To The FemmeMobile! Away!

{March 8, 2010}   Joining the femme club

This has been a really long year. And it’s only March. Dear world: Kindly do better.

I’m in Atlanta, GA. A while back I read a book called Femmes of Power, which I actually didn’t relate to particularly, but in which there was mention of a femme mafia based in Atlanta, GA.

I need a femme mafia. Okay, I don’t actually need a femme mafia; I’m practically a mafia all by myself, but it would be nice. Allow me to imagine someone taking a hit out on the world, okay? Hmmm. What a nice thought that is.

The femme mafia was the one really cool thing I got out of that book. I mean, don’t get me wrong: it was a really neat book. It highlighted all sorts of femmes who were doing awesome political things.  It also talked about how femme was trying to be an inclusive term, rather than an exclusive term.  It talked about how no one could really say what it was to be femme, but rather it was something that incorporated all sorts of types of feminity. The book included transwomen and drag queens and femme tomboys and femme lesbians. It was great for that, and if I’d been farther along in my femme journey I might have enjoyed it more.

At the time, I was looking for answers. I was looking for someone to say, “This is femme,” so that I could say, “Yes, that’s me!” or “No, that’s not.” Femmes of Power didn’t have that. In fact, I didn’t identify with more than one person in the whole book.

“One person!” I hear you cry. “That’s something, right?”

Not when you’re neurotic and perfectionist. 😉 Actually, by the end of the book I’d forgotten I identified with even that one person. It was a good book,  but as a guide toward what is femme? It was more political than anything. The femmes they showcased there were all involved in politics of some sort; I am not. They talked about using their feminity to promote awareness of something; I don’t. At a time when I was struggling, it sort of made me struggle more.

I’m tempted to go back and read it, now that I’m sure of myself. Then, I was worried about stepping on toes. I didn’t want to claim a minority only to find out I wasn’t; I didn’t want to hurt people like that. I was always a tomboy growing up, and that didn’t seem to jive with anything I was reading about femmes, so that didn’t help.

Now, I’ve realized that this is something I identify with, that there’s more than one type of femme, and no one’s going to kick me out of the ‘club.’ The fact that I’ve now met a few butches who recognize me help. 😉

I picked up another book at one point, Brazen Femme, which had an essay at the very beginning that I related to. Not the rest of it, but that one. 😉 I’ve picked up things here and there, and slowly they all sort of combined to make me go, “Yeah, this is me.” You know what else helped? Blogs. Mostly butch blogs, ironically. Every time someone posted a, “This is what I like about femmes/this is what I see in the femme identity/let’s talk about femme invisibility/etc” it made me go, “Ah! I do that!” or “Hey! I relate to the flip side of that!” (The invisibility thing was really helpful, actually — half the time I thought I must be wrong about myself, because no one else ever saw it! But then I learned it was a common problem, and didn’t mean I was just wrong.)

I’m still on a hunt for a book, like the Ivan E. Coyote or Bear Bergman books for butches, that make me go, “Yes! I relate to this.” Maybe someday I’ll find it. 😉



G says:

It’s funny, because while I love my entire community of bloggers and Twitter folk, it’s the femme-of-center blogs have been the most helpful to me. While I’m quite comfortable with being butch, I find that looking to other butches isn’t THAT helpful because I feel so different than them. I relate well to the flip side of the coin, as you put it.

JB says:

You know, I’m kind of glad to hear this! Here I thought I was an oddity. 😉 Maybe it’s, in part, knowing someone out there appreciates the way I work? That certainly helps. 😉 (I love your blog, because half of your swoon list looks like me. I slink by proxy. ;-D)


[…] I’ve been thinking about JB’s coming to terms with her femme identity, and realizing I’m pretty much doing the same damn thing with respect to butch. At first I […]

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