To The FemmeMobile! Away!

{March 16, 2010}   Gender identity and presentation, me-style.

So, Q said two things that I’ve been mulling over. The first was that I’m the girliest type of person she’d date. The other was that once she’d dated a woman who’d never dated a butch before, and she kept thinking, “Why are you dating me? What do you see in me, then, to be attracted to?” and it was a little odd.

It’s funny, because I’m relating to that last one a bit. Since being told I’m the girliest person Q would date, I sort of went, “…huh,” and toned down the girly. Not in a “I can’t express myself,” way, but in a “I don’t have to try so hard” way. Don’t get me wrong — I don’t really feel like I’m trying hard when I girl it up, but it is certainly a different sort of dress and manner than I grew up expressing. It’s made me very aware of my gender presentation, and what I do for myself vs what I do for other people.

I spent a few days watching my behavior and wondering if my tendency to, to a certain extent, dress for someone else was insecurity and unhealthy. It doesn’t feel like either one, but at the same time I’m obviously seeking approval or I wouldn’t change how I dress.

Now, I’d like to make it very clear here that I’m not dressing in any way except how I want to dress. And I think that’s what I finally boiled it down to: I like how I look, I like what I’m wearing, I like the way I’m presenting myself, I still feel powerful. If all of those are true, then is it still unhealthy to dress for others?

If I felt like wearing a dress, I’d wear the dress. I might give Q a heads’ up: “Hey! I’m girling it up! I think I look adorable, and even if you don’t agree you’d do best to fake it. :D” But most days I can swing several directions in what I wear, and the truth is I do dress, to a certain extent, for other people. That’s half of the subversion in femme, right? Dressing to attract a female, rather than male, gaze. It still means I’m dressing for someone — I’m dressing to attract someone else. Once I’ve found someone I particularly want to attract, I’m more likely to tailor what I wear to their tastes.

When I was dating DK she talked about how hot skirts were. I knew she liked the way I looked no matter what, but I found more of a desire to wear skirts (and heels that made my legs look longer). I did it because I felt good in those things, and the look on her face made me feel even better.

In dating Q, the other day I wore a man’s button down shirt and ripped up jeans because she’d mentioned thinking women in men’s clothes was hot. It wasn’t so much that I wanted to look hot to myself in the mirror (though I did think I looked hot, or I wouldn’t have left the house), it was that I wanted to see, “Wow, you look hot,” reflected in the person I’m attracted to’s eyes. (WOW was that a convoluted sentence. Don’t worry, I’ll wait here while you read it again and figure out what I mean. :D)

At one point DK and I talked about a blog post — possibly by Sugarbutch, but I could be wrong — about a butch choosing her femme’s clothes. I said that while I wouldn’t want someone to pick out an exact outfit for me daily, if someone said, “Man, I’d love to see you in that skirt today,” I’d be highly likely to do so — as long as I felt comfortable in that skirt that day. It’s nice to know that the person you care about is, for sure, going to look at you with lust and appreciation in their eyes. It’s not about being controlled, for me, but about knowing my ego’s going to be fed by looking good to someone else (let’s be honest here, after all. *grins*) and having some control.

I’ve talked before about how being able to draw a gaze is a power trip. If someone tells me what’s going to draw their gaze, it’s like being given the keys and told, “Here, take control and drive me around.” Oh yeah, baby.Which, you might notice, is a far cry from being insecure and changing my look to gain approval. Flip sides of the same coin, maybe? Positive and negative? Or is it not at all bad to change your look to gain approval, as long as you also approve yourself? (Sounds like what I’ve been saying, doesn’t it? It’s not, quite.) Maybe society’s wrong — or at least wrong for some people. Hmmm.

All this has made me think more closely about gender presentation, and whether other people do the same thing. I mean, I think they do to a certain extent, but I feel almost chameleon-like.

…Of course, that could in part be me. I certainly am chameleon-like in other areas of my life, and don’t feel particularly unhealthy about it. But that doesn’t have to do with gender presentation. πŸ˜‰

I always present a feminine gender, whether I’m in men’s or women’s clothes. It’s not like when I see butches dressing in men’s clothes, and they look masculine. If anything, I’m inclined to think it creates a juxtaposition on me: men’s clothes, by being masculine, make me seem more feminine. I’m also careful to buy and wear the men’s clothes that do just that. πŸ˜‰ Maybe that’s why it doesn’t bother me at all to alter my clothing for others: either way, I feel pretty, femme, and just like myself. I’m still presenting the gender I’m comfortable in.

Something else that came up for me is what I mentioned above — that ‘trying so hard’ feeling. I’ve changed my dress and presentation a lot in the last six months, and shifting back to clothes more like what I used to wear has been strange. Not strange in a bad way, just… like donning an old sweater and going, “Oh, yeah, I liked this, too.” I’d just forgotten for a while. I think it broadens my options. I think I was starting to buy into the societal idea of what female beauty is, and this has reminded me that there are other modes, other ways I like to dress and still feel attractive. It taps back into that tomboy I used to be.

…Which might be why I tackled Q last night and attempted (and failed) to wrestle her to the ground, then spent the drive home fantasizing about joining some kind of sports team. My inner tomboy needs an outlet, and I’ve noticed over the last few years it’s been getting snuffed. Hard to be a tomboy when most of your friends are girls. Which means — yay! Another bit of my identity I’m re-connecting with, while connecting with new parts of myself. Just because I’m tapping into my inner girl doesn’t mean I need to shed my inner boy. πŸ˜‰ Now I just need to figure out how to get an outlet for my inner boy. Hmmm. Maybe I’ll find a rugby team. ;-D



sweetspice says:

It’s nice to be able to grow – embrace aspects of our psyche that we wouldn’t before. Nice to have someone who understands that need.

And I’ve heard those rugby teams has some pretty hot gals on it.

JB says:

LOL! Well, I’ve got my hands full of hot gals at the moment, though I sure wouldn’t mind the eye candy.

Mmm. Eye candy. ;-D

But it IS nice to be able to change and grow and flex other aspects of ourselves. Makes for a well rounded person. πŸ˜‰


Yes, totally. I find that especially when I do high femme for a while, I need to swing back in the other direction to feel a balance again and remind myself that I can also throw on chucks, baggy jeans with holes in them, and an american apparel athletic tee and be *every bit as femme* in a tomboyish way! I’ve never been much of a tomboy (even as a child I was really uninterested in sports or anything remotely boyish) and yet I still need that balance. So hear, hear!

JB says:

*nods!* And it’s interesting, because I keep thinking that it shouldn’t matter to my insides what’s on my outsides — but it totally does. Like my girly-femme muscle gets overdeveloped, and I have to work on the tomboy-femme muscle. πŸ˜‰


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