Posts Tagged ‘femme’
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.
“… 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
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 invisibility, creating 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.
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.
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.
It’s Kristen’s 28th birthday tomorrow!
I am as ever grateful for her in my life. I’ve never been so in love, I’ve never been in a better relationship, and though we are in some rocky growth struggles, I am confident we’ll get through it and be better people because of it.
This is the third birthday I’ve been able to spend with her so far, and I love the ways that she is growing and blossoming and stepping into her power and doing amazing things in the world, and I know it’s just going to be more exciting to be with her as all her adventures continue.
Love you, darling. Happy birthday.
I have a little bit of a birthday tradition around here, where I ask readers to send in photos of their sexiest shoes as a little birthday card, if you feel so inspired. “Sexiest” can mean whatever you think it means, though I am partial to the tall, delicate, girly ones that tie around the ankle, but big stomping boots are awesome too, and toe cleavage is pretty darn sexy. Your call, I’m curious to see whatever makes you feel the most sexy.
Here are a few of my favorites from the last few years:
From Sex in Power in 2010
Email me your photo sometime in the next week or so, or leave the URL here in the comments, and I’ll be compiling them and featuring in the next few weeks. Sugarbutch turns 5 at the end of April and I’ll be doing the Ask Me Anything tradition again, so let’s get this done before that starts.
If you’d rather not send in a birthday photograph, maybe you’d consider buying me a beer? I know it’s tough financial times, for many of us, and I so appreciate the support y’all are sending by way of emails and comments. If you’d like to treat me to a birthday present, I would so appreciate it. If you’d like to do something other than a donation, I will (this one time!) provide the link to my Amazon wishlist that has mostly books and a few kitchen things. I really want to keep writing here, and to stay afloat, and every little bit helps as I’m still struggling into this freelance career.
Sincere thank yous! Now, I have a big to-do list to get through before Kristen and I take off tomorrow, so I better go do some work and stop looking at the Mac store.
The one on Twitter, and Rough Sex 3: Adrianna’s Dangerous Mind release party. Director (and general badass hottie) Tristan Taormino posted some shots from it on her Tumblr and on Facebook, including this one of my firecracker fierce hot girlfriend.
Photo by Nate “Igor” Smith (drivenbyboredom.com)
(Regularly scheduled posts will return next week, I swear.)
t to, since I used to write up everything, and since that night was particularly notable and so hot.
This was my gift to her, yesterday. I’ll post a shot of what she got me later.
It’s a garter flask. And if you promise not to tell Kristen, I’ll tell you that it came from You-Nique Garters on Etsy and they come in lots of colors.
Remember the Butch Burlesque that happened at Dixon Place a few months back? Well, the instructor from that series did a series for the more feminine-id
entified folks, goddess burlesque, and Kristen decided to take part. Take her clothes off? In public? And have people admire her sexiness? Sure why not!
So she’s making her debut this weekend, Saturday November 20th at 9:30pm here in New York City, as Lavender Menace (look it up if you don’t get the reference). Come!
Crones, Ducks & Babes
Presented by Dixon Place & Victoria Libertore
An evening of variety, merriment & surprise hosted by Howling Vic (as her alter ego Liza). Enjoy music, burlesque, clowns and free gifts! And the topper is five of Howling Vic’s students are making their burlesque debut! Audiences have said their faces hurt from laughing so hard!
Performers: Jessy Carolina & The Hot Mess 6 piece Old Time Jazz Band, James & JF: Emily James & Ishah Janssen-Faith and making their debut: Aqua Vulva, Crystal Balls, Lavender Menace, Sunshine Bloomfade and Priestess Moon Feather.
Manipulated by Victoria Libertore
It’s happening right now! Well not quite right now, since it’s earlier in New York City than it is over in Oakland, on the other coast where the sun sets over the water just like it’s supposed to.
The hashtag for the conference is #femme2010 if you’d like to follow along on Twitter.
How do you like that collective noun, by the way? An extravagance of femmes? Not bad really. There’s a fascinating collective noun site connected to Twitter so that when you tweet your suggestion for the collective noun with the hashtag #collectivenoun it gets automatically updated and counted on the site. Plus, you can “like” other people’s suggestions (which also goes to Twitter). So what say you—what’s the best collective noun for femmes? Tweet it, or leave it in the comments. And check them out as they come in.
Okay, enough of that. You’re dying to know what the femme book is for today, right? Since we’ve got the Butch Voices regional conferences to count down to now, in NYC (September 25), Portland OR (October 1-3), and LA (October 8-10), I figured I’d do a butch/femme joint anthology.
- Brazen Femme: Queering Femininity edited by
Chloe Brushwood Rose & Anna Camilleri (Arsenal Pulp Press; 2003)
- Femme: Feminists, Lesbians and Bad Girls by Laura Harris and Elizabeth Crocker (Routledge; 1997)
- The Femme’s Guide to the Universe by Shar Rednour (Alyson Books; 2000) (And did you see? Shar has launched a blog How Great Sex Made Me a Good Mom and is now on Twitter as @SharRednour)
And there’s Glamour Girls: Femme/femme Erotica by Rachel Kramer Bussel (Harrington Park Press; 2006) and With a Rough Tongue: Femmes Write Porn by Amber Dawn and Trish Kelly if you’re into erotica. Which, you know, you might be.
So now that I’ve recited pretty much every femme book that I know of and think are worth knowing, let’s get back to today’s feature. The Persistent Desire: A Femme-Butch Reader edited by Joan Nestle, published by Alyson Books in 1992. It looks like it’s out of print, but you can probably still get it used in various places, like Powell’s online or, of course, Amazon (but only if you have to. Don’t you want independent bookstores to stay in business?).
The description of The Persistent Desire from Library Journal is as follows:
This anthology of stories, poems, and nonfiction accounts pays homage to a host of femme and butch lesbian relationships that have flourished over four decades. The narrators recount their experiences, describing how they met, how they took care of one another, and how they tried–or defiantly tried not–to fit in. The selections themselves bubble with passion and pain. Some dive beneath the surface to explore the varied meanings of gender roles, but most describe highly ritualistic manners of dress, hairstyle, and gesture that at times left the protagonist open to ridicule. In collecting these pieces into one volume, Nestle has made sure that the integrity and diversity of femme-butch relationships will not be lost. She has included narratives from women of many backgrounds and ethnic groups and from outside the United States.
This book was for me, as it was for many people, eye-opening, validating, breathtaking. I found it while I was still trying to articulate my own butch identity, and come into my orientation of dating femmes, and it blew past most of my doubts as if doing 80 on a motorcycle. I wanted to be part of that, I felt so connected to it. It changed the way I thought about myself and the way I thought about femmes.
It’s dated now. It was published almost two decades ago, and it reflects a different era of thought about gender identity and alignment assumptions. And while the trans movements were alive by then, much has happened on that front in the past 18 years since it was published and much transgender theory has affected gender theory deeply in wonderfully deliciously complicated ways.
We’re really due for an update.
And how about that, one is just on the horizon! Partners and butch/femme couple Ivan E. Coyote and Zena Sharman have been working on an anthology titled Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme (see the connection to the first anthology’s title? Smart!) that is due out from Arsenal Pulp Press soon. Not sure what the exact date of publication is yet, but you can be certain I’ll be mentioning it here again. It looks like Ivan just picked up the postcards for the book from her publisher the other day, so it must be coming fairly soon! I will report back as I know.
There are more books, especially more butch/femme books, and more books just on butch identity by itself (look for more of those featured on the upcoming Fridays as we countdown to the Butch Voices NYC conference). I’ve made a new section in my Amazon Store exclusively for butch and femme books, so if you’re curious what else is out there, that’s a good place to start. And if you’ve got suggestions for what I missed, I’m glad to hear ‘em!
UPDATE! Persistence: All Ways Butch And Femme has a webpage on Arsenal Pulp Press, a description, and is due out in the spring of 2011. Isn’t that cover great? It’s done by Elisha Lim, who also has a book of her own newly out from Alyson, 100 Butches, Volume 1.
If you see Zena at the Femme Conference, she supposedly has postcards for Persistence, so that’ll give you an excuse to say hi. She’s aka “The Silver Fox” because (guess) of her hair, so that should narrow it down for ya.
(Don’t you just love the Internet? I do. Thanks, Arsenal, for answering those questions.)
Soooooo I asked some of my friends & mentors to do me a little favor and call up and record a voice mail of birthday wishes for Kristen, and I’ll be publishing a few of them today. Here’s the first one, from S.I.R. Productions’ and Good Vibes COO Jackie Strano: “Sexy birthday wishes from sunny California.”
Photo borrowed from Jackie’s Facebook account.
Boots from an Italian femme who is visiting New York City soon. Got any recommendations for where she absolutely must visit and what she absolutely must see while she’s here?