly homosexual, 'perversion' (RSV 1946, TEV 1966, NEB 1970, REB 1992)." (Martin, 1996). The word "malakos", #3120 in the Greek Dictionary of The New Testament of James Strong's Exhaustive Concordance to The Bible translates: "of uncertain affinity".

United States

Being friends with women, having limp or loose wrists, a high and/or lispy voice, a swaying walk, occupations such as hairdressing, and hobbies and interests such as theater, musicals, or "domestic" activities such as design, sewing, or cleaning, are all often considered effeminate within various historical contexts in the United StatesFact|date=February 2007.

See also

* Masculinity
* Butch and femme
* Genderqueer
* Androgyne
* Bishōnen
* Ritualism
* Ergi
* Classical definition of effeminacy
* Asexuality
* Sissy


* "On Virtues and Vices", Aristotle, trans. H. Rackham, Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, l992. Vol. #285
* "The Eudemian Ethics", Aristotle, trans. H. Rackham, Loeb Classical Library. Vol. #285
* Oxford English Dictionary, 20 vol. It has 75 references in English literature of over 500 years of usage of the word 'effeminate'.
* Davis, Madeline and Lapovsky Kennedy, Elizabeth (1989). "Oral History and the Study of Sexuality in the Lesbian Community", "Hidden from History: Reclaiming the Gay & Lesbian Past" (1990), Duberman, etc, eds. New York: Meridian, New American Library, Penguin Books. ISBN 0-452-01067-5.
* Winkler, John J. (1990). "The Constraints of Desire: The Anthropology of Sex and Gender in Ancient Greece". New York: Routledge.
* Williams, Craig A. (1999). "Roman Homosexuality: Ideologies of Masculinity in Classical Antiquity". New York: Oxford University Press.
* Martin, Dale B. (1996). "Arsenokoités and Malakos: Meanings and Consequences", "Biblical Ethics & Homosexuality: Listening to Scripture", Robert L. Brawley, ed. Westminster John Knox Press. [http://www.clgs.org/5/5_4_3.html]
* Holland, Tom (2004). "Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic". Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-50313-X.
* Halperin, David M. (2002). "How To Do The History of Homosexuality", p.125. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-31447-2.
* K.J. Dover, (1989). "Greek Homosexuality". Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-36270-5.
* Levine, Martin P. (1998). Gay Macho. New York: New York University Press. ISBN 0-8147-4694-2.
** Gagnon, John H. (1977). "Human Sexualities". Glenview, Ill.: Scott, Foresman.
** David, Deborah S. and Brannon, Robert (1976). "The Forty-Nine Percent Majority: The Male Sex Role". Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley.
** Harry (1982). "Gay Children Grown Up: Gender, Culture and Gender Deviance". New York: Praeger.
** Bell, Weinberg, and Hammersmith (1981). "Sexual Preference: Its Development in Men and Women". Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
** Saghir and Robins (1973).
** Karlen, Arno (1978). "Homosexuality: The Scene and Its Student", "The Sociology of Sex: An Introductory Reader", James M. Henslin and Edward Sagarin eds. New York: Schocken.
** Cory, Donald W. and LeRoy, John P. (1963). "The Homosexual and His Society: A View from Within". New York: Citadel Press.
** Newton, Esther (1972). "Mother Camp: Female Impersonators in America". Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.
** Stearn, Jess (1962). "The Sixth Man". New York: MacFadden.
* Bergling, Tim (2001). "Sissyphobia: Gay Men and Effeminate Behavior". New York: Harrington Park Press. ISBN 1-56023-990-5.
** Bailey, Michael; Kim, Peggy; Hills, Alex; and Linsenmeier, Joan (1997). "Butch, Femme, or Straight Acting? Partner Preferences of Gay Men and Lesbians.", "Journal of Personality and Social Psychology", 73(5), pp.960-973.
** Bergling, Tim (1997). "Sissyphobia", "Genre", p.53. September.
** Bailey, Michael (1995). "Gender Identity", "The Lives of Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexuals", p.71-93. New York: Harcourt Brace.


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  • Effeminacy — Ef*fem i*na*cy, n.; pl. {Effeminacies}. [From {Effeminate}.] Characteristic quality of a woman, such as softness, luxuriousness, delicacy, or weakness, which is unbecoming a man; womanish delicacy or softness; used reproachfully of men. Milton.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • effeminacy — c.1600; see EFFEMINATE (Cf. effeminate) + ACY (Cf. acy) …   Etymology dictionary

  • effeminacy — [e fem′ə nə sē, ifem′ə nə sē] n. the quality or state of being effeminate …   English World dictionary

  • effeminacy — effeminate ► ADJECTIVE ▪ (of a man) having characteristics regarded as typical of a woman. DERIVATIVES effeminacy noun effeminately adverb. ORIGIN from Latin effeminare make feminine …   English terms dictionary

  • effeminacy — noun the trait of being effeminate (derogatory of a man) the students associated science with masculinity and arts with effeminacy Spartans accused Athenians of effeminateness he was shocked by the softness of the atmosphere surrounding the young …   Useful english dictionary

  • effeminacy — noun Date: 1602 the quality of being effeminate …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • effeminacy — /i fem euh neuh see/, n. the state or quality of being effeminate. [1595 1605; EFFEMIN(ATE) + ACY] * * * …   Universalium

  • effeminacy — noun The quality of being effeminate …   Wiktionary

  • effeminacy — (Roget s Thesaurus II) noun The quality of being effeminate: effeminateness, femininity, sissiness, unmanliness, wom anishness. See GENDER …   English dictionary for students

  • effeminacy — ef·fem·i·na·cy || ɪ femɪnÉ™sɪ n. lack of manly qualities, femininity (especially about a man) …   English contemporary dictionary

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