been following the thread on femme identity / community that was started by this post by hairyqueerkid
been thinking about it
have had the following thoughts:
- i get how it can feel really crappy to feel like you’re being left out of something, especially when you feel like you’re being unjustly left out of supportive queer space
- i also very much appreciate the contributions that femme women, cis or not, have made to this thread, and i think their comments are useful and important - even while i also think some of the stuff some of these femme women are saying is problematic or inaccurate or cissexist (like: it is really fucked and transphobic to refer to hairyqueerkid as ‘masculine-identified’ or ‘masculine-presenting’ when he’s made it really clear that’s not how he does his gender)
- many of the women responding did not out themselves in their posts as being cis or trans
- it’s fucked and cissexist to assume a woman is cis just because she does not out herself as trans
- i know femme dykes who are trans women who don’t choose to out themselves as trans in every single situation ever, even every queer- / trans-focused situation
- there a lot of different histories around femme
- these histories are often very racialized and classed (not always in ways that the normative stories we have around such things would suggest …)
- this has been mentioned in basically no posts here
- this has been a very predominantly white conversation so far
- i really don’t think i’m ok with white femmes uncomplicatedly folding stud/fem into butch/femme like there’s just one history or etymology going on there
- the word ‘femme’ itself is, well, a really really common french word that has undoubtedly been appropriated / utilized by a wide variety of queer and non-queer english speakers in a variety of ways at a variety of times
- this means that there are lot of different femmes and femme communities and ways of thinking about femme
- every femme community ever does not have to and actually cannot include every femme ever, because the word gets utilized in such intensely different ways
- the above doesn’t mean that exclusions from certain communities or spaces can’t be violent or oppressive - they certainly can
- that doesn’t mean that it’s not entitled and sexist and maybe kind of racist for a group of mostly white boys to get all upset and pile on a white woman who quotes a woman of color talking about how femme is a powerful and resistant way to approach being a girl / woman
- i am a femme boy and i actually am ok with women not centering my needs or identity all the time ever, you know?
- they really shouldn’t have to center me me me all the time
- expecting them to is surely sexist and seems pretty dude-privileged to me
- it also seems very telling and particular to me that this whole thing has become about the issue of femme trans men, while the violence and exclusion that femme trans women regularly face has been almost totally left out of the conversation
- that’s misogyny y’all - and it’s been enacted by a lot of different people in this debate
- you don’t actually have to feel like or identify as a big butch manly-male powerful straight dude rawr to do damaging misogynistic shit
- i am really unsure why this was framed as transphobia in the first place: as i understand it, the original anger and hurt was over the fact that a prominent femme woman blogger had posted some quotes that suggested a particular connection between femmeness and womanhood/girlhood, and some femme trans guy bloggers were upset because they aren’t women … which has nothing to do with their trans status, although it does relate to their genders
- there are lots of femme trans people who are women
- there are lots of femme men who are cis
- so, yeah: rhetorically ignoring or excluding femme men from conversations about femme is, um, not specifically transphobic, whatever else it might be
- i guess this line of reasoning is kind of binary-centric, though, ‘cause some femme people are not girls/women but also aren’t boys/men: so, yeah, there’s that
- transphobia and binary-centering are not the same things, though, and can exist with or without one another
- a femme woman, romanticroots, asked a question: why do some men (who are trans) feel the need to claim femme? i think it’s kind of cissexist for her to implicitly ask this just of trans men when there are plenty of femme-identified cis men, too - but she was also just following the lead of the trans men who were already posting … at any rate, i like the word femme because it’s a way of talking about some parts of my gender that lets me forge a connection with other queerly feminine people who don’t share other parts of my gender and sexual identities / experiences
- there are several things in romanticroots posts that i think are wrong or cissexist, but i also think her claim that this whole thing has gone on in a really misogynistic and dude-centering way is spot-on, and i do genuinely appreciate her input
- just because i share a queer feminine gendered sense of self with femmes who are women doesn’t mean all or even most of our issues are the same, nor does it mean that it’s bad for femme women to want to center discussions about their own experiences of oppression around femininity and queerness and womanhood
- sometimes i feel very included and excited and validated as a femme gay boy in femme-centric spaces
- sometimes i feel excluded or ignored or bored in femme space because they’re focused on the experiences or needs of femme people who are women and i am not a woman
- i think both of the last two bullet points are ok things
and … scene
This is a really thoughtful, great post.
I just want to say that when I wrote “masculine-identifying/presenting” I was thinking of specific people who do identify as masculine, and femme, although not as male or men. I didn’t think about people who identify as male but not masculine. I thought that it would work also to cover people who would be read, regardless of the way they do gender, because of certain signifiers, as masculine and/or male to people not explicitly familiar with their identification, and that is all I meant by it. I was not intending to be transphobic. I’m sorry about that. I was including cismen in this category and also in my question, although I wasn’t sure how many would read it. (I feel adequately answered on this point).
This is not a neat and tidy category or conversation, even though my initial post was very cut and dried. I feel very strongly that the attacks on FYF (which motivated me to join tumblr) were unfair and also shortsighted and missed a certain point. But I’m really not insensible to the other sides of this conversation. I get it. And I truly do not mean to be oppressive, cissexist, or transphobic.
I’m not a very succinct person, but ineffableshe made the point I was trying to make very tidily.
“The point I was trying to make is that “femme” is traditionally a female and feminine identifying community with it’s own important purposes. And that “femme,” like tons of other queer circles, navigates the fine line between inclusivity/accessibility and maintaining single-issue, homogonous spaces to engage with others who have similar experiences of queer invisability. “
Thank you so much, mewmewfoucault. This was so articulate & reflective!
And I really agree with you that not feeling uncomfortable in certain queer spaces isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
And thank you for the kind words, romanticroots. I think that you provided a really vital perspective to this dialogue.
It gives me hope to read posts where people are engaging with multiple perspectives of this dialogue because there really isn’t one “right” answer.