Having the characteristics of both a man and a woman; not clearly identified as male or female.
Since roughly the 1960s, there have been areas of modern culture where the roles and characteristics of men and women have begun to merge. Supported by legislation that prohibits discrimination because of gender, women assume roles and participate in activities that were formerly reserved—by tradition or law—for men only. Arguments against traditional gender roles are debated in Congress, in the military, and even in the home. A variety of products, such as clothing, bath products, and perfumes, are being marketed to be used by members of both sexes. Androgynynous behavior—dressing in clothing or wearing a hairstyle that is neither masculine nor feminine—is most common in adolescence and young adulthood, when the person is establishing his or her identity.
Androgyny in parenting
Androgynous parenting refers to the situation in which a child's mother and father share equally and relatively interchangeably in parenting responsibilities. Some researchers feel that breaking down traditional gender roles in parenting can provide the child with a richer relationship with both parents, a broader role for both mother and father to model, and a more rewarding experience for both parents. Others feel that a strong case should be made against the trend toward androgynous parenting and for the preservation of gender roles in parenting. Among them is researcher David Popenoe, who has analyzed evidence derived from social and biological research. He supports the notion that, for optimal child development, preservation of some aspects of gender roles in parenting results in positive outcomes. Popenoe cites the work of child development expert Urie Bronfenbrenner, who has written extensively on the early stages of human development. Bronfenbrenner and many others feel that a child must develop a strong attachment with one or more persons in order to develop intellectually, emotionally, socially, and morally. In addition, he believes the pattern of interaction and emotional attachment between caregiver and child depends on the involvement of someone else. This third party assists in and encourages the person caring for the child. University of Wisconsin psychologist Willard W. Hartup has also argued that the significance and success of the father's role may be in how his relationship with his children complements the relationship they have with their mother.
Cook, Ellen Piel. Psychological Androgyny. New York: Pergamon Press, 1985.
Kovach, Barbara E. Sex Roles and Personal Awareness. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1990.
Moir, Anne and David Jessel. Brain Sex: The Real Difference Between Men and Women. New York: Lyle Stuart, 1991.
Popenoe, David. "Parental Androgyny." Society 30, September-October 1993, p. 5+.
Rubinstein, Carin. "Reining in Androgyny." Psychology Today 13, March 1980, p. 27+.