The Second Wave

  • Tracy Hargreaves


‘The early seventies were a good time to be flat-chested,’ Cal recalls, remembering his adolescent girlhood in Middlesex: ‘Androgyny was in’ (p. 304). By the 1970s, androgyny was ‘an idea whose time had come’ as social scientists ‘rediscovered’ the concept.1 It wasn’t just social scientists who had rediscovered it, though: within second wave feminism and in literature, androgyny heralded the possibility of ‘a much broader range of sex-role possibilities for members of both sexes’.2 It was also perceived as the expression of ‘a psychic unity, either potential or actual, conceived as existing in all individuals’.3 Androgyny was in the head, on the body, an attitude, a way of being, in the psyche, cosmic, unisex, bisex. The ubiquity of the concept and the ways in which it was deployed have made the term a nebulous one: when we speak of androgyny, when someone is described as androgynous, when androgyny is cited as a particular aspiration, what exactly do we mean by the term, what does it describe, what are we talking about? Even a brief glance at books and articles written between the 1960s and 1990s tells us that androgyny was a protean concept whose function shifted according to the discourse that constructed it.


Sexual Identity Modern Literature Sexual Division Modern Language Association Drag Queen 
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Copyright information

© Tracy Hargreaves 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tracy Hargreaves
    • 1
  1. 1.School of EnglishUniversity of LeedsUK

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