Blah, Blah, Blah, Genitals is capturing gender fluidity among boys

By Tahmina Begum

Updated Sep 20, 2023 at 01:41 PM

Reading time: 3 minutes

1119

Being ‘gender fluid’ and tackling the binary, whether that’s toxic masculinity or what’s expected of your gender, have only recently entered the conversation among the masses. Toxic masculinity has become a popular debate, from what it means, to the effects it has on society and men themselves. It’s also what inspired the photography series Blah, Blah, Blah, Genitals, a social experiment exploring the formation of gender identity in boys.

While couch surfing through Barcelona, creative duo Julia Falkner and Lorena Hydeman wanted to ask the question, how do boys see manhood? With all these debates around what it means to be a man today, has toxic masculinity become a thing of the past?

We sometimes have a rose-tinted lens towards the future. As generations progress, there’s this idea that those that come after us will be more open-minded. McCrindle’s consultancy predicts that there are 2.5 million more Generation Alphas being born every week. These are the children of millennials and born around the year 2010. Generation Z is those born around the 2000s. These generations are expected to be the longest living generations as well as the wealthiest.

screenshot-magazine
Blah, Blah, Blah, Genitals is capturing gender fluidity among boys

In order to respond to this, through family and friends, and with the permission of their parents, Falkner the photographer and Hydeman interviewed and photographed 17 boys aged between 6-16 on what masculinity meant to them.

Dressing up in what is usually deemed to be feminine clothing and playing with makeup, Falker noticed that though the boys enjoyed experimenting with this treasure chest of options, they were also aware that they couldn’t wear this to school in case they were made fun of. “All the boys were really intelligent and shooting with children is always a raw and honest experience but the one thing I did notice was how open the boys depended on which parent/guardian was in the room”.

Many of the boys had one thing in common: their fathers were not present in their lives and those that were raised in single-parent households were more receptive to feminity. “When I asked Rio, who was playing basketball and was already wearing basketball shorts, what he wanted to wear, he went into his mother’s wardrobe and picked out her wedding corset,” says Hydeman. “What was endearing was when he was trying it on, he was saying how he felt so bad that his mother had to wear this on her wedding day and he was just so empathetic towards her”.

When speaking to Screen Shot about how the experiment reflected different minorities’ relationship to gender fluidity, Hydeman said that what became clear was the impact of what fathers thought on the children’s choice of clothes and makeup. “One thing that stands out to me is this conversation I was having with Taye and Tyrell’s mum and how their dad didn’t want them to be a part of it. Coming from a Jamaican background, there’s this alpha male machoness that was prided on. Almost as if how tough your boys are mirrors how much you’ve left an impression on them”.

screenshot-magazine
screenshot-magazine

During the process of the experiment, the creative duo themselves said they had to check their own stereotypes; who they thought would be the least receptive participants to the experiment, often turned out to be the most engaged. For example, boys in their teens were just as open-minded as six-year-olds. “Most of the boys became more feminine than I thought they would,” says Hydeman. “I misjudged them and thought that the sporty boys wouldn’t want to wear heeled boots but that was the complete opposite.”

When exploring how masculinity and toxic masculinity has shaped these boys’ lives, what was apparent was how toxic masculinity in Generation Z and Alphas would perhaps look different from what it does today. Throughout the experiment, what was clear was how the boys, especially the younger boys, were open to the idea of wearing a dress. “They realised it’s just a silhouette at the end of the day,” Falker and Hydeman both say.

While talking to the boys about what it meant to them to be a man or a woman, both Falker and Hydeman reported how respectful and appreciative these young boys were of the women in their lives—something that might have been shaped through discourse around women’s rights. “Maybe toxic masculinity had to become so bad that the next generation would want it to be different,” says Hydeman. Maybe this is a sign of better things to come. A sense of hope and openness via the younger generations ahead.

Blah Blah Genitals went on to be exhibited at the Photo Vogue Festival 2018 in Milan as part of the group exhibition, Embracing Diversity, and as a solo exhibition at Galleria Lattuada.

Keep On Reading

By Abby Amoakuh

Everything you need to know about Taylor Swift’s new album The Tortured Poets Department

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Bryan Johnson, the man obsessed with reversing the ageing process, hosts Don’t Die dinner with Kardashians

By Charlie Sawyer

Why did Jeremy Allen White and Addison Timlin divorce? Tracking the actor’s dating history up to Rosalía

By Charlie Sawyer

What’s in the 2024 Oscars gift bag that’s worth more than most people’s annual salary?

By Charlie Sawyer

Tennessee Republican Gino Bulso fights ban on cousins getting married

By Charlie Sawyer

Justice for Billie Piper: Why she’s worth so much more than her ex-husband Laurence Fox

By Abby Amoakuh

From techno string quartets to thrifted dresses, Gen Z weddings are on the rise

By Abby Amoakuh

Sex workers in the UK say the financial institutions are waging a war against them

By Abby Amoakuh

Looking for a man in finance? Good luck, you might need to get in line with the TikTok girlies

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

From Best Director to Best Picture, here are our top 2024 Oscar predictions

By Charlie Sawyer

Are Selling the OC stars Austin Victoria and his wife Lisa swingers?

By Abby Amoakuh

More than 30 female UK politicians targeted by deepfake porn campaign to humiliate them

By Charlie Sawyer

Nigel Farage says Andrew Tate is an important voice for emasculated young boys

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Annie Leibovitz’s Zendaya Vogue shoot reignites call for Black photographers

By Abby Amoakuh

Who are the California Girls? Inside the women’s gang that stole $8 million in cosmetics and clothing

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Lingerie brand Honey Birdette under fire for incredibly tone-deaf campaign tied to Israel-Gaza war

By Charlie Sawyer

Shia LaBeouf’s Cannes Film Festival comeback confirms that if they lay low for long enough, the industry will forgive abusers

By Charlie Sawyer

Lily Allen creates an OnlyFans account to sell feet pics for $10 per month

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

UK landlords to ban tenants from having sex with new no-sex tenancy clauses

By Charlie Sawyer

Piers Morgan responds to Shakira’s claim that the Barbie movie is emasculating