Tag Archives: Femme

Further Contemplation on Femme/Feminine Lesbian Invisibility  

11 Nov

Following on from my Femme / Feminine Lesbian Invisibility and after a discussion with my partner’s aunt, I have wondered a few things –

– do I just give off a ‘I’m taken and happy vibe’ that both women (gay, bi and straight women) andstraight men pick up on

– and consequently I don’t give off a ‘I’m single and available’ vibe that some people would pick up on

– does my body language says the above

Maybe it is a combination of all of the above and being presumed as straight. Perhaps I should run a little experiment where next time I head to a women only event, I wear a pin-up girl t-shirt or something rainbow to say – ‘I like the ladies!’

Femme/Feminine Lesbian Invisibility?

27 Oct

A Saturday night a few weeks ago some of my  boylesque/drag king classmates performed at our local lesbian night club. It was a Rocky Horror Picture Show themed night and a red and black outfit of corset, fishnets and high heels was obligatory to arrive in (costume change came later). I got the occasional glance and look up and down, but no one approached me for a chat or my phone number. My intent was not to be chatted up. I am happy in my relationship and I’m not seeking other partners. But it is a nice feeling when a fellow woman (i.e. fellow lesbian) finds you attractive and you don’t have to indicate that you too are a lady loving woman. It is something I have wanted since coming out ten years ago. 

Do I give off a particular vibe? Unavailable? Unapproachable? Straight? Bi-curious? Do other lesbians see me as straight? Do I, though my feminine and glamorous style and long hair, pass as straight? Is this a case of femme/feminine lesbian invisibility?  

Do we need to do more for femme visibility? I think in the lesbian press and online there is definitely representation of femme/feminine looking lesbians, but do we need to change our own internal perceptions and the lesbian community’s perceptions around ‘what lesbians look like?’ Is there a certain presumption that lesbian women should be inherently ‘dykey’ or alternative in appearance? Do we need to address our own ways of spotting other lesbians? And……. perhaps our own internal doubts and les-phobia around ‘I don’t look gay’ Food for thought….

  Image courtesy of Curve Magazine

 
Image courtesy of Curve Magazine

Femme Identity & Me

4 Apr

I sometimes identify as a “semi-femme” (a term of my own making, which I use to describe myself within a femme context), other times as “just myself.” But I do find the femme identity very empowering and inspiring. I may chose to more closely identify with the femme identity in the future. I have also previously posted on Femme Identity, see my posts Femme Identity and Femme Identity Continued.

One thing that makes me reluctant to embrace the femme identity fully is that it is perceived that the femme identity is linked to the butch identity and that femme women are attracted to butch women. I know myself, and I am not attracted to butch women. If I identify as femme, I don’t want people to assume that I must like butch women. And this is in no offence to butch identified women, I simply know who I am attracted to and I don’t want others to assume to know who I am attracted to based on how I express myself.

I have been reading a research proposal by Connie Laalo entitled, Beyond Lipstick: Expressions of Femme Lesbian Identity through Dress. In the proposal, the author states that in order to fully establish and assert femme as an autonomous identity, it must be engaged independently in a manner that validates this expression of femininity as an authentic expression of lesbian identity and lived experience. I love the concept, of asserting the femme identity as autonomous, authentic, and independent of the butch identity. And a few blog posts and online articles I have read appear to promote this and aspire to this. Decreasing femme invisibility may also aid this aim. This concept would sit so much better with me, and I know I would feel a lot more comfortable in identifying as femme.

There is also one other thing that sometimes bothers me about identifying as femme. I don’t want my femininity (dress, long hair, make up, views) to be seen to be conforming to the patriarchal, societal and traditional expressions of being female. And just to add to the mix, the term feminine doesn’t always sit well with me, as it seems to imply conformity also. The term “femaleness,” as proposed by Feminist Spiritualists in the book Living in the Lap of the Goddess: The Feminist Spirituality Movement in America by Cynthia Eller, seems to reflect this rejection of patriarchal, societal and traditional ideas around femininity and what it means to be a woman, and describes these things as female traits beyond conformity. I like displaying my femaleness, but I don’t do this to conform to the preconceived notion of what it means to be a woman. I am like this because I like these things. It is part of who I am. And this feeling falls into the concept of empowered femininity and “choice.” I am a feminist and I chose to be feminine and express my femininity / femaleness how I wish. These two go together and are not separate or mutually exclusive.

As more studies, blog posts and webpages increase awareness of the subversive and feminist elements to the femme identity, hopefully there will be a greater understanding of this identity.

References –
Eller, Cynthia (1993) Living in the Lap of the Goddess: The Feminist Spirituality Movement in America, Crossroad Publishing Company, USA

Laalo, Connie (2011) Beyond Lipstick: Expressions of Femme Lesbian Identity through Dress, MA research proposal, Ryerson Unviversity, Toronto, Canada
https://ccs.cf.ryerson.ca/ethicsReview/data/2329/5562/consent/A913CEB8F7401808444ED189B965BCAB.doc

Subversive Performance of Feminine Gender – Femme Identity

4 Apr

“Subversive performance of feminine gender,” as per Connie Laalo in her research proposal entitled, Beyond Lipstick: Expressions of Femme Lesbian Identity through Dress.

I absolutely love the concept of subversiveness and that the femme identity can subversively perform femininity. Turns the traditional and societal notion of femininity and heterosexuality on its head! You can be femme / feminine / possess femaleness AND be a lesbian too. Takes “signifiers of being a woman” – female clothes (i.e. dresses, skirts), long hair, make-up, high heels and glamour and combines this with a queer sexuality. It plays with perceptions, assumptions and judgement.

There are times I think to myself, when dressed in a nice dress with bright red lips and my hair dyed red, that I want to say out loud “I’m a lesbian!,” just to get the message across that I love to dress how I do and I love women. I think this is something most people would not know by looking at me and how I dress. I guess this is a great description of femme invisibility and “passing.” It is unconsciously though because I don’t pretend to be straight, I just don’t express my sexuality in an obvious way.

Reference –
Laalo, Connie (2011) Beyond Lipstick: Expressions of Femme Lesbian Identity through Dress, MA research proposal, Ryerson Unviversity, Toronto, Canada
https://ccs.cf.ryerson.ca/ethicsReview/data/2329/5562/consent/A913CEB8F7401808444ED189B965BCAB.doc

Femme Identity

19 Mar

I have been reading recently a paper about femme identity. The paper entitled, the Misunderstood Gender: A Model Of Modern Femme identity by Heidi M. Levitt, Elisabeth A. Gerrish and Katherine R. Hiestand was published in the journal Sex Roles in 2003. The paper surveyed a number of femme identified women about how they saw themselves, their identity and sexuality. The paper also discussed the lack of scholarly study on the femme identity (there is a lager body of work on the butch identity) and a general misunderstanding within the lesbian community and heterosexual community regarding this gender identity.

I found the paper very interesting and positively affirming of my own feelings about femininity and lesbian sexuality. Although I don’t identify solely as femme (I sometimes think of myself as a “semi femme”) many of the views and feelings reflect my own. There was one difference though, I don’t define myself as a lesbian woman attracted primarily to butch women. I am attracted to who I am attracted to, namely women with strength, toughness, beauty, sensuality, a certain difference. I love glamour and dresses and make-up, but I this doesn’t define my attraction to this or the opposite, as in the butch identity.

Reference – The Misunderstood Gender

Femme Scientist Pin-up Girl

14 Jan

Lesbian femme scientist pin-up girl from the I Heart Brooklyn Girls Calendar 2009. Awesome! Retro styled, femme woman presenting the sexy side of science. A bit of fun, not too serious. Could this be an image to use for getting lesbian women interested in science?

Links
I Heart Brooklyn Girls

I Heart Brooklyn Girls Blog

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