Posts Tagged ‘femme identity’

Free download of Visible: A Femmethology Volume Two

September 18, 2013  |  miscellany  |  1 Comment

femmethology

Have you read Visible: A Femmethology? No? It’s your lucky fucken day, because Volume 2 is available for Kindle download for FREE from today until the 21st.

(Also: Don’t own a Kindle? No problem! This book can be read with the Free Kindle Reader App for your Web Browser, PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry, or Android Phone.)

It’s true! Homofactus Press sent out the news on their mailing list, and included a little bit about why:

“Please help us push the book to the top of Amazon’s lists. We are a micropublishing company and rely on you to spread the word about our work. Please forward this newsletter to two friends – just two – you know will want to download Visible: A Femmethology, Volume Two for free. And ask those two friends to forward it to two of their friends, and so on.”

I’d say it could be more than two, it doesn’t have to be just two. But either way, download and enjoy!

Visible: A Femmethology Volume Two includes my piece, A Love Letter to Femmes, and many other beautiful essays, praise, and thoughts about femme identity. But that’s not why I’m telling you about it—I’m telling you because it’s a great book and there aren’t that many recent publications out there on femme identity.

The Best Things I Wrote About Sex, Gender, & Relationships in 2012

December 30, 2012  |  essays  |  1 Comment

Lily at Black Leather Belt is putting together the #SexReader, a new roundup of the best sex blog posts, and the first one is Best of 2012, so I have been looking over the past year.

I haven’t written as much, here, as I have in the past. I’m kind of sad about that, but that’s just the way 2012 was. My year was shaping up to be the Best Year Ever in January & February when Kristen and I were navigating the brand new openness of our relationship and I was falling in love with Rife, but in March when my dad died, everything got thrown off. I threw myself into traveling for my erotica anthology, Say Please, from April through August, and by the time I got back in August, Kristen had lost her job and I was a wreck. I’ve been working to pick up the pieces since then. Though I’ve continued to see Rife every other month or so, I haven’t written a lot about him here.

The combination of personal crises and traveling this year has meant that I have spent a whole lot more time in my inbox, and processing my fucking feelings, than I have spent writing.

Still, there were some notable posts in 2012.

I started the year by writing weekly love letters to Kristen. I didn’t continue them, but I wrote a couple dozen. From Love Letter #16:

It’s interesting to actually put the non-monogamy into practice. In some ways it feels like the most secure a relationship could be, that we both know to the core so deeply that our relationship is so good and solid that it’s totally okay for us to explore with other people. At our good moments that’s how it feels, anyway. In our harder moments, it’s a lot of reassurance—for both of us—that what we’re doing isn’t going to fuck up what we have. That is so, so important to me, to keep us safe and to not do anything that might jeopardize the foundation we’re building and the intensity between us and our sexual spark and all of those things, and if ever you feel like I am doing something that jeopardizes that, I want to know and I want to fix it as immediately as possible. I trust that, deeply; I have faith in us and I think we can figure this out. It’s hard, it continues to be hard, but I’m excited about the possibilities this is opening up and I’m glad we are exploring together.

I came out about opening up our relationship, and dating Rife, and how Kristen and I were dealing with that, in March 2012 with On Opening Up My Relationship With Kristen

I love you (I told her) and I don’t think this has to or does or will take away from that, from us. … Beyond that, I started asking myself and her: How can I love you well? How can I love you better than I do? How can I continue to make you feel special in our relationship, in ways other than exclusive sex? That is only one way, one fairly arbitrary way. What are the things we both need? How do we ensure that happens well?

We came up with some agreements about what I would or wouldn’t do with him, how we’d see each other, what kind of contact we’d have, and how my relationship and sexual connection with Kristen would be kept as the highest priority. It took a long time to negotiate that, to try some things and then try other things, and it’s a working document that keeps changing.

It’s still hard—there is still jealousy and insecurity and uncertainty, but the fighting has basically ceased. There are still complications, and we talk through it. We’ve been negotiating—fairly well, I would say—ever since.

I also wrote a few posts about Rife, like our adventures at IMsL, in Like a Faggot, published in June 2012:

“I like your cock in my ass. I like it. Please, Sir, fuck my ass. Please please please.” His pleading cries became whimpers and I groaned, my hips jerking hard against his in response.

“Good boy,” I muttered as my cock slid in and out. I wrapped my arms around him, held us together, breathing hard, and brought my hand between his legs to his clit again, thrumming it gently, sensitive now. “Mmm, fuck, you feel good. Your ass is nice and tight, feels good on my cock. I like to fill you up. Squeeze me harder, let me feel how tight you are, that’s it, yeah.” He came again, squirting, I could see it darken the blanket as his body thrust forward in contractions.

“Just a little more. Then I’m going to beat you.” I slid in and he moaned deep. He whimpered and shook, straightening his body upright until I pushed him back onto the table.

“Take it,” I growled. “Just a little more. Take it like a faggot. You can do it. Come on, dirty boy, I know you like it.” He didn’t stop shaking, barely holding himself up on his legs, and I thrust in again, and again. I rambled on as I worked up a slick sweat. I wanted to wear him out, warm him up before I started beating him. “Do it for me again, faggot. Come on, boy, come on my cock while I fuck you. Do it. Do it for me.”

Kristen and I had some really good scenes this year, too. The Three Minute Game, June 2012

“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.

Another good Kristen story got really dirty: Dirty Filthy Nasty, September 2012:

I bring the bottle of lube, twist my legs up onto the bed and get on my knees, grab her thighs with my hands and pull her hips toward me so she’s at an angle. I pump the lube twice—once over the lips of her cunt, once on the head of my dick. I rub it slowly with my hand, showing off a little because I know she likes to watch me jerk off. Her legs are open on either side of my knees. Her cunt is mostly bare, her lips are pink and swollen.

“Fuck.”

I grip her inner thighs in my hands and poise my cock with my hips. Taking the cock in my fist, I use the head of my cock to rub the lube along her slit, rubbing it on her cunt, slick and smooth, and then smack her with it a few times, before I slide in. I reach up to her wrists and my hands fit so easily around them, she feels so small. She struggles against me, just a little, pushing back, but I have gravity and more than fifty pounds on her—we both know it’s for show. A request to hold her harder, a request to keep her down. We both shudder as I slide in deeper and put more of my weight down onto her, and she wraps her legs around me, her arms around my shoulders.

I vow to go slow, I keep repeating in my head, go slow go slow slow down go slow, but she feels so fucking good and she’s so wet and slick and pulsing around me so tight, and I’m so hard and deep, my hips start bucking and I don’t restrain them. She moans. I fuck her harder, reaching down with my right hand to lop my elbow around her calf and pull her knee up, her legs apart.

“Baby, baby, baby …”

I wish it was a given that I would fuck her like this until I shoot. I wish it was more consistent, to come inside her, to get off while she writhes.

There was a femme conference in August, and I wrote some about policing the femme identity and what it’s like to go to an identity-based conference: Are You Femme Enough for the Femme Conference? July 2012

I think the bottom line is that it’s incredibly complicated to occupy a socially-recognized identity like butch or femme, because while we have stereotypical versions of what those things “should” look like in our minds, we don’t necessarily have the complex deconstructions (and reconstructions) necessary to be able to see that person as butch or femme and all their other pieces of self too. Or, if the person doesn’t quite look like the stereotype, we don’t recognize them as “legitimate.” These queer cultures still see someone, recognizes them as butch or femme or neither, and draws all sorts of conclusions based on that.

People are probably always going to do this. I don’t mean that in an I-give-up kind of way, just in a this-is-probably-true-and-I-will-have-less-strife-in-my-life-if-I-accept-that kind of way.

And y’know, fuck that. I mean, I completely understand that that is a challenge and hard and sometimes makes me return home defeated after a night and just kinda cry and whine for a while, I also think part of the work of having these identities is recognizing that we are trying to rise them above stereotypes, and that the cultures we’re in still largely use big fat markers to draw pictures of these identities, not slim exact-shaded pencils. And part of our work, I believe, part of the work of occupying these identities, is uncoupling them from the heteronormative gender roles, and making them big enough and accessible to anyone who feels a resonance with them. They can be liberational, and the benefits of identifying with a gender lineage, a gender heritage, feels so important to me, putting me in a historical context with people who came before me, so I feel less alone in my forging forward. I’m not doing it exactly as they did it, I’m doing it my own way and in the context of my own communities and time and culture, but I am able to remake it and make more room for freedom and consciousness and liberation within it because I am on their shoulders, using the tools they left for me—us—to pick up.

That is all to say, you are femme enough to attend the femme conference. Or, you know, if you don’t identify as femme but you have some interest in learning more about femme identity and being around femmes and folks who are puzzling through femme identity, you can come too.

Though by far, the most viewed post was this one: Sugarbutch Star: blckndblue: The Pink Dress, January 2012, which is fiction.

“Was there something that you wanted? Sir?” She adds the last word in a low, sweet voice and my cock pulses. I drop my hand holding the glass to my side. Extending her arms around my neck, she draws closer to me. I can smell the sticky sweet of her lipstick. I lick my lips. Swallow again. My mouth is dry. I lift my arm, take a swig of the whiskey, and it goes down like a knife. She offers me her lips when I drop the glass again, whispering right up next to mine but not touching. She waits. I kiss her and her mouth is like candy, like being enveloped in silk. My knees go weak again and I lean against the wall to hold myself up. Her lipstick is a smear on my mouth and I don’t care. She leaves a trail of lip prints along my jaw and to the curve of my neck and I don’t care. She is devouring me one kiss at a time and I don’t care. My whole body shudders between her and the wall, held up by both.

She pulls on my earlobe between her lips before she whispers in my ear, “I would like to suck your cock now.” It’s almost a question, almost asking for permission, she knows that’s usually how it works, but this time it is more of a statement of intent. I notice she doesn’t say “sir” but I don’t care. She’s calling the shots now. She drags her body down mine and her skirt fans out around her legs as she kneels in front of me. She looks up, hands on her thighs, and waits, lips parted a little, lipstick smeared and thick which makes her mouth look even more swollen. I breathe deep, trying to focus. I’m supposed to do something. I manage to set the glass of whiskey down on the side table nearby and unbuckle my belt, unzip my pants, pull out my cock. She sits up on her knees to get it lined up with her mouth.

She holds the tip of my cock right outside of her lips, breathing, looking up at me, before dropping her eyes and extending her tongue, flat and soft, to lap the underside, and brings her lips forward to circle just the head and suck. She lifts her eyes again. I swoon, my head swirling, the bowl of my pelvis full and trying not to spill over. Her tongue plays down the shaft and leisurely flicks every little ridge. Her lips are soft and warm and I can feel every contour, every smooth curve.

I spent most of the last six months trying to untangle myself from grief. I wrote a little bit about that, like in Grief. Also, Trying to Find My Awesome Place:

Grief is not singular, it is not linear, it usually doesn’t even feel particularly knowable. It’s a mess, (or as I keep saying) a fog. Something engulfing that chokes and invades my lungs.

Grief it is not just about this one loss, either: it is about all losses, everywhere, ever, especially the ones I have felt. People keep reminding me of this, and yet I keep feeling surprised when I turn a corner and get sucker-punched by a memory of Cheryl, of an ex, of my fucking dog when I was seven, of every goddamn time I have to say goodbye to Rife, of those looks Kristen gives me when she’s angry and hurt and it’s my fault.

I know that what I’m feeling isn’t about that, except that it is. I know that what I’m feeling won’t last, except that it is seeping into every pore of me and I know that I am forever changed. (Fuck that sounds so dramatic. Forgive me the drama. It’s what drama was made for: loss, grief, feeling.) But it’s also true: Nothing is the same. It’s taken me months to feel that really sink in. March to August, I might argue. In August, I lost it. Since August, I’ve been trying to get it back. I don’t know how. Kristen doesn’t know how. We are both unsure what to do now, but it’s clear that we can’t quite keep going the way we’ve been going, spiraling down into something awful, me lashing out and angry, so angry. Why am I so angry? I know why I’m so angry. I probably need a punching bag daily.

We don’t know what to do, but also we kind of do. Or I guess I am starting to.

When I look back at the year, clearly the things that get the most visitors are the dirty stories. I’d like to write more of those in 2013. I like writing smut. It’s deeply pleasurable. I’d like to write more about Rife and the deep D/s that that relationship is developing. I’d like to write more about power and relationships and codependency and the ways that things can go so wrong. Mostly, I’ve just been waiting to get through these crisis months.

In this, the darkest time of year, the solstice, the time when we burn the Yule log, I keep thinking about the things I want to leave in the dark, the seeds I want to plant that will start to pop open under the surface in the next few months before pushing through the topsoil, the things that I want to grow.

I want more emotional resilience.
I want more self-confidence, less insecurity. To let go and be less controlling.
I want more radical acceptance of what is in front of me.
I want to date Kristen again.
I want to spend more time loving and less time fighting.
I want more sex. Goddamnit.
I want less railing, clinging, obsession, torture.
I want to leave the black hole of depression and grief here in the deep dark.
I want more love. More lovers. More exploration. More pleasure.

More pleasure. Yes—if I had to sum up my intentions for 2013, that would be it. More pleasure. Less grief.

Are You “Femme Enough” For the Femme Conference?

July 25, 2012  |  essays  |  5 Comments

I’m in Chicago this week, I return back to New York City tomorrow, and I keep talking up the Femme Conference that is coming up in Baltimore in just a couple of weeks—August 17-19.

I’m not sure why it keeps coming up—maybe because it was an all-femme lineup at the Dirty Queer Sex Tour: Chicago Say Please reading last night, and so all three of the femmes who read with me came out with their various friends and posses last night? Maybe because the friends I have here are primarily femmes, so naturally the conversation rolls around to femme identity? Maybe because I think these folks are cool and I am curious if I’m going to run into them again at the Femme Conference? Or maybe because my only experience of attending the Femme Conference, until this one upcoming that is, was the 2006 Femme Conference which was held in Chicago?

Whatever the reason, it keeps coming up.

And while some folks are well aware of it and (usually) have strong reactions to it, either “Hell yes! See you there!” or “No, uh uh, absolutely not,” there seems to be an even bigger group of folks in the middle who are obviously intrigued by the idea of attending, but are skeptical.

“I don’t know,” they say, hesitating, but sparkling a little bit at the mention of an entire conference devoted to this complex femme identity. “I mean, would I fit in there? Is it going to be a big judge-fest? Would they even recognize me as femme?”

These questions are so common. I mean, I remember hearing some of that around the BUTCH Voices conferences too, but the fear around one’s identity being policed didn’t feel quite so … panicked.

I think the bottom line is that it’s incredibly complicated to occupy a socially-recognized identity like butch or femme, because while we have stereotypical versions of what those things “should” look like in our minds, we don’t necessarily have the complex deconstructions (and reconstructions) necessary to be able to see that person as butch or femme and all their other pieces of self too. Or, if the person doesn’t quite look like the stereotype, we don’t recognize them as “legitimate.” These queer cultures still see someone, recognizes them as butch or femme or neither, and draws all sorts of conclusions based on that.

People are probably always going to do this. I don’t mean that in an I-give-up kind of way, just in a this-is-probably-true-and-I-will-have-less-strife-in-my-life-if-I-accept-that kind of way.

And y’know, fuck that. I mean, I completely understand that that is a challenge and hard and sometimes makes me return home defeated after a night and just kinda cry and whine for a while, I also think part of the work of having these identities is recognizing that we are trying to rise them above stereotypes, and that the cultures we’re in still largely use big fat markers to draw pictures of these identities, not slim exact-shaded pencils. And part of our work, I believe, part of the work of occupying these identities, is uncoupling them from the heteronormative gender roles, and making them big enough and accessible to anyone who feels a resonance with them. They can be liberational, and the benefits of identifying with a gender lineage, a gender heritage, feels so important to me, putting me in a historical context with people who came before me, so I feel less alone in my forging forward. I’m not doing it exactly as they did it, I’m doing it my own way and in the context of my own communities and time and culture, but I am able to remake it and make more room for freedom and consciousness and liberation within it because I am on their shoulders, using the tools they left for me—us—to pick up.

That is all to say, you are femme enough to attend the femme conference. Or, you know, if you don’t identify as femme but you have some interest in learning more about femme identity and being around femmes and folks who are puzzling through femme identity, you can come too.

I’m not going to promise that nobody is going to give you shit about your identity, about being femme enough, about whether or not you belong there, or about what you wear (because as much as I’d like to say it’s not true, there is a particular focus on aesthetics in femme communities). I don’t know if they will or not. But I’ll also say this: By the end of the conference, you probably will not care as much.

That, more than anything else, has been such a key piece of learning around these identity conferences, the Femme Conference and BUTCH Voices.

And I’ll be honest with you: there will probably be drama. There almost always is at small, incestuous community conferences, and this is definitely one of those. There are not that many people who self-identify as femme. There are not that many people who date and are into and fall in love with and are fascinated by people who identify as femme. There will probably be people there that I don’t want to run into. There will probably be people there who have particularly bad opinions of me, even. I don’t anticipate that being easy. But I care more about the philosophies of this identity, the many folks in my life who identify this way now, and the forward movement of radical genders in this era than I do about being worried that someone will talk shit. I’m bored with that. I’m sick of letting that affect what public spaces I’m involved in.

I submitted a workshop proposal to the Femme Conference—so did Kristen. Neither of us were accepted. I could let my mind roam and draw conclusions about why, but who knows what the actual reasons were. I chose instead to brush it off as not fitting with the conference, for whatever reasons, and I’m still planning to go and have a great time. So many amazing people I know are planning to be in attendance, so many more than I knew when I attended in 2008 (can’t believe it was that long ago!), and I am so looking forward to seeking out the ones that I think have amazing philosophies, meeting new folks, talking about new ideas, and enhancing the ideas I’m already chewing on.

I don’t really know how to explain all of that to people who say, “Would I fit in there? Am I femme enough?” Maybe you would feel like you found your people. Maybe you would be super excited to be around all of the talking about femme identity, but only really connect with one or two other people. Just because we’re all talking about femmes doesn’t mean we’ll get along! But maybe you’ll find a sense of self, in between all of that, that you didn’t know you were seeking, that missing piece that caused you to ask would I fit in there in the first place. And maybe, after attending the conference, you wouldn’t ask that again, because somewhere, deep down, in a soothed and solid place, you’d know.

Registration is still open: The Femme Conference happens August 17-19 in Baltimore, MD.

Femme Conference Call for Workshops + Bay Area Event Tonight

January 20, 2012  |  miscellany  |  2 Comments

Now’s the time to start saving to attend the Femme Conference in Baltimore in August, to start thinking about what event or film or performance or whatever that you might want to bring, and to make it happen. I know traveling is really hard for folks who are far, but (how many times do I have to say this) IT IS WORTH IT.

Make it happen. Invest in yourself.

Attending these identity conferences that have been showing up lately have significantly changed the way I feel about butch and femme identity, have deepened my own relationship to myself and to others, and have deepened my understanding about how these genders work and the work we need to do to elevate our conversations and make gender hurt less in all the ways. If you’re wondering if it’s worth it, I’ll say it again: it’s worth it. It’s worth it, and more. It’s worth being there even though five of your exes will be there. It’s worth going even if you aren’t sure if you identify as femme. It’s worth going if you just love femmes and you aren’t femme yourself but you want to support and learn. It’s worth going if you have to put $50 a month away for the next seven months. It’s worth it.

Also, please submit awesome workshops and performances, because I want to participate in mind-blowing smart queer badass fierce subtle amazing groundbreaking new stuff while I’m there. Please and thank you.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

National Call for Submissions & SF Event!
Call for Workshops, Papers, Panels, Films, Performance, and Visual Art
Femme2012: Pulling the Pieces Together
Baltimore, MD
August 17-19, 2012
www.femmecollective.com

Femme2012: Pulling the Pieces Together is a multi-threaded conference and forum for those who think about, talk about, and create Femme as a queer gender and identity.

Following our Femme2006, 2008, and 2010 conferences in San Francisco, Chicago, and Oakland, where hundreds of femmes and allies gathered for workshops, panels, films, visual art galleries, and performances, we again invite femmes of all kinds and their allies to continue the conversation by participating in Femme 2012 as presenters and participants.We are invested in having Femme2012 continue to reflect the diversity and complexity of femme gender, identity, and contributions. We hope for this conference to be a community-building event, as well as an exploration and celebration of what it means to build and live queer femme identities.

Submissions of all kinds are welcome, particularly submissions by Femmes. We are committed to having our presenters reflect as many different voices from within our Femme community(ies) as possible. We aim to prioritize and centralize the experiences of historically marginalized groups, including but not limited to people of color, working-class people, fat folks, trans and gender-non-conforming people, elders, youth, previously incarcerated individuals, people without documentation, and people with dis/abilities. Femme2012 will continue the community dialogues from Femme2006, Femme2008, and Femme2010. In particular, we hope that the intersections of femme with race, region, class, access, dis/ability, privilege, oppression, and marginalization will be talked about, given space, meditated upon, constructed, and deconstructed.

In addition, we encourage submissions based on this year’s theme: Pulling the Pieces Together.

We began this conference in 2006 out of a desire to see femme explored and discussed from a variety of perspectives. We wanted a conference that held the complexities of Queer Femme as its central focus, while building community. Building on the dialogue and momentum of past conferences, in 2012 we hope to explore how femmes pull the pieces together. Through discussion and performance, we hope to explore both our individual and shared journeys to femme and how we honor femme in ourselves and others. How do we arrive at our femme/inine identities? How do we celebrate the joys and challenges along those journeys? Please join us in 2012 as we share our stories of pulling the pieces together.

We hope to draw participants from across disciplinary, medium, and social boundaries. We encourage submissions from anyone interested, regardless of gender or sexual identity. We are interested in solo submissions, as well as groups, panels, and collaborations. We are looking for well-thought-out, well-planned submissions that recognize and respect the array of Queer Femme experience, and we are interested in work that challenges systems of oppression.

We are soliciting contributions from anyone interested, including (but not limited to):
> workshops
> panel presentations
> performances
> research presentations
> skill shares
> activist & organizational topics
> visual art
> video or film (please see below for the film call for submissions)

The submission deadline is April 15, 2012. For information about specific submissions requirements and to submit your proposal, please visit www.femme2012.com.

To learn more about us, to read our mission, and to contact us with any questions, comments or concerns, please find us at www.femme2012.com or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/groups/femmeconference/.

2012 FEMME FILM FESTIVAL at FEMME2012
In addition, this year the Femme Collective encourages all femmes (regardless of experience) to consider making and submitting a short film to the 2012 Femme Film Festival that will be taking place at Femme2012. We want to challenge you tell your story from *your* eyes. All you need is a camera (even an iPhone is good enough!) and we’ll even help mentor you along the way! It could be narrative-based, documentary, animated or some kind of in-between. How you choose to make it is yours – but the film must be made by a femme (or group of femmes) and about being femme. In order to help you get started, please include one or more of the following prompts in planning your femme-tastic short film:
- What does Femme mean to you?
- How did you come to / learn you were Femme?
- Misconceptions of Femme and how to change them
- Femme Invisibility
- Being Femme because *we* are Femme (and not because our body looks a certain way)

Submissions for the Femme Film Festival must be under 12 minutes in length. The shorter, the better — so we can fit more films into our final program! All film submissions are due July 15, 2012, to give you ample time to finish your film. Do not let your lack of experience stop you from making a film! We will not be judging films based on fancy equipment – we’re looking for honest, brave and real stories about *your* experience of being femme. So break out that iPhone or Flip Camera and start shooting! If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail Ellie (our film chair) at [email protected]

Attn: Bay Area Femmes & Allies! Special Femme Con Happy Hour at El Rio THIS FRIDAY!
Join us at El Rio this Friday, Jan. 20th, from 4-6pm for a very special Femme 2012 Conference Happy Hour! For every drink ordered at the bar during these two hours, 100% of the proceeds will go directly to funding the conference! Come drink & be merry with friends and loved ones all while supporting the all-volunteer run Femme Collective and the wider Femme community!

Need more incentive? How about free oysters, amazing drink specials, and FREE ADMISSIONS to the Red Hots Burlesque show starting at 7:30pm? Order up your Pink Lady or your Shirley Temple, then watch Dottie Lux, Isis Starr, Ava Lavendar and more shimmy-shake for the Femme Con crowd!

Come on down and support the Femme Conference! It will be the easiest fundraiser you attend all year!

El Rio is located at 3158 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA. – www.elriosf.com

Open Thread: Empowering Femme Sources Needed

January 17, 2012  |  journal entries  |  12 Comments

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?

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.

Sugarbutch Star: blckndblue, “The Pink Dress”

January 1, 2012  |  dirty stories  |  8 Comments

Do y’all remember the Sugarbutch Star stories? It was a series where readers sent in a scenario and I wrote up the story. This is the last of the 5 stories from the 2008 “contest,” the others being Eileen, Matt, Green-Eyed Girl, and Maze. This story idea comes from blkndblue.

Warning: This story is long, about 18 pages. Click the “read more” at the end to read the final scene (it’s worth it, promise). I figure it’s a good way to kick off a (happy, sexy) new year.

Thanks to Dacia & BB Rydell for help with edits!

Sugarbutch Star: blckndblue
THE PINK DRESS

Emily emerges from the dressing room slowly, suddenly shy, though I’ve seen her naked in dozens of compromised positions. She fidgets with the dress, her hair, sucks in her stomach, but her eyes are lit up and she’s biting back a playful smile. She wants to wear this dress. Her inner three-year-old princess is aflame. “What do you think?” Emily asks; but the question isn’t really about my preference. She wants me to want it so she has permission to wear it. Then she doesn’t have to want it for herself; she is absolved of her own desires. I want to her to have permission to want anything on her body that she is drawn to, regardless of its gendered implications.

I finger the skirt of the baby pink dress, its satin fabric, abundant for its near-full skirt. She looks amazing in the plunging neckline in a gentle scoop, which shows off her round breasts generously. Sleeveless, it gathers at the waist where a thick white band wraps around, tying in a ribbon at the back. It could have been a bridesmaid’s dress, or a prom dress, or maybe someone’s fancy party dress. She’s been eyeing this dress in the window display, and today was the day it came down. She asked them to set it aside for her.

“So?” She is trying so hard to be patient. The words come out in a rush. “Do you like it?”

I come up behind her as she looks in the full-length mirror barely visible behind racks of gently used clothes. I wrap my arm around her waist, pull her gently back to me as she sighs, then smooths the skirt down.

“I think it’s perfect,” I say, my lips next to her ear. “No question.”

“Really?” She’s not sure I mean it, but she wants me to. “But it’s so … femme.”

“Yeah, it is,” I say.

“But, I’m not femme!” She argues.

“What do you mean? Of course you are,” I say.

“No, I mean …” she struggles for the words. “I’m not high femme. I hate that term. I almost always wear jeans and tee shirts.” We’ve been dating for on and off for a few years. We both have primary partners, but we make time to play and go on dates. When she dresses up, she adds heels and lipstick, rarely anything more. She has some impressive lingerie, but seldom wears dresses. She wears power suits for her professional office work, where she has to keep control and is in charge of a dozen people’s activities on a daily basis. She spends a lot of time looking put together, climbing the corporate ladder, and fighting the male privilege in her office, and she’d rather kick around in something comfortable and durable when she has the option.

“I know that’s what you prefer, and it’s perfect—your ass looks great in jeans,” I counter. “Look, you’re twice the femme most self-identified high femmes are. You’re at home in your body, awake in your skin, not judgmental about your own waistline or anyone else’s. And you have your circle of femme friends without gossip or backstabbing. If that’s not high femme, I don’t know what is.”

“Yeah, but you have to say that.”

“And I want to. I know the dress is a stretch … but it’s amazing on you. It looks like it was made for you. Doesn’t it?” I ask the passing sales girl. “Doesn’t it look like it was made for her?”

“It is, like, so cut perfectly for your body,” the girl, probably barely twenty, replies. “It makes your curves look even more curvy. It’s practically, like, perfect.”

“Yeah. Perfect,” I echo, and Emily grins at herself in the mirror.

“It is, isn’t it. Yeah. Okay,” she kisses my cheek and zips back into the dressing room, and buys the dress.

*

The date is my idea, and a surprise. I enlist her friend Sam, a gay boy also known as Serena, who does a fierce drag queen act and has every feminizing, over-the-top accessory one would need. We’ve been out drinking and galavanting dozens of nights in the past few years. Sometimes Emily and I go see him perform. Last time, he did a Judy Garland number with an incredible outfit from the forties that made him look like a black and white movie star.

“I could never do that,” Emily must’ve whispered to me five times that night, but the spark in her eyes told me that she wanted to. I knew Sam would love to see Emily all dressed up.

And tonight, with this pink dress, he’s going to help. I enlist Sam because Emily doesn’t have the femme things I need, and I can’t afford to buy them all. I meet Sam around the corner and pick up the fluffy underskirt that’s used to puff out full skirts, called a crinoline.

I knock on Emily’s door, and she throws it open. “I’m here to pick up the dress,” I say, after kissing her hello. She fetches it from her bedroom, still in the thrift store’s lavender-colored paper bag with their logo on it, and hands it to me across the threshold.

“Thank you. Now, you remember what I told you? What’s the plan?”

“First, I’m getting my nails done across the street. Then I’m going to go to Sam’s at 5pm to get my hair and makeup done. Then I’ll come meet you at your place, and bring the bra and panties.” I know she doesn’t wear the white bra and panty set with the lace trim often. I like that she saves it for me.

“What time, at my apartment?”

“Seven thirty.”

“Good. Perfect. Don’t be late,” I add. As if she would be. She shifts her weight from foot to foot very slightly and I can see her ears beginning to flush pink.

I tuck the box with the crinoline under the arm that holds her dress in a shopping bag and draw her to me with the other, smiling as our faces get closer, drinking in her skin and hair and the sweet way her body fits.

“I won’t. I promise.”

“Good girl,” I say, and kiss her.

*

At seven twenty-eight, she knocks on my apartment door. I greet her with more kisses and lead her into the bedroom before she sets her purse down. Some of the things are laid out on the bed: the crinoline skirt, white thigh-high stockings, a white garter belt, and her new pink dress, which I had dry cleaned and pressed just this morning. I see her hand flicker slightly as she reaches out and touch the dress, then pulls it back and makes a fist.

“Are you ready for tonight?” I take a seat in the small armchair in the corner of my bedroom and I take a sip of the glass of water I’d poured just before she arrived, with extra ice so she can hear the clink of it in the glass. She nods. I notice Emily picks at her nails, then stop when she realizes she is probably chipping her nail polish. She must be nervous. The icy liquid is cool in my mouth and I feel it run down my throat. Her chestnut hair is mostly a silhouetted shadow, but I can see it is piled on top of her hair in spirals and curls in a way that is much more complicated than she would usually entertain. It reveals the curve of her neck, which swoops into her collarbone and, later, will lead right to her cleavage.

“Did Sam send you with jewelry?” I ask.

“Yes.”

“Get it out, and put it on the top of the dresser.” I cleared it in anticipation. She goes to her bag, removes a couple small boxes and a tiny clutch purse, then arranges it all so each are neat and not touching, then goes back to standing, shifting her weight from foot to foot and looking around the room.

“Take off your clothes,” I say. “Slowly. Fold each piece and put them on the bed.” She starts with her v-neck grey fitted girly tee shirt, quickly pulling it over her head. “I said slowly,” I say, and she pauses, moves a little slower. She folds the thin fabric easily and places it on the bed, then steps out of her low, simple black flats. She’s not wearing a bra; she often doesn’t, not encouraging the curve of her breasts to be shown off. Her bare skin glows in the lamplight. She pulls down her tight blue jeans and steps out of them, folding them a little thoughtlessly, but I don’t tell her to slow down again. She slides her plain black cotton underwear down over her legs and adds it to the pile. She fingers the worn grey tee shirt and looks at it longingly, then glances at the lingerie laid out on the bed and moves her hand to touch it, smiling as her fingertips make contact, her face relaxing.

She stands again, naked this time, crosses her arms in front of herself, then drops her arms and holds one wrist with her hand. After a moment she straightens up, and clasps her hands behind her back like she is presenting herself to me, a blank canvas. She shifts her weight from foot to foot, drops her hip, but tries to stay still. She bites her lip.

“Very nice,” I murmur from my corner. I uncross and recross my legs, ankle to knee, and pick up the cane from next to my chair. I can see her nipples, even in the shadows, hard and dark. “Get the bra and panties out of your bag, lay them on the bed.” She does. “Now, get dressed. Start with the garter belt.” She takes a breath and turns to the bed, picking it up and sliding it up her legs, securing it in place.

“Now the stockings,” I say. “And the bra. Leave the panties off, for now.” She dresses quickly, fumbling a little with the clasps and the delicate fabric, sitting on the side of the bed to fasten the stockings to the lace. “Now the petticoat.” She looks at me a little questioning, then realizes I mean the white crinoline skirt, and pulls it in a flourish from the bed to step into it.

“The dress,” I say. She pulls it over her head, evens it over the petticoat, and does her best to tie the white bow behind her back. With the extra layers of under the skirt, the pink dress is even more stunning than it was in the store. “And the jewelry,” I say, as she admires herself in the mirror hanging over the dresser. She takes a step closer and puts small two-stone droplet earrings in; they’re delicate, just an inch or so long, hanging just enough to move when she does and sparkle when the light hits them. She reaches for the matching necklace and raises her elbows to buckle the clasp behind her neck. Her fingers tremble and it takes her three tries to hook it correctly.

Emily steps back and looks at her reflection, buzzing, hardly containing the thrill of happiness at her own reflection. Her smile is as big as I’ve ever seen it. She turns her head, then shakes it to see the sparkle of the earrings, tilts her chin down to see her fancy hair-do, fluffs the skirt out to the side, and finally twirls, watching the dress in the mirror and laughing, giddy.

“Come here,” I say. She turns her head to me and takes short, quick steps across the room to where I am sitting next to the window in her stockinged feet. She notices the cane I have been stroking.

“Is that for me?” she asks.

“It’s for your ass. For later.” I set it on the table with my glass and reach out for her waist, pull her on to my lap. “Very nice,” I say, stroking the skin on her arm, the the slick fabric of the top of the dress, brushing my fingers against her breasts and nipples. I offer my mouth for a kiss and she wraps her arms around my neck, opening her mouth, gently kissing back. “You look gorgeous.”

“You really think so?” she bats her eyelashes. She looks like a sunrise, peeking over the horizon, breaking the dark, reaching up into the sky. She still looks like herself—just polished up a little, enhanced, prettied.

“Really. Very much.” We kiss again and I get lost in her lips, her tongue, the way her hands grasp gently at my neck and shoulders. I let my hands trace her stockings, wander up under the many layers under her dress. “Do you like the crinoline?” I ask.

“Oh yes,” she breathes. “Is that what Sam gave you?”

“Yes. On loan.”

“It’s so … pretty.”

“You’re pretty, sweetheart.”

She smiles shyly, kisses me again.

“Did you like getting your nails done, and your hair and make-up done?”

“Yes! It was really fun. More than I thought it would be. I thought it would be weird but it makes me feel fancy. And important. And … ” she lowers her voice, her eyes a little and brings her hands up to straighten my tie, pinch my collar between her fingers. “And I knew I was doing it for you. That you would like it.”

“Mmm. And you did a very good job getting all ready for me.” I find the patch of skin at the top of her stockings, her sweet smooth inner thigh, and rest my hand there gently.

“I like doing what you say.” It lets her mind rest, she’s explained to me, and is a relief to trust enough to follow orders instead of second guessing and being in charge of everything.

“I know. And I have a few more things to do before we go to dinner. Are you ready?”

“Yes.” I toss her a questioning look and she corrects herself. “Yes, sir.”

“Good.” I take a breath. “I’m going to warm you up for the evening. I want to give you something that will serve as a reminder that this body—” I shift my hand quickly and palm her pussy, making her gasp, then quickly attempt to maintain her composure and keep her eyes open, looking at me, “—this pretty little body of yours is mine to play with tonight.”

She nods, quick, tiny movements of her head, and her eyes flicker with a hint of nervousness.

“Are you worried?”

“No, sir. I know you will take good care of me.”

“That’s right. Good.” I move my hand away and she breathes in, her thighs quiver. I lean in to kiss her again, bring my hands to her waist and then up to cup her chin, neck, the back of her head, careful not to mess up her hair. She relaxes, her mouth softens. She tastes like cream.

“Get up and bend over my lap. I’m going to make some marks on your ass before we go out.”

She delicately places herself over me with more care than usual, though we’ve been in this position many times. She doesn’t want to muss herself. This chair is perfect for over-the-knee spankings, with wide, low arm rests. Her stockinged tiptoes just barely reach the floor. She arches her back automatically, presenting her ass and slit to my right hand.

I caress her neck and shift my arm to cradle her collarbone and begin peeling up the layers of her pretty pink dress and petticoat. The peach of her ass is perfectly framed by her stockings and garter belt, the layers pushed up to her hips. Softly, I bring my hand to her thighs and ass and begin caressing.

“So nice,” I murmur into her ear. I start with some rapid tap-tap-taps with my fingers tight together on the sweet spots on her ass, the ones that make the flesh shake and that makes her muscles relax. She sighs, keeps breathing, keeps filling her lungs and breathing into the increasing sensation. She’s done enough yoga, we’ve played with enough sensation play—she knows how to open.

I keep going with light taps and occasional full-handed gentle swats until I can see a pink flush starting, just a hint. She loves being hit; she snuggles down into it as if I was reading her a bedtime story. I increase my swing, raising my arm higher, and give her a few open-palmed, but not too hard yet. Her skin is fair and it is easy to leave long-lasting marks, easy to bruise and break capillaries on the surface of her skin.

Which is exactly what I want.

I continue, warming up her ass until it is bright and hot, flushed and red, beginning to show some darker parts where it will be easy to leave marks. She moans, sinking into me, humming with pleasure. When we are both warm, when my shoulder feels like it is loose and liquid and easy, I raise my arm high and let fly a few hard wallops, pausing in between, but just for a moment, to let her react. Her body shudders and I feel her tense, then relax, over my lap. I can feel the impact of my hand through her and onto my thighs, can feel her growing heat and intensity. I let my hand down again, and again, allowing gravity to pull me, sucking up the power she’s handing over while I have her upturned and stunned, ready to take more.

I lean down so my mouth is by her ear again. “You are doing so well. Your ass is nice and red and starting to bruise. I’m going to get my cane out now.”

She manages to move her neck slightly, twists her head and looks up at me, and nods just a little. I grip the cane from the side table and it feels hard, solid in my hand. It slices through the air with a hiss and I love the way it extends my arm. The last time we used the cane, she told me every time she sat down, she thought about what I’d done and how I’d used her. That it made her wet to have to act like she could sit normally, when really it was excruciatingly painful. That’s how I want it to be tonight. Something to take away from the terror of being so femme, over the top femme, in public. Something to distract her.

The first hit with the cane is a little off, and not too hard. She gasps but does not squirm. The second is two centimeters toward her thighs and harder. Immediately a light stripe appears. She jumps a little and lets one arm drop, grabbing on to my pant leg, as she lets out her breath in a long thin stream through her teeth. The third, quicker now, is at a different angle, crossing the first two. She sucks air back in and lets out a laugh, bubbling like champagne, thrilling and tickling my nose. Good. She’s warm, dropping into that blurry area past the sharp pain and into sensation.

The next dozen or so are more rapid, in succession, some lighter and some fiercely hard and biting. She takes it well. She gasps and begins squirming, but not away, not off of my lap, just to wriggle and shake off some of the building energy. I fall into a pattern of hard-hard-quick-quick-soft-caress where my eyes glaze and my cock hardens. I can see her slit becoming wet, swollen, as pink as her sweet round ass cheeks.

The striping is beautiful, thin welts rising on bull’s eye circles where my hands bruised her first. I can already see some small places where my handiwork reveals itself.

I lean low against her ear again. “It’s going to hurt for a while when you sit,” I say, as a slide the cane away and bring my hand to her singed bottom. It is so tender and sensitive, like stretched skin over the frame of a drum, reverberating with every touch.

She moans. “Thank you, sir.”

I bring her up onto my lap again to hold her for a minute, her ass already uncomfortable. Sitting at the restaurant is going to be excruciating. I stroke her hair and neck, offer her some water and she takes it. She snuggles against my chest, lets me sooth her, then rocks a little on my lap and I realize she is searching for my cock.

“Looking for something?” I ask.

She falters, remembers herself. “No, sir.”

“Later.”

She nods, tries not to look disappointed.

“I have one more thing for you before we leave. Ready?”

She nods again, brings one hand up to her mouth to bite one finger, a childish gesture of nervousness.

I almost laugh. “Nothing bad, sweet girl. This is a present. A surprise.”

Her eyes light up as she slips off my lap. I go over to the closet where I stashed the bag, then sit on the bed, patting the bedspread next to me. She shuffles slowly over the thin carpet in her stockings, smoothing out the skirt of her dress and walking slowly because her legs are still weak from being bent over my lap and beaten. She brings her hands behind her, to touch her ass, as she walks, and I can tell the muscles are already sore.

I hand her the bag. She gives me a shy smile and pulls the shoe box out of the plain white shopping bag. Her eyes widen. She realizes she only brought the flat black shoes she came in.

“Oh!” She exclaims when she opens the box. They took me a few days to find: the exact pink shade as the dress, with a small strap over the arch of her foot, delicate white trim, and a tall, thin four inch heel. She pulls them both out and pushes the wrapping aside on the bed, holds them flat in her hands, grinning. “May I?”

I slip off the bed to kneel in front of her, holding my hand out. She blushes—adorable—and hands the shoes to me, offers me her foot so I can slide them on, one at a time.

She laughs, and twirls. “I feel like these are fancy shoes from my fairy godmother, and I’m Cinderella!”

“You look amazing,” I say, standing up, and offer my hands to help her stand. It may take a minute to get used to them. I take her in my arms again and she melts into me, offering her mouth for more kisses.

When I pull away I take the delicate white panties still laid out on the bed and offer them to her. “Put these on, we wouldn’t want you getting your dress any more wet than it already is. Freshen up your lipstick and let’s go to dinner. Are you hungry?” Her lipstick is smeared from kissing me, and she hasn’t noticed. It’s probably on my mouth. I quickly wipe my mouth in the bathroom mirror and when I come back in, she’s sitting on the bed to step into her panties, pulling them up over her shoes and stockings, leaving them on the outside, so they can be the first thing that comes off later. She stands and picks up the tiny clutch purse she laid out on the dresser, checking her make-up in the dresser mirror. I slide my suit coat over my shoulders, watching her twist the lipstick up and pucker her lips. She would never do these things on her own, but she is flushed and giddy and thrilled, ready to go.

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Femme Conference Will Be in Baltimore, August 2012 and the Question: What is even DISCUSSED at a “femme conference”?

October 28, 2011  |  essays, miscellany  |  8 Comments

I caught sight that the 2012 Femme Conference dates and location have been announced—it’ll be in Baltimore, MD, August 17-19, 2012. I’m looking forward to attending and I think I can make it, at least for now I don’t have anything scheduled, so I’m adding it to the calendar. I haven’t been since 2008 so it’s time to go again.

The Femme Conference “provides a weekend by, for, and about queer femme-identified people and our allies. Every other year the Femme Collective co-creates a femme-centered space and brings you workshops, brilliant keynotes, glittering performances, resource sharing, community building and much more. Our 2012 event aims to explore how we grow, build, nurture, and align the many pieces of our communities and identities while building femme community and power,” according to femmeconference.com, which has (or will have) more details on the conference going forward.

I first saw this announced on the fuckyeahfemmes tumblr, which is brilliant in case you don’t follow it, and of course in true Tumblr style, some ignorant commentary got quickly added to the thread. Fuckyeahfemmes alerted me to that as well.

The original post:

“… really? is this an actual thing? what is even DISCUSSED at a “femme conference”…? how to continue reinforcing stereotypes and relegating people to specific, pre-determined categories based on SUPER out-dated notions on what it means to be a gay woman? laaaame.” —juliaperchance

And Fuckyeahfemmes wrote back:

Probably anyone who would attend a femme conference wouldn’t feel that they were “relegated” to that category, they would self-identify as femme (asserting their own sense of agency around their sexuality and gender identity) and they would probably want to discuss issues such as stereotypes about queerness and femininity, thus proving that “femme” is something that is constantly being redefined and redetermined, not something that is simply forced upon them. Not everyone who identifies as femme is gay or a woman either. The fact that people have such negative associations with femme identification, (even and especially within the queer community) is the reason that this annual event happens- providing a space to think through such issues in a non-threatening environment.

And of course lots of other folks on tumblr jumped in as well, including myself. I wrote back:

What is discussed? Femme invisibilitycreating femme identity in radical & responsible ways, community, queer markers …and tons of other stuff.

And by the way, femme identity is not “outdated.” There are thousands of people creating and re-creating femininity in queer contexts which are liberating and celebratory, not full of restriction or judgement, and which are created for the person to feel good in their body and with their gender expression. To lump femme identity in with some notion of the binary gender roles reproduced on “gay women” is to seriously miss the gender revolution that is happening right now.

Ohbettinadear responded:

yikes. it’s so seriously sad to me that some queer women don’t undertand that no one is asking them to identify as femme. but me? i AM femme. i know it in my bones. so please don’t be so myopic to assume that this is an outdated notion, because femme, to me, feels right. i’m so glad this conference exists, so that we CAN play with and celebrate that identity, so that we CAN recognize each other in the absence of a heteronormative lens.

and stefi-leekx.tumblr wrote:

I’m so sick of anti-femme bullshit. Shaming women for stuff like this is fucking counterproductive. Also “lame”? Nice ableism there.

I am really sick of anti-femme bullshit too, though my response is more “ugh, sigh,” than “omg !#$(@!&*.” It’s clear that most people really just do not understand how femme identity can be radical. It’s also clear that a lot of feminine-of-center queer women (and people who don’t identify as women, but very commonly women, I think) end up with a lot of flack, baggage, and bullshit around their femininity and the ways that this culture commodifies, consumes, degrades, and devalues women, queer women, femininity, and femme. And it’s even more potent when they are all in combination.

The ableist bullshit came to my mind, too. “Lame” is a loaded word, let’s remove that from our vocabulary as much as we can, like “retarded” and “gay” (as a derogatory slur, I mean).

Clearly, there are a lot of people out there who understand, embrace, and celebrate the need for a femme conference. It still surprises me to come upon folks who don’t get it, who reduce it to “makeup and dresses,” who devalue femininity. (Sidenote: read Whipping Girl, folks who don’t understand why this is femme-phobic. And anyone who cares about femmes. And everyone else.)

But let’s also not let comments like juliaperchance’s keep us away from answering equally important questions, like this one from cybercarnet:

I’ve been wanting to go to the femme conference for a long time, but I’m worried I will just feel inadequate the whole time, not “femme” enough. Have any of you gone? Is there a lot of femme policing? Like, for example, I think makeup looks great and all, but unless I’m dressing up for a costume party, I never wear makeup. I hate wearing makeup. I rarely have the spoons to get all dolled up anymore. How is the disability and fat-positive representation here?

I have so many questions! If I’m going to fly across the country and spent beaucoup bucks, I need to know I’m not going to feel like shit the whole time, you know?

First: YOU ARE FEMME ENOUGH. If you feel aligned with this identity in any way, even if it is a complicated issue for you, you belong there. You don’t have to be a sing-it-from-the-rooftops femme to attend. You can go and be reluctant, and curious about what this building community might have to offer for your own understanding of your place in this world and your own gender identity.

I didn’t go in 2010, but my answer is: GO. There is space for disability and fat-positive representation. Even if it isn’t executed the best possible way it should (and what is), it is there, and people are trying. I have known some of the folks who have been on the Femme Conference board in the past and they are great. I support not wearing makeup if that’s what you like (and/or do because it is better for you). There is not a lot of femme policing, in my experience (and from what I’ve heard from femmes, too). Other folks want to weigh in on this? Have you been to a Femme Conference? Would you recommend it to this person?

Last but not least, as long as I’m on a femme+tumblr kick, let me present you with this little piece I found from delisubthefemmecub, a trans femme boy, who has this to say about femme, and I think perfectly illustrates why we need this conference, why we need to do this work, and why I love femmes:

For me, femme is about healing

it is about the rituals of adornment that I use to calm my anxiety, and quell my tears after days where transphobia slips under my skin like stubborn splinters

it is about reaching across time, bridging the distance between the man I am and the girl I was.

it is about finding that girl in the recesses of my heart, holding him in my arms, and saying “it will be okay, we made it out alive.”

it is about finding a way to be a boy that doesn’t hurt.

it is about nurturing all the femme parts of myself that I suffocated, just so the boy part of myself might be visible to other people.

For me, femme is about resistance

it is about refusing to believe that there is a right way to be a man

it is about glitter armor and gestural fierceness coating my spirit so that I might just be strong enough to survive

it is about reclaiming and flaunting all of the parts of my femininity that have been used to say that the sexual assaults were my fault

For me, femme is about healing, resistance, survival.

Somedays, femme is all I have.

Thank you delisubthefemmecub. Finding ways to be us, in whatever gender we are, whatever part of the gender galaxy, without being hurt by it, is one of the biggest missions and purposes behind this work that I do. I think it’s possible, and I want us each to do our own exploration and our own discovery, and be uniquely ourselves in whatever ways help us heal, resist, and survive.

Femmes Needed for PhD Study

December 26, 2010  |  miscellany  |  No Comments

UPDATE: Matt has more than enough interviews for his study, thank you for helping!

Why hello femmes, I have a request:

One of my most favorite people, Matt, a buddy of mine from Seattle who now lives in the Bay Area, is doing his PhD research on femmes who are currently partnered with a trans man. He’s coming Eastward in early January and is looking for subjects to interview in New York City and possibly Northampton as well. I think he prefers to do these interviews in person, but he is willing to do them by Skype, too.

Here’s the flyer for the study, which describes who he’s looking for and what he’s seeking:

Study Recruitment of Femmes

Are you a femme identified woman over the age of 18? Are you currently coupled with a FTM identified person who has begun medical transition? If so, you may be eligible to participate in a study regarding the nature of a range of feelings and attitudes about body image. Study participants will be asked to participate in a 1-1.5 hour recorded, confidential interview. This study is part of a dissertation, a requirement for completion of a PsyD at the Wright Institute. If you are interested in participating, please contact the researcher, Matt Goldenberg, M.A Thank you very much for your interest.

Contact him directly if this describes you, and you’re interested in participating. I’m including his Letter Of Introduction here in this post after the jump; read on if you’re interested. And please do pass this on.

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“The Complexity of Butch and Femme”

December 7, 2010  |  essays  |  2 Comments

Perhaps you remember: about two summers ago Esther D. Rothblum, Ph.D., who is a Professor of Women’s Studies at San Diego State University, was conducting an extensive survey about butch and femme identities, both independently and in relation to each other.

I put the call up here and she let me know that many of the participants interviewed were from having announced it here.

The article is finalized and now out, published in Psychology of Sexualities Review, Vol. 1, No. 1.

Dr. Rothblum sent me a PDF copy and said it was fine to reproduce here, so in case you’d like to read it, here it is: The complexity of Butch and Femme among sexual minority women in the 21st century.