Body language

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Body language is a kind of talk without words (nonverbal communication), in which a human or other animal shows their thoughts, intentions, and feelings by the way they position and move their body. It doesn't have a grammar, and much of it is instinctive. Because of this, it's not a true language, like sign language. Nonetheless, it's the biggest part of how people give messages about themselves and how they relate to others. Some things about body language are the same in every culture, such as natural facial expressions. Other things about it can be different in each culture, group, and time period, such as hand gestures, and some things regulated by etiquette. Some things about body language are intentional, and others are not. The study of body language is called kinesics. Some parts of voice and speech can be thought of as body language.

Some parts of body language is gendered, meaning that it is seen as having to do with gender. Body language is a part of gender expression, how people show their gender to others. When a person acts in a way that is seen as feminine, masculine, both, or neither, they influence whether people are likely to see them as a woman, man, or androgynous. A person whose gender identity is nonbinary may want to be seen as any of these, depending on how that one person feels. (Gender identity is how a person feels about their gender.) They can use body language to help others see and understand their gender in the way they want it to be seen and understood. As with any part of gender expression, though, it isn't the same as gender identity. For example, having feminine body language doesn't necessarily mean that someone identifies as a woman. They may just prefer using body language that happens to be seen as feminine. For transgender people of all kinds, body language is part of passing, being seen as the gender that they identify as. As such, it can be a matter of personal safety: some people decide they have to change some things about their body language just so it will be likely that they could be victims of transphobic harassment or violence. Sometimes this means they decide to use different body language than they would like.

This page should collect resources about kinds of body language that are seen as feminine, masculine, both, or neither. It should be useful for nonbinary people who want to change this part of their gender expression. Information about gendered body language can be found in resources for actors, drag performers, and binary transgender people.

Regional and cultural variations

Body language isn't gendered in the same way in every time and place. Some aspects of gendered body language are different depending on the region, culture, class, time period, and so on. Some commonly-repeated information on gendered body language is curiously dated, describing things that haven't been commonplace since the 1940s, or even the 1890s. In that case, the resource isn't really useful for anyone today, and a person can only find out about it by asking their friends if it matches what they have seen in real life. Resources for people seeking a masculine gender expression usually describe body language that would only be acceptable for a white working-class man. This kind of thing can be a problem for people of other ethnic or cultural groups who don't want to emulate white culture, and can also seem perplexing to middle and upper class people who haven't seen their male role models behave like that.

Posture and walk

Personal space and eye contact

Gestures

Some intentional kinds of body language, called gestures, are gendered. Gestures usually mean hand movements, but it can also mean intentional movements of the face (facial gestures).

Sitting / Big VS Small

There are masculine and feminine ways to sit, to spread out your legs or arms is claiming space and is seen as very masculine, whereas crossing your legs, and taking up less space is very feminine.

See also

External links