Author Topic: Femme invisibility  (Read 26410 times)

imperfectcupcake

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Re: Femme invisibility
« Reply #60 on: Dec 16, 2014, 11:11:55 AM »
I can relate a lot to what you've said, Biz.

The only time "femme" gets brought up outside forums is generally someone talking to me about binaries. Which is why I've distanced myself from the word a bit now that I'm back. My friends get it, but we don't talk about it either. There's nothing to talk about. I've known them all since I was 15ish and we all pretty much know each others genders, sexualities, fluidity levels and how everyone likes their coffee and where all their moles are. We talk about sex, food and goofy shit. The gender thing is just understood and I never have to explain anything. One of them has transitioned twice and nobody blinks. He's changed his name three times and pronouns twice, and we just shrug and roll along. That's just kinda who he is. Two of them have the pronoun "they" and we found it a bit clunky at first but no one even asked about it. Just kinda went "ok"

But outside of this bubble, it's a shitstorm of wierd that can get a bit difficult. It can feel like an island. We all grew up together and the level of acceptance is really high. It's strange to go from that to "femme = fluffy and shallow and likes shopping" just by physically walking around the corner into a coffee shop with dyke hipsters and second wave feminist hippies.

Someone asked me what what one of my mates' sexuality was the other day and I said "uh. Bisexual. Ish. Soorrrrta. Um. Actually... I know exactly the different genders she goes for romantically and the other ones she'll just fool around with...but I can't tell you a word for it. It's easier if I can just tell you that I think you'd find it difficult to get anywhere with her. How about that? That's all you wanted to know, right?"

I'm finding it harder to fit things into single words anymore. I know they are short cuts/short hand for quick reference, and it can be a really handy thing. Who wants to say "four legged and platofrm covered implement used for sitting upon" instead of "chair" all the time? But then because people get an image of "chair" in their head they don't always see the chairs that don't have legs, or have three or one or are totally round or sometimes act like a shopping cart.

I'm losing my capacity to make sense. I should go make food.

flora poste

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Re: Femme invisibility
« Reply #61 on: Dec 16, 2014, 11:20:34 AM »
I feel I can more easily own the word 'femme' than 'feminine', because I see them as two quite different things and the former is a lot more powerful to me than the latter.

I get this.

Being in a relationship with a cis-man, I'm surprised by how strongly femme I feel. I doubt he would or could identify it, but actually for me it feels that my identity has strengthened - perhaps because in my relationship there is no counterpoint to recognise or define it? ie, I must hold it internally.

I'm really happy that Musca is here too.

Offline pure evil

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Re: Femme invisibility
« Reply #62 on: Dec 16, 2014, 12:27:54 PM »
But outside of this bubble, it's a shitstorm of wierd that can get a bit difficult. It can feel like an island. We all grew up together and the level of acceptance is really high. It's strange to go from that to "femme = fluffy and shallow and likes shopping" just by physically walking around the corner into a coffee shop with dyke hipsters and second wave feminist hippies.

OH YES, and I think that's why I don't get sick of talking about it with people who share similar experience or have a capacity to think outside of the 'femme = cupcake bearing' box (apologies if you love to bake). Sometimes because of the lack of true reflection of my own identity (and a fair bit of active undermining) I can start to feel as if I don't exist.

I liked the doco 'before stonewall' because of the way it described this feeling of dissonance when such a gulf exists between ones own internal and the outside world. There's a point in the film where people talk about moving to bigger cities and starting to realise they are not just rare abberations, this always makes me smile and feel more persistent in just being who I am despite frequently failing to fit any of the tidy definitions.

Bizoute

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Re: Femme invisibility
« Reply #63 on: Dec 16, 2014, 02:06:31 PM »
I feel I can more easily own the word 'femme' than 'feminine', because I see them as two quite different things and the former is a lot more powerful to me than the latter.

I get this.

Being in a relationship with a cis-man, I'm surprised by how strongly femme I feel. I doubt he would or could identify it, but actually for me it feels that my identity has strengthened - perhaps because in my relationship there is no counterpoint to recognise or define it? ie, I must hold it internally.



I probably feel at my queerest when I date men. I touched on that in an article I wrote recently, so I'll save saying too much about that here. (If you want, I'll point you towards the article when it's out - if it's interesting to you).

Bizoute

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Re: Femme invisibility
« Reply #64 on: Dec 16, 2014, 02:12:01 PM »


I'm finding it harder to fit things into single words anymore. I know they are short cuts/short hand for quick reference, and it can be a really handy thing.

Words as shortcuts, yes, but I hear you. The problem being that with labels come assumptions. People often latch on to assumptions based around people they know who happen to also use your label/s of choice. This was a clunky sentence.

flora poste

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Re: Femme invisibility
« Reply #65 on: Dec 16, 2014, 03:27:03 PM »
I feel I can more easily own the word 'femme' than 'feminine', because I see them as two quite different things and the former is a lot more powerful to me than the latter.

I get this.

Being in a relationship with a cis-man, I'm surprised by how strongly femme I feel. I doubt he would or could identify it, but actually for me it feels that my identity has strengthened - perhaps because in my relationship there is no counterpoint to recognise or define it? ie, I must hold it internally.



I probably feel at my queerest when I date men. I touched on that in an article I wrote recently, so I'll save saying too much about that here. (If you want, I'll point you towards the article when it's out - if it's interesting to you).

always! yes please.

imperfectcupcake

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Re: Femme invisibility
« Reply #66 on: Dec 16, 2014, 10:03:17 PM »
But outside of this bubble, it's a shitstorm of wierd that can get a bit difficult. It can feel like an island. We all grew up together and the level of acceptance is really high. It's strange to go from that to "femme = fluffy and shallow and likes shopping" just by physically walking around the corner into a coffee shop with dyke hipsters and second wave feminist hippies.

OH YES, and I think that's why I don't get sick of talking about it with people who share similar experience or have a capacity to think outside of the 'femme = cupcake bearing' box (apologies if you love to bake). Sometimes because of the lack of true reflection of my own identity (and a fair bit of active undermining) I can start to feel as if I don't exist.

I liked the doco 'before stonewall' because of the way it described this feeling of dissonance when such a gulf exists between ones own internal and the outside world. There's a point in the film where people talk about moving to bigger cities and starting to realise they are not just rare abberations, this always makes me smile and feel more persistent in just being who I am despite frequently failing to fit any of the tidy definitions.

LOL re cupcake. The reason I chose imperfectcupcake as a name is the idea of a "messed up" or "messy" cupcake, a "fuck you" cupcake. Imperfect femininity, femininity as in fuck you. Femme, to me, has always been "fuck you" femininity. Femininity on its own terms, its own design, its own creation. I actually can't stand cupcakes and hated the twee explosion of them. To my mind it was symbol of what was expected of femininity - being cute, small and perfect. To eat in one bite. Limited. Restricted to a tiny space.

Fat femininity, loud femininity, swearing like a sailor femininity, angry femininity, femininity with a loud dirty laugh, femininity that loves sex, that kisses and tells.

Things that femininity is not supposed to be, mixed with stereotypes that piss off narrow minded feminism (I'm a proud feminist but I know quite a few that see femme as a "role" rather than a natural expression of self - just because they see femininity only in terms of being something performative, unnatural and performed for the eyes of men - and thus wrong. Odd for a feminist belief, but it's common enough)

So femme, for *me* (everyone to their own) was being able to mix "fuck you" type femininity, with "bad stereotypical" femininity - both things I was not allowed to be, and be it. With pride.

There was a time when femme was a flame for me, a way to actually be myself against everyone telling me not to be weak (the bad forms of feminine).

These days, the word is a bit floppy, but only because of where I am living. But it's still a political, fierce word to me. And a gender of femininity that is its own sense of worth, based on joy of self in "bad femininity" - all the things we can claim for ourselfs and enjoy.

That's not the whole story for me, of course.

And yes, 10 years in London was certainly a fucking relief in that regard. It was far less oppressive on the femme front. When I first walked around, being actually seen, noticed, and checked out by dykes on the tube escalators, it felt like a bag of wet cement had been lifted off my shoulders. I was *seen* and not disregarded anymore.

The first lesbian club I walked into, I went into the bathroom and there were girls in black dresses and heels fixing their make up!!! Wow.

Coming back to my form of femininity being "over the top" by the lesbian community here when it was "normal" in London has been a very long adjustment indeed. And yet, at school, my class mates thought I was "butch" when I outed myself (that "bad femininity" again manifesting and being read as "masculine")

That was interesting though. For a year at school being read as a butch dyke. My friends wet themselves thinking of me as butch. Heh.

Odd read though. And rather telling.
« Last Edit: Dec 16, 2014, 11:40:40 PM by imperfectcupcake »

Offline pure evil

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Re: Femme invisibility
« Reply #67 on: Dec 18, 2014, 11:14:19 AM »
Femme, to me, has always been "fuck you" femininity. Femininity on its own terms, its own design, its own creation.

Fat femininity, loud femininity, swearing like a sailor femininity, angry femininity, femininity with a loud dirty laugh, femininity that loves sex, that kisses and tells.

Words to live by doll  ;D *edit* don't know what that cheesey delighted smile is doing there, I wanted a far more knowing and carnivorous looking emoticon*  xxx
« Last Edit: Dec 18, 2014, 11:26:24 AM by pure evil »

Bizoute

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Re: Femme invisibility
« Reply #68 on: Dec 21, 2014, 11:09:15 PM »

LOL re cupcake. The reason I chose imperfectcupcake as a name is the idea of a "messed up" or "messy" cupcake, a "fuck you" cupcake. Imperfect femininity, femininity as in fuck you. Femme, to me, has always been "fuck you" femininity. Femininity on its own terms, its own design, its own creation. I actually can't stand cupcakes and hated the twee explosion of them. To my mind it was symbol of what was expected of femininity - being cute, small and perfect. To eat in one bite. Limited. Restricted to a tiny space.



See, I have an ongoing issue (maybe less so these days) of feeling like I do get perceived as ... kind of like a cupcake. Well, not a cupcake, really, obviously.  :P But that kind of idea. People seem to tell me a lot how 'sweet' I am - generally people not people who know me really well. And even though I know it's intended as a compliment (there are worse things to be called,) it always feels a bit reductive to me.

At the end of an acting course I did (the acting teacher was/is really big on people claiming their Shadow, so by that point I kind of felt like I was down to the core of myself,) we did some quick monologues as an exercise. I gave one on how much I hate being called 'sweet.'  At some point in it, I started a sentence with 'And it's not that I'm not sweet...' (something like that) and my acting teacher shot me a pointed "I don't believe you" look. That kind of clinched that one for me. I'm not sweet. But I'd been slightly hanging on to that notion of myself, I guess, because there's a kind of safety in projecting that out. It's very unthreatening.

(Then a few weeks later, I was chatting to a woman after a dance class and she referred to something about me as "sweet." A friend from acting overhead and said, with mucho gravity "Don't Call Bizoute Sweet.")

In my own head, my femininity (whatever word) is kind of ... toothy and a bit raw, a bit animal/a lot animal. However my last housemate once turned to me and randomly told me "You have this little girl fairy butterfly quality about you" (I don't remember if there was a context). And I do see this too. And it seems okay. Except when people are perceiving me only in terms of that kind of floaty femininity, because then I feel pushed into a box of what society wants 'feminine' to be. 

Offline MzB

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Re: Femme invisibility
« Reply #69 on: Dec 21, 2014, 11:50:34 PM »
Maybe if femininity is perceived as 'sweet', it is about nourishing other people, in a compliant way? Being a human cupcake?

Whereas what imperfectcupcake is pointing at is something which is there in and of itself, for itself? Something more autonomous and powerful.

I don't know. I do know that when I was doing a women's sexuality course in West Hampstead a good few years ago, we were asked to bring food which represented our sexuality for the final session, and all the women brought cakes and sweet things and chocolate and wore floaty dresses and heels.

Whereas I brought a slimy black mushroom dish made with sherry, and wore leather trousers, big boots and a black halterneck spandex dress. (I may have told that story before, if so, apologies for repetition).

From what you are saying, Biz, about your acting class it sounds as though it is about owning your strength, and for that not to be threatening to you. Others, who expect cupcakes and sweetness, may find it threatening. But you have to be prepared to live with that.

Or something. 



« Last Edit: Dec 22, 2014, 12:34:27 AM by MzDanglyMcBauble »

Bizoute

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Re: Femme invisibility
« Reply #70 on: Dec 22, 2014, 12:00:49 AM »
^I think you're onto something. In all regards.

And I like your story.

Offline pure evil

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Re: Femme invisibility
« Reply #71 on: Dec 22, 2014, 12:09:42 AM »
....... when I was doing a women's sexuality course in West Hampstead a good few years ago, and we were asked to bring food which represented our sexuality for the final session, and all the women brought cakes and sweet things and chocolate and wore floaty dresses and heels.

Whereas I brought a slimy black mushroom dish made with sherry, and wore leather trousers, big boots and a black halterneck spandex dress. (I may have told that story before, if so, apologies for repetition).

Well I'm glad you did tell it again as I had never heard it. I'm now wracking my brain to think of what dish I would bring. (good vault thread).

@Bizzy Making Latkes (BRB) with perceptions, I feel people can read 'face value' as a matter of their own convenience or limitations. I tend to have to impress quite the opposite of the cupcake thing ie: that I have vulnerabilities, although I don't think it's difficult to see that. I often wonder why people have a difficulty percieving complexity.... I mean what human is not complex?





Offline MzB

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Re: Femme invisibility
« Reply #72 on: Dec 22, 2014, 12:33:46 AM »
But then again, 'sugar' is sexual, too, in a way that I like:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GbKlvWvpD2g

And I wonder if there is something about being an 'outlaw' in what imperfectcupcake is trying to articulate. There's an interesting article here about 50s butch and femme as 'badass': http://www.autostraddle.com/six-ways-that-1950s-butches-and-femmes-fucked-with-society-were-badass-140167/

And the femme part of that outlaw couple can be fierce.

As well as needing a sugar Daddy, sometimes.





« Last Edit: Dec 22, 2014, 12:36:33 AM by MzDanglyMcBauble »

imperfectcupcake

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Re: Femme invisibility
« Reply #73 on: Dec 22, 2014, 01:57:43 AM »
Well that's kind of what I was pointing to, the dichotomy (not to me, but to many others) of stereotypical (as bad) and fierce (as bad). When I found the term femme, it gave me the space to deconstruct and rebuild my femininity as my own. Not according to anyone else.

Femininity that isn't seen as sweet, vulnerable, with emotional softness is often seen as a frightening and intimidating thing. You are either a fluffy and warm creature meant to please others by your nurturing and sparking presence or you are a femme fatal sent by Lilith to temp, use, and destroy. I love being a two dimensional characature of a gender, it pleases me to no end. Indeed PE, the lack of capacity to see complexity is very irritating and, frankly, isolating.

It's often why I try and make a joke with people these days when I meet them from off the net and they ask what to call me "I prefer the name 'sparkle cunt, really'" with a big warm smile to just try and get rid of both those notions as soon as possible.

And yes, as fierce as I can be at times, it's nice to have one person (a Daddy dyke would be fantastic  :D) that I can be that vulnerable giggling girl around (and my close friends of course - but not quite in the same way, and not quite to the same extent....) Otherwise the boot leather shell gets a bit exhausting.

Bizoute

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Re: Femme invisibility
« Reply #74 on: Dec 22, 2014, 08:51:12 AM »



@Bizzy Making Latkes (BRB) with perceptions, I feel people can read 'face value' as a matter of their own convenience or limitations. I tend to have to impress quite the opposite of the cupcake thing ie: that I have vulnerabilities, although I don't think it's difficult to see that. I often wonder why people have a difficulty percieving complexity.... I mean what human is not complex?

Yeah...this repeatedly throws me in general. As far as I know I don't tend to read people or things on a surface level (I mean, maybe I do sometimes without realising it, but not as a general rule). So it always surprises me to discover quite often other people do.

I sometimes get the flipside of feeling like I'm being perceived as a cupcake, too - I also sometimes seem to get read as having no vulnerabilities. (A couple of friends mentioned at different points they don't see me as at all vulnerable). I think what they meant is that I'm independent and self-contained. But clearly that doesn't mean "I have no vulnerablities." Everyone does.


Femininity that isn't seen as sweet, vulnerable, with emotional softness is often seen as a frightening and intimidating thing. You are either a fluffy and warm creature meant to please others by your nurturing and sparking presence or you are a femme fatal sent by Lilith to temp, use, and destroy.


Yeah. It's all throwbacks to living in a world that sets things up into binaries and dualistic blah, no?
 
Actually, the other thing I noticed via acting was how taboo it feels for me to ever be unfriendly. So, definitely I've swallowed some conditioning around that.

And re: the femininity being read as fluffy vs. Lilith-y: even Lilith probably had a nurturing side. She had a whole slew of hybrid serpent baby-creatures to raise. But more seriously, I think it's a problem of reducing people to the roles we mentally allocate them or seeing them as archetypes. No-one is actually an archetype.