To The FemmeMobile! Away!











{February 12, 2014}   Changes

Well, I’m getting married!

Q asked me to marry her just before Christmas, and I said yes. We tie the knot next February, on the anniversary of our first date (so I only have to remember one anniversary). After that, I’ll stay in my house and she’ll stay in her house and we’re good. 😀

Most people I’ve told this to have been like, “Coolio!” The people who don’t say “Coolio!” though, really freak out. It seems I’ve been freaking people out all my life, so that’s all normal. Suffice to say, we’ve got this covered.  😉

It’s quite the jump to go from commitment phobic to getting married. It only took us 4 years. *grins* Five by the time we actually get married! What’s fun is that the law will even acknowledge it now. WOO HOO!

That’s not the only change going on, though. The other big change is that Q has started taking testosterone to look more masculine. She says she doesn’t feel like a man, but she doesn’t feel like a woman. Within about a month of T she started growing facial hair. I figure as muscle develops (she’s started hitting the gym) and hair grows in, and then when she gets top surgery, people will start calling her him, and I’ll switch over. I’ve already started referring to my boyfriend here and there.

She’s having her own things with all this, but I can’t speak for that. What I can speak of is my end of things, supporting my wonderful honey in the changes she needs to make, muddling through my own identity as, to the outside world, it starts to change, and what it’s like.

So far, I’m surprised at how okay everything has been. It’s helped that she didn’t say, “I am a man,” but rather, “I’m somewhere in between, so the pronouns don’t matter.” In fact, when she realized that for herself it lifted a HUGE weight off me. I was no longer looking at seeming straight to the rest of the world. I could continue to use whichever pronouns. Now, I’m getting eased into it, and that’s easier for me. In the end I’m sure effectively the world will see me as straight, but this way I can wade in slowly instead of diving into the deep end.

(I also have to take a moment to say that I REALLY appreciate her support of me, while I’m supporting her. She’s realized this will affect me, too, and has been very aware and we’ve had lots of conversations on it.)

Initially, when Q was thinking she was a man (before she realized that didn’t quite fit, either), Q was saying she wouldn’t ever wanted to be outed as trans. I was really struggling with that, because it was one way for me to continue to claim my own sexual identity. I was at war within myself: part of me wants to support Q and be a good ally, and knows that outing trans* people is, at best, indicative of transphobia in our society. I’m not sure where my outing someone would fall, given my reasons, but it doesn’t matter: it would be encouraging that attitude in society in general. The other part of me wanted to keep my sexual identity. It is as much a part of me as being a man is part of her.

In the end, as stated, Q decided that she was neither man nor woman but somewhere in between, so it became a moot point. (How we’ll maneuver going forward will be something that we have to see as we go.) Since then, there really hasn’t been anything that’s made me hesitate. I kind of am suspicious about how easy it’s been for me, in fact. I keep waiting for something to hit me like a ton of bricks.

Anyway. The allied femme’s intimate dealing with trans in an SO. I’ll attempt to keep you all updated more than once every six months. 😉

JB



{October 25, 2013}   When research strikes

Hi, all!

This year has been something else. I’ve pretty much settled into my femme identity with no more trauma, which is nice. Things occasionally come up around gender or sexual inequality, but mostly little things that I post to Facebook or campaign about elsewhere.

And, a lot, I haven’t had time to write down anything that isn’t a burning desire.

Anyway. I do now. New issues! Ones that aren’t really femme or lesbian, but definitely sexual identity. So I might as well unpack those, right? Dust off the FemmeMobile, folks… 😉

I wrote a book! (Uh, that is, another book!) I don’t know how popular it is yet, as royalties won’t come in for another month, but it’s getting ace reviews from both reviewers and readers. You can check it out here, on Amazon, where it has some fabulous reviews. 😉

I need to talk about some of it for this all to make sense, so in short, it’s about someone getting into BDSM (mostly the BD part) with some friends of his. (Also in small part, it’s my response to how horrible “50 Shades of Gray” was. I mean, really, that book was about how to be in an abusive relationship, and how, if you’re interested in kink, you must be broken. Fuck that shit.) I did research. I wrote the book. It was beautiful. My butch (the same one I started dating over three years ago!) read it and was like, “So… honey… this is some fun stuff. :D” Ahem. Yes. >.> *grins*

Now I’m working on the sequel, which I’ve had a harder time with. A character in the book, London, who was just kind of bossy has decided that she wants to Dom. I’m not a Dom. I did some ‘net research, started writing, stalled out, started again, etc. Not sure what was wrong, I finally stopped, re-read “A Little Weird,” realized in part what was wrong, complained to a friend that I hadn’t found a book on BDSM that really helped me, and was loaned copies of “The New Topping Book” and “The New Bottoming Book.”

I’ve now read “The New Topping Book” (which was AWESOME, btw, and I highly recommend it for anyone who’s curious) and started “The New Bottoming Book,” (less important for my novel, as really I need to shape a top, not a bottom). It answered a lot of the “Ehhhhs,” I had in writing the second book, so with a much clearer idea of what I need to be shaping, I’m all set.

Allllllll of that is to say that I did this research because I was idly curious and thought it was a fun take on a story (also, I like empowering underdogs, and after “Shades” I think of healthy kink as an underdog) , and now I’m like, “Gosh, I have a lot to think about.”

Today is the first day of my period, so I’m a little low energy. I’m also coming down from a big weekend. I decided to finish “The New Topping Book” today, and pretty much just bulled through it. (It’s an easy and entertaining read, so that helps!)

Hm. I’m not sure how to continue here, so I’m going to back up and turn sideways.

I think I learned, growing up, that weakness was bad. My mom was a caretaker, but for all the wrong reasons. She’d fix things or arrange things or organize things for someone, help them with their life, but she’d be angry and resentful about it and never tell them. It left me with this mindset:

I never want to ask for help, because it is never freely given. I never want to show weakness, because then I’ll have to fend off those who would help and be angry with me for it, and do so in a way that won’t hurt them. People who care take of others can’t be trusted: they secretly hate it.

Also this:

If you ever have some time for self-care or downtime, do not use it. Find something “productive” to do.

I’ve realized aspects of these things before, but never quite as full blown as I’m realizing it now. I think I have the Topping Book to thank for that. One of the sections that really hit me was the idea of a top’s limits; that part of their job is to know their OWN limits. That it’s not just the bottom that sets limits, but that the top needs to know what they can and can’t do. You may or may not have noticed, but a lot of what a top (or a Dom) does is care taking. Be in charge, including comfort and aftercare and cuddles if that’s what your sub needs. This is exactly the kind of thing I avoid needing, but I’m definitely subby. (I don’t know how subby; I haven’t experimented enough. Luckily Q seems eager to experiment with me! Anyway, there’s definitely that inclination, though.)

In reading about tops being responsible for knowing what they can and can’t do, I had a realization: I might not understand why they would WANT to take care of anyone, but I can accept that it’s their job to say, “No, I don’t want to do a scene where I push you hard and you need aftercare, because I don’t have it in me for aftercare right now.” That it’s NOT my responsibility to feel guilty for needing help. That it’s okay to have downtime.

What a concept!

In reading the topping book, it also suddenly occurred to me that it’s okay for me to know my own limits in every day life, and to take care of myself. Gasp! You mean, today, when it’s the first day of my period, I’m tired and crampy and a little emo, it’s okay to stay in my PJs and take a hot bath and even go back to bed for 30 minutes?! I like the fantasy of letting a top (that I trust to know their own limits) pamper me like that. So why couldn’t I pamper myself like that? Why isn’t it okay to practice some self care?

Sometimes I have “sick days.” When I’m tired and stressed and I can’t take it any more, I cancel everything and watch movies. I’ve been getting better, too, about taking time off. (I’m self employed, so this takes real determination.) I’ve been doing much, much better at it. But there’s almost always a level of agitation or guilt or “shoulds” that go along with it.

Today, in reading the topping book, it was like hearing permission to be weak and vulnerable and have down time. It was this amazing idea that someone else could do that for me, could insist on it, without feeling burned out or resentful. That they might GET something from it, in fact. And if they can do it for me, and it’s not only okay but expected and praised… then why can’t I do it for myself?

In sex instead of life, there’s another aspect to this. I really don’t understand the urge to dom/top. I can accept that others have that urge, even if I don’t at all get it, and be glad for that. But between the aforementioned aversion to care taking, and the lack of understanding, I have personal concerns. Like, what if Q wants me to try topping so she can try bottoming? What if she gets angry and resentful at topping because I’m… I don’t know, too subby? (When I think about this rationally, I realize we have EXCELLENT communication. I don’t really believe this would happen, because she’d tell me something was going wrong first.)

Anyway, these are things I’ll have to think about and discuss with Q. Some part of me feels like I SHOULD at least try topping if she wants, and the gut part of me knots up at even thinking about it. (This is hilarious, as I’m rather a leader type in everyday life.) I don’t know if it’s a holdover from my gazillions of other sexual issues, or if it’s because I associate bottoming with girly genders (which Q is not, and it kind of a alarms me to think she suddenly would be — though I don’t think that’s how it works…) (also, I realize I’m totally gendering here, and that’s not a good thing. Believe me, you don’t have to point out the negative use of stereotypes, I’m aware of them.). All stuff to start processing.

Oh yeah, and did I mention we got engaged? 🙂 More stuff to process! And some other stuff, too, that isn’t mine to talk about just yet… ayup, life is changing. I’m definitely going through… something. The planets are aligned or somesuch!

J



I used to watch Doris Day’s Calamity Jane obsessively when I was young. Especially every time I got sick. I was in love with her, in a “I want to be her” sort of way. Here’s a snippet:

It was full of gayness, including accidental cross-dressing. (You can rent it for $2 from Youtube, apparently. It would be a $2 well spent, I’m just sayin’.)

When I moved to Canada at 20, long before I figured out my own sexual and gender identity, I had to leave it home. I didn’t see it again until years later — probably ten years later, when my sister bought it for me for Christmas. By that time I’d figured out both the lesbian/butch attraction and the femme bit.

Watching the movie again nearly made my jaw drop. Calamity Jane both was me, and was who I wanted to be. She’s got a temper that drives her into doing stupid things (though mine’s under control now), she sticks up for the underdog even when it puts her at great risk, she’s got this super rough, tomboy, cowgirl exterior, and she really wants someone to see that she’s beautiful under it all. She wants love and doesn’t know how to go about getting it, because so many people saw the tomboy and not the girl (this is less me: people generally saw the girl, but I had a hard time realizing that). She’s strong, she’s a hero, and she still wants rescuing. She’s rough and practical on the outside, but she cleans up and wants to be a girl.

She’s me, as a femme.

It’s funny: for all her tomboyishness, she never came across as butch to me, either. I think it’s Doris Day’s feminine energy under all that faux-rawhide!

When I saw it again after so many years, I watched in absolute fascination. Here were the answers I’d been looking for just a few years earlier, when I started this blog, trying to figure out how I could be femme and yet not be a high femme or wear dresses all the time. In short, be femme and still be a tomboy. Here it was, the answer I’d watched over and over as kid, wishing I were her.

It makes me think that even as a kid, I identified with her. Maybe my subconscious was trying to help me out. 😉 Now, if only she’d been attracted to butches… I might have figured it out that much faster! ;-D

JB



{March 7, 2012}   Trans and sexism

I’ve been thinking about that last trans post I made, and the comments (which I thought about a great deal, and started a hugely long post on, but… then I got busy and never finished it, and it all boils down to what I’m about to say, anyway).

You know what I’ve realized? I don’t think this is a trans reaction I’m having. I think it’s a sexist reaction. Now, I do my best not to be sexist, but cultural sexism is rampant in everyone. Including me, much as I try to keep purging it. I don’t think it’s so much that I look at types of trans and see different genders, as it is I look at “man” and have specific, sexist ideas of what that is. If something doesn’t fit it, it is therefore “not man” and needs another category.

Now that I realize that, I can start working on it.

It does make me wonder, though: how do we define gender? Most definitions say something along the lines of, “Gender can be identified by the dress, behavior, and speech of an individual.” But we’re breaking those rules, now. So… what DOES make a gender? The way someone feels? I mean, that’s how I define my gender… but then, most people have no clue that my gender is femme, as opposed to woman. How do you differentiate femme from woman? Heck, most femmes I know can’t. It’s a feeling.

So if gender is a feeling, and there are no definitions, then how does one say, “I’m attracted to women” or “I’m attracted to butches”? If the ultimate goal is to break down the definitions, then we’re also breaking down an important way to navigate the world. But if we don’t… then you get problems like mine, above, where the ‘man’ gender has gender rules, and if someone doesn’t fit them then I’m not categorizing them correctly, and sexism is born.

This is what I’ve been mulling over.

J

 



{September 10, 2011}   I kissed a girl, too!

You know that song by Katy Perry, “I Kissed a Girl and I Liked It”? Well, I remember when it came out — hadn’t quite come out more than to kinda sorta mentioned I might maybe be bi — and seriously, I was so terrified of the ridicule it received.

First off, I really liked the song. I still do! But second off, there was this idea (among lesbians, I should clarify, or at least the lesbians I knew) that to experiment like that was Wrong. That it was Terrible and Offensive to kiss a girl and like it. That the character in the song was just Faking It and making light of lesbianism.

I was terrified of being that girl. That was one of the biggest reasons it took me SO LONG to come out, because without experimenting I couldn’t be sure, but I didn’t want to be the girl who said she was bi and experimented and realized it wasn’t for her. I was scared shitless of being a poser! (The other reason it took me so long to come out was a lack of butch people around. I think I’d have figured it out earlier if I’d seen some hot butches earlier!)

I love that song now more than ever. Maybe the character in the song was just doing it for attention. (Though I’d have to argue that her boyfriend doesn’t seem to be present… so it’s not his attention she’s trying to get, and presumably if she has a boyfriend she’s not looking for another.) Maybe the character in the song kisses that one girl, likes it, goes back to her boyfriend and never crosses that line again. Maybe that girl kisses a girl, likes it, goes home and dumps her boyfriend and realizes she’s lesbian. It’s all good! What’s actually happening in the song, after all?

Experimentation.

Except for a lucky, and precious, few we all have to experiment to figure out what we like and don’t like. We all have to try things on before we know what fits. That song told me it was okay to try things on, and I love it. It makes me sad when I hear people bash it as a girl getting attention — which is what I hear most of the time. I don’t think she is. I think she’s learning about herself!

Thinking about it a little more, I also wonder about the homophobic reactions to the song. I mean, if people are angry at hearing the song because she kissed a girl and liked it, how much of that is just being disturbed at the gayness of it? Hmmm.

I remember there being massive feminist reactions, too, that she was only kissing girls to get the boys attention. While I do know girls who do that, the fact that the feminist section of my friends assumed only that was kind of hurtful. What, she couldn’t be experimenting? Apparently not. She could only be doing it for men. Yeesh, what a thing to say.

Hmm, now I’m not sure how to wrap this up. Look! Ponies!

JB



There is this constant debate among the femme community, with people pretty much coming down very strongly on either side, about whether or not femme can be applied to bi or het women, or men of any shape, size, or sexuality. It basically comes down to two arguments, boiled down thusly:

1. Of course, because we’re trying to be inclusive and (my own opinion, here) if we’re saying gender shouldn’t be linked to what body you’re born into, then it also shouldn’t be forced on you because of your sexuality.

2. Lesbian/Queer femme is already a minority: get your damn straight-woman or male-of-any-sort hands off my gender; I have enough areas in which I’m overlooked! Don’t appropriate this one! (I actually quite understand this; it tends to be my emotional reaction. Then my hyper-sensitive sense of morality kicks in, and I realize I don’t really agree with this one…)

Got that? Good.

Now, when I was first looking at femme, I kept seeing how femme and butch were transgenders. They were transgressing gender boundaries; ergo, trans. I learned initially that transgender referred to a person transgressing gender boundaries, which could refer to femme or butch or andro or FTM or MTF or anyone inbetween. I also learned that transsexual meant specifically FTM or MTF.

Since then, through experience I’ve learned that those terms are far from agreed upon, and we, as humans, tend to boil things down to the easiest way of saying it: trans, whether it’s transgressing or transitioning.

All this makes me wonder: do FTM and MTF folks have that same, “stop appropriating my shit!” reaction? I’d think they have much more reason to, to be honest (starting with the fact that, uh, they coined it). I’ve always felt a little strange saying I’m trans (even though I leaped on it initially) because, well, my trans path is VERY DIFFERENT than an FTM/MTF’s trans path. At the same time, I don’t want my trans experience swallowed up into the more socially-fascinating FTM/MTF trans experience. That’s not me; we are totally different ends of the spectrum, only very distantly related if related at all.

I almost feel like we need a different term. Leave trans where it belongs, with the people who used it first: those people who are actually transitioning. I’d rather have a label of my own, to show I’m transgressing gender boundaries.

…I have no idea what that label might be, mind you. But it’s something else I’ve been thinking about.

JB



{July 19, 2011}   Trans stuff

(Written over several days, starting Monday morning…)

I had a minor breakdown yesterday (okay, probably not so minor from the point of Q, who did the hug-and-rock thing for close to an hour). It’s not that there’s anything big going on in my life (little sister getting married, trying to shift from training to writing, finding an agent, business suddenly DYING — which was finally explained and rectified — trying to send business Q’s way and training her to take over when I’m ready to shift to full-time writing, concerns over alcoholic tendencies… no, nothing big…), but there’s a lot of little things (busy times, little to no down time, struggling with finding time to blog, two friends transitioning and trying to remember new pronouns, a friend having a baby, lots of traveling, new website, lots of deadlines to be met, trouble sleeping).

I have this blog for All Things Queer And Especially Femme, and a general life-stuff blog, and I haven’t had a chance to write in either of them in too long. It crowds my head.

I have two friends, DK and Nezu, who are recently FTM. It’s been interesting, from my perspective. All sorts of strange little cultural-sexism stuff has been cropping up for me. Nothing painful, but bits that make me go, “…fascinating.” (I just need pointy ears, now. I’ve got the “live long and prosper” fingers down pat.)

For instance, I was talking clothes the other day — I’d gotten who knows what that I was tickled about — with Nezu, who has never been anything but interested and supportive. And yet suddenly, I found myself cutting the topic short, and doing something that wasn’t quite a thank-you-for-listening or a self-dismissal, but it was awfully close. Close enough to stick in my mind as a combination of the two.

Now, lest you think Nezu had somehow triggered that, he didn’t. At all. In fact, when I heard myself saying whatever I was saying, I stopped and re-took up the topic, and Nezu went along with that, too. But it made me start noticing the way I talk to men vs women, and I noticed that even with my male friends I generally edit. Part of that is politeness; I don’t want to bore people with things they don’t care about. But a bigger part of it is definitely a clear-cut idea of what aren’t “men’s” topics, and a tendency to defer to what a guy would rather talk about — even if it doesn’t particularly interest me. (Note that I don’t want to bore someone with things that don’t interest them, but it’s okay to bore myself with things that don’t interest me. Hmmm.)

For instance: during the above conversation with Nezu, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t boring him. Nezu has a keen eye for color and design; he’s very much the artist, and will point clothes or things out to me that he thinks I’d like. If only from an artist standpoint, he seems to enjoy clothes and fashion. (From a human standpoint, he likes those clothes on people, too! ;-D) My sudden desire, then, to switch the topic, had nothing to do with whether or not Nezu was interested in it, because he was, which means it had to do with cultural sexism and my assumptions about what a guy would be interested in and deferring to that.

Fascinating.

There’s other things that have cropped up, too. An acquaintance of mine, D, is also transitioning FTM. He’s recently started hormones, though when the below happened I didn’t know that — I didn’t even know he was FTM. The last I’d seen him, he was butch but not — to my knowledge — trans. So Q and I were at Sundance, and I saw him out of the corner of my eye. It was clearly D, and yet something in my head went, “Ah, male.”

Know what it was? Pockmarks. D had started testosterone and his skin had broken out, healing with faint (not unattractive) pockmarks, like guys in their late teens and early twenties get. I’m guessing D is early to mid twenties, so it definitely fit. When we walked up and Q said, “Hey, S!” D said, “It’s D now.” We had a quickie conversation to sort out new pronouns and butch or trans, and then that was done. So it wasn’t until after I’d mentally categorized him as male that I learned he was FTM. I thought it was kind of funny that, in my head, apparently acne scars are a gender marker.

I’m also constantly flubbing pronouns with DK and Nezu (this is making my little perfectionist self CRAZY), which I figure is normal, but at the same time I’m treating them more like I treat guys. This leads me to two thoughts:

1. Oh, hey, cultural sexism! Fascinating.

2. At least, despite the word-flubs of my conscious mind, I’m subconsciously categorizing them as male?

Another funny thing. DK is my ex; I think I’ve mentioned that. When we started dating, DK was identifying as lesbian (or bi; now I can’t quite remember. It was too long ago!), then about a year into dating she discovered butch and was identifying as that, and then after we stopped dating she started identifying as he. (Note how I use ‘she’ while I’m talking about the past, and then suddenly it’s ‘he’. Later when I’m talking about doing this, you’ll understand what the heck I’m talking about!)

Here is an issue I didn’t really expect: while I would totally date a trans person, because DK was the first woman I dated, she — as she — was an important part of my coming-out identity and process. Now, perhaps I’m kidding myself and anyone I had previously dated transitioning would bother me; it’s only happened this once, so I really don’t know. But I don’t THINK so. This wasn’t just someone I’d dated, this was my first female, the person who made me realize I was more bi than not, and then more lesbian than bi (the jury is still out on whether I identify as bi or lesbian. I identify as femme and queer and leave it at that!), and for my first eye-opening girlfriend to suddenly be just another boyfriend… well, that was a challenge, I have to admit. So, he and I had the following conversation on Sunday:

Me: I need to ask you something.
DK: Okay! Shoot!
Nezu: *comes wandering up*
Me: …uh… privately… (because I was pretty sure about DK’s reaction, but it seems most polite to ask without an audience, y’know?)
Nezu: *Wanders off, poor thing*
DK: *now looking extremely curious and kinda bemused*
Me: Well, I guess it doesn’t need to be that private… we are in the middle of a crowd… anyway. *thinks* When we were dating, you were a girl.
DK: *who, luckily, speaks JB and realizes that kind of is the question and starts to chuckle* You can out me. It’s okay.
Me: OH PHEW.

So then, this morning, I was on the phone with Q talking about something to do with when DK and I were dating, and I realized mid-conversation that I was swapping between he and she pronouns, depending on the… er, timestamp on the memory. I mean, if I was talking about DK when we were dating, I was saying she (and sometimes using the name DK was using then), and in the very next breath I’d say something about, for instance, seeing DK Sunday and I was back to male pronouns.

I can’t decide if this is good or bad (DK may well read this and have his own opinion, in which case I’m sure he’ll let me know), if it’s going to confuse me more or make me start thinking of DK-my-ex and DK-my-girlfriend as two different people or just clarify things in my own head… but there you have it, it’s weirdly automatic.

Given it’s all pretty new, I figure it’s very much in a state of flux for a while — for both me and DK, as we start to feel differently about things. In a year, DK may not want to be outed anymore! I dunno. We’ll sort it out.

Wow. All right, that’s it for now. I have lots more to say, but I need to write the third short story in my gay fantasy series. (The first is out, the second comes out on Aug 17, and the third is in progress! 😀 Check out my fancy cover for the first and second ones! …The first one is linked to the short story, if you’re interested, and it’s only $2.99. >.>)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Off I go!

JB



I’m a perfectionist. I’m sure this comes as no surprise to anyone who’s been around for any length of time. I’m a perfectionist, and I have four blogs, and I’m being run off my feet lately between dog training and novel writing (two new gay short stories coming out soon, a small series! Each story is about 15,000 words — figure there’s 250 words per page in an average paperback — and fantasy. With hot guy sex. WOO HOO!), so I haven’t had much of a chance to update anything. Which makes the perfectionist part of me GO RABID. Seriously.

Also, I haven’t been reading all the fun gender stuff I WAS reading. The thing is, I don’t entirely miss it. Part of that has to do with being (finally) comfortable in my own gender and not needing the validation anymore, and part of it is going gay two-stepping and no longer craving to hear other voices like my own.

Quin and I go to Texas Rose (all women two-step in Oakland) and Sundance Salloon (.org, in San Fran) as often as possible — usually a couple of times a month, I think. Sundance is same-sex, and mostly gay men. (I keep having a post I want to write about being there, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet…)  But there’s a hefty number of lesbians, and of those a large number of them are butch or FtMs (so… not-lesbians, but I hope like hell you know what I mean because I’m one minute over and don’t have time to write carefully if I want this posted. >.<). Basically, lots of people who are queer and other-gendered. I fit in. I feel comfortable.

I no longer feel the need to read everything I can get my hands on; I’m around my own people. It’s nice.

I’d like to write more, but I’m a minute late, now. *sighs*

J



{January 7, 2011}   Femme study

Okay, here we go!

I’m not even sure how to start with this one. This is me, folks, not talking about sex and still unsure how to begin. Scary! 😉

A while back, while DK was studying gender and femme and butch and all that for her degree, she sent me this study. IT WAS AWESOME. As awesome as my chocolate graham goldfish, which are pretty damn awesome.  It’s 15 pages, and I’m not going to post it because someone worked really hard and that seems rude. But if you give me your email address, I’ll send it. 🙂 (Shuddup, there’s totally a difference.)

I think what I’ll do is just start reading, and tell you all my reactions. ;-D It’s been so long that I’ve forgotten most of it, to be honest… Except, well, it was just like me.

It is “The Misunderstood Gender: A Model of Modern Femme Identity” by Heidi M. Levitt, Elisabeth A. Gerrish, and Katherine R. Hiestand.

Here’s a snip of the abstract (what it’s about):

Femme identity remains a highly controversial topic. It has been maligned in both heterosexual and queer contexts, and is rarely represented in empirical literature. In this study we examined how femme women experience their own gender identity. Interviews were conducted with femme-identified lesbians. […] The core category in this model “Maintaining integrity: Upholding beliefs about sexual desire and gender representation” reflects the need [for femmes] to uphold their sense of integrity across a variety of contexts by confronting stereotypes about both women and lesbians.

I found that last bit interesting to start with — the idea that upholding the sense of femme identity is done, in part, by confronting stereotypes. Hmm.

It starts out with a brief history of butch-femme, where it came from (within the US), what it meant, why it took those forms. One of the near things in the study is that it gives femmes power even from the start: it acknowledges that butch women changed what it meant to be a woman and publicised lesbianism, but that femme women did the same. That by being hyper-feminine they were just as much to credit for stretching the roles of ‘women’ in culture at that time. Hee!

By orienting their sexuality toward a butch woman
instead of a man, the femme women made lesbian
desire public and challenged notions of female
sexuality.

😀 I love seeing credit for my femme ancestors. 😉

Some intersting history tidbits that I hadn’t heard, but make sense, say that the reason the femme-butch dynamic was so more equal right off the bat (than the hetrosexual relationships they were supposedly emulating, according to the outside world) is because femme women were seen as brave and courageous, putting themselves in view with butch partners, being caught in bar raids and all the rest. In addition, femme women often ended up supporting their butch partners financially, because butch women had a harder time getting or keeping work. This put them on a far more equal footing than if they’d been in relationships with men.

It’s really the courageous thing that I latch onto, though. Today, I often feel like I’m seen as the less impressive because the whole world can’t see my sexuality. I’m not obvious; I can hide. It really grates. So to hear that at some point, femme women were seen as courageous for sexualizing femininity and standing with their partners, makes me happy.

The central focus of sexual relations was the femme partner’s pleasure, as often a butch partner would not expect nor wish reciprocity and would receive satisfaction from the act of pleasuring.

Actually, I find this is still the case. It’s pretty wild, having come from hetro relationships. I’m still not quite used to it, I have to admit, but I do find myself strutting a lot more. *laughs* (I should note that everything to this point has been referring to the 40’s and 50’s.)

There’s also this repetitive use of the word ‘rebellious.’ Femme women were rebellious. Hee hee hee.

In the 80’s, butch-femme came back after their near-abolishment during the feminist movement, and for the first time became something people claimed not because they had to be one or the other like was in the case in the 40’s and 50’s, but because it was an identity.

There’s a bit on femme literature, and basically the lack thereof. It’s kind of painful to read, including bits about the fight to have femme seen as equal to any other gender presentation, and it makes me wince more when I know that at the same time, butch was getting attention in gender studies and becoming more and more an ‘acceptable’ gender. I can tell things are changing now, but I definitely still feel this leaning. (Not you guys. You guys are awesome. ;-D)

But! Interesting and good things: femme women realized their sexual orientation at a much later date than butch women (22 to the butch 15), and most lesbians now say that femme and butch are good for lesbian culture as a whole. Woot! Less discrimination. 🙂 And it’s SO NICE to see that I’m normal, at least for a femme, not having figured out my own sexual orientation until later! I realized I was bi around 20, and the jury’s still out on whether I’m bi or lesbian. (It will probably forever be out, because I do think I’m mostly lesbian with a bi leaning. ;-D)

Next was a bunch of technical stuff about how they did the study. To sum: Yup, looks official. Yup, looks good.

Um. And now I’m tuckered out. I’ll have to pick this up another day, again.

But it’s so nice to see, even in the beginning, that there are other people like me! And I know they get into defining femmes (by interviewing TONS of them and pulling out the similarities), and I remember being wowed at how continuously I fit the gender — down to realizing my sexual orientation later. 😉

Ohhh, it makes me happy. 😀

J



{November 23, 2010}   Things I Hate #357834

I saw this on The Femme’s Guide (see sidebar):

Try flirting heavily with a feminine, woman-identified person that you encounter and admire. If she refuses your attentions on the basis of being straight, you might try a line like, “Oh, wow…it’s just that you look so queer. Your ___________ and your ___________ and the way you walk and everything. My mistake.”

I suppose it’s supposed to be cute, reversing the ‘I’m sorry, I thought you were straight because…’ line, but… well, I hate it when people assume straightness on me (or assume I like femme women, which I actually get a lot more despite dating Q).  I mean, they’re essentially arguing with my gender presentation and/or sexual orientation, or at best they’re telling me I’m presenting wrong. It’s not cool.

If I don’t like it when someone does it on me, I don’t think it’s okay to turn it around and do it to someone else. Tempting, sure, because maybe if I did it to them they’d understand — but that particular person probably hasn’t done it to me, and telling someone they’re presenting themselves wrong if they’re trying to present as not-queer (which they’d be dong, if I’m standing there telling them that all these things seemed queer) is really… well… hurtful. I guess I feel like, just because it happens to me doesn’t mean I should do it to someone else.

I suppose I could look at this less melodramatically, and say, “They’ll just assume I mean that it’s about me, why I misunderstood.” And maybe they would. But I do tend to assume the worst case scenario, and go from there. (Plus, ‘less melodramatic’ isn’t in my vocabulary at the moment; I’m PMSing. ;-D)

J



et cetera