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Why Satan Is (Apparently) Androgynous

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Looking up the history of the classical music composition "Satan and the She-Devil" (don't ask), I came upon an interesting image. It was from the movie Passion of the Christ, a controversial but nonetheless meaningful movie depicting the period directly before and directly after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It was supposedly groundbreaking on various levels, ranging from the care taken to film in languages authentic to the period to the sheer amount of violence shown on screen. Lots of Christians watched it around Easter, to commemorate the event so key to their faith that took place on that day.

But the image I saw from The Passion wasn't of Jesus, or any of the disciples. It was of an androgynous woman leering out at Jesus. I was drawn to her— who was she?

She was Satan.

I was so surprised. Why would Satan be portrayed as an androgynous woman? Mel Gibson said in an interview that it was because he wanted to counteract the idea of Satan being a little red thing with horns. But he also said that the weird shot of Satan with the baby was meant to be a contrarian Madonna image. This is where I feel that the real meaning of this portrayal of Satan comes out: In mainstream culture, androgyny is still seen as a concept that is not considered "normal."

Call me a hipster, but I think the figure portrayed as Satan in this movie is actually very graceful and becoming. Watch this scene in the garden. The actress has such poise, such incredible control
Watch this clip from 5:30 onward. The woman is graceful, knowledgeable, aware. She is a woman of clout, unafraid to walk among men (though, granted, she is invisible). But a character that rivals her is the Virgin Mary— that mama holds her own! Yes, her life was hetero-normative for the time, but the strength that she displays in this scene is just amazing. Very androgynous, drawing upon the strength of all gender roles to find something that worked for her. This portrayal of her gives me hope.

But the creepiest (and one of the more discussed aspects of the Satan character is at 12:30—the vision of Satan and the baby. This is presumably a demon,  but Mel Gibson reportedly put it onto the scene to make Satan a skewed version of traditional Virgin Mary iconography.

So the ultimate vision of evil is an Andy Jean woman and giving her a demonic baby to hold?


Got it.
F*ck you.

Growing up in a traditional Christian church, I had to deal with the cultural pressure of being of a different gender identity. I didn't know what androgyny was at the time, but it showed itself as a constant anxiety over being the same kind of "pretty" as the other girls. I didn't realize back then that it wasn't beauty I was trying to have. It was hetero-normality. Which doesn't always come naturally to  me.

This rigid gender role portrayal almost isn't the Christian and Catholic church's fault. They were constructed out of ancient Judaism, which had very different, relatively rigid gender roles. That's their tradition. The closest figures I found in the Bible were Mary Magdalene (a prostitute), Judith (a widow who killed an enemy of the Jewish people) and Deborah (a prophetess and female judge). The first of these is barely mentioned except as a redeemed sinner, and the later hardly ever.

It just hurts that evil is represented by a woman with no eyebrows and the voice of a man. I'm sorry, but it's just messed up. It makes me feel like there's no room for people like me in the tradition I once belonged to. I tried to fit in with the more feminine girls I really did. But I just couldn't. I had to face up to the fact that I can act much more masculine than them, and that my real self fell somewhere in the middle between the boys and the girls. I needed the freedom to switch back and forth, and it didn't seem "allowed."* 
I think androgynous people are blessed, in a different kind of way than the way heteronormative people are blessed. I say 'blessed' like how I would say gifted, or lucky. Andy Jeans are blessed in that we can relate to different genders at different times, like how heteronormatives (there must be a better word for this state of existence) are lucky in that they exist in a world that comprehends them much better culturally. One existence is seamless, and the other is not. But they are both kinds of life,  and that life should be respected. I have faith that the world's churches will indeed come around, because people who identify as androgynous will speak up. We have to. We need to speak in order to find out what we are, after all. The world will pay attention to us, not only because we are different but because we are strong. Like all LGBTers, we are strong in our difference from what is expected of us. And we will be recognized.

Just because I am androgynous does not mean I am a freak, nor that I am evil. It means that I am unusual, and that I bring different gifts to the groups that I belong to.

This is my last blog for Freedom Requires Wings, but please know that I am here for you if you should need me. If you are struggling to figure out what androgyny means to you in your body, if you are getting teased because you don't want to wear makeup or you want to do dancing instead of football, write to me. My e-mail is britmcginnis@gmail.com. I will block your a*s if you are spam, but I will certainly answer if you need an Andy Jean to talk to. It took me forever to figure out the name for what I was; I joined this blog to aid in others' translation process.

Go in peace. Love yourself, and love others. And for Pete's sake, wear whatever clothes you want.

*FYI: I know not all churches are the same, and not all fundamentalist churches are the same. If you've been lucky enough to find a faith community that accepts you exactly how you are, hold on to that. You are extremely lucky, and very blessed.
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