Beyond Etymology: Effeminacy, Queerness and the Power of Words
The word “effeminate” has been used to degrade males, but it is not essentially a degrading word, if perhaps etymologically misleading. It means “to be like a woman,” in Latin. Such linguistic constructions are a product of an oppressive binary gender system, because they do not refer to a man as he is, but in terms of what he is not. He is described by his supposed transgression of his gender, rather than in terms that celebrate his naturalness as he is.
Regardless, I like the word effeminate. I use it to describe myself, to celebrate myself. I see it as distinct from feminine, and do not use the words interchangeably. Perhaps the word I have questioned more is effete.
Dictionary.reference.com gives the definition of effete:
lacking in wholesome vigor; degenerate; decadent: an effete, overrefined society.
exhausted of vigor or energy; worn out: an effete political force.
unable to produce; sterile.
Photos from top: zeraph (2005); Manic Street Preachers