When referring to gender, trans artist Claude Cahun wrote, “Shuffle the cards. Masculine? Feminine? It depends on the situation. Neuter is the only gender that always suits me.” Most of us have grown up within a social construct that classifies us by the genitals we are born with. However, several ancient cultures had more than two genders, since these were based on other attributes besides biology. Cahun challenged the established ideas on what it meant to be a woman and a man. Her self-portraits present images of herself as both of the binary genders, but also include ones where the line between male and female is harder to pin point.
Like Cahun, several artists have explored what it means to be a human, with and without the imposed gender. We are sexual creatures yet this does not imply that we must color within the lines of what the world has taught us. The limitations of Western society come with the barriers of saying what it means to be male or female. Women are seen as fragile and delicate, while also seductive and dangerous. Whereas men’s strength comes from powerful virility. It’s these stereotypes that make anyone who doesn’t fit into these boxes –most of us really– wonder and question if our sensual tastes and preferences are wrong. It’s only with time that we see how wrong these assumptions are, so we can break them and find true fulfillment.
There are several contemporary artists who are doing amazing work in presenting new perspectives on gender and sexuality. However, for the purpose of this article we’ll focus on those who are tearing down the set ideas of what it means to be male. Their use of careful and delicate brushstrokes combats the set narrative of men as fortresses that cannot falter. They present a new way of understanding male sexuality, one that is as vulnerable as it is unguarded. Perhaps, it will be through this art that stereotypes will finally begin to unravel towards a more neutral and open way of seeing human eroticism.
Brenden Sanborn @brendensanborn
At times finding someone who sees behind the masks we wear can bring out our truest erotic form. Sanborn’s portraits show a keen sense of understanding of the dual identities we all have: our public and our private selves
Boris Torres @boristorres
Through his watercolor images, Torres is able to portray a sensitive kind of sensuality, one where finding true sexual fulfillment comes with allowing others to see the things you hide, such as pain, as well as the ghosts of your past.
Roberto Rocco @robrocco
Men are often overlooked in terms of shame and self-consciousness. Film and television are always depicting women as those who are uncomfortable with their bodies, while their male counterparts are shown as being perhaps too confident. Rocco’s work presents a more human option, the idea that perhaps this is part of the human condition, rather than something related to gender. It’s up to each of us to see our flaws as battle scars that tell a story of who we are and what we’ve overcome.
Adam Chuck @adam___chuck
When we close our eyes, our other senses are heightened. But what happens when we turn off that part of our brain that keeps sending messages telling us something is wrong? Could we train our mind to disregard the constructs that have been ingrained from the moment we first gasped for air outside the womb? If we let go of all the tethers that keep us safe and within the limits of society, we could discover freedom.
Adrian Ferbeyre @adrianferbeyre
These vignettes present an image of the inner struggle to find our truest selves within the spectrum of the most intimate human contact. When we strip ourselves of the artifice we’ve created around our persona, we can begin to find greater pleasure and satisfaction both with ourselves and the person we’re with.
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