When I was little, my mother told me that the parts of me covered by a bathing suit were “private parts” that belonged to me, and me only. She may not have said much else about puberty, sexuality or gender but she taught me a very important point, one that the good people in the media seemed to have missed. An individual’s genitalia are private, and thus should only concern that individual. Seems pretty simple, no?
Androgynous model Andrej Pejic has been tossed about in the headlines over the last few weeks, as everyone from Barnes & Noble to FHM weighed on in his gender. After the censorship of his bare chest on the cover of Dossier, Andrej said he understood that viewers could be confused about his gender, given that he had just been named the 98th sexiest woman in the world by FHM. Here’s the description in Andrej’s bio.
|Photo by Thomas Lohr for i-D via TFS|
Apparently, the author’s dehumanizing description of Andrej as “troubling”, a “thing” revolting enough to induce vomiting caused a bit of an outrage. And for that, I am grateful. In response to the public shaming, FHM quickly deleted the article from their servers. Here is their explanation.
Regrettably the copy accompanying Andrej’s online entry wasn't subbed prior to going live. Once we realised, we removed it immediately and apologised for any offence caused. FHM has spoken to the individual concerned and taken steps to ensure this can never happen again.
I wonder who they mean when they say they have spoken to the individual concerned. Did they mean Andrej? Did they mean the acid-tongued but unnamed author of the article? Because I know they haven’t spoken to me, and I am an individual who is very concerned. This was not simply a mistake of editing. The author clearly knew that Andrej was not a woman. This was an author making fun of an 18 year old boy, and anyone else whose gender expression falls outside the traditional binary. And the author thought he could get away with it because he assumed everyone agreed with him - that boys should be G.I. Joe and girls should be Barbie. He held Andrej up as today’s bearded lady, and thought we’d all line up behind him at the freak show to take our shots. I’m so happy and relieved that he was wrong.