Barnes & Noble censors androgynous model on Dossier magazine cover

Because gender is soooo scary!

Towleroad reports on how androgynous model Andrej Pejic’s picture on the cover of Dossier magazine was apparently too gender-bending for Barnes & Noble’s sensitive megastore eyes  — so much, in fact, that they contacted Dossier telling them they were afraid customers would mistake the model for a topless woman. How to remedy that? They said it required them to put the magazine in opaque poly bags.

Lisa at Sociological Images has a good analysis of how this stems from a history of fearing and censoring female bodies (in this case, Pejic’s potentially-perceived-as-breasts chest) but more importantly notes that, “if a man looks feminine enough, he becomes, by default, obscene.”

And if the actual gender of the owner with that bare chest is questioned?  Pshhh, bust out the poly bags! Jezebel notes some remarks that Pejic made earlier this year:

Pejic himself seems very unconcerned by the reactions that his appearance can inspire. “Sometimes I feel like more of a woman, other times I feel male,” he said. “I’m sure most people think of me as a woman. It doesn’t bother me anymore and I feel fine about it…I don’t consider my looks unusual.”

This isn’t just about fear of the female body, but also a fear of and attempt to white-out bodies that defy gender norms.

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4 Comments

  1. Posted May 19, 2011 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    I think it’s a beautiful image, and a very hot one, at that. Some have said that we are a culture which hates femininity, and I’m not always sure I would take it that far. I knew men growing up who were profoundly threatened and made uncomfortable by men who were effeminate, but only a fortunate few of them ever equated it with violence.

    I think men are socialized to be afraid of being feminine and sometimes that manifests itself in rude remarks or defensiveness. It’s fear more than hatred, in my opinion.

  2. Posted May 19, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    As much as I would like to change societal perceptions of female sexuality and de-stigmatize the image of breasts, I think Barnes and Noble has a responsibility to its customers to censor potentially offensive material; and let’s face it, boobs offend some people (I’m going to go ahead and say boobs, because it would seem this model has no problem self-identifying as androgynous).

    What should change is not the symptom (this particular censorship) but rather our attitudes about what needs to be censored. Who knows, maybe Barnes and Noble could be a partner is that paradigm change, but I can’t blame them for this particular censorship. After all, I wear a shirt (and bra) which means to a degree I subscribe to or support society’s somewhat double-standard about “obscenity.”

  3. Posted May 19, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    I’m not sure that this is primarily about fear of androgyny or bodies that defy gender norms. If that were the issue at hand, then Barnes & Noble wouldn’t be covering up hypothetical bare-chested models who are clearly female, right?

  4. Posted May 20, 2011 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    meanwhile this very same issue of Dossier is in the window of every news stand on 6th ave.

    yeah, take a chill pill B&N. this pic is fierce.

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