Avedon v. Dekker
(Photos top to bottom, left to right: NBC News, IAVA, Maya Alleruzzo / AP)
When the administration of President George W. Bush planned the invasion of Iraq, hopes ran high that the massive deployment of troops and money wouldn’t just result in the toppling of Saddam Hussein: The United States would help create a country that stood as an example to others.
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Had a great conversation with an old friend last night about the transgender movement. This album is so vulnerable I can’t help but think about how courageous my trans friends are about their gender.
As a gay man, I am socialized to be obsessed with beauty. A queer approach to this album makes me confront some uncomfortable realities at the intersection of sexual desire and gender expression.
The male singer’s voice is rendered feminine with its breathy and feminine sentiments. It took me at least four listens before I realized that the main singer’s name is Mike. It forces me to question why I am not so open about my feelings with my boyfriend:
“I wanna make this plain/ I know you’re faded/ Mmm but stay, don’t close your eyes.”
Why can’t I say these types of things to him? Am I afraid of what he’ll say back? Or that he’ll think differently of me because I said them?
Emotional vulnerability coded as feminine in our society and it bothers me. The album’s trajectory from the painfully vulnerable opening track (“Open”) to its eponymous closer depicts a masculinity at odds with its own sexuality. ”Woman” becomes not only the male singer’s object of desire, but also the category to which his emotional release relegates him. As self-identified men, to be honest or open about our feelings forces us in someway to transition, to cross the rubicon of gender and take up the mantel of femininity.
Everybody has there own issues with gender. My issues are not the issues of my trans friends, or my straight co-workers, or even Tilda Swinton. Not everybody gets to chose their battles, but hopefully we can all get to a place where we find some common ground about the way we structure our lives around gender. One thing that should be high up on that list: gender is difficult. But I guess it can also kind of be beautiful.