To The FemmeMobile! Away!

{November 26, 2009}   Femme, shaken.

G at “can i help you, sir?” posted on femme invisibility a while ago, and is now collecting links on it of things other people have written.

I’m not going to write about femme invisibility today, but if you’d like to read about it, start there. Awesome resource. ;-D I wrote about it before, and though I’ve learned more since then and would adjust things, it still holds true. Basically, it still sucks, but I’m learning to deal.

Instead, I’m going to write about the continued struggle and flailing I had after reading Femmes of Power, which was a book that really helped a friend of mine, and was a really good book, but sort of… shook me. Not in a good way. Right around the time I was coming to grips with the idea that I was femme, I read this book. And in several hundred pages, saw myself nowhere. I struggled, and wrote about it, and then finished the book and struggled some more. Disagreed with some of what I wrote, even.

Basically, to sum it up, I didn’t see myself there, and it made me rethink femme. Or rather, myself and femme. It also made me think about what I’ve read when people write about femmes, versus what femmes seem to have in common. Now I’m going to pontificate, probably put my foot in it, and later change my mind. Keep in mind I’m working with what I’ve noticed, my own faulty perceptions and just-learning translations, and that I don’t mean for anything to be a hard and fast rule.

First of all, I’ve sort of decided that femme is a building archetype. Because it’s still being built (I don’t mean that it’s being built on purpose, but that our subconsciouses are gleefully at work drawing categories and differences and sameness and so on to create something that is a rough outline of an archetype. Like if I say, “That guy’s a computer geek,” our subconscious pulls up our archetype of a computer geek and we have a rough idea of what ‘that guy’ is like. There’s LOTS of permutations, but it gives us a guideline to start with.)

…WOW that was an awesome tangent. *coughs* Right. I think that because femme, as an archetype, is still being built, it’s a little hazier. I think also that because femmes are trying to be inclusive, it slows the process down. That’s not a bad thing, and hopefully we’ll end up with an archetype that people can relate to (or not), that isn’t kicking people out of the group. But it does make it harder to figure out, right now.

So, anyway, thinking about all this got me thinking about outward vs inward femmeness. Femmes of Power talked a lot about what I think of as outward femmeness. How people dressed, the statement they were making, their political activism, their performance of gender.

While I’m aware that we’re all performing gender, I think (and I could be wrong, this is just my feeling on it) there’s a difference between putting on clothes in the morning and being consciously aware of the gender you’re portraying, and putting on clothes in the morning because that’s what you feel like wearing. The former is more conscious of what you’re telling the world on a political level, the latter is more conscious of what you’re telling people on a personal level, maybe? Anyway, I feel like the latter. I don’t feel like I perform gender or am consciously subverting anything (though I am), I’m just dressing in what is comfortable that day. I don’t relate to the former performance of gender, which is another outward femme thing (in my mind). In fact, I don’t relate to really any of the outward femme stuff, which left me, after reading Femmes of Power, rattled. If I didn’t identify with any of it, was I sure I was femme at all?

Then there’s the inward femme stuff, that you don’t see when people try to explain femme (without actually explaining femme). This is the stuff I relate to. It’s attitudes and desires and patterns in your life and thinking and behavior. It’s stuff like, “I like dressing up to get attention,” and “I like to be coddled and cared for, even if I can do it myself,” and a million other things. It’s often, “I’m attracted to butch women,” but it is never “You must do x, y, and z.” It’s also a lot trickier, because no one wants to assume how anyone else feels, you know? And there isn’t an “always or never” hard and fast rule, though there are a lot of trends. Lots of things that are very common, even if they don’t have to be there. These are the things I relate to: the things people don’t want to say, generally.

See, this is why I need a separate blog so I can ask other femme women what makes them feel femme. That would be fascinating.

Something else I think is interesting is the idea that only gay women can be femme (or butch). This kind of cracks me up, because while on the one hand I understand it — I have an instant reaction that this is MY label, damn it! — on the other hand I think, “But femme and butch are gender labels, right? And aren’t we all about saying you can’t force a gender label on a sex?” So that always gives me a chuckle, when I encounter it (even in myself!).

I would like to ask other femme women what it was, exactly, that made them go, “Yes! I’m femme!” In part because I still have that desire to make sure I fit so I don’t go trampling on some other minority’s space, though I’m sure now that I AM femme. But in part just because… well just because. I like hearing the stories. I like seeing how our minds work. This is totally one of those things I’m going to put up when I have a femme/butch blog, ohyes. (I feel funny drawing attention to this LJ, as — while people are welcome to read it — it’s about my whole life and a lot of randomosity, as well as femme/butch stuff.)

I think I had more I wanted to say on this, a big ol’ essay, and on other topics too, but that 7 hour drive and then only 6 hours of sleep before a full work day is catching up with me. >.>

In other news (totally not outwardly femme, shuddup), I got NEW CLOTHES. Sweaters, a pair of pants (hopefully getting more tomorrow), a white dress that’s going to need some frothy little slip under it (you can totally see the color of my underwear. >.>) (I’m kind of enjoying the idea of a frothy little slip, and I kind of hope I can find something I like, that’s pretty. And I can afford.), a cool suit that my grandmother sewed for my mom that is now MINE MINE MINE, and BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SHOES. Life is good. 😀

I also spoke with DK several times over the last few days, and I’ll hopefully get a chance to talk with her a bit longer tomorrow. After I go to the gym, which is the current plan, and before I go clothes shopping with my friend Kristin. Man, I miss my handsome DK. A week and a half! Not long enough to get everything done, and too long to wait, anyway.

I should really get her presents finished before she gets here. *laughs*



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