identity politics

In Praise of Femmes: The Architecture of Identity

This is what I learned at the Femme Conference.

Oh, the Femme Conference. I have so much to say about what happened there, both personally and in relation to this gender work. Oh yeah, and I have some hot stories to tell y’all, too.

First: THANK YOU, everyone who donated money to help me attend. I was able to go because of this website. I may not have gone otherwise because I really can’t afford to travel. Thank you.

The theme of the conference was The Architecture of Femme, and as such many of the panels explored the construction, deconstruction, and reconstruction of femme identity. As my background is in social theory and social constructionism, I tend to come from the place that says femme is constructed primarily physically, on the body, that all gender is performative. This means through symbols of femininity – shaving, long hair, skirts/dresses, heels, jewelry, makeup, etc.

One of the major themes I’ve come across in running Sugarbutch is femmes who feel invisible – that they are not read as queer because lesbians are not feminine, femininity is a constructed gender role within the heteronormative paradigm, and the perceived notion that a femme is really either bi or straight.

This misconception has to do with physical symbols of gender, and required alignment of sexual orientation and gender.

The first keynote speaker at the conference, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, said: femmes are not invisible, you don’t know how to look.

And this is point number one that I want to make. I’ll pause here to let that sink in for you.

Femmes are not invisible, the lesbian community just doesn’t know how to look.

That deeply resonated with me. I feel I’ve been trying to say that to femme friends and lovers for some time now – “well, I found you, didn’t I? Do you not go to the clubs, do you not get dates? Of course you’re queer.”

I know it’s not this simple, really – I know there is much difficulty when someone is not recognized by their own community because they are being true to their own sense of gender. That’s not an easy contrast to reconcile, and I don’t move through the world that way so I can’t really speak to the daily experience of what that’s like.

Before the conference, I started a conversation about femme eye candy – remember this? I’ll get back to that in another post more fully, but the relevance is that Muse & I were discussing requesting photos along with some text about how the femme in the photo queers femininity – how her femme-ness is coming through in any particular way that indicates that she’s femme, not straight.

[TO BE CLEAR: this is NOT be about proving queerness whatsoever. I am working on the details of how to write this up, and will explore this much more in-depth in another post soon.]

The point is to use the femme eye candy as a visual lexicon of physical symbols, as an attempt to notice any emerging patterns and begin to record the physical markers of femme identity.

DEFINE: Markers: physical details which indicate that the person is using their fashion and style to construct a queer identity. Examples of usage: Femme markers, butch markers, queer markers, hippie markers …

I have some ideas about what these markers might be – vintage and pinup clothes, hyper-femininity, high contrast, for example – and I must thank Sam and Maggie from Toronto who did a wonderful workshop at the conference on the construction of femme identity through fashion and style, where many of my thoughts on this were refined.

The discussion at the workshop quickly went from “what are some of the femme markers” to “what are ways that femmes construct identity besides through physical markers?”

I kept thinking about these things throughout the weekend at the conference: the markers, and the ways femme is constructed besides markers.

Five things stand out greatly from the discussions as ways to construct femme:

  1. In contrast to butch – the classic in some ways, the stereotype in others. We all talk about how butches lend visibility and how different a femme is perceived and treated alone verses with a butch. The conference brought up the issue of femme history, too, and how hard it is to find femmes, and one of the ways to do so is to find the butches’ visible queerness and search for their partners.I think this is an incomplete, problematic, and outdated construction of femme identity generally, but it is relevant historically and it still applies at moments. Plus, for some of us our own sense of identity is so greatly magnified when in contrast to our particular desire orientation – I am not just a butch, for example, but I am a butch who loves, desires, and partners with femmes, and that is also a key component to my identity.
  2. In community – Maggie, the beautiful dancer and wicked smart femme behind the Femme Show (who has a wonderful girlfriend, I was disappointed to hear, as I developed quite the crush on her over the conference) spoke of how when she is in queer spaces, she expects that she should be read as queer. It should just simply be a given. It is not a given that the feminine girl at dyke night is queer, because the lesbian community is still closed off to the ideas that feminine girls are lesbians. I mean, in some ways that is being shattered – maybe that’s one good thing the L-Word has done for the lesbian communities – but in practice, many many queer women still don’t recognize femmes.(I could also speak to how this is probably engrained in butches especially, in butches who are attracted to femininity, from a young age, because we do tend to go for the straight girl or the L.U.G.s and end up getting our hopes up and our hearts broken when she, inevitably, leaves us for a guy, because, well, she’s straight. I still watch butches go through the realization that femmes exist – that femininity exists in a queer context – and wow that sure can be a revolutionary realization. But this is another topic to discuss later, too.)
  3. Through language – Someone commented to say she has no particular physically queer markers, and in fact she prides herself on that, and would rather constantly construct her queer identity by constantly coming out verbally. But even if a femme does see herself as using many queer fashion and style markers, there is still always an element of constructing identities verbally and through language.This brings up one other idea, which is that I think all of these ways of constructing femme identity happen for everyone, that it isn’t just one or another, that some are stronger for some femmes than others, that there are many different combinations of them that make up each unique femme expression of each person.
  4. Through fashion and style and through markers. There are hundreds – thousands probably – of ways to construct femme through physical feminine presentation. The conference was amazing that way, to see as many different representations of femme as there were femmes in attendance. I loved seeing the similarities, the differences. There was such an amazing array from the fanciest drag-queen femme to the pencil-skirt-and-glasses femme to the pinup girl femme to the punk rock femme to the tomboy femme to the sundress-and-cardigan femme.And the SHOES! Oh good lord, I could write an entire post on the shoes at the femme conference. (Swoon.)Honestly, I never cared for fashion until I began discovering, uncovering, and creating conscious and intentional butch/femme gender understandings. I wish I had a better grasp on fashion and the history of fashion sometimes, some folks were saying very interesting things about the evolution of women’s clothing options during the conference.
  5. Through theory – feminist theory, gender theory, power theory, BDSM and kink theory, postmodern theory, historical contextual theory. The intellectualizing of my own gender has been a key component to constructing my own gender identity, and this resonated strongly at the conference.

I’m going to have to work on the butch version of this idea, the ways butch identity is constructed, though I imagine it is in many ways similar: in contrast to femmes, in community, through language, through markers, through theory. But perhaps there’s more to add, perhaps butch and femme are constructed differently? Ill keep thinking on that; please do add your two cents if you’ve got ideas on this topic.

Two specific questions for you, at the end of this looooong summary of what I learned at the Femme Conference about the architecture of femme:

  • What are some other tools with which you construct your identity, femme or otherwise?
  • And what do your markers look like?

Published by Sinclair Sexsmith

Sinclair Sexsmith (they/them) is "the best-known butch erotica writer whose kinky, groundbreaking stories have turned on countless queers" (AfterEllen), who "is in all the books, wins all the awards, speaks at all the panels and readings, knows all the stuff, and writes for all the places" (Autostraddle). ​Their short story collection, Sweet & Rough: Queer Kink Erotica, was a 2016 finalist for a Lambda Literary Award, and they are the current editor of the Best Lesbian Erotica series. They identify as a white non-binary butch dominant, a survivor, and an introvert, and they live outside Seattle as an uninvited settler on traditional, ancestral, & unceded Snoqualmie land.

37 thoughts on “In Praise of Femmes: The Architecture of Identity”

  1. muse says:

    yay, femme conference posts! I adored the time I spent there, and still have warm fuzzies about the experience on so many levels.

    I need to just say that I loved the idea of language as a femme signifier. I am always delighted to pipe up and out myself at every available opportunity, in any setting, to anyone. I like that although you may not see me coming, you may not read my orientation by my shoes or clothes or accessories or hairstyle, I’m right there and visible as queer as soon as I’m given the chance. I out myself about the fact I’m gay in all circles, and about my sexual power identity in friendly, progressive, and queer circles. femme bottom, rawr!

    I also loved Maggie’s assertion that if a feminine-looking girl is in a gay space, you can just go ahead and assume she belongs there. okay? we’re not lost.

    I was so surprised when Leah Lakshmi looked at the crowd and said “femme invisibility is bullshit. You just don’t know how to look.” because (she went on to say) none of us are normal girls. we’re damaged. and our beauty is in our damage. we’re all trying to wear our girlhood in a way that doesn’t hurt.

    so I’d love to know more about what femmes consider to be their own particular brand of beautiful damage. what about you do you think is beautiful? what visual ways do you show your hard-won girlness? how did you get there? how did it become your own?

    please forgive me if I hippie woo-woo-kumbaya out for a sec and say that I think all you femmes are gorgeous and strong and I fucking love all of you. for reals. it struck me at the femme conference that we actually can do it a different way than our hetero sisters, and praise and nurture one another rather than competing and tearing each other down. there’s been enough of that, don’t you think? we’ve reinvented femininity in so many other ways, and it’s time to take this last divisive element down. as a matter of femme pride, as a key part of our identity. let’s love each other.


  2. It’s weird how much has changed for me between yesterday and today regarding my feelings toward being recognized as a femme. Yesterday I questioned myself and started wondering if maybe I’m not femme at all and today I am jumping up and down with the Muse over loving all my femme sisters and embracing it in myself.

    I think that my false eyelashes are my femme marker. They make me feel so sexy and super feminine. I like to put them on when we go for a big night out and I just feel so femme wearing them. It helps me exude such confidence and when I look back at a butch there is no doubt she knows who I am.

  3. The conference sounds amazing! I would have loved to have gone as an ally *is jealous*

    I think your idea about exploring femme in photos is definitely interesting. You should check out the new feature I’m starting next week called The Many Facets of Femme. (

    The idea is to celebrate femme diversity, since we all know that definitions of femme will inevitably vary from person to person. People send in a picture, a quote, a thought, a collage… something that, for them, expresses and/or celebrates their own personal “femme-ness,” however you define it, along with their favorite thing about being femme. Then, each week I’ll post a new portrait of Femme. The goal is to create a gallery of diversity that celebrates all the amazing things that being femme is and can be.

  4. Mab says:

    I think my markers are generally unseen, like wearing slips and stockings when no-one will see them, like under full skirts, or wearing opaque wool stocking/suspender sets – (I think the term might mean something different in America though). A lot of my femme side is in the lingerie few people get to see. I’ll have to ponder I think how this could come across in photos. The performing femme to excess I get, too – my superlong hair preference, my tendency towards vintage 50s or Victorian clothing…

  5. muse says:

    @Natt – that photo series you mention is kind of exactly what Sinclair posted about a month ago (the link is in this post, actually). hmmm. it’s a little odd that you’re promoting your own verision of the same idea here? seems counterproductive somehow. or maybe you just didn’t realize Sin was already planning this?

    @greg – ohmigod, please can we have a femme makeup party where you teach me how to put on fake eyelashes? I had no idea you wore them. that is awesome. and yes, thank goodness the femme lovefest is finally beginning in earnest. and there is so much room for you in the identity, are you kidding me? you so rock femme.

    @Mab – I totally get the femme signifiers being unseen. most of my signifiers are under close wraps, too: lingerie, piercings, tattoos that only my lover gets to see. maybe a tasteful arty shot of a piece of a suspender strap, a flash of fishnet under crinoline, something along those lines. fun! man, I’m hearting the ’50s styles lately.

  6. @ Muse- A femme makeup party is a fantastic idea but it will have to be over at my place b/c there is no way I can haul all my stuff somewhere. ha! The eyelashes are quite easy to apply once you get the hang of it (although I did poke myself in the eye while I was drunk on the cruise – but that was an extreme situation). I only wear them when I get dressed up and it really adds some drama to the look.
    Thanks girl, much love :)

  7. oh, i so strongly agree with #2! that is, if i’m going to be straight-till-proven-gay in the straight world, then i think everyone is gay-till-proven-straight in the queer world! (by proven i mean told) ’cause i have no problem with people mistaking me for straight (i mean, how am i to blame you if i’m not wearing my rainbow cape or screaming “gay-da-de-gaygay”) as long as you respect it once i’ve corrected you. and, in response, i expect that you won’t be offended when i assume you are gay at the dyke bar, and i’ll change it if you say otherwise.

    i guess i’m saying that community is major to me, and language is the only one i trust fully.

    because all the other markers, while fun and hinting, are not 100%. i’m saying this for my straight-butch sisters, too! whatever fashion and community may suggest about someone, do them the honor of believing what they say =)

  8. black and blue says:

    Finally, your long-awaited recap!

    Most of my “markers” started out as a mark of “other”: goth, artsy, rocker, etc., how I have id’ed in the past. Vintage works in many ways as a mark of “other”- eco friendly, budget-friendly, reappropriating signs from history and reclaiming them (bob haircut=women’s sufferage, 50’s housedress=reclaimed classic femininity détourned with combat boots, etc..)

    As I have become more engaged in my femme identity, I find it liberating to wear clothing that is more feminine in queer space. I “dress down” in my everyday space, b/c I fear objectification by men. (BTW, I am bi-ish, but that doesn’t mean I want to be looked at in the same way by a man as by a butch! Not at all!) There is also a thread of old-school feminism in me that prevents me from “dressing up” unless I am in queer space and feel safe. I loved that aspect of the femme conference, just the freedom to dress how I want, with knowing glances and shared makeup tips galore. Wish I would have taken it further and dragged out my corset, etc…

    ps: It was so nice to meet you, Muse!

  9. queer white femme says:

    It’s a good question. On first thought–some of the markers of my femme identity or the parts of my aesthetic that make me feel most femme are the things that say, “look at me.” And it’s a qualified “look at me” because it’s so definitely not about wanting to be leered at or validated by straightmaledudes. For me it’s more of being defiantly visibly feminine on my own terms. My teenage years were filled with so many external critiques of how to be feminine. I was constantly getting messages to not dress too sexy (read: slutty), not too flashy, to follow what the other girls were wearing (regardless of whether those styles complimented my shape or worked with my budget), and to do all of this with the goal of landing a straight white boy. My femme construction of femininity is (for about 14 years in the making) in direct opposition to all those rules. I feel most femme in big, bright jewelry that catches the light, fishnets, over sized sunglasses, red shoes, painted toes, a sexy perfume with a sexy name, and sparkling makeup on my lips and eyes. And when I am going for high femme, it’s all about the false eyelashes and red lipstick!

  10. Amber says:

    I am king of tomboyish in my fashion (although my newer purchases have been becoming more and more feminine), so unless a person really has their eyes peeled for a tomboyish femme, they won’t find me that way.

    I think mine’s in the body language. Maybe I’m just aware of my body as it is, its femininity and all that; maybe being a (belly)dancer has made me more aware of my body and how it moves. Hell, maybe both!

    A thought that just occurred to me is that perhaps it’s a combination of these two things. My kinda-but-not-super-feminine clothes combined with my very feminine body language. Hip-swaying walk, standing with a hip jutted out, shoulders back and down for good posture and to put the girls nicely on display. (But then, these are all things that straight feminine girls do, so how am I differentiated from them, besides when you see me with my butch GF?)

    Sigh. This is a tough one. I wish I could tell you with surety what my markers are. But then again, if someone is not making conscious effort to use certain markers, maybe their markers have to be pointed out to them by another.

  11. @muse

    You know, I went back and read that post just now, and I realized that my project does sound similar. I admit also that I didn’t keep an eye on the comments on that post after I put up the pictures of V. In re-reading it, I see how the discussion about the femme eye-candy issue evolved after I left the discussion. It wasn’t my intention to step on toes; much of what I remember about that post was about butch eye-candy and giving love.

    Also Sin said, “I’m not exactly sure how to do that without it becoming “photos of pretty girls” which, though that’s awesome, is I think a cheap blog trick. Any interest or ideas?”

    I guess this was my own solution: as a femme ally, to reach out to as many femme-identified people as possible, to celebrate the great diversity in personal expression of femme and to create a record of that. Hopefully, to create something that will generate a greater respect and appreciation for all the many ways that persons identifying as femme express themselves.

    And I didn’t necessarily mean it as an exploration of the “femme-not-straight” angle. In writing and reading about this in a few of the places I post, many of the comments I received seemed to express frustration at the “femme = uberfeminine” idea. Like they somehow “weren’t femme enough” if they didn’t wear skirts or makeup all the time, or didn’t always shave their legs. That really hurt my heart to see. Gender identity and issues of queerness are hard enough without having to feel like you’re not living up to the perceived community standard. I conceived of The Many Facets of Femme as one way to address those fears and feelings of inadequacy and frustrations. To give a broader scope to what we think about when we think about “femme.”

    I truly thought I’d uniquely expressed that angle, so again, I do apologize, Sin, if you thought trying to steal anything. But honestly, even if it IS a bit similar to what you want to do, I would hope that the blog-o-sphere is big enough that we could both do that. No one should have a monopoly on this stuff, and I don’t want to be part of something that tries to. I’d rather be part of a movement where a whole community works to support each other, encourages collaboration, and takes steps to make sure our work reaches and affects as many people as it can. If it turns into some kind of fight over who can post what pictures in what context and whether or not someone came up with the idea first, then I think we miss the mark completely. I’m here as a femme ally, a female-bodied person, a genderqueer, and someone on my own journey, reaching out to others doing the same.

  12. Perdy says:

    Femme markers? At first I didn't think I had any…well because I don't feel that I should have to have any.

    The only label I have ever given myself is my name, but more and more my name is meaning "femme". It's intrinsic.

    So thinking logically my markers are what make me….me.

    There is absolutely no mistaking my femininity, it doesn't matter what I wear or how I accessorise. That itself will vary dramatically dependant on my mood, but although giving a nod to current fashions it tends to be a style all my own.

    I also think it's a lot to do with how you present. I just don't feel right unless I have "my sexy on", it's something I "wear". It empowers me.

    Finally… toenails are always red, always. My lover has promised to always ensure my toenails are red if I ever get to a point that I can't reach them myself.

  13. muse says:

    black and blue, it was so great meeting you, too. you are a great co-conspirator and a fucken rad femme.

    @ Amber – as someone who used to claim tomboy femme as her gender, I've always thought that femme is from the inside out, and the ways it manifests can vary enormously. I think body language, and movement in general, is a great femme signifier.

    @Natt – I don't think any toes were stepped on, I was just curious about the fact that you touted your own project without first giving a more distinct nod to the discussion that was already ongoing.

    I think the idea of documenting, or as the fabulous Hussy Red said, archiving the femme experience visually, in writing, and any old way is so important, and there's definitely room for everyone to get in on the effort. and I so get that the idea that claiming femme can be intimidating or oppressive (as it once was to me), so showing the diversity of the gender will hopefully make it feel more inclusive. of course, I look forward to seeing the many lovely and delicious flavors of femme in your series.

    p.s. in this vein, I highly recommendFemmes of Power by the incredible Ulrika Dahl and Del LaGrace Volcano. it's a gorgeous portrayal of variety in the femme gender, and a darn good read.

  14. Mab says:

    Re: the photos of pretty girls dilemma

    I have been thinking about this over the last couple of days, and my take on it will probably be too long to post here.

    I think a lot of the problem is if you are photographing women posing for a male gaze, if that doesn't sound too angry/2nd wave feminist.

    My femmeness isn't performed for anyone. I ritualise and pamper from the bath to the bedroom to the outdoors, but it's for me and I would do it even if my lover didn't like it.

    I think to have an identity that is separate we cannot see ourselves as doing something for someone else – aka the traditional pretty girl smiling, or the porn-star fake masturbating for the camera.

    Therefore traditional "sexy" poses are the one thing that doesn't really work for this (although unarguably nice to look at). A woman dressed, as she does, as a femme, possibly with accentuated markers like the vintage clothing, but definitely not posed. Maybe caught, unconsiously, at the start of applying make-up, to photograph the process because it's more important than the results. Perhaps curled up reading or doing heavy lifting :) Perhaps with visible body hair while undeniably sexy. Perhaps in the middle of shaving. Perhaps with tampon wrappers and empty shampoo bottles or all the things that we use that are not us. I'd want to be in a sundress playing in a field or climbing a tree and photographed by surprise.

  15. I'm particularly struck by #3. I work in a particularly male-dominated industry with mostly older, former military men. I have to come out all the time. Although it's exhausting and I sometimes complain about it to my lesbian friends, I really mostly enjoy it.

    My style of coming out is to do it like "a normal person." I find that there is a pattern to developing professional relationships. In the first meeting you start with small talk (how was the trip into the meeting — this involves complaints about airlines, airports, traffic, or weather) then moved to business, and then by the lunch break things get "light personal." This is the stage where I typically come out. Talk turns to evening or weekend plans and I throw in either a "my partner and I" or "my girlfriend and I." Both require a later follow-up with my partner's name. I find that general the term "partner" raises in folks some suspicion of my gayness, but sometimes they just assume that because I'm a lawyer I have this law partner that I go to the opera with on the weekends. Funny. Girlfriend, as you well know, can also fall short because of that damn straight "girl's night out" thing.

    Anyway, I like coming out this way because I believe that it can demonstrate to people that being gay is a perfectly normal thing. I hope I convey it to them just exactly the way that they come out to me as straight — "my wife and I are going, my wife told me, my girlfriend is…." Obviously my coming out is more conscious that theirs is — but that's to be expected.

    RE 4, I am much "femme-ier" in my work dress than my weekend dress, except of course when we are having a date. (I'm ashamed to admit that the weekend fall-off is mostly out of laziness.) I wear suits to work, and I prefer them the girly-er the better. Feminine cuts, skirts, heels, jewelry. I feel so much more confident and attractive during the week (and when I've made the effort on the weekends).

    My style of dress, for me, adds to how I come out at work. It furthers one thing I am trying to convey — that we are everywhere and strait folks can't necessarily "spot" a lesbian because of how she dresses. Coming out is personal for me, for sure. I don't want to hide at work, I want to be accepted and treated like everyone else. But, it's also quite political for me. I like to think I'm doing my wee part to bring folks along, even if it's one at a time.

    Something just popped into my mind. Indulge me and think of Kelly McGillis in Top Gun? Not the tight white tee shirt, flight jacket wearing McGillis, but the scene where her character is introduced. Three inch heels and a pencil skirt clicking down the center aisle of testosterone-fueled flight school. What if, rather than the annoying Tom Cruise love story, we had learned that the high femme, sexy-suited McGillis character was actually queer? To me much, much hotter.

  16. Thx for this very thoughtful response to the conference, Sinclair. My comments turned into a post on my own blog:

    Let me know what you think!



    [Thank you, I love what you added! I'll comment over on your post. – ss]

  17. Essin' Em says:

    I posted on about the idea of a "Femme tattoo" (in contrast and connection with the blue stars) –

    My markers – slightly feminine outfits, but not the completely traditional "high heels, flowy short skirts, hair in a perfectly coiffed updo." I do have the semi-rockabilly pin up look sometimes (the dyed hair adds to that), but sometimes I'll wear pin stripe pants with a sexy cleavage halter top.

    But honestly, I feel my Femme market is my attitude. It's a little sassy, a little feisty, a little snarky. Kind like a "you might think you're going to get lucky, but don't put all your eggs in one basket" even if I know I'm going to fuck them attitude. Or the "why no, you can't buy me a drink, but you may pin me up against the wall and make out with me/fuck me in the bathroom.

    Does that make sense?

  18. You're welcome, Sinclair–and thanks for your comment on my blog. I really appreciate black and blue's comment because I think some femmes do look for ways to make femininity "other," which is a pretty interesting proposition.

    I.e., maybe I can't signal to the world that I'm Miss Supergay, the biggest homo ever, but I can choose a style that reads as "alternative," and therefore invites people to look more closely at me and my gender.

    Which brings me back to Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha's terrific point and what I take away from it:

    I don't have a style of femininity that reads as alternative/queer, and that's OK. Femmes do not need to find ways to make their queerness visible; instead, queers need to develop new ways of seeing.

    As many of us have been saying lately, there is no "right" way (or ways) of "doing" femme.

  19. Oh and BTW, Essin Em: yes, that *does* make sense! Femme attitude–which you definitely have boatloads of–is really important. So glad you brought it up.

  20. Lemur says:

    Ohhh… I am so intimidated by this subject. I think I've been trying not to think about it. I may have to think about this. And post on it, cause I'm masochistic that way. This discussion is amazing, by the way.

  21. femme in butch cloth says:

    finally de-lurking! i've been loving this blog for a long time now.

    although i have always had very long hair, i think my main femme "marker" exists on an intangible level. it's my vibe, my energy, it's mostly a psychic thing. hence, not readable by people who really aren't paying attention, but most of the time that's ok w/ me. someone else in the comments already mentioned this: whatever i may lose by not being obviously queer, i gain by messing w/ (straight) people's assumptions when i casually mention my girlfriend in conversation. i don't so much come out as i just assume that i *am* out already & if it throws them for a loop that is 100% theirs to deal w/. i don't really leave any psychic space at all for "oh, wait, you mean you're a dyke?!" this too is part of the psychic level i'm operating from. it's sort of the "these are not the droids you are looking for" approach to identity & coming out. it works pretty well. i have a friend who is a butch in femme clothing, i mean lipstick, platforms, & she also has waist-length hair. i can be in men's or unisex clothes from head to toe & we can walk around in the world together & nobody is ever confused about which one of us is butch & which is femme. it's also clear that we are not a couple. how do people know this? it's a psychic thing we project.

    another thing i'm wondering is, for the other bi femmes out there: how does your femme-ness manifest itself in relation to men? i find there is an interesting sort of feedback paradox that has happened, i am more femme w/ men now than i was back when i thought i was straight (a long long time ago)! although i have been in a monogamous rel w/ my gf the whole time & came to femme id in that context, i do still flirt w/ men out in the world & i feel like i do it as a femme. explaining this in detail would take pages probably, but i leave it out there as a question for other bi girls….

  22. dollpart says:

    Sorry if this is johnny-come-latley to this article but it really piqued my intrest since I want to look for a partner and I asked some friends who are in the lesbian scene in my town and they said I'd stick out like a sore thumb by the way I dress. See, I adore all things hyperfemminine and none so hyper-fem as the Elegant Gothic and Lolita style, I wear it all the time, petticoats, bloomers, hair bows, skirts, dresses, purses, make up, shoes that would make your head spin, unpracticle nail appliques, hair pieces and mountains of jewelery.

    I've been to a few queer events around town, chatted with a lot of lovely ladies but I feel like the big frilly blipp in the queer matrix. Butch girls are nice, I'd like to get to know some but they're put off by the frills/lace/bows/excess and as for regular lipstick girls they just seem to not exist or be too old for me.

    I'm attracted and adore femininity and butch girls too but my style seems to be babepoison in a 99% butch dyke community here :

    /rant about how my riddiculous self made construct of an alternative sort of overt femininity is killin' my datin' pool ;) keep up the good work sugarbutch

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