Tag Archives: lesbian identity

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

Advertisements

Disparity – Representation of Butch and Femme Identities

4 Apr

An interesting observation.

I have recently read a few papers / articles / blog posts on femme identity. Interestingly the papers state that the butch gender identity appears over represented in academic literature on lesbian identifies. These papers discuss the butch identity as being an obvious expression of lesbian sexuality.

In contrast, I have noticed that there appears to be an over representation of feminine looking women in lesbian TV dramas and movies (not that I have watched lots of lesbian movies). This also covers the issue that shows such as the L-Word (which admittedly I have only watched a few episodes of) having mostly feminine looking characters and actresses. I have seen this issue covered in Lesbian magazines at the height of the show’s popularity. It is interesting that in lesbian dramas within a mainstream mostly straight society tends to portray lesbian women as feminine in appearance and dress. Is this because to mainstream and straight society a feminine lesbian is more accepted and acceptable? Does the lesbian fantasy as peddled in heterosexual male porn feed this too? Is the image of a butch women, because it is so subversive, visually powerful and perhaps emasculating, something that mainstream and straight society does not want to see on TV, or the production companies don’t want to include in their shows.

My partner and I have recently watched the first and second series of the BBC lesbian drama, Lip Service. We loved the series and thought it was an interesting, funky, alternative and positive representation of the lives of lesbian women. In the series, along with feminine characters (albeit rather alternative and Indy) there are some butch women represented. Which I think is great. And this gives a more balanced view of different lesbian identities, styles, modes of expression and simply diversity.

Femme Identity – queers femininity

4 Apr

The femme identity redefines and queers femininity as proposed by Connie Laalo in her proposal entitled, Beyond Lipstick: Expressions of Femme Lesbian Identity through Dress. It is a radical identity that communicates a femininity redefined and queered, one that challenges lesbian norms and empowers traditional feminine signifiers with new meanings.

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

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

Female Identities & Expression I find Attractive and/or Inspiring

27 Mar

Female Identities & Expressions I find Attractive and/or Inspiring –

Unconventional
Non-traditional
Hybrid of stereotypical / traditional feminine and masculine traits
Subversive
Transgressive
Traditional femininity performed with empowerment and awareness (Empowered Femininity)

The Butch Identity – How I React

22 Mar

I was contemplating this morning, how the butch identity (as expressed by individual women I observe in daily life) sometimes makes me feel uncomfortable.

This is no means meant to be offensive. I am sincere believer in everyone, whether gay, bisexual or straight, being able to express themselves. And I am an advocate for embracing the diverse ways to express gender identity and sexuality.

I think for me, it is because the butch identity expressed through clothes, haircut and mannerisms is something that I have rarely encountered first hand. And I am not really attracted to the butch identity. I periodically self identify myself as femme or “semi femme” (my own term), but I don’t want this femme identity (for myself) to be defined and characterised by an attraction to the butch identity.

I am attracted to women who are “womanly,” a term I coined to describe a strong, tough and confident persona, a strong female sexuality, sensuality, a womanly figure, and a combination of some stereotypically “female” and “male” traits. It is a complicated definition!

I think the uncomfortableness comes from being aware (as a lesbian) of such an obvious expression of sexuality. I am someone who likes to talk about my sexuality, but most of the time, I don’t feel the need to “broadcast” it to everyone under the sun. However, there are times, when I do just want to wear a t-shirt or have an imaginary sign above my head saying “I am a lesbian, and I am proud of this.” It sounds like I am in two minds!

As there is a positivity to the obvious expression of sexuality by butch women, I want to reduce this uncomfortableness. I am educating myself further on the butch identity and the concept of female masculinity.

Lipstick Lesbian Identity

21 Mar

I am intrigued as to whether there as been any academic study/research on the lipstick lesbian identity. Have researchers surveyed women who identity as lipstick lesbians? Have researchers discussed how these women experience and express their sexuality or issues such as harassment from heterosexual males or the assumption that they pass as heterosexual? I have read a few blogs and websites regarding this identity and these issues, but I have yet to see any papers. I am going to dig further.

%d bloggers like this: