Gender-bending is switching the original gender of something to a different gender. This style is used for quite a lot within fandoms, artistry, music, nearly every form of creativity can use gender-bending in some way or form.
Fanfiction artists take this concept and apply it to their artworks. These artists take characters and using them as a different gender. Dorkly provides really cool artwork of different gender-bent characters from DC to Zelda. Here are some more examples to show, if only for the artwork itself. Artists such as Mabymim and Sakimi chan provide an amazing example of gender-bent artwork.
Then, cosplayers create costumes for the opposite gender of the character they’re portraying. In an article by Erin Marie Winans, she discusses cosplay in general and focuses on the art of gender-bending in cosplay.
“Originally, people felt confined to just recreate people of the same gender, but once the gender-bending trend blew up, people were able to take on the challenge of accommodating fictional characters to their gender. And if someone has a vision for their character, almost anything can be altered to make the costume work,” Winans explains, “Gender-bending characters is a level up from simply cosplaying because there is more creativity that goes into the construction of the costume.”
The examples below include a female Gaston from Belle by Feariel, a male raven from Teen Titans by NatchCosplay, a male Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty by Hakucosplay, a female Ryuuk from Death Note by KawaiiHero91. Here are some visual examples of gender-bent cosplay, which are very well done if I may add.
There’s a range of why people do this. Gender-bending an insanely versatile topic. On one end, it can be used in an artistic sense, merely for expressive creativity. For some people, it’s simply to see things differently. To see how Gaston would look like a girl or to imagine the situation if the roles were reversed.
On the other end, it’s a way to produce something within a political or social activism setting. Especially right now since gender is a topic that people are talking about right now. The use of gender-bending can comment on the notion of gender itself and it’s fluidity, or on the stereotypes that exist between the genders, and the differences and similarities between various genders. For example, changing the gender of Disney princes and princesses could provide a context where women are heroic and brave, and men are portrayed as serene and beautiful. One example from outside the fandom universe is Eli Rezkallah’s vintage advertisement project where he takes vintage advertisements and switches the genders of the subjects. This is to showcase how gender is portrayed in them and how society sees gender.
Regardless of the reasons, it still produces something that people can enjoy simply because it’s pretty or its’ unique or it’s powerful. It doesn’t have to be enjoyed in the same way that it was created. In terms of music, the theme follows in the same vein. Gender-bent covers are songs that have a lead that’s a gender different from the original. The reasons for doing this are the same as above. There are a few songs that I’ll be showcasing which are social commentary while others are just for pure entertainment. It’s up to the audience to enjoy it in the way that they like. art, in general, doesn’t need to be enjoyed in the same way that it was created.
Here are several gender-bent songs for you to enjoy. This is just a taste of what’s on the internet, as there are countless more gender-bending covers.