An epicene protest

In a bizarre response to the winning of the Eurovision Song Contest by a bearded drag queen, Conchita Wurst singing “Rise Like a Phoenix” (reported in almost every media outlet), some Russian men have taken to shaving off their beards (if they had them). The position seems to be that Wurst’s beard so poisons beards as a symbol of masculinity that real men have no way to protest except by going beardless. (The idea here seems to some degree to be similar to the position that same-sex marriage diminishes and debases opposite-sex marriage — except that in the Wurst case, the threat comes from a single case: just one, though admittedly very visible, bearded man in a dress.)

The result is paradoxical.

But first, a couple shots of Conchita. One showing off her winning smile:


And one with a more serious expression, showing her gown:


The story from Gay Star News, May 13th, by Joe Morgan (hat tip to Michael Nieuwenhuizen):

Russians shave off beards to protest against Conchita Wurst

As Russians say beards are ‘no longer proof you are manly’, the Eurovision Song Contest winner is inspiring facial hair removal across Eastern European countries

Russian men are shaving off their beards in some sort of protest against Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst [singing “Rise Like a Phoenix” – a YouTube video is included with this story].

Prior to the Austrian drag queen’s winning moment, several countries launched campaigns to boycott the competition if she took part.

The Russian petition attracted over 23,000 signatures, and social media groups calling for the bearded lady to be barred from the competition gained over 40,000 fans. [This campaign was unsuccessful.]

And after Wurst’s victory on Saturday (10 May), a backlash spread on Russian social media.

What’s odd about the backlash is that it veers entirely in the opposite direction from conventional displays of masculinity, towards the epicene ideal. An epicene person (a) has the characteristics of both sexes or else (b) is of indeterminate sex, lacking the identifying characteristics of both sexes; the adjective has been extended to (c) convey ‘effeminate, unmanly’, and for some speakers it’s picked up (d) the connotation of hairlessness. In any case, as far from hirsute as possible.

How this makes a protest against an epicene figure of type (a), like a bearded drag queen, totally eludes me.

Onomastic bonus: From various sources, I learn that Conchita  (clipped version Chita) is a variant of the common Spanish women’s name Concepción, referring to the Immaculate Conception, but it can also be understood literally as ‘little conch, little seashell’ and so is available for a metaphorical slang sense ‘little cunt’. Meanwhile, German Wurst has a phallic referent (again metaphorical). So Conchita Wurst as a name alludes to both the female and the male genitals.

One Response to “An epicene protest”

  1. Jeremy Butterfield Says:

    Reblogged this on JeremyButterfield.

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