Open Thread: Empowering Femme Sources Needed

January 17, 2012  |  journal entries

Here’s another question from the Ask Me Anything inbox, and I hope y’all might be able to help me out.

Dear Mr. Sexsmith,

As a new Femme, your blog has been VERY helpful. I am frustrated by, although I completely understand, the focus on femme invisibility. While it’s absolutely true, I need a more empowering story for myself.

As I spend more time with butches and listen to Ivan Coyote’s “To all the kick ass, beautiful, fierce femmes out there,” I have begun to think of femmes as modern day Robin Hoods. We femmes take power (given freely) from those who have it and help to redistribute it to those who have been denied it … sometimes by changing the way the world sees queer, sometimes by simply being changing/challenging how the world sees the person we are with, always by being purposeful about the way we see ourselves and how we accept and carry and use the power and privileges that are granted to us as we walk in, between, and among worlds.

Are there other empowering femme stories out there that I should know about?

—Kim

I humbly submit my own piece, A Love Letter To Femmes, to possibly add to your arsenal, which was published in Visible: A Femmethology Volume II.

I thought I published the whole thing on Sugarbutch but can’t seem to find it; if you follow this link you can download the mp3 of me reading it (thanks Dacia for recording it all those years ago, remember that?).

There are many femme books that I recommend, mostly ones that I have in my Amazon a-store, the classics of the femme canon. Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme, A Persistent Desire, Brazen Femmes, Femmes of Power, Visible: A Femmethology Volumes I & II, The Femme’s Guide to the Universe, The Femme’s Mystique (that I mentioned in that Femme Invisibility & Beyond post) and more I’m sure.

I’d love some help here: What femme sources do y’all recommend? What was instrumental in coming to your femme identity or feeling a part of the femme world? What was part of your femme history? What should every new femme read?

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12 Comments


  1. While it may not be formal, there is a growing and wonderful femme community on tumblr. What’s great about it is that it’s a community that you can be actively in dialogue with, in support, critique, and more. Some of my favorites are:
    femmesandfamiliy.tumblr.com – this blog is also linked to a few other femme related blogs, including femmeproblems.tumblr.com – and the blogger also is in the middle of doing a 30 day femme challenge, the way there are all sorts of tumblr challenges.
    There is also allfemmesallday.tumblr.com which is a fun photo space that’s all about self identification and support for the multiplicity of queer femme identities.

  2. My daily dose of femme support is on cardcarryinglesbian.com.
    I really hope I don’t sound too commercial because I am one of the guest writers, as well. The blog site is written & created by a femme lesbian. She also has two butch writers, a mtf trans, a femme poet.. Oh geeze there’s a lot goin’ on there lol! It’s a very interactive and you sort of become part of this close knit family.

    The lesbian community where I am are mostly andro and I get the nasty stares because I am femme. Very femme! Skirts, heels, make-up, cleavage, femme! They look at me wondering what am I doing on their turf. So, Card Carrying Lesbian has really become my home away from.

    A book every femme should read? I’ve got to say Stone Butch Blues. A lot of people view that book as understanding our butches. However, i read a lot really good femme points in there too. We see sides of a butch that she doesn’t show the rest of the world. Butches can let down their guards and defense that they normally hold up for the outside world. Femmes give butches the ability to rest and relax.

  3. I’m reposting my fb reply here…with a couple edits.

    I love synchronicity. It makes me giggle and spark with delight. When I saw this request, Sin, (and then your gorgeously insightful blog post about femme invisibility that I have to go back and read like ten more times) I began to giggle and spark. Ever since my first column went to press, I’ve been sketching out my next one. I knew what I had to write about. Can you guess? (I’ll give you a hint–starts with a ‘femme’ and ends with a ‘visibility.’) And of course this issue is popping up all around me now. I’m even quoting Ivan in my column–not from the piece Kim mentions, though (predictably) that is my favorite.

    My femme mentors are the ones who came before me, who paved the way, like Minnie Bruce Pratt, Jewelle Gomez, and Dorothy Allison, and all those who came long before them whose names I don’t know. The femmes who are gender warriors like Kate Bornstein. The femmes who battle chronic illness, physical pain, and exhaustion on a daily basis, like Peggy Munson. These are just a few who come to mind. The femmes who affect my mundane day-to-day, who inspire my everyday, they are the femmes too numerous to mention, who surround me, who make up my communities. They don’t have big names, but their impact is heavy, because we’re in it everyday together, lifting each other up. I read our struggles in their eyes and hear our victories in their sighs. They are my femmes of a feather. We flock together.

  4. I’m going to second Sarah M. about Stone Butch Blues, but from a different perspective.

    Reading that novel changed how I saw myself in relationship to the larger butch-femme community and history. While the main story revolves around the butch, some of the most important characters TO that person were the femmes in their life.

    This book taught me that my (in)visibility matters just as much as that of my obviously queer counterparts, because it DOES enable me to make inroads into places in mainstream society that may not be open or accepting otherwise. I see myself as an agent of subversion at the same time I act as an ambassador.

    So, for empowering stories, that’s my two cents. Plus the hundreds of femme bloggers that you can find in Sinclair’s comments, on Tumblr, on Twitter… The Internet really is an incredible resource for queer community!

    Disclaimer: I also guest-post at CCL, but I felt that two separate plugs might be tacky. Sarah’s right, though, it’s a great space with lots of kick-ass femmes floating around.

  5. shameless self promotion –

    http://frugal-femme.blogspot.com/

    that’s mine and its mostly a crafts blog, I’m also seconding stone butch blues and the butch femme reader.

    also
    http://alphafemme.net/
    http://fitforafemme.com
    and
    http://fuckyeahfemmes.com/

  6. As a butch, I certainly adore/worship queer femmes. May I humbly suggest the marvelous anthology “With A Rough Tongue: Femmes Write Porn”? Edited by the remarkable Amber Dawn.

  7. “Brazen Femme: Queering Femininity” edited by Chloe Brushwood Rose and Anna Camilleri helped me feel very seen when I was first coming into femme. The Femme Collective conference in August (this year in Baltimore) is also an awesome place to meet really fantastic fellow femmes.

  8. I can’t argue with any comments already posted…yes, Stone Butch Blues taught me a lot about the worth of being femme, and A Persistent Desire was a book that also had an incredible impact on me.

    But, as a grown-up, professional, experienced femme, I have to admit that it is mostly my relationships with respectful butch friends and lovers and wonderful femme friends that have really helped me come into my identity and live it fully.

    Books and music can teach us a lot, but relationships with good people are what really help us to grow into ourselves.

  9. Oops, I should have also said that my biggest source of femme confidence, and feeling finally visible as a femme lesbian has been at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival… it has been and is still the ONLY place in the world that I feel fully seen and respected for all that I am. Fierce Strong Femmes are there in spades, and we love and respect each other, even as we are appreciated by the many wonderful butches.

  10. Thank you for sharing all these insights and resources. I’ve got a pile of new reading and some new ways of seeing. In addition, I’m taking the fabulous advice of cordeliaknits to focus on living my identity in a community of inspiring butch and femme friends…

    -Kim

  11. After reading this I recently came aross this fantastic blog post:
    http://radfag.wordpress.com/2011/09/04/we-are-all-subversives-femme-strength-and-queer-solidarity/
    The comments section also has some really fantastic suggestions for other sources.

    Thank you for talking about such an important topic that is not discussed enough!

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