To The FemmeMobile! Away!

{March 17, 2011}   Gender and Sexual Orientation

In my various wanderings across the web and through various gender books, one of the things I continuously run across is the argument that your biological sex should not define your gender. I think pretty much everyone reading this blog is going to agree with this.

What I think is interesting is the other argument that I hear on a frequent basis, though: that your sexual orientation DOES define which genders you’re allowed to be.

The argument here is that, for instance, only lesbians can be butch or femme. (For the sake of brevity, and because it seems more hotly contested, I’m going to shorten this to just femme. The arguments for butch actually change slightly, anyway.) Of course, this is a very black and white argument: it doesn’t take into account bi women, or only takes them into account when they’re dating other women. If it does take them into account, it then identifies them as ‘queer,’ so only queer women can be femme, but even then queer in this use seems to silently mean ‘attracted to other women,’ even among the people who would argue in other circumstances that queer can mean almost anything.

While I understand the desire to say, “Hey! I’m femme, and I’m already a minority, damn it, you hetro people get your hands off my gender!”, I still don’t think it’s actually right. I don’t see the difference between using biological sex to constrain gender or using sexual attraction to constrain gender. Either way, we’re saying certain genders can only be used by certain people. Wasn’t the whole point of breaking out of gender boxes so that genders were no long constrained by biology? Which, according to most, is what drives sexual orientation.

If I’m going to say that my biology does not dictate my gender, then I must accept that there are fabulous gay men out there who are also femme, and in fact that there are even hetero cis women who are also femme — whether or not I like it.

Am I wrong? Is my logic flawed somewhere?



You are right frigging on! The fact is, we ALL can be gender different–bi, straight, gay, les, etc etc etc. I know lots of straight men who are quite feminine and several straight women who are quite butch. Sexuality is fluid, gender is fluid, beliefs are fluid…always love your blogs.

JB says:

Thank you! Wow, this is quite the glowing agreement. 😀


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