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Androgyny symbol (combination of Venus , Mars and Sagittarius symbols)

Androgyny (from ancient Greek ἀνήρ aner , genitive ἀνδρός andros 'man' and γυνή gyne 'woman') means “union of male and female characteristics”. It is often used synonymously with “ hybridism ”, which is not biologically correct.

Colloquially, people who consciously portray themselves as non-gendered or who appear to other people in this way are referred to as androgynous . Weakly pronounced secondary sexual characteristics or secondary sexual characteristics of the opposite sex are often the cause of this assessment. The choice of clothing or behavior can also be interpreted as androgynous .

Another gender identity , which can be understood as the opposite of androgynous, is called neutral-gender or Neutrois . While androgynous is the combination of female and male characteristics, neutrois means the desire for the absence of sexual characteristics, for a body that is as gender-neutral as possible.

Religion and myth

Bisexuality occurs in numerous myths and religious traditions. It is mostly attributed to gods, especially a creator deity, but often also to the primitive man created by the Creator. Concepts of androgyny were especially widespread in the ancient civilizations , from the Mediterranean to China and also in Central America. But it is not a universal phenomenon; in many indigenous cultures they are completely absent or at least have not been given a mythological design.

The mythical androgyny concepts can be divided into different categories. In terms of shape, the androgynous beings are usually divided vertically, with the left half of the body usually being the female, more rarely horizontally with the female half on top. The evaluation offers another classification criterion: In part, these beings are perceived as superior because they are "complete", or at least as morally and culturally acceptable because they stand for a balanced relationship between masculinity and femininity and the combination of the opposing elements as successful and appears successful; sometimes they are judged negatively as an undesirable crossing of boundaries and an unnatural mixture. In some cases androgyny is natural and immutable, in others it is the result or the starting point of a process. The dynamic concepts fall into two main groups: in one type androgyny is the result of the merging of a female with a male being, in the other - more common - it is the original state, which is later ended by splitting the being into two parts. An initial androgyny of prehistoric man in creation myths is often associated with the idea of ​​an undifferentiated primal chaos, which was later given a structure by separating elements such as “male” and “female” and transformed into a cosmic order. If the primal chaos is assessed negatively, the splitting of the primal androgynous into a male and a female being appears as progress, as a prerequisite for the cosmic order and civilization. According to the opposite view, the split is a deprivation and impoverishment, which is to be reversed by restoring the original unity.

In Western culture, the best-known and most powerful androgyny concept is contained in the myth of the spherical people , which is put into the mouth of the comedy poet Aristophanes in Plato's fictional, literary Dialog Symposium . According to this myth, humans originally had spherical hulls. There were three genders with them: a purely male, a purely female and the mixed andrógynoi (ἀνδρόγυνοι) , which had a male and a female half. The purely male spherical people originally descended from the sun, the purely feminine from the earth, the bisexual from the moon. Later, the spherical people were cut in two by the father of the gods Zeus as punishment for their arrogance. The myth interprets the erotic desire as an expression of the striving of the halved people to reunite with the missing half. Depending on whether a spherical person was purely male, purely female or mixed, his two halves were heterosexual or homosexual. This differentiation is also evident in the descendants of the halved spherical people, including contemporary mankind. With regard to his erotic disposition, every person belongs to one of three types, which correspond to the three spherical genders. The direction of the striving for unification depends on this. This explains the differences in sexual orientation. Only those whose disposition corresponds to the pattern of the bisexual spherical people, the androgynoi , are heterosexual.


In personality psychology , masculinity (instrumentality) and femininity (expressivity) are seen as independent dimensions of personality . These dimensions describe the psychosocial aspects of gender and the orientation in the gender role . A measurement can be taken using the Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI). This questionnaire is generally used to assess sexual self-identification. People who show high scores on the masculinity and femininity scale in the same way , and consequently have a male as well as a female gender role-related self-image, are referred to as androgynous . It is believed that androgynies tend to be more psychologically stable because they have a wider range of behaviors to adequately solve problems.

In the study The physical attractiveness of androgynous faces , androgynous images of men and women were created with the help of digital image processing methods and presented to test subjects. The more androgynous the people in the pictures, the less attractive they were judged to be. The test persons found them “younger, more childlike, more personable and more feminine”.


In medicine, androgyny (often also androgyny ) is an outdated technical term for the presence of female sexual organs and secondary sexual characteristics in individuals with a male chromosomal gender ( pseudohermaphroditism ).

Pop Culture

Androgynous men in particular are and were widespread in Glam Metal , Visual Kei , Emo and parts of the Gothic scene, but also in the now extinct New Romantic movement. Often they are even considered sex symbols , such as Ville Valo , Vince Neil ( Mötley Crüe ), Brian Molko , Boy George , Robert Smith , Bill Kaulitz or the transsexual model Andreja Pejić, who used to appear as the androgynous man Andrej . Musicians like Little Richard , David Bowie , Prince and Michael Jackson made androgynous behavior known beyond the scene. Female representatives are the singers Grace Jones , Amanda Lear , Maureen Tucker , Marla Glen and Annie Lennox as well as the actresses Brigitte Lin , Katherine Moennig , Daniela Sea , Tilda Swinton , Jenette Goldstein and the model Agyness Deyn .


Hermaphroditic plug from IBM
Scharfenberg coupling

An androgynous connection technique is the connection of similar elements, that is, they are not built according to the male-female principle, no plug is plugged into a socket.

Electrical engineering

Examples in electrical engineering are connector systems such as token ring connectors from IBM . These fit into the MAU as well as against each other, e.g. B. as an extension cable. The two plugs of the QD plug-in connection for connecting corded headsets are also mechanically identical.


One example is the automatic coupling of trains such as the Scharfenberg coupling or the GEKA coupling and the Storz coupling for connecting water hoses .

Also coupling systems of spaceships are called androgynous, when both coupling elements are identical.

See also


  • Achim Aurnhammer: Androgyny. Studies on a Motive in European Literature. Böhlau, Cologne 1986, ISBN 3-412-01286-6 .
  • Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (ed.): Androgyn. Longing for perfection. Reimer, Berlin 1986, ISBN 3-496-01037-1 .
  • Sandra L. Bem: The measurement of psychological androgyny. In: Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 42, 1974, pp. 155-162.
  • Dorothee Bierhoff-Alfermann: Androgyny. Possibilities and limits of the gender role. Westdeutscher Verlag, Opladen 1989, ISBN 3-531-11861-7 .
  • Remigius Bunia: The Nature of Androgyny. In: KulturPoetik. 8, 2008, pp. 153-169.
  • Stephan Bernard Marti: Androgyny. In: Encyclopedia of Modern Times. Volume 1. Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2005, ISBN 3-476-01991-8 .
  • Christian Seidel : The woman in me - a man dares to experiment. Heyne, 2014, ISBN 978-3-453-60299-1 .
  • Josef Winthuis: The two- gender system among the Central Australians and other peoples. Leipzig 1928.

Web links

Commons : Androgyny  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: androgynous  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Source ( Memento from June 26, 2015 in the Internet Archive ), (English)
  2. Anette: whoever says "a" does not have to say "b". A sex positive zine about A_sexuality. Self-published Berlin 2011. Or online.
  3. ^ Hermann Baumann: The double sex , Berlin 1955, p. 9 f .; Wendy Doniger, Mircea Eliade : Androgynous. In: Lindsay Jones (ed.): Encyclopedia of Religion , Volume 1, Detroit et al. 2005, pp. 337–342, here: 337.
  4. Wendy Doniger, Mircea Eliade: Androgynes. In: Lindsay Jones (Ed.): Encyclopedia of Religion , Volume 1, Detroit et al. 2005, pp. 337–342, here: 337–339.
  5. Plato, Symposium 189d-190b. See Bernd Manuwald : The Speech of Aristophanes (189a1–193e2) . In: Christoph Horn (Ed.): Platon: Symposion , Berlin 2012, pp. 89–104, here: 92–95.
  6. Plato, Symposium 191d-192b. Cf. Mário Jorge de Carvalho: The Aristophanesrede in Plato's Symposium , Würzburg 2009, pp. 295–297.
  7. a b Sandra L. Bem: The measurement of psychological androgyny. In: Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology , 42, 1974, pp. 155-162.
  8. Lemma Bem Sex Role Inventory. In: Pschyrembel: Dictionary of Sexuality. De Gruyter, Berlin / New York, 2003.
  9. ^ Dorothee Bierhoff-Alfermann: Androgyny - Possibility and limits of gender roles. Westdeutscher Verlag, Opladen 1989.
  10. ^ JT Spence: Gender Identity and its Implications for Concepts of Masculinity and Feminity. Nebraska Symposium on Motivation, 1984, pp. 60-95.
  11. Study on "The physical attractiveness of androgynous faces" (PDF; 337 kB) by Ansgar Feist, at the Psychological Institute, University of Cologne (May 10, 2006)
  12. Lemma androgyny. In: Pschyrembel: Dictionary of Sexuality. De Gruyter, Berlin / New York, 2003.
  13. Monika Bloss: Gender as a multicultural performance? Androgynous images of pop musicians and playing with “sexual difference”. In: Stefan Fragner, Jan Hemming, Beate Kutschke (eds.): Gender Studies & Music. Regensburg 1998, pp. 189-203; Christian von Deuster: How did the castrati sing? Historical considerations. In: Würzburg medical history reports. Volume 25, 2006, pp. 133-152; here: pp. 146–150 ( falsetto voice and high male voices after World War II ), especially p. 149 f.