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Effeminacy describes traits in a human male that are more often associated with feminine nature, behavior, mannerisms, style or gender roles rather than masculine nature, behaviour, mannerisms, style or roles. The term effeminate is most often used by people who subscribe to the widespread view that males should display masculine traits and behaviours. Generally, the description is applied to individuals, but may be used to describe entire societies as an inflammatory allegation.


  • I'm all for guys being butch and guys being men. I identify with that and appreciate that. But if I'm going to stab my gay brother in the back who isn't butch and who maybe acts a little bit more effeminate, what good is that?
  • Effeminacy comes from the Latin ex which is "out," and femina which means woman; it means "to be like a woman." The Latin term is mollities, meaning "softness”.
  • ...the effeminacy of the inhabitants of Bengal not only became more widespread and virulent, but also acquired a more specific meaning in the late nineteenth century sterotype of the ‘effeminate Bengali babu.’ If in the past effeminacy loosely characterized all the inhabitants of Bengal, in the second half of the century it was used quite specifically to characterize the Indian middle class, or a section of this class identified as babus. In Bengal itself, therefore, effeminacy came to be associated with a small percentage of the total population.
  • Judgement of what constitutes ‘effeminacy’ will, of course, be shaped by his or her culturally established views on gender roles. And, as is true for beauty, while one’s notions of masculinity and femininity may be culturally proscribed, ultimately any judgement as to what is beautiful or what is effeminate will be made on the basis of not only one’s surrounding culture or cultures but, subjectively, on the basis of complex internal factors, both conscious and unconscious.
Christopher Ransom:Actualised or hypothetical effeminacy is constructed in the Iliad in order to define, by contrast, a ‘proper’ masculinity, founded on concepts of martial fortitude and civic responsibility, thoroughly antithetical to the ‘other’ which the effeminised male symbolizes.
  • In Korea, where beautiful male pop icons are now commonly referred to as kkonminam (kkot= flower; minam= handsome man), Korean male beauty has, by any standard of judgement, taken on a distinctly effeminate quality.
    • Roald Maliangkay, in “The effeminacy of male beauty in Korea”.
  • Today’s young woman is very unlikely to be looking for a man who is as effeminate as she, or whose sexual orientation is in question.
    • Roald Maliangkay, in “The effeminacy of male beauty in Korea”.
  • People don't know where to place me. Terry Gilliam used me as a quirky cop in 'Twelve Monkeys', and then he hired me again to be an effeminate hotel clerk in 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas'. Another time, I was shooting this indie film 'The Souler Opposite' and six days a week, I'm playing this big puppy dog, then I come to the 'NYPD Blue' set and become this scumbag.
  • A Iliad poem
    Αh me! You boasters, you women, no longer men, of Achaia! Indeed this will be a matter for reproach, and shameful above all shame,if none of the Danaans will now go face to face against Hektor.
    • Christopher Rawsom, states that in this, poem rebukes and exhortations which lay charges of male effeminacy, or in some way involve a counterpoint between the masculineand the feminine., in “Aspects of Effeminacy and Masculinity in the Iliad”, p. 36
  • ... the concept of effeminacy is employed throughout the Iliad in order to create an ‘other’ against which epic masculinity can be defined. Although the presentation of the effeminised male (hypothetical oractual) is often ambiguous and multifaceted, an examination of effeminacy and masculine ‘otherness’, within the context of the gender dynamics of the epic, has important implications for an understanding of the construction of masculinity.
Ancient woodcut of Lain Caihe, one of the Eight Immortals of Chinese mythology. His sex and age are unknown. He is usually portrayed as an effeminate boy or as a hermaphrodite.
  • Men do indeed speak ill of those occupations which are called handicrafts, and they are rightly held of little repute in communities, because they weaken the bodies of those who make their living at them by compelling them to sit and pass their days indoors. Some indeed work all the time by a fire. But when the body becomes effeminate (thelunomenos) the mind too is debilitated. Besides, these mechanical occupations (banausos) leave a man no leisure to attend to his friends' interests, or the public interest. This class therefore cannot be of much use to his friends or defend his country. Indeed, some states, especially the most warlike, do not allow a citizen to engage in these handicraft occupations.

See also

  • Encyclopedic article on Effeminacy on Wikipedia
  • The dictionary definition of effeminate on Wiktionary
  • Media related to Effeminacy on Wikimedia Commons