Expressing Gender

One of the things I looooove about drawing is that…


When I first started to draw, a basic figure looked pretty much like this:

obviously not not a non-basic drawing but I thought the clothes the character’s wearing shows gender neutrality the bestest.

I asked someone for some feedback and they said something a long the lines of, “He’s bald and he’s got weird legs,”
The thing that struck me as strange was the fact that the person offered a gender pronoun to the subject of the drawing. I never really thought of the figure as a he or she or really even as an it. The figure (really hard to not use ‘it’, without seeming like a detached robot now) in my mind the character only existed as a figure and not even as a gender. In a way it was sort of selfish of me to create such a being without much life, let alone a thing as simple gender.

After a while of drawing simply, I asked an art teacher at my school his opinions.

What he told me (paraphrasing here, I can’t remember exactly):
-Hand-drawn lines are more ‘sincere’ and homemade (I was making a lot of comics then)
-More detail
-Other stuff I can’t remember

More detail, to me, translated into drawing hair and clothes= gender. This came pretty easily to me because instead of imagining creating a simple being I was making a female or male that dressed and looked specific to their ‘character’. As I drew with more ‘detail’ I showed some friends the new sketches ’cause friends are obviously only there to be your slaves/personal critics (I know how to live my life). A lot of them liked them and some even thought I improved but there was one that stood out from the rest.

He was the only person that told me he that he actually liked the gender-less figures. Something about giving the viewing audience more liberties in imagining the ‘character’. Or maybe something about how in some situations the gender isn’t really relevant and therefore doesn’t need to be expressed. Something like that (it’s not like I don’t respect the feedback I get, it’s just I forget stuff. COME ON GUYS I’M A HUMAN TOO).

If you think about it almost all situations don’t really need for the expression of gender. Unless you need to address the gender for a gender specific joke or a hetero or homosexual (platonic or romantic) relationship  between two characters that might be affected by their gender.

The characteristics of a female character is apparel and (let’s just face it) breasts (see that wasn’t too bad? Right? …ohgod).

There really aren’t any characteristics for a male character aside from the fact that they have shorter hair than a female. Though in modern times we’ve got women with short hair and bald men and men with long hair but in a general sense when a character has no features by default an audience imagines the subject as a male. Fundamentally: Why do we need to associate people with a specific gender? Is it part of our primitive nature to assess a situation as quickly as we can to survive and effectively judge a person and knowing if they might be harmful or not? Does that really have to do with survival?

Oh, wait. I guess it does.

(BACK ON TRACK) General characteristics are the same as stereotypes so as an artist that is against stereotypes, when they can be avoided, I’m going to start trying my best about overcoming stereotypes. As an art form, gender expression creates a very major part of beauty and art but maybe one day when I learn enough, I can make something beautiful without having to show a gender.

A drawing I’m working on, hopefully a step closer to being a better artist. Also the shadow+sunlight patch isn’t me trying to be artistic, my camera just wasn’t taking good pictures unless I was in semi-direct sunlight.. :(

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