The Invisible Elephant in the Room

There is a topic that is near and dear to me… Yet I haven’t written about it at all.
Femme Elephant

I’ve begun posts or articles many times…
I have dozens of bookmarks saved in my browser… Nothing to show for it. Yet.

Femme. Being Femme. Femme InVisibility. Femme Identity. 

Headings, tags, pieces of things.

It seems that when things get too personal for me, I cannot write a casual post… I want to write a dissertation (:
And who has time for that…

So.

This is not really a post. It is a note. It is a notice. It is a rant. It is a statement – that there is not enough written about what being a femme is all about. There are things I want to shout out, insist upon, inform… There are stances I want to take, and territory I want to stake. There are misconceptions I want to dispel and conceptions I want to eradicate. So much to say. So much emotion choking down the words. It won’t all be said here and now, but this is the opening shot, clumsy as it may be.

I AM A FEMME. I am not a femme because my girlfriend is a butch. I am not a femme because of internalized heteronormative oppression. I am not worth less because queer communities seem to idolize masculinity as much as – or more than! – straight communities. My identity is not subject to lesbian culture’s identity police. I AM A FEMME because this is the identity I choose, because this is the skin I am comfortable in, what fits, here and now. As a femme, I am the one who defines what it means to be a femme. It might be different than how someone else defines it for themselves. As a femme, I insist on my autonomy to conform or not to conform, to whichever standards I choose.

More than that, I believe that BEING FEMME IS ABOUT AS RADICAL AS IT GETS. Think about it: Being femme is a choice. As such, there is an element of gender transition involved. It also transcends hetero gender policing – by first rejecting the compulsory aspect of it, and then choosing the parts that please you. Wrapping yourself in the “weak” presentations of the hegemony, and using them to express and celebrate your strength and power. Sometimes taking them to the nth degree. That is deconstruction, and that is pretty radical. It is totally “in your face” to heteronormativity and queer normativity (yes, I just said that) alike.

elephant8

Obviously I have a lot more to say about this, but let me leave you with these rant bits:

BEING FEMME HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH BUTCHES

We are not defined as the absence of, the opposite of, or the partner of. Period. We can be in a relationship with a butch, or with a femme, or with someone who defines themselves as something else entirely. OUR PARTNERS’ DEFINITIONS HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH OUR SELF-DEFINED IDENTITY. We may or may not even have a partner.

WE ARE TIRED OF BEING INVISIBLE

We are tired of being assumed to be straight, of being overlooked as not radical enough, of being tagged as “wanting to pass” or as being bound by heteronormative culture. THERE IS NOTHING NORMATIVE ABOUT BEING FEMME.

And personally, I am pretty sick of the hierarchies of the queer communities I know, where there is a very clear status ladder, at the top of which are FTMs and at the bottom of which are cis femmes, and in which female/feminine identities are always subordinate to equivalent male/masculine ones (FTMs are “better” then MTFs, and cis gay men are “better” than cis lesbian women, butch is “better” than femme, and so on).

WE DON’T HAVE TO BE LESBIANS

We can be bisexual, pansexual, omnisexual, asexual, even hetero (there are queer heteros. seriously.), or have any other sexual orientation or lack thereof. Because, WE ARE NOT DEFINED BY OUR PARTNERS.

WE DON’T EVEN NEED TO BE WOMEN

Fuck the gender binary. Seriously. Some of my best femme friends are genderqueer. Which means they may or may not define themselves as women to any given degree, at any given time. Which is just one example. I find odd, to say the least, the notion that eliminating the binary must mean we go to a unary system of alikeness. Why not expand our possibilities to the infinite, rather than restricting and policing them?

More to come. Stay tuned.

13 thoughts on “The Invisible Elephant in the Room

  1. Although there is no defined structure, this is amazing! I have learned so much in such a powerful way. I am 16 in B.C., Canada, which is usually known for it’s multicultural aspect, but I have never came across debates or talks about lesbians, or even lesbian people! I am just so new I guess, and I hope to learn more from you about the real world hidden in the dark. 🙂

  2. יסלחו לי קוראותייך שלא דוברות עברית, על תגובתי בשפת הקודש:
    ריגשת אותי כמו שלא חשבתי שהפוסט הזה ירגש אותי.

    אני חושבת שזה עוזר לי להסביר הרבה ממה שא-נשים תופשות כ”סתירה” בזהות הפמיניסטית שלי.
    וכן, יש קוויריות הטרו. יוהו.:)

  3. Yay to every word, and every shout. And a lot more of all three to come. (and if you care for a translation of the hebrew above, give a holler).

  4. Gawd, I think I love you! Tears in my eyes as I read this. So moved, and proud to be a tough, raging, ass kicking, lipstick wearing, big, fat, super-queer femme.
    And so’s my wife. (C;
    Thank you so much for this.

  5. Yes, yes yes! When I was young, and had first came out, in the late 90’s, butches and tranny boys were the height of cool and sexiness in the community. I had always been feminine in expression, but felt such a pressure to conform (and tried to, being an insecure teenager.) I started wearing masculine clothes, cut my hair, and went by a boy’s name. Suddenly, the ladies loved me. I got mad cool points. I finally felt accepted, like my queer membership application had finally been approved. But I could only do it for so long. Eventually, my love of glitter and high heels won out.
    One night I was watching Cry Baby and realized that I didn’t want to look like Johnny Depp, I wanted to *date* Johnny Depp and look like Tracy Lords. Epiphany! I changed all my clothes, going more femme than I’d ever gone before, and low and behold, my girlfriend dumped me because of it. And from then on, I too felt “less than”, and invisible. The other boys and butches didn’t treat me like a buddy anymore, I was now just another little femme, slightly invisible. My strap-on sat neglected in a box, because no one wanted to let me top them.
    It all really is a total expression of patriarchal bulls*it, and it makes me so mad.
    Even in a world of queers, the feminine is still seen as not cool and weak, and masculinity is put on a pedestal.

    • I’m really sorry to hear it. Somehow I always hope I’ll hear that things are changing, or that elsewhere it just doesn’t work that way… Solidarity from afar!

  6. Pingback: כך נראית טרנסמיזוגניה | הפרשדונה

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