Saturday, January 24

Jesus Makeover

This video demonstrates what I have noticed for some time - the femininty of all our current depictions of Jesus. Even though Christians aren't aware of it, our collective unconscious tells us that the gender of Jesus, as the one we are all women and men called to emulate, must be androgynous. That androgyny is reflected in our art. Remove the beard, and suddenly Jesus looks very feminine.

The video also points out how much difference a beard makes. As transmen know, facial hair overrides any amount of other feminine appearance or behavior. Our minds are inclined to assign manhood much stronger than womanhood. We are basically looking for an excuse to believe someone is a man. A mathematical equivalent would be that for every gender cue we assign a number and the total of cues assign gender. Man is, say, 10 and woman is -10 and we start at zero. The genders are equal though as every man cue is worth 5 and women cues are worth only -1. Reaching womanhood requires perfection; reaching manhood requires only one or two cues. That's why it's so much easier for transmen to pass than transwomen.

1 comment:

Ephilei said...

Consideration of Jesus' feminine appearance should not be surprising to modern viewers familiar with popular contemporary representations of Jesus with gentle expression, should-length hair, and a delicate appearance. Images of Jesus that emphasize masucline features are nearly as difficult to find today as in late antiquity. Throughout history, artists apparently have aimed to portray Jesus' kindness, compassion, and even meekness by endowing hi with a sweet or pained expression on a fine-boned and somewhat feminine face.

Robin Margaret Jensen. Understanding Early Christian Art