CAMP exponent: the FOP

The fop (also known as a fribble, popinjay, fashion-monger, or clotheshorse) is a stock character who appears from time to time in fiction. He is a person who makes a habit of fastidiously overdressing and putting on airs, aspiring to be viewed as an aristocrat (if he is not already one).

A fop is also referred to as a ‘beau’, as in the Restoration comedies The Beaux’ Stratagem (1707) by George Farquhar, The Beau Defeated (1700) by Mary Pix, or the real-life Beau Nash, Master of Ceremonies at Bath, or Regency celebrity, Beau Brummell.

 

In English, the word fop is older, but the meaning of an overdressed, frivolously fastidious dandy may not be; Shakespeare’s King Lear contains the word, in the general sense of a fool, and before him, Thomas Nashe, in Summer’s Last Will and Testament (1592, printed 1600): “the Idiot, our Playmaker. He, like a Fop & an Ass must be making himself a public laughing-stock.” Osric in Hamlet has a great deal of the fop’s affected manner, and much of the plot of Twelfth Night revolves around tricking the puritan Malvolio into dressing as a fop.

One of the first full-blown appearances of the stereotype on the stage is Molière’s well known play from 1671, Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme.

“Fop” was widely used as a derogatory epithet to tar a broad range of persons by the early years of the 18th century; many of these might not have been considered showy lightweights at the time, and it is possible that its meaning had been blunted by this time.

In the first decade of the 20th century, fictional heroes began to pose as fops in order to conceal their true activities. Sir Percy Blakeney of The Scarlet Pimpernel is a well known example of this tendency; Sir Percy cultivates the image of being an overdressed and ineffectual social butterfly, the last person anyone would imagine being capable of dashing heroism. A similar image is cultivated by Zorro’s secret identity, Don Diego de la Vega. This continued with the pulp fiction and radio heroes of the 1920s and 30s and expanded with the coming of comic books. The fashion and socializing aspects of being a fop are present in some interpretations of Batman’s second identity Bruce Wayne. These became clichéd.

Fop rock

A more recent and minor trend is “fop-rock,” in which the performers don 18th century wigs, lace cravats, and similar costumes to perform, a minor movement that would appear to owe something to glam rock, visual kei, and the New Romantic movement.

Adam Ant of Adam & the Ants would seem to be a forerunner of the trend, who occasionally performed in elaborate highwayman outfits. Other notable examples would be Falco’s performance as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in the song “Rock Me Amadeus”, a #1 hit in the US and the UK in 1986, and Boston-based band The Upper Crust.

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CAMP: effeminacy

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There is a definite prejudice towards men who use femininity as part of their palate; their emotional palate, their physical palate. Is that changing? It’s changing in ways that don’t advance the cause of femininity. I’m not talking frilly-laced pink things or Hello Kitty stuff. I’m talking about goddess energy, intuition and feelings. That is still under attack, and it has gotten worse.

 

RuPaul 

 

Effeminacy is a trait in males that generally contradicts traditional male (masculine) gender roles.

 

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.”

 

In ancient Koine Greek, the word for effeminate is kinaidos (cinaedus in its Latinized form), a man “whose most salient feature was a supposedly “feminine” love of being sexually penetrated by other men.” (Winkler, 1990).

“A cinaedus is a man who cross-dresses or flirts like a girl. Indeed, the word’s etymology suggests an indirect sexual act emenating a promisculous woman. This term has been borrowed from the Greek kinaidos (which may itself have come from a language of Asia Minor [present day middle-east]), primarily signifying a purely effeminate dancer who entertained his audiences with a tympanum or tambourine in his hand, and adopted a lascivious style, often suggestively wiggling his buttocks in such a way as to suggest anal intercourse….The primary meaning of cinaedus never died out; the term never became a dead metaphor.” (Williams, 1999)

Other contemporary words for effeminacy include: “pansy”, “nelly”, “pretty boy”, “pussy”, and “girl” (when applied to a boy or, especially, adult man). Contrastingly, a masculine girl would be called a “tomboy” or anti-gay slurs. The word effete similarly means effeminacy or over-refinement, but comes from the Latin effetus, from ex- + fetus (fruitful).

 

It is a derogatory term frequently applied to femininity; or womanly behavior, demeanor, and appearance displayed by a man, typically used implying criticism or ridicule of this behavior (as opposed to, for example, merely describing a man as feminine, which is more neutral). The term effeminate is most often used by people who subscribe to the conventional view that men should conform to traditional masculine traits and behaviors.

Generally, the description is applied to individuals, but may be used to describe entire societies as an inflammatory allegation. Although in the Western tradition, as described below, effeminacy has often been considered a vice, indicative of other negative character traits and often involving a pejorative insinuation of homosexual tendencies, in other societies men who do not conform to male gender roles may have a special social function, as is the case of Two-Spirits in some Native American groups.

 

Furthermore, in contemporary culture, effeminacy has come to be seen by some to be simply one characteristic or trait which might be a part of a particular person’s “gender role”, and in this sense would not be considered a vice or indicative of any other characteristics. An effeminate man is similar to a fop or a dandy, though these tend to be archaic identities that are taken on by the individual rather than insulting labels.

 

 

What other people think of me is not my business. What I do is what I do. How people see me doesn’t change what I decide to do. I don’t choose projects so people don’t see me as one thing or another. I choose projects that excite me. I think the problem is that people refuse to understand what drag is outside of their own belief system.

 

RuPaul