“Discourses on transgressive gender behavior played an integral role in articulating Roman imperial ideology”
The emphasis in these sources, however, is not simply on gender deviancy as a character flaw in a tyrant but on the capacity of effeminate emperors and other political figures to emasculate the state, as it were, to weaken, and ultimately endanger, Roman hegemony. It is thus not at all surprising that charges of effeminacy are often linked to moments of political vulnerability, such as the waning decades of the Republic or the tumultuous years before the Flavians could once again flex Rome’s masculine muscle. In other words, discourses on transgressive gender behavior played an integral role in articulating Roman imperial ideology. The language of penetration conveyed the politically charged image of domination and subjugation; and conversely, receptivity or passivity betrayed political weakness and vulnerability.
Jason von Ehrenkrook, “Effeminacy in the Shadow of Empire: The Politics of Transgressive Gender in Josephus’s Bellum Judaicum,” The Jewish Quarterly Review 101:2 (Spring 2011), 159.