Posts Tagged ‘butch/femme’

The Great Reader Mini-Interview, Part Three: Personal accountability & self reflections, Kink, and Do Your Research

October 24, 2013  |  essays  |  No Comments

What’s your relationship with sugarbutch.net and Sinclair?

I actually started reading Sugarbutch while I was still married to male. I had always known my sexuality was not what I was pretending it to be, and I knew that women that leaned towards the masculine side of the spectrum did something strange to me. I was completely naive to who I was deep down, and what it was I really needed in a relationship/partner. One day I was talking to a friend of mine whom I spilled the beans to, and she led me to this site. What I read on here was a beacon of light to me, and I finally started coming into my own. I have learned a lot about myself by reading your articles. I have most of all learned that I am not alone in who I am.

Keep doing what you are doing. I know you have had a tough run of it lately, but I admire you for staying true to who you are, what you want/need, and wearing your scars for everyone to see.

—Jennifer, https://www.facebook.com/jennifer.fitzgerald.92

I actually like/enjoy your self reflection and journal entries. As PolyAnna, I spend a lot of time talking about personal accountability and self reflections. People who are successful at poly and find fulfillment in poly are those who take the time to reflect on their choices and actions. Please keep writing your journal entries. They are a joy to read. Truly.

— PolyAnna/Josette Sheridan, http://lookingthrough.us/

What advice would you give your younger self about sex, gender, or relationships?

1. It’s okay to be monogamous, even if all the ‘cool kids’ are poly.

2. Don’t even bother trying to date somebody who isn’t kinky; it’s not going to work.

3. Being attracted to trans men, after some years of only being into butch women, is okay and doesn’t change your fundamental self. You can still keep your queer card and just love who you love. Most of your ex-girlfriends will eventually turn into men, anyway.

4. If you’re in a D/s relationship with someone who breaks down your self-esteem and violates your boundaries, that’s not D/s: that’s abuse. Even if they buy you shiny presents.

— Anne Campbell, https://www.facebook.com/riverbend

Believe in love where you find it. Trust your senses. Be angry. Then let it go.

—Cathlin Star, http://cathlinstar.blogspot.com/

Oh God. I think it would boil down to “Do your research, do lots and lots of research.” But more specifically: I would find my fifteen-year-old self and sit her down and tell her “Honey, you have internalized some really toxic shit about how sex is *dangerous* and some even more toxic shit about how *knowledge* about sex is dangerous. Neither of these things are true. You want a lot of stuff that you don’t know how to articulate — go do some personal exploration and I promise, you get to decide whether or not you will act on your desires, but first you need to be able to articulate them. Either way, I also promise that the world will not end.”

And then I would give her a hug and tell her that it was going to be ok.

— Clara S., http://thethirdrose.tumblr.com

Don’t settle! Too many women (men perhaps also but I cannot write for them) settle for perceived security, “love”, to make a home for children. I was too hasty to get it all and follow the traditional norm of settling down before I got too old and have a family. As for sex, I tell my daughter (now 12) that if you are not sexually satisifed in a relationship and the other person is not willing to work on it then you need to reevaluate that relationship and if it makes you happy. I wish someone had told me this when I was younger. I never had the exposure to gender differences. I now teach a program to teens at my Unitarian Universalist (UU) church call O.W.L (Our Whole Lives) about sexuality & healthy relationships and one of the tag lines is “Sexuality is fluid” I so love that!

— Tonja Hewlett, https://www.facebook.com/EnterprisingFae

What one resource has had the most impact on you, and why?

The Persistent Desire: A Femme Butch Reader (edited by Joan Nestle)

Maybe this is just as much about the book as the editor…. I’ve met Joan (she lives in Melbourne, Australia) and her partner Dianne and find her to be such a valuable elder to have in the community. I love the way her writing is so political, and that class and race are made so relevant. I also love that although Butch-Femme influences her whole life, it’s not in such predictable ways and has changed and morphed as she’s gotten older/grown.

Shes so involved in movements around Israel/Palestine and I see her out at refugee rallies monthly. She’s so engaged with the younger queer community here still and puts in so much time, for this and many other reasons I really respect her and she has taught me a lot. <3

In an attempt to look more queer and attract more attention from people that I thought I wanted I really played down my femme side to look as “queer” as possible so I guess I’d like to tell my younger self that there would be someone who would love your femme side and wouldn’t read you as any less queer for it. More specifically, would know all the ways that you were sexy just for her.

—M, http://brownskinnedslut.tumblr.com/

Scarleteen.com was the sex and relationship ed I hadn’t even known I needed. I found the word genderqueer there, and it was like my head breaking the surface of a lake I hadn’t known I was in so deep, coming up gasping clean, cool air and feeling full, real, awake, alive in a way I hadn’t felt before. It taught me there was space for me, that it was okay to ask for what I needed to feel safe, that my body had agency and value even though it existed in strange, queer, liminal spaces.

—Cricket, http://beatingthebinary.tumblr.com

In 1999 I listened to Bikini Kill’s Pussy Whipped for the first time and it changed my life. Kathleen Hanna’s outspoken, feminist, intelligent, fuck the patriarchy, sexually freeing, in your face, revolutionary and progressive approach to grrrl punk music both inspired and entranced me. The riot grrrl movement impacted my life in so many ways, teaching me how to love myself and embrace my feminist identity. There has not been a woman since who has challenged patriarchy, sexism and homophobia so passionately and poignantly.

—Kachina Addison, http://www.facebook.com/kachina.addison

Dirty Filthy Nasty

September 3, 2012  |  dirty stories  |  14 Comments

This story contains Daddy/girl language, rough sex, and lots of body fluids. This has been your trigger warning.

“Will you pause it for a minute? I have to pee.”

Kristen gets up from the couch and I grab for the remote, hitting pause on the second porn flick we turned on tonight. We’d shared a bottle of wine. I knew she was bleeding, since earlier in the first film, unimpressed by one of the girl’s one-finger banging techniques, I shoved three into her to illustrate that cunts can take more.

Well, maybe not all cunts. But hers, obviously.

She was wet, and moaned a little, making a little mewl of protest when I slipped them out. My fingers came away with just a little blood and I wiped them on her leg. Read More

The Three Minute Game

June 8, 2012  |  dirty stories  |  14 Comments

Warning: This story contains some references to Daddy/girl, because that is what we usually call each other while playing. The story before the cut is an explanation and example of the three minute game, something the Body Electric School explores in their workshops, and does not contain the specific Daddy/girl words; the Daddy/girl play is behind the cut.

I returned home from LA, from four days with Rife, and I was ecstatic to see Kristen. She picked me up early, early at the airport on the red eye, and we fell back asleep at home for a few hours, made some lunch, talked about what we’d been doing.

In the afternoon, we returned to the bedroom.

I know when I travel it’s best to come back to her sweet and slow, and even more so when I’ve been off seeing my lover. I was turned on (she felt so good in my arms, under my hands, her feminine curves, her sweet soft skin) and had some ideas, but we needed a way to reconnect playfully, slowly, first.

“Want to play the three minute game?” I asked.

“Okay,” she said brightly, smiling like I’d offered to make her favorite meal for dinner. “But remind me of the rules?”

“Each of us gets a turn, and each turn is three minutes, carefully timed. There are two turns, so—four rounds. The first is, ‘this is what I would like to do to you for my pleasure.’ Then, ‘this is what I would like you to do to me for my pleasure.’”

“Got it.” We’ve played before, but only a few times, and the last time didn’t go so well—she’d asked me for some touch around my chest and we both got uncomfortable and had to stop, but neither of us handled it well. I hoped we wouldn’t do that again.

“You go first,” I said (being a top is useful sometimes).

“Alright … for my pleasure, I would like to sit on your lap, and for you to kiss my face and neck and suck on my nipples.”

“Mmm, I’d love to,” I said. “Take off your shirt.” Part of the point is to respond well—with eagerness, or with suggestions of something else related if you are uncomfortable with what they request.

I shifted up to the head of the bed so I could support my back against the wall, and Kristen curled up over my lap. I set the timer on my phone for three minutes.

At first, I barely made contact. I let her feel my breath and nose and the heat of my skin; I closed my eyes and remembered the contours of her jaw and cheek with the tiny invisible hairs on my face. Then I let my lips touch her, just brushing, gently, gently, as light of a touch as I could manage, as slow as I could tolerate. Feeling her weight on my thighs and the curves of her waist and back and spine in my hand made me want her, but I resisted.

I traced her jaw, cheek, throat with my mouth, kissing now, using the soft insides of my lips, keeping my mouth supple. She made that soft mewling moan that slays me and a shiver ran down my spine. I kept going, working that spot on her neck by her earlobe that she loves, then where her neck and shoulders meet, and down to her collarbone. I kissed along the curves of the tops of her breasts, making my way between the cleft of them, down to one nipple and then the other, sucking them into my mouth, teasing gently with my teeth and tongue, suckling, nibbling.

Just as I was getting into it, drawing her closer to me with my arms around her back, burying my face in her, just as she was starting to drop her head back and thrust her tits forward, the timer went off, and we both laughed.

I shifted my position a little and she sat more on the bed than on my lap. I kissed her lips. She said, “It’s your turn.”

“For my pleasure …” I swallowed. “I would like you to kiss my feet.” We’ve played with this a little. It is only recently that I have admitted how much I like it—to myself and others—enough to actually experiment with the sensation. It makes me nervous to ask for. But that is partly what this game is for, and it’s only three minutes. I can do just about anything for three minutes.

She nodded, looked at me a little coyly, chin down eyes up lips parted, and said, “And suck your toes?”

My breath caught. “Yes,” I think I managed to say. I think it was audible. So nervous. And it’s something that I wanted to feel, so much.

I set the timer again and she slid down the bed on her belly to take my right foot in her hands and deliver a sprinkling of kisses along the top of it. She ran her tongue along the instep, the most sensitive part, and sucked gently with her lips. She tongued the crease between my big toe and second toe before sliding the larger into her mouth.

I groaned. It is so vulnerable and makes me so nervous to give over, to feel her mouth in that way. The sensation is so close to tickling but is ecstatic, and so close to getting my cock sucked but is very different. She worked her mouth over all the crevices she could reach. She sucked and licked, moving her tongue up and down, holding my heel and ankle in her hands.

Then she switched to my other foot.

(It is so hard to write about this! And words like toes and foot seem so inherently unsexy, somehow—but I know the feeling absolutely turns me on. I don’t think I’ve written about it here before. I don’t know if I want to, except that I like to challenge myself to make myself vulnerable, to Kristen and to myself and in this writing project, and this feels very edgy.)

Those three minutes felt like an hour. I lost myself in the sensation, but I didn’t lose my body: moreso the opposite. I felt my whole self down to each toe, where so much stimulation was concentrated. I felt my cock quiver and my nipples harden and my throat go dry as I tried to swallow. I watched her mouth move and lips darken with blood and sensation and she smiled and giggled a little as she showed me what she could do. My eyes rolled back. My wrists went slack. I almost begged for her to stop, almost begged for more. I was overwhelmed and ecstatic and so turned on.

The timer went off and I breathed out, both a sigh of relief and disappointment that it was over. “For your pleasure, what would you like to do to me?” I asked.

She rose to her hands and knees and crawled forward toward me on the bed. “I would like to suck your cock.”

“Mmmm, gladly,” I said, and swung my legs over the side of the bed. “Give me just a minute to put it on.” I slid my jeans and briefs off, tossed my tee shirt into the laundry basket, pulled on my cock and harness from the small jersey bag I tend to keep it in, and returned back to the bed. She crawled over me. I barely had time to restart the timer before she had my cock in her mouth, tongue eager again, her lips soft and sucking me down. It’s a big cock, the Maverick, my favorite one, the one I use only with her.

She’s still warming up, but I want to push her. Read More

The Harder She Comes edited by DL King (Book)

May 6, 2012  |  reviews  |  No Comments

I’m part of the virtual blog tour for The Harder She Comes edited by DL King which just came out from Cleis Press. It’s a butch/femme anthology specifically, which to my knowledge is the first one released since Sometimes She Lets Me, also from Cleis. There aren’t very many butch/femme erotica anthologies out there (is Back To Basics the only other one?), and this adds an excellent new addition to one of my favorite little teeny subgenres.

Here’s the description of the book:

What is it about a pretty girl in a tight skirt bent over to adjust her stockings? Or that hotter-than-hot butch, swaggering into the bar like she owns it, eyes undressing every pretty girl in the place? Some butches worship at the altar of their femmes fatale and many little girls have a need to serve their big, strong daddies. In The Harder She Comes, we meet girls salivating at the sight of well-filled and packed jeans and bois dreaming of having a beautiful girl’s red lipstick smeared across their mouths. D. L. King has curated a singular set of stories filled with sexy sirens luring unsuspecting butches to their demise on the rocky shores of love and hot, confident women in silk and lace during the day who will do anything to serve their daddies’ needs at night. The Harder She Comes is great writing with characters that will stay with the reader for a long, long time —sometimes sweet, always sexy, often romantic, and more than a little dangerous.

I would love to tell you what I thought about each individual story, but sadly I have no time to put that together. I’m at a training all weekend and writing this while I should be sleeping. So please accept my apologies, and here’s an excerpt from my piece in the book, a story called Good Girl, Bad Girl.

Part I.

Sometimes, I am a Bad Daddy: I hate it.

I hate it and I want it and I crave it and I hate that I want and crave it, this, this girl, this way that I use her, this way she uses me. Sometimes I resent it. Her, me, my own desires. Why do they run this way? Where did these wounds come from, or are they scars now?

I have to remind myself not to ask myself too many of those questions. That it’s okay to want what I want. That after the flash of feminist guilt, as Karlyn Lotney once wrote, it is quite the handy little fetish.

And it is a fetish, or maybe rather it is many fetishes wrapped up and tied with a big pretty satin red bow. Power. Gender. Age.

I hate it, but I have never loved any play more.

This is what happens.

I sit on the couch reading a book and drinking tea after the dinner she made. For me. She finishes the dishes, brings her book out too, sits next to me. I don’t watch her as I take another sip of my tea. This is what I practice: Not paying attention. But in not paying attention I still pay attention, I just don’t let her know that I’m paying attention. When I notice I’m focused on her, I try to turn the focus inward. What do I want right now? And I feel something stir.

She inches closer to me. I turn a page. She sighs inaudibly. I turn my eyes to the pages of my book, move them along the words, not reading.

“Daddy?”

I don’t look up, yet. “Yes?”

“Can I …”

“May I.” I correct.

“May I … sit on your lap please?” It comes out in one quick string.

I pull the bookmark out of the back of the book and slide it in between the pages, close the book, set it on the coffee table, look up at her. Her eyes gleam gently. Hopefully. Like she just asked for candy at the grocery store. Her dress is pushed up from how her legs are crossed on the couch and I can see a hint of her inner thigh, and I want my cheek on it, want to bite it, want to feel her squirm and hold her there between my teeth as I leave marks. I breathe in. Keep it under control.

“Yes, sure darling.” With the Good Daddy voice.

She climbs over, sits sideways on my lap, knees bent over my thighs. Wraps her arms around my shoulders and her face buried into my neck and collarbone. Her hair smells faintly of shampoo, clean and bright with a gently fruit-flavored hint. It’s soft and thin and I bring one hand up to the back of her head, play with the gentle curls there.

She settles in and drops one hand to my chest, resting it on my waist. I shift a little, a growl rising in my belly. My arms fold easily around her. I don’t notice the sigh I let out, a low hum, the precursor to the growl.

“Daddy?”

“Yes, darling.”

“I like to sit on your lap.” She snuggles a little closer. I can feel a tightness spreading in my groin. I don’t say anything. “Do you like it?”

“Yes, darling.”

“Does it feel good?” Her voice drops softer.

“Yes.”

“Does it feel good …” she’s whispering now. “In your pants?”

I stir. My cock stirs, jumps. The growl grows. My arms tingle and tense, a sensation I want to let out with a fist. “Yes.” I whisper too. Our mouths are close.

I am a Bad Daddy. I want my girl to do dirty things; I want to do dirty things to her. I know she’d let me if only I asked, but sometimes the desperation is more fun. The arguing with myself. The attempts at holding myself noble, resisting her sweet girlish body. Feeling dirty for wanting it so much that my palms ache.

There are a lot of Daddy/girl stories in this book in particular … the original title was Daddy’s Little Girl so it drew a particular, um, flavor. So if that’s your particular flavor, you’ll find plenty of it in this collection. It’s definitely worth picking up.

Here’s the rest of the blog tour, check it out:
May 1  D. L. King  http://sacchi-green.blogspot.com/
May 2  Anna Watson  http://dlkingerotica.blogspot.com
May 3  Evan Mora  http://donutsdesires.blogspot.com/
May 4  River Light  http://sapphicplanet.com/blogtour_sapphicplanet.php
May 5  Sinclair Sexsmith  http://www.sugarbutch.net/
May 6  Crystal Barela  http://kathleenbradean.blogspot.com/
May 7  CS Clark  http://bethwylde.wordpress.com/
May 8  Valerie Alexander  http://pomofreakshow.com/
May 9  Andrea Dale   http://lulalisbon.wordpress.com/
May 10  Beth Wylde  http://adrianakraft.com/blog/
May 11  Kathleen Bradean  http://cyvarwydd.blogspot.com/
May 12  Teresa Noelle Roberts  http://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com/
May 13  Shanna Germain  http://lantoniou.blogspot.com/
May 14  Charlotte Dare  http://madeofwords.com/posts/
May 15  Rachel Kramer Bussel  http://lustylady.blogspot.com/

Pick up The Harder She Comes edited by DL King at your local feminist queer bookstore, or over on Amazon.

Femme Invisibility & Beyond

January 15, 2012  |  advice, essays  |  15 Comments

I’m still receiving questions in the Ask Me Anything form; most of the time I am turning them into pieces for my advice column over on SexIs Magazine, but sometimes they are things I’d rather tackle here at Sugarbutch. So here’s one of those.

As a very feminine femme, I pass for straight more often than not, and I’d like to know your thoughts on femme invisibility, and why every time I smile/greet/nod at butches I am largely ignored. Even when I am out with my (butch) lover, a polite nod of recognition, or “Nice tie …” coming from me is not acknowledged. What gives?

—Sweets

Oh, femme invisibility. This is a big, constant topic, and I have lots of thoughts about it. Probably mostly I’ll say the same things that I said in 2009 when I wrote this piece, “On Femme Invisibility,”, but I have a few new things to say, too.

Femme Invisibility Is Real

Femme invisibility is a real thing. It happens all the time. Queer women who are feminine get seen as straight—by straight folks, other queer folks, and sometimes even queer femmes themselves—because this culture expects dykes to reject gender roles automatically when rejecting a heterosexual orientation. As if those two things go together inseparably.

For many people, they do go together. But for other folks, they do not.

Assuming that they do go together—that a rejection of heterosexuality also includes a rejection of masculine/feminine culturally-defined gender roles—assumes that the only purpose of those gender roles is for heterosexual gain (attraction, stimulation, and reinforcing patriarchal dominance). One of the things I particularly love about the butch/femme dynamic is that it disproves this. It fractures the concepts of “gender roles” into multiple things, including archetypes and perhaps some sort of “inner gender” (a concept trans theories have been flirting with, but I haven’t seen articulated perfectly, yet). Meaning: yes, these gender roles are societally dictated, but they are also more than that, bigger than that, and if we can strip down the societal restrictions that keep us oppressed and marginalized and compartmentalized (for example, break our identity alignment assumptions and separate gender roles from our hobbies, interests, and personality traits), we can come to some understanding that gender is fun and more than just a way to keep wives subordinate to husbands or to keep men in power (over, among other things, the awe-inspiring phenomenon that is women’s ability to bear children).

Masculinity, femininity, genderqueerness, or any sort of gender presentation is not inherent to a sexual identity. Femininity is not just for straight women. We’ve accepted that masculinity is for dykes and femininity is for fags because, well, this culture is homophobic and sexist, and we assume that a rejection of heterosexuality is also a rejection of gender roles. But many combinations of gender and sexuality exist—probably more than I could even name, probably more than I comprehend. (This is one of the reasons why, when people look at a guy who is even slightly feminine and declare him a closet fag, I think: that’s sexist. He certainly might be a closet fag, but there are also many straight men who have feminine gender performances, and that does not mean he’s gay. Ditto for slightly masculine women—I mean, how many of us have said, how many dozens of times, that Starbuck on Battlestar Galactica must be gay? But why is that? Well, it’s because she has some swagger, never because she has displayed any sexual or romantic interest toward other women.)

Stop Arguing With Reality & Find Some Radical Acceptance

This culture tells us all these things, and this culture is wrong. It is not correct that feminine dykes are really straight girls. It just isn’t. In fact, it’s rooted in sexism and homophobia, and a little bit ignorant.

But also? It’s just real. It’s not right, and I channel all sorts of righteous indignation when I come across something that is just wrong and nobody seems to get, so I’m not trying to discount that it sucks. But if you expect it to be another way, you are simply arguing with reality, and you can (and, dare I say, should!) do some radical acceptance around this issue. That doesn’t mean you just passively accept that this is how things are and move on, it can certainly mean that you do your own work to make this issue less painful for the many people involved.

But it’s just true. In this culture, physical markers of queerness are accepted as certain things (like short hair, baggy androgynous or slightly masculine clothes, comfortable shoes—i.e., not femininity). Your struggle to be accepted as a queer person by visual sight alone is probably going to continue, as long as the culture continues to have those same queer markers.

Since Your Queer Identity Isn’t Portrayed Visually, You Have To Portray It In Other Ways

Since many femmes don’t have those same visual queer markers, since your identity isn’t constructed in a way that portrays your sexuality (according to the culture) visually, you will have to find other ways to construct and communicate your queer identity.

I don’t know how, exactly. Seems like many femmes do this in different ways. After the 2008 Femme Conference, which was called The Architecture of Identity, I compiled my notes and identified a few different ways of constructing identity, such as in contrast to butch, in community, through language, through fashion and style, and through theory, and I think those still hold true.

Language is a big one for me. I would much prefer to befriend and sleep with someone who doesn’t “look gay” but who can talk about queer history, culture, or theory to someone who you would visually peg as a dyke immediately but doesn’t have any context for her identity any day.

There’s constant talk about making some sort of universal femme marker—a tattoo, or a hanky flower, or some way that the pin-up look is queered so that everybody knows it’s not heterosexual, but as far as I can tell, there’s almost no way to universalize one singular symbol. At least, not yet.

And I’m not sure we really need one (though I’m not the one going through the struggles of this, I recognize). Because, let’s be honest: I see femmes everywhere. Whatever you’re doing with your visual markers, it’s working, when you know how to look.

Lots of People See You!

At the Femme Conference in 2008, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha said in her keynote address, “Femme invisibility is bullshit. You just don’t know how to look.”

Don’t forget: Lots of people see you. I feel like I can spot a femme on a crowded subway car even when there are three dozen people between us. It’s not just that she gives me an extra-long stare and big smile (though that happens, sometimes), but it’s also something energetically, something I can’t quite even put my finger on, that says to me, “Whoa, there is something special about her.”

There are lots of femmes out there. There are lots of butches and genderqueer folks and trans folks and other masculine of center identified people and femmes who love to date femmes, and who see the one femme in the dyke bar not as a straight impostor, but as our crush for the evening, our next girlfriend, our fantasy.

It is a real problem. And I know it causes mass frustration. But there are many people who get it, and who don’t question a femme’s identity as queer. And there are big movements adding on to the many, many conversations about femme invisibility that are already out there.

Know Your Femme History

Read up. Read blogs, read books. I suggest, to start: 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 … and oh probably two dozen others. Take strength and pleasure from knowing others have come before you, and have struggled too: that you are not the only one who has had difficulties with this.

Find some femme friends. Seek out femme community. There is tons of this happening online these days, for example, so even if you live somewhere kinda small or in a city that doesn’t particularly value the butch/femme dynamic, you can still talk to people about this.

If you don’t have a big community in your city, travel. No seriously, I mean that. Come to New York City. And for fuck’s sake, attend the Femme Conference in Baltimore this August. This is exactly what a femme conference is for: to make friends, to come together, to give voice to the common struggles and to start seeing our own experiences as valid and real.

This Is Your Struggle, But Remember: It’s Not Your Problem. It’s Theirs

Just as the main conflict in a butch’s identity—in my opinion—is sexism, misogyny, and masculine privilege (yes, I just said that), this is one of the main conflicts in a femme identity (others big things, from my perspective, being the mean girls thing, and escaping the beauty myth).

But if you really know and understand why other queers don’t see you, and why you pass as straight, and how to start constructing your identity in ways that aren’t reliant upon physical markers, you may just start to realize that it isn’t your problem. It isn’t something you are or aren’t doing right or wrong. It isn’t that if you just tried a little harder, smiled a little bigger, wore a different dress, that you would be recognize and validated as queer. It’s a cultural problem, a problem in our queer communities that is replicating gender norms and assumptions from the larger culture. It isn’t your fault, and it isn’t your problem. It’s theirs.

If someone doesn’t accept that you’re queer when you are a) in a queer space, b) with a visibly queer partner, or c) telling them that you are queer, well, then, fuck them, or rather don’t, because they don’t deserve to keep talking to you. Find somebody who does accept your combination of femininity and queerness. And keep working, yourself, on the reconciliation and supposed cultural conflict between the two.

Because that is your struggle.

How are you going to deal with it? How are you going to own your history, understand the sexist, misogynistic ways that this culture sees femininity, and overcome? How are you going to reconcile that not every visible queer you see will see you? How are you going to learn to communicate with a look and a smile, which, six times out of ten, might work? How are you going to articulate your own identity to others when they question it? What are the words you are going to say? How are you going to build a group of people around you that you know you can turn to when all you want to do is go, “ARGHHHHH!” and be angry that the world doesn’t see you as queer enough? How are you going to help build your femme friends up when they go through this? What can butches do (aside from learn how to recognize you, I know that’s a big one) to support you? How will we all reassure each other? What can we learn, here? What alliances can we make?

And perhaps most importantly, how can we move beyond this?

Strive to Move Us Beyond Visibility

There is more to femme identity than being visible. There is nurturance and caretaking, there is internalized homophobia, there is the mean girls complex that pits femmes against each other, there is the pervasive understanding that femme is nothing more than lipstick and heels (um, wrong!), there is some sort of hierarchy in the femme world as indicated simply by the still widespread use of the phrase “high femme,” there is the identity alignment assumption that all femmes are submissive bottoms and whoa is that incorrect, there is transmisogyny and the still troubled dialogue between cis and trans queer women, there is racism, there is a classist element that says that femmes have to or should buy their gender, there are dozens of other gender stereotypes that still pressure femmes to drink girly drinks and be homemakers and bear the children and stay at home and bake cookies, and oh there are probably two dozen other things I could list if I kept going.

There is more to femme identity than visibility. In fact, today in New York City there is a big day-long event going on right now called Beyond Visibility: Illuminating and Aligning Femmes in NYC, featuring a skillshare, roundtable discussion, and caucuses, all of which are femme-only, and then later an ally-invited reading and dance party (and you bet your beatle boots I will be attending that).

Being and becoming visible as a queer femme is a real thing that, it seems to me, almost all femmes struggle with. But as I’ve known more and more femmes for more and more years, I’m also starting to see that many femmes don’t struggle with it after years of working on it. Many have some radical acceptance and some understandings of how the queer world works, and are working on fighting other things.

Tara Hardy, one of my major mentors and a queer femme poet, has this line in one of her pieces: “I no longer get sad if they ask me at the door if I know it’s dyke night: I get mad. I mean, how much pussy do I have to eat before you let me in the club?” It’s a subtle shift, perhaps, from sad to mad, but it matters. It is the shift from internalizing the culture’s sexist bullshit to fighting back against it.

How do we overcome this issue and begin to elevate the discussion? I don’t know, but I’m curious to do that. And it seems that we, as a community, are beginning to, if only by the title of today’s event. I’m really excited for the Femme Conference in Baltimore this year, I think and hope that will continue to elevate the discussion.

Last, But Not Least

Also, let me say: I’m sorry. I’m sorry you are not acknowledged by the butches you are reaching out to, making bids that go unseen or unacknowledged. I don’t know why you are largely ignored. Could be many things: many butches are kind of used to straight girls hitting on us and using us for attention, and if you are being misread as straight, these butches could be resisting that. Perhaps when you’re out with your butch girlfriend and attempting to be acknowledged, they see you with your partner and don’t want to step on any toes or get into some sort of “hey man, you looking at my girl?” confrontation. It seems unlikely, but it’s possible. Maybe they fear that acknowledgment of your “nice tie” or big smile would be seen as flirting (I don’t think that would be a bad thing, but other people seem to).

Maybe they are just in their own world and just aren’t registering their surroundings. I mean, I’ve had friends of mine show up on a subway platform and try to get my attention while I was commuting, and I just had all my surroundings blocked out until they were literally waving a hand in my face. If you’re doing this in a big city, they could just be in their own world and not very observant.

I don’t know why, exactly. That’s kind of just the way it is, I think. For all those reasons I yammered on about above. That’s not okay and it’s not right, and I’m doing my own part to encourage femme visibility and work on our sexism in queer communities.

Butches, transmasculine folks, genderqueers, and all you other visible queers out there: listen the fuck up: LEARN TO RECOGNIZE FEMMES, even if you don’t date them, because they recognize you.

It’s the least we can do.

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Tonight! Butch/Femme Pride at Sideshow

June 14, 2011  |  miscellany  |  No Comments

Don’t forget! Join us at Sideshow TONIGHT, June 14th, for our second PRIDE month celebration of butch and femme. Readers include Rachel Kahn, Alicia Greene, & Maggie Cee from Boston’s Femme Show, Susan Herr from DapperQ.com, and Grace Moon from Velvet Park Media.

Sideshow: The Queer Literary Carnival
Hosted by Cheryl B. & Sinclair Sexsmith
Tuesday, June 14th
at The Phoenix
447 East 13th Street at Avenue A
Doors, 7:30pm. Reading, 8pm
Free! (We’ll pass the hat for the readers)
RSVP on Facebook

What’s Going on in June

June 2, 2011  |  miscellany  |  No Comments

Oh, hello June, I almost didn’t see you there. I’ve been kind of out of it since the retreat, though I finally feel like this week I am actually catching up and getting ahead of my to do list. Finally.

So—June is pride month! And as such, there are thousands of things going on in New York City and elsewhere. Thankfully, most of them are NOT things that I am doing, and I am attempting to get my loose ends tied up such that I can take as much of the summer off as possible and do some serious writing.

Here’s the stuff you really should not miss.

Events with Mr. Sexsmith

Tuesday, June 14th, 8pm Sideshow: The Queer Literary Carnival: Join us at Sideshow on June 14th for our second PRIDE month celebration of butch and femme. Readers include Rachel Kahn, Alicia Greene, & Maggie Cee from Boston’s Femme Show, Susan Herr from DapperQ.com, and Grace Moon from Velvet Park Media.! Details on QueerLiteraryCarnival.com, RSVP on Facebook at The Phoenix, 447 East 13th Street at Avenue A in New York City

Events in New York City You Shouldn’t Miss

Thursday, June , 8pm Red Umbrella Diaries, www.redumbrellaproject.com Happy Ending, 302 Broome Street between Forsyth and Eldridge, Manhattan, NY

Friday, June 17th, 8-10pm Lesbian Sex Mafia presents: Tell me what you want, what you really, really want with Laura Antoniou, lesbiansexmafia.org LGBT Center, 208 West 13th St. (7th/8th Ave) Manhattan, NY

Saturday, June 25th, 10pm Submit Party, submitparty.com, a BDSM play party for women and trans folks only Brooklyn, NY. For exact location call 718.789.4053 or
email [email protected]

Queer Memoir is still on hiatus, and it looks like Ruckus might not be happening this month, but keep an eye out for their date if they announce it. is back! And happening on June 24th.

I’m also looking forward to the FREE NYU Queer Social Theory class this month, and the Sophisticated Agressive Gents meeting at the LGBT Center. If you need a pride kick-off I recommend the Dykes on Bike-Cycles party. The Lesbian Herstory Archives, located in Brooklyn, is having a book sale the same day as Brooklyn Pride, Saturday, June 11th, so that I must stop by and see. I’m sure I can find at least a dozen or so $1 books that I must adopt. There’s a cocktail party How Long Til My Soul Gets It Right: Benefiting Trans Women Belong Here, which is “an informal organization of past, present, and future attendees of the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival (MWMF) who are taking active steps towards welcoming all woman-identified women to the festival.” This event will benefit their scholarship fund. And there’s Folsom Street East on June 19th!

I am also really stoked that Kristen’s and my Community Supported Agriculture share is starting this month. And … if you promise not to make fun of me, I’ll tell you that I have tickets to see The Monkees in concert on June 16th. People seem to have mixed reactions to my coming out as a Monkee fan, which I am … we had all the good episodes from the MTV marathons in the ’80s on VHS and my sisters and I would watch them over and over. In fact, my sister and her boyfriend are coming with me & Kristen to the show. I’m really excited. I have quite a few tracks on my “if I ever do drag” playlist, and She is at the top of that list. I always liked Mickey best.

My favorite pride event, thus far, aside from Sideshow’s epic Butch/Femme Pride, was hanging out in the air conditioning, drinking my perfected white wine sangria recipe and ordering take-out. I hope to replicate that this year.

Also! I am now booking fall events for colleges and traveling nationally. I’ll be working at home and writing through June, and then doing more travel in July, August, and September, including some travels to Seattle in early July, the Butch Voices national conference in Oakland in August, and Dark Odyssey Summer Camp in September. My schedule is kept up on mrsexsmith.com/appearances if you want to see if I’m coming your way.

Last but not least, here’s my 2011 workshop offerings in a PDF so it is easy to download, you can also download my one sheet PDF or high res photos in my press kit). Get in touch if you’re interested in booking me, you can contact me directly—mrsexsmith(at)gmail—or my booking company, PhinLi, at bookings(at)phinli.com.

Second Annual Butch/Femme Pride Sideshow! June 14th

May 23, 2011  |  miscellany  |  No Comments

Join us at Sideshow on June 14th for our second PRIDE month celebration of butch and femme. Readers include Rachel Kahn, Alicia Greene, & Maggie Cee from Boston’s Femme Show, Susan Herr from DapperQ.com, and Grace Moon from Velvet Park Media.

Sid

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eshow: The Queer Literary Carnival
Hosted by Cheryl B. & Sinclair Sexsmith
Tuesday, June 14th
at The Phoenix
447 East 13th Street at Avenue A
Doors, 7:30pm. Reading, 8pm
Free! (We’ll pass the hat for the readers)
RSVP on Facebook

Rachel Kahn is a freelance writer, poet, and performer, but spends the vast majority of her time pretending to be a therapist. Her work has been heard at a variety of venues, including the Apocalypse Lounge, the Ear Inn Poetry Series, and The New York Writers’ Coalition ‘Writing Aloud’ series. She has performed at the HOT Festival at Dixon Place in New York City, and makes trouble on and off stage up and down the East Coast. Rachel is not ashamed to tell you that she wrote a young adult novel, but will never let you know what name she used.

Alicia Greene has been a performance-loving, femme dyke diva since she was 10 years old. Spoken word, dance, comedy are some of the stages you may have seen her on. She trained at Kansas State University, the Improv Asylum, Improv Olympic and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts-NYC to just to name a few. Some past performances include: The Chicago Improv Festival, Montreal Fringe Festival, Company One, Big Moves dance troupe, street corners, comedy clubs and open mikes near you. She has also been an announcer for the Boston Derby Dames Roller Derby League as “Lady Oshun-The Announcing Orisha” since 2007. www.bostonderbydames.com

Maggie Cee is an artist, activist, and teacher committed to community, social change, and wearing things in her hair. She is the founder and artistic director of The Femme Show, a ground-breaking touring variety show about queer femme identity. Publications include anthologies Girl Crazy and Second Person Queer and journals Gertrude and Common Ground Review. www.thefemmeshow.com

With dance, spoken word, burlesque and performance art from award winning artists, The Femme Show is the country’s only ongoing touring show exploring all aspects of femme identity. This is queer art for queer people, with a variety of diverse perspectives on femme identity that can be thoughtful, sad, funny, sexy, and fun. The Femme Show is available for performances and workshops at conferences, schools, and community events. www.thefemmeshow.com

Susan Herr is a 48-year-old butch dyke who founded dapperQ.com to build transgenderational bridges between her ilk and younger genderfabs. What will all the photos and videos and narratives contributed by pioneers transgressing men’s fashion — building on the work of folks like Mr. Sexsmith — it’s working! She used to be mad butchphobic and now she can’t get enough of the magic conveyed by simple swagger. Can you?

Grace Moon is the editor in chief of Velvetparkmedia.com an arts and culture social media site for queer women. Moon is also an exhibiting artist and professor of fine arts. She is currently working on a compilation of her columns to be published in an upcoming book.

Ask Me Anything: Standards of Beauty

October 5, 2010  |  advice  |  26 Comments

While I was on the plane to Portland for Butch Voices this past weekend, I dug through my files and responded to the last of the questions from the Ask Me Anything questions from Sugarbutch’s 4th anniversary. Expect more of them posted throughout the week.

From some of your posts I think I’ve made an assumption that most of the women you date tend to be conventionally attractive/attractive by dominant culture’s standards of beauty (i.e. not fat, not particularly full figured, Eurocentric features, etc) So my first question is – is that accurate? And if it is, is that something you interrogate within yourself – as part of redefining masculinity (or the social concept that one way to prove your masculinity (in the dominant culture) is to have a (conventually) hot chick on your arm)?—J-Femme

No, that’s not acurate. I have dated girls of various sizes, with various ethnic backgrounds, who often have not fit into the dominant culture’s standards of beauty. I am definitely attracted to femininity, and those who are submissive in bed, but there are many unconventional qualities I look for in a date or a lover or a relationship, and the things I need in someone I date have nothing to do with conventional beauty—self-awareness, self-acceptance, empowerment, embodiment, expression. I date people I’m attracted to, and always have, regardless of cultural beauty standards (or, sometimes, regardless of what I know about my own orientations—which is how I have ended up dating femme tops, on occasion).

I haven’t always stated what the girls look like exactly, and I haven’t written about all of the girls that I dated in the last four years—some of them didn’t want to be written about, for example. I decided purposefully to leave out much of the physical body descriptions, partly because I was telling true stories from my dates and relationships, and, for a while, while I was still writing online anonymously, I didn’t want to expose myself. After I was out, and honest about writing about the people I was sleeping with (a lesson it did not take me long to learn), I asked permission to write about someone, and I respected what they wanted, which usually was to keep them as anonymous as possible.

Also, I decided deliberately to leave out many physical body descriptions about body size, shape, skin color, and hair qualities in order for the readers to superimpose themselves and their own experiences as much as possible onto the story. It’s a challenge to portray things like body size or ethnicity in writing without fetishizing it, in general and for me specifically, and especially as I started writing more and more erotica, I adopted that as a deliberate stylistic choice.

This policy of not describing women’s bodies in unconventional ways in my erotica hasn’t always worked the way I wanted it to, though. I’ve been criticized before for not including more full-figured women in my erotica. Sometimes I want to point out the stories that I’ve written and ask someone to point out where it says that they are thin—but I also recognize that by not stating it, I’m riding by on some assumptions. I’m letting people believe what they want to believe, and our brains tend to assume certain things, which usually line up with the dominant cultural norm, unless otherwise stated. That is not particularly effective activism.

But this is not necessarily activism—these are my fictional(ized) stories. This is art, and this is the thin line between art and activism. The activist in me wants it to be one way, driving home points about unconventional beauty and body size and features, but the artist in me reads those descriptions and cringes, because they feel unnecessary, surpurfluous, forced, awkward. I’ll keep flirting with that line, and hopefully find a place where the stories can rest, instead of pushing something into it that doesn’t belong, or ignoring an important opportunity for celebrating unconventional standards of beauty.

Secondarily: Yes, it is very important to me to interrogate the ways that the dominant culture views someone as more masculine if they have a conventionally beautiful woman with them. I have certainly done a lot of thinking about that in my relationships and my own orientations, and I’m frequently thinking about it in terms of what I’m representing through my erotica. My stories about Kristen have been criticized because of how I depict her multiple orgasms—people saying that most women don’t come like that, for example. Yes, I know that. I know that not only from the mountains of feminist and women’s sex books that I’ve read but also from my own experiences over the past ten years dating and fucking women. But here’s the thing: that’s what happens. Kristen is a real person and that is our real sex life, and that is the way she really comes. A dramatization or slightly fictionalized version of our sex life, sometimes, yes, but always based in truth.

Yes, I tend to be attracted to femininity. Yes, I tend to be most turned on by girls who are a little smaller than I am—I like to be able to throw them around. But I know butch tops who are really into girls who are bigger than they are, because it makes them feel all the more like a badass top. But there have been occasional femme tops who turn my head, some of whom I’ve dated. And there have been occasional butches or guys who got me all crushed out, too.

It’s a delicate balance between knowing myself and understanding that certain things just work for me more than others, and also being open to trying something if a sparkle comes along and surprises me. I don’t want my orientations—sexual, power, gender, or otherwise—to get in the way of a good fuck, or potentially good date or relationship. I try to keep myself challenged that way. It’s tricky because some of the things I am most oriented toward do line up with some conventional expectations—butch top / femme bottom, for example—but not because it is unexamined. In fact, it might be more because it is over-examined, because I know so much about gender and sexuality that I fetishize the conventional.

I don’t care about having a “conventionally hot chick” on my arm—what I do care about is having a girlfriend, a sexual partner, someone to play with that I am attracted to, with whom I can communicate, who is commited to our sexual growth, both separately and together.