i’m not ”femme,” i’m actually just i’m too lazy to maintain a short hairdo and too incompetent to wash my face at night, so i wear makeup to cover the blemishes & esp dark eyeshadow to make the bags under my eyes look goth & purposeful
i’m not ”femme,” i’m actually just i’m too lazy to maintain a short hairdo and too incompetent to wash my face at night, so i wear makeup to cover the blemishes & esp dark eyeshadow to make the bags under my eyes look goth & purposeful
order no more words #1 here
i couldn’t sleep last night, so instead i assembled a bunch of journal entries (and two blogs posts) into a new perzine.
topics include: strategies for managing depression and burnout, diy currency, working with teenagers in professional settings, social work, taking responsibility to inform others about unusual triggers, nyc living, femme community, misandry as a social media trend, eating disorders, and class privilege.
32 pages, black / white, cut and paste.
i <3 zine trades (especially on the day of zinefests —- chicago zinefest and nyc feminist zinefest are coming up very soon!), purchasing this zine is also a really great way to support hoax zine endeavors.
unpopular opinion (and, for transparency purposes, i write this as cis white femme-ish person. it is written out of a position of compassion for my peers, not a position of expertise) ——
i think that the tumblr #misandry trend was really refreshing and maybe even served an important purpose a couple of years ago, back when it was being used in the context of collectively identifying the ways in which masculine of center folks tends to dominate queer spaces & the ways in which certain misogynistic entitlements to women’s bodies & lesbo-phobia were masqueraded by the language of “sex positivity”
however, now i often notice #misandry playing out in queer spaces in ways that are actually incredibly transphobic. first of all, trans masculine people are still trans and it’s pretty messed when cis femmes especially (i’m applying the term femme loosely here) start to make fun of our transgender masculine peers.
also, i’m also increasingly uncomfortable with the automatic #misandry rejection of cis men in queer spaces by FAAB people. i mean yes, i have known far too many cis men who apply labels such as “queer” or “poly” to justify really fucked up misogynistic behavior. i, personally, tend to feel really uncomfortable around cis men people of my incredibly icky history with them. however, you never really know how a person identifies or what their relationship to gender may be. one of the ways that cissexism plays out is that people are often categorized as cis until proven otherwise. there tends to be one very dominate narrative for gender variance / gender queerness / gender exploration etc. — a narrative that is completely dominated by white FAAB people. i have been told repetitively by friends of mine who are on the trans feminine spectrum how this narrative has oftentimes inhibits their own coming out process. so many of my friends who consider themselves cis men also consider themselves to be a bit genderqueer or at least have a complicated relationship with gender, and the consequences of a male assigned person playing around with gender tend to be a lot harsher than for a female assigned person. i was talking to a friend yesterday (another queer cis woman) about how we have both witnessed this trend of people who were already somewhat on the fridges of queer community but eye rolled at for being “men” coming out as trans woman and suddenly being embraced in a way that is maybe a bit tokenizing. female assigned people tend to be supported in all of their gender questioning and exploration, we don’t extend nearly the same support to people who appear to be male. i consider this to be a form of transmisogynistic gender violence.
tl;dr i believe that it is essential to be able to be vigilant and call out behaviors that are misogynic when perpetuated by people of any gender. discomfort and fear around men (cis and trans) is totally valid, it’s not just something you can automatically change. when i am around people who i read as men, i tend to tense up. it takes a lot for me to learn to trust the men in my life. however, in order to fully create “safer space,” we cannot simply reject people on the basis of their perceived gender. we have to learn to be compassionate towards one another.
i’m only a few chapters into julia serano’s “excluded” & i’m already SO RELIEVED that she called out the cis femme community for consistently making the misogynistic claim that femininity that isn’t paired with queerness (aka feminine presenting people who aren’t paired in queer relationships) is less self-determined / self-empowered & instead “preformative,” a reinforcement of the gender binary, and oppressive. this is a critique i’ve had for a couple of years, and julia is the first person to actually articulate it. any “movement” that scapegoats people who are feminine or have attributes that are typically coded as female is nothing i want to be a part of. also, we need to all move beyond the first idea that certain relationship pairings, clothing options, etc. are more “radical” or “transgressive” than others. fuck that shit.
butchnorfemme said: I am vehement about how I am not femme partly because it seems like the only way to be feminine in queer spaces and be “understood” as a queer person is for people to constantly force the label queer on me.
i was vehement about being “not femme” for that reason for many years. also, because i have an issue with the way that the queer community pushes people to rank & choose between labels. & how subsets of the queer community & various identities are posited in opposition to one another. i initially gravitated towards queer over lesbian because it was an umbrella term, a non-answer when my sexuality and relationship gender was a lot more complicated than who i was sleeping with & the clothing items i owned. little did i know how calling myself a queer would lead to pushing down a rabbit hole of trying to define all of the other aspects of my gender & sexual identity. i think it’s important to be able to be mindful of your standing when it comes to issues of power and privilege, & that naming your position can help with this. however i generally think there is a false understanding that if you “name” the confusing parts of yourself, then you can own & have control over them. this is bullshit & there is a reason the word ineffable is in my internet handle. also, it’s really ironic how i choose to communicate myself as a lesbian rather than a queer femme or whatever nowadays because that term seems like the least stifling of all the options.
recently i’ve been participating in online “femme” “community” stuff because a) i’ve been bored but, more importantly b) i’ve been examining “femme” from more of a materialist standpoint. by this, i mean i’ve understanding “femme” to be a role that i am pegged into by virtue of having long hair / wearing makeup & thinking a lot about how my feminine presentation negatively influences the ways in which others address me re: the queer brand of misogyny. i’d been told that events like femmecon are actually really on point, even though i still do not get how paying $60-100 plus lodging & travel for a queer conference can be considered “accessible.” much to my dismay, i have been significantly more disappointed by these online groups that i had anticipated. for one, the emphasis on clothing is a bit ridiculous. don’t get me wrong, i have an unhealthy obsession with thrifting. i also think it’s really misogynistic how clothing shopping or placing an emphasis on appearance (consumer behavior that is coded feminine) is frowned upon whereas collecting records & spending $$$ on pedals (consumer behavior that is coded masculine) is rewarded. however, come on, can we please get past the basic 101s of presentation & preforming gender in a way that feels good? can we talk about capitalism, about the commodification of identity? about how purchasing sexy pointed boots is really not a sustainable form of self care? also, the vast majority of relationships in these groups are spoken about in incredibly heteronormative terms. i get that queer people can be in straight relationships, i also get that referring to a partner using he pronouns doesn’t relay anything about the said partners gender. i’m not policing other people’s relationship choices, however it really feels isolating how, in a community of people who are supposedly “like me” (queer and feminine) nobody seems to be invested in making similar queer relationship choices. femme-on-femme is discussed as though it is some sort of fetish, and this honestly makes me want to vomit. i never even examined my attractions or relationship patterns in this way before, and suddenly it’s this cute new lipstick experimental thing. i want to be able to invest myself in “femme” because the concept seems like something that has the potential to be good, however “femme” “community” as it currently stands feels even more erasing than the masculine-obsessed queer community at large. it represents the worst form of identity politics, identity without the politics or with politics that are incredibly watered down in superficial consumeristic ways. i wanted to integrate myself into “femme” circles because wanted to believe that identity could really be used as a launching ground to connect to the struggles of others, however “femme” only replicates the worst elements of liberal, mainstream feminism. except that “femme” doesn’t have any of the same redeeming elements, element such as the fire that has fueled activism & provided space for thorough critiques. feminism is at least an approach with some epistemological grounding. it all makes me feel so nihilistic & lost. i know that the urge to label oneself is problematic in its own right, however having a way to communicate the position that you occupy can be something that is relatively important
listen world—- even thou im cis (as in she pronouns definitely feel the most affirming & i am very invested in my own personal grrlhood) & i benefit from cis privilege, my relationship to gender is messy not always very fun. it rly upsets me when strangers stereotype me based on my external presentation, but it bothers me even more when my fellow queers attempt to peg me into a specific gender category. i am “femme” in that femme is my lived homo experience & i generally feel more comfortable wearing dresses & heavy makeup, but “femme” is only one component of my gender identity. “femme” is a performance, it just happens to be a performance i feel slightly more comfortable with. im sick of assumptions being made about my interests & my relationship to my body & my sexual presences. queers, you should know better by now. stereotyping people by their queer “look” is gross & totally not a very feminist way to treat your community members
yesterday, i got new shoes & a new tattoo (yes, i went with the bikini kill record player - no fucks given here) to celebrate getting thru my first year of grad school.
i no longer aspire to be a “riot grrl” & i am well aware of the many issues with 90’s punk feminism. however, bikini kill was my introduction to both diy / punk / anti-capitalist ethics AND accessible feminism & they got me thru the second toughest period of my life (high school). i was an vocal feminist & a bbqueer which was alienating as hell & i listened to bikini kill every day to remind myself that i was not completely alone & in hope that, one day, i would be immersed in a community in which others “got” in. it’s been 12 years since i first purchased “reject all american” & i now have lots of friends in feminist bands & trade zines with rad folks across the globe & have directly corresponded with many of my long time feminist role models. the record player is sorta like my “it gets better” symbol & i can really use something positive & inspirational on my body right now (even if i’m totally being a rah rah republica)
these sandals are really comfortable.
[snip re:”hard femme,” “soft butch,” “tomboy femme” blogs circulating the same web content]
essentializing gender presentation into all-encompassing ~identities~ and then fetishizing those identities feels super weird to me.
i’m very pro naming your gender expression and identity in a way that feels congruent with your “true self” or whatever // gender identity can be complex & it’s so very real to want to claim multiple signifiers // jackie wang’s “on being hard femme” was definitely an influential read a couple of years ago, however the tumblrification of gender presentation tends to fall along these really fetishistic & ahistorical lines & it’s rly gross. gender presentation in the queer world is about so much more than aesthetics & it makes me queasy how these new labels are springing up & being claimed by straight, cis folks because of fashion blogs. i really only care about femme & other queer gender markers because they help me to articulate my lived experience as a lesbian who is the target of hetersexism & misogyny, these labels dont exist in a vacuum etc etc etc i’ve written this all before, but it continues to make me irate
thanks for the commentary. personally I have never been able to find my “true self” in any particular gender expression, whether it’s in terms of clothing, interests, or gendered behavior. what all these labels seem to do is express that no one is 100% masculine or 100% feminine, and for that label to require a label is super frustrating.
(but yeah about the fashion blogs…)
here’s the thing — capitalism forces us to compartmentalize different parts of our identities & as queers we tend to buy into the “if you can name it, you can own it" phenomenon. fashion blogs, to me, are still part of the pink dollar market…but i am honestly uncomfortable expressing that in most contexts because i’ve encountered so many so misogynistic, andro-centric queers who get a kick out of shaming femmes for not being "queer" or "radical" enough because they have an interest in the traditionally feminine hobbies of fashion & shopping. having an interest in fashion and expression via beauty products and having an investment in anti-capitalist diy politics are not mutually exclusive, you know??????? diy femme fashion exists…and does it even matter if femmes wanna purchase products that make them feel good??? we don’t shame andro / masculine of center people who collect more traditionally masculine products (look at the size of my record collection!!! it’s almost as big as my ego!!!) nearly as much as we shame feminine-presenting folks.
with that said, i also have yet to discover my “true self” in any wardrobe. and even though my relationship to my gender expression (& even my gender identity) is complicated at best, i have to say that when i dress more traditionally feminine or in contemporary “hard femme” attire, something just feels right. when i tried to present myself as being more andro in the past, i never felt as confident or comfortable in my body or my sexuality. gaining more mastery of my gender presentation isn’t exactly liberation, but it still feels super nice & it’s important to me that my gender expression is respected (esp by other queers).
wildbayou asked: i so agree with yr comments on the latest post re femme identity- straight folks i know have been claiming it and using it with fashion only, and i explain the queer implications but it gets lost. and how also as a fem lesbian it has narrated my life, and i dont want it to be , and how for me as well it is part of my lived experience. this was probably rambly, but its happened to me so many times lately and i have been so frustrated!
this isn’t rambly, it’s relatable!
and yeah, i think that where a lot of people get lost is when folks like us try to articulate that femme & other gender markers aren’t necessarily choices we make to self-empower. yes, i consciously choose to present myself in more traditionally “feminine” ways — i wear my hair long, play around with makeup, have a pretty sick vintage dress collection if i dare say so & i know what i’m getting myself into when i dress like such — however, “femme” is a label that was put onto me years before i “re-claimed” the label. as an out queer person, my gender presentation has literally always been scrutinized & judged. for example, the first question i was asked when i introduced both straight & queer people to my long time partner was “who is the man & who is the woman in your relationship?” meaning that our gender presentations were always bound to compared against and defined in the context of our relationship with another & that, as a couple, we were not expected to occupy similar roles. other queers are still astonished that i, as a feminine-presentating person, tend to gravitate towards other feminine-presenting folks. even during years when i didn’t wear makeup & presented myself in a more stereotypically androgynous manner, i felt a pressure to queer up my presentation because i wanted to feel validated & known.
now that most of the repulsively misogynistic “femme is empowered femininity” discourse has died down, i feel exponentially more comfortable identifying as such. i totally fit all the criteria of femme y’all, i just don’t think my invisibility makes me oppressed or that my gender presentation (& lipstick collection) alone is what enables me to resist // makes me feel sorta strong
Anonymous asked: whats feminization? and why is that a bad thing? what is that the queer community is doing that is sexist? is it because of the femme positivity stuff? sorry if i got that wrong but i dont really understand your last post
feminization, in the context that I was using it, refers to the devaluation and mistreatment of people who are read as feminine or women. feminization is usually used when talking about what sociologists call the “feminization of poverty,” which is the phenomenon in which women represent disproportionate percentages of the world’s poor. in this instance, i was talking about how feminine / femme folks usually have much less social capital in queer communities. on the internet, this problem is usually coined as “femmephobia” - i, however, want to point out that it is just another extension of patriarchy. and to clarify, i think that femme positivity is important - i just don’t understand why we refer to it femme positivity rather than feminist empowerment.
even those most queer communities uphold values that are contrary to the prevailing norms of society, they are still not immune to overarching systems of hierarchy. racism, sexism, transphobia etc. are all major issues within most queer spaces. primary examples of sexism within queer scenes i’ve participated in have been the positing of male / masculine of center sexualities to the front (which works hand in hand with the devaluation of lesbian identities), the expectation to vocally distance oneself from all feminist movements / make a point out of how you aren’t a feminist, violent threats against women who don’t agree with their male peers on particular issues etc.
i’ve been complaining for a long time about how ridiculous i find femmecon to be, but yesterday i actually felt myself starting to get mad. because the queer community is, by far, the most mobilized around conferences which center around dress / individualism & there’s such little internal critique within online queer spaces, so of course radfems decided to pick up the slack & talk about how feminiziation - not fucking “femmephobia” ugh - is an extension of patriarchal oppression. because none of the social justice heros in our communities were fucking doing it. because even queer communities fucking hate women. we (anti-essentialist gay / queer folks on the internet esp from progressive backgrounds) sorta allowed it to get to this point by not talking about material realities and concerns for fear of gender exclusivity or not using the correct language. and of course, radfems took advantage of our silence to manipulate material realities talk to spread transphobic messages of anatomical determinism. it’s just really fucking sad to me, and i think it’s really fucking dangerous how divisive we have allowed the split between “radical queer” and “radical feminist” to become. neither “side” seems capable of validating what others are going through, listening empathetical, treating others as they want to be treated but also addressing that patriarchy is a major force which teaches us how to navigate certain social interactions, contort our bodies & structure our personal narratives. can my new address be over a hill, under a rock?
raspberryfeministbarbie asked: i read your post about femme identities on tumblr, and i'm kind of confused about what femme means (i was before, but i wanted to discuss it some more if that's ok), i have it in my url so i think i have a basic enough understanding to use it to describe myself, but what do you think of femmes such as mia mingus and leah lakshmi? does femme have any meaning in terms of uniting queers (and meaning period) if anyone can adopt it and give it whatever meaning they wish (things ive seen said)? also
(part 2) hoax zine looks really cool!
i might not be the best person to answer this question because femme is not a term feel an especially strong connection to. i was fortunate to meet partners & befriend gay woman outside the queer dating scene / “community” during my formative gay years, so i never really picked up on certain queer lingos. regardless, femme is a term that others have repetitively used to describe my gender presentation so i do have a couple of points to make:
the label femme was once used to describe role distinctions in 1950s butch / femme bar culture. as queer communities evolved, so did femme. growing up in the early 2000s, i mostly heard femme used to describe feminine-presenting women who date butchier girls. in the past five years or so, femme seems to have become less about how feminine-presenting folks such as myself date or dress but rather how people contort their bodies & express gender as a conscious form of self-empowerment.
i don’t think that adopting femme and giving it your own meaning is especially problematic or appropriative. for decades, femme has been a pretty darn individualistic label and you aren’t directly hurting anybody by changing its meaning and making it your own. just make sure that you know your history and understand labels like such have never existed in some vacuum. don’t assume that femme expresses the same meanings to you and & yr peers as it does to gsm who come from different backgrounds or are of an older generation.
with that said, i think femme organizing without explicit and direct feminist analyses is pretty weak. most problems that gay people who are feminine-presenting face have little to do with “femmephobia,” but rather homophobia and misogyny. i tend to think that it’s much more productive for feminine queer folks to invest time and energy into feminist organizing rather than femme conferences & shit. however, i get that i’m pretty fortunate to have grown up amongst other queer folks who looked similar to me. femme obviously has the potential to be pretty damn meaningful to others & if femme is where you find your community of support, well who am i to judge?
i’m not super familiar with mia mingus. i’ve read excerpts of leah lakshmi’s writing, and i’ve always thought it was fairly on point.
thanks for the kind words about hoax.
im sick fucking of the queer community at large propagating the bullshit dichotomy between feminine and “femme.” i.e. that feminine = something that others put on you / apolitical / some male gazey shit whereas “femme” = reclaimed femininity on one’s own terms as an act of rah rah empowerment. its really fucking gross & anti-woman to make the blanket assumption that folks who happen to be feminine-presenting / hold traditionally “feminine” interests but aren’t into talking about queering their makeup collection are puppets of patriarchy. gender expression is not always a progressive or political act. sometimes it is but you can also still have agency & be critical / anti-patriarchy without making youtube videos about your political decision to wear fishnets.
the only thing that really differentiates feminine from “femme” is that the later is a cultural signifier. nothing is inherently wrong with that - in fact, i totally get the importance of using language that links you to a community of others with similar interests & who engaged in similar struggles. but we have to remember that this said community primarily young / white / western / educated. and that, for some of us, gender expression and play is not our primary tool of resistance.
(btw yes, i am referring to the first minute or so of this video. i stopped watching after the first bit because i was too busy yawning. but yeah, this isn’t the first time i’ve heard these arguments).