Femme FATale


The Femme Archive
August 31, 2008, 7:30 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

At the Femme Conference, I attended “The Trouble with Femme History,” a workshop co-presented by Cookie Woolner and Mira Bellwether on the history of femme. One of the discussions after the talk centered around the need to create and/or add to femme archives to aid in solidifying our own collective and individual presences in history. Obviously, one of the difficulties in locating “femme” in history is the absence of tangible evidence of its existence (as well as other things being barriers to this like language and identifiers that span time and place). So I’ve had this on my mind the past few weeks: how I can personally be more responsible in contributing to a larger history and future of femme identity by being conscious of what evidence I physically hold onto and eventually leave behind.

This post is a longtime coming in many ways, as I think continually about creating space for femme community both offline and online; this is part of the reason I’m so excited about *this* blog, after all. Creating an archive now, as spurred by Cookie and Mira’s talk, not only will serve queer communities in the future, but also help us right now in finding each other, sharing experience, and creating space for those of us detached from any sort of femme or queer communities at present. I’m specifically thinking about sublimefemme’s Love Letter to a Femme in Need (one of the best posts I’ve read in a long while), about my own evolution to being femme, and about the stories of so many others who’ve traveled a long, bumpy road to get to claiming this fierce, but sometimes volatile, f-word. Last week, I received an email from a reader of femme FATale about the “lack of good femme role models” and about resources that aided in coming into one’s femmeness. I was able to respond with a few things that have personally affected me or felt validating, but there’s so much more that others could contribute if there was a space for it – a composite of our femme resources!

So let’s do this. Let’s post the who, the what, the where, the when of how we got to call ourselves “femme.” There’s no wrong answer here. It could be a book, a song, your best friend, your uncle, that time at the homo bar, that time on the bus. What were the things that got you to this place? This is our chance to share information that moved us, that got us, that made us cry or laugh or just made us finally feel fucking recognized. Here’s a space to share stories with each other, to thank the people who helped keep our femme hearts pumping. Post your contribution to this wee start of a femme archive below or link us to your own blog where you flesh out your own list. Send it to your friends, forward it around. You get the idea. Ready? Go!

my list of contributions:

– jennifer tilly’s character, “violet,” in the film bound. silly, maybe, but i watched this movie nearly 50 times my junior and senior years in college. after the first two years at my women’s college where butch and androgynous were the only two queer identities seemingly present and after hiding my awesome rack under a puffy vest and actually crying when i was told i couldn’t wear mascara to a dyke frat party, violet reminded me that i could be every bit as queer and still love and wield my skirts and eyeliner as trophies of that.

jen cross. her essay “surface tensions,” in the anthology nobody passes. jen cross is an inspiration, an amazing femme role model, and an incredibly talented writer. her spoken word should never be missed. everything she writes gives me chills.

– chris. though we’re not together anymore, she loved and nurtured my femme. got me, got it. taught me how to be good to a butch. real good. validating. we made sense, made fireworks. she taught me to love, love, love, and made me strong enough to love myself, respect my hot femme self and get up, get out, and get on with it. without her.

– charlotte. my best friend, my femme sister. she keeps femme fun and exciting for me. she also reminds me of how important it is to always keep my sense of self, my femme sense of self, in check. she is always true to herself and i love and respect her for it. thanks. for so much. always.

– e. she has always respected and loved the way i do femme. i have grown and cultivated this femme self through us and her arrival into her own butchness. in ways, she helped to bring my femme heart back to life after a good ol’ smash-up. she reminds me of what i’m good at.

femme mafia. if there is a femme mafia chapter near you, you’re a lucky femme. if there isn’t and there’s community for it, you might want to consider taking the time to start one. a year ago, there was no femme mafia twin cities, now there is and i’ve been connected with some of the smartest, most thoughtful femme friends, role models really, a femme could ask for. thank you, fmtc for reminding me of the importance of having so much femme love in my life. minneapolis/st. paul femme community never looked so good!

– as a fat femme, bevin’s femmecast, for sure, as well as just knowing of the existence of fat femmes who organize like fat femme mafia, queer fat femme l.a., fat and queer/f.a.q.

– linda. mommy. she is my favorite embodiment of femme. though not queer, she taught me at four years old that even dressed up pretty in heels, hair pinned in a french twist, it’s still ok to raise hell when you’ve been done wrong, curse like a trucker, and spit on a guy’s car window who has just stolen your parking space in a crazy new jersey mall parking lot at christmastime.

– the brazen femme anthology. for being there in words when femme community wasn’t. for instilling in me so deeply that femme is so much more than merely an aesthetic and never, ever “just” a counterpart to butch.

– femme conference 2008. leah lakshmi-piepzna-samarasinha. dorothy allison. julia serano. veronica combs. i will trust and honor and love my fellow femmes. i will, i will, i will.

ok, your turn.

This post is cross-posted over at the The Femme’s Guide to Absolutely Everything. I listed it here too because I didn’t want readers only of this blog to miss out on contributing to a list of femme resources. Also, the post is partially inspired by a femme FATale reader, Corri, who emailed me seeking some information on where I had found support in my own femme identity. I’m turning off comments here so that you can post them over at the Femme’s Guide and so we can have one central location of a bunch of different resources, tips, experiences, etcetera. Whether it’s a book, a favorite film, some wise words once spoken to you, the love and support of your family/friend/partner, a performer, a collective, a group, an experience, your cat, whatever, I want to hear about what aided you in your journey to claiming “femme.” What keeps you strong and fierce and claiming “femme” as a part of your identity? Check out the post and leave your contributions or thoughts in the comments! I’m so excited to hear from you all.



the mommies.
August 31, 2008, 3:19 pm
Filed under: mom, queer, random ramblings | Tags: , ,

after ten long days of visiting by mom and grandmother, i have returned to my life as it was. somehow, when they come to visit, which is always fun and productive (not poor word choice, i promise. more on it in a sec!) , i feel like i enter into some other universe where my usual self doesn’t exist. phone calls and emails go unanswered, blogging doesn’t happen (clearly), friends aren’t seen, shit sits on my neverending “to do” list with no checkmarks beside them. it’s this strange putting on hold of my life that also happens in other ways and winds up, around day 5 or so, causing me to feel so completely not myself.

my mom and g’ma are great. they’re strong and fierce and together and so when they come, they regulate. like, they help me get shit done. thus, the word “productive.” i’ve been saying for six months that i was going to paint my bathroom and two months that i was finally going to clean out and organize my closet, but i didn’t do it until they rolled up and were like, “seriously? let’s do this.” they’re hardcore and i love them and appreciate them, they just take over life.

also, it’s really hard maintaining any semblance of my queer self when cut off my from my friends and my community and any sort of queer outlet when they’re here. i’m out to them and all; have been for years. my mom, especially, is cool with it. grandma, meh…she ignores it for the most part, but i’ve learned to be ok with that. she’s 85. i get it. but, like, it’s painful and fruitless to have conversations about why, for example, i have a book titled “female masculinity” on my bookshelf or a femme mafia postcard on my fridge. my mom engages *briefly* for the sake of my g’ma and my g’ma just smiles and nods or looks at me like i’m some perversity. out of touch with friends and queer life on and offline makes for this really uncomfortable space for me after ten days.

then there’s this complete denial of my sexual self in the sense that i’m not saying mom, g’ma, and i need to sit down and talk knockin’ boots or any such thing, but for two women who have met people i’ve had relationships with several times, there’s this strange naivety about the fact that i’m 27 and have a sex life. like, for example, my mother’s questioning of an extra toothbrush in my bathroom or the men’s body wash in my toiletry drawer. my mom knows i date butches. she gets what that means. last christmas, i brought a butch home with me and she bought her boxers with cowboys on them! but the idea that *gasp* i might have someone who sleeps over regularly and uses such things? nonsense! or my grandmother’s absolute disregard for privacy showcased by my entering my bedroom to find her rifling through my nightstand “looking for a pen!” now, i know how to mommy-proof. all of my various naughty things were stowed far, far away, but isn’t it a fairly ubiquitous notion that said naughty things are often kept in nightstands and nearby dresser drawers? ubiquitous enough that someone might be dissuaded to randomly pull one open and start digging? maybe this is generational? i don’t know. regardless, g’ma needs to check herself.

this is all just frustrated ramblings, but all to say that i’m still here and will be blogging fun things soon.

sigh. it’s good to be back.

xo.



How to Make your own Titty Tassels!
August 23, 2008, 10:55 pm
Filed under: awesomeness, chicago, femme conference, femmes, fun, yay

The Femme Conference last weekend was wonderful for a lot of reasons including some community building, heart healing, and general consciousness raising. But this is not to overlook the *amazing* two nights of performances (which included many a hot burlesque queen), but also the pastie making skillshare taught by the stunning and oh-so-talented, Vagina Jenkins. With her permission to re-post, I’m going to provide you with the directions from the informational booklet she put together for us, peppered throughout with some of my own observations and tips. I’m short a reliable digital camera these days, so pardon the lackluster images captured with my camera phone.

Supplies:

– Plastic cup, scissors
– Thin cardboard (think bookmark width) or, if you’re wanting to make fancy/professional pasties, buckram
– Paint, markers, glitter, fabric, rhinestones, sequins, flowers, beads, feathers, tassels
– Tacky glue, Aleene’s “OK to Wash It” glue, E6000 glue, or hot glue
– Eyelash glue, 2-sided carpet tape, or spirit gum/prosthetic glue

Directions:

Step 1: Using the plastic cup, trace the top or bottom of the cup onto the thin cardboard. Depending on the size of your areolae, you can make the decision what side of the cup (or any other traceable object) you’ll want to use. If the cardboard has a glossy side, this is the side you’ll want to put towards your nipple.

Step 2: Cut out the circle of cardboard.
Pasties can also be made in other shapes, such as hearts and stars, too!

*

Step 3: Once the base of your pastie is cut out, fold the circle in half
and then half again as shown above on the right.

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Step 4: Unfold the circle and cut along one of the lines from the edge of the circle towards the center, stopping about a centimeter from the center point. Your pastie base should look as the one above.

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Step 5: Overlap the left side of the cut over onto the right side, forming a solid conical shape.
With a toothpick, apply glue to the underside of the overlapping flap in order to secure the edges. Hold in place for several seconds and then allow to dry while you decide with what you will cover the pastie bases!

*

Step 6: I chose red flowers, black feathers, and black strung sequins for my pasties, but really the possibilities are endless! You can use curtain tassels for the centers or rhinestones. We even saw someone in the workshop make use of some amazing old-fashioned black and gold dangly earrings for the center. Be careful though – tassels and jewelery chains, when twirling, can get stuck in sequined trim and feathers. Also, too heavy a center, like the earrings I mentioned above, will look gorgeous, but won’t twirl properly because of their weight, so choose your supplies wisely depending on the look you want to achieve.

*

Step 7: Spend some time arranging how you want your pasties to look and then get to gluing.
When you’re done, give yourself a pat on the back and strip down for your big ta-da!!!


More Pastie Resources:

Jo “Boobs” Weldon’s Burlesque E-book
Amber Ray’s Fancy Pasties
How to Twirl Titty Tassels

I cross-posted this over at The Femme’s Guide to Absolutely Everything blog, but thought those of you who are not yet reading the fabulousness over there, might read it in these parts. That being said, make yourself some titty tassels and then go read the Femme’s Guide! We’re just getting started over there and are still recruiting contributors to broaden the femme representation, but take a peek in the meantime and leave us your love and suggestions!



body deliberate.
August 19, 2008, 1:28 pm
Filed under: butches, chicago, crush, dynamic, femme, femme conference, lust, swooning | Tags: , , , , , , ,

“are you two going to kiss?” the man who stumbled before us asked. he was drunk and wobbling on his two long legs in a way that suggested too much alcohol had mixed with a heart too weighted to keep balanced, to keep the body stable.

but i barely noticed.

because when you started to walk across the sidewalk to me, before he showed up swaying and destroying lazy-to-arrive-but-so-glad-you-finally-fucking-got-here moments like this, my vision tunneled to you. a body deliberate. calculated, intent on reaching, on doing, you sidled up to me mumbling some words about how it had been some twenty minutes since we’d talked and hadn’t that been too long? i searched for a response from a brain too tired of producing witty banter for you all day. see, those past 24 hours, saw me in a contest with myself, racing to see how fast i could make those crevices in the skin around your mouth deepen and turn darker as your smile stretched further every time. found me delivering package after package to you of smartly wrapped snark and flirt all wound tightly and made ornate with knotted heart strings for bows.

so i just smiled. and for once in the whole day, despite the frenetic swirl of drunk, happy queers tapdancing on cigarette butts outside the barroom door, allowed a bit of quiet between us. maybe my body sensed what was about to happen, knew that if it didn’t curb the firing of my brain’s synapses, i’d make some joke and we’d erupt again in a series of guffaws that of course felt good, but that didn’t end with the mingling of each other’s sweat on our upper lips.

when your hand found the bend in my waist that gives way to my hips that roll strong but pliant when you pull them just right, i knew silence had been the right choice. knew it twice as hard when, in seconds, there i was three inches from your face staring into eyes that wouldn’t release my own unless to quickly survey the state of my mouth which was, on this night, stained scarlet and heavy with the anticipation of you.

did you feel the drop when we fell into the vacuum of each other? when things around us slowed almost to the point of nonexistent as we considered the idea of halving and then obliterating all together the slowly shrinking space between us?

i remember i was thinking about your glasses and about the angle at which i’d bend my neck to avoid any sort of minor calamity of frames smashed into browbones or lenses fogged to the point of visual impairity when his voice, loud and sluggish with booze, slammed our feet back down on the concrete. i swear now that there were tiny spider-like cracks around our shoes from the impact of so brutally being forced to once again find the ground.

“are you two going to kiss?” he slurred with whiskey breath.

but we barely noticed. we didn’t even speak. not even to each other.



femme con – post 1 of lord knows how many others
August 19, 2008, 1:53 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

so i’ve been back from the femme conference for 24 hours and every time i’ve tried to sit down and write about it, i’m too overwhelmed to do so. who knew that 2.5 days could really feel like a month, where being around people of various shared communities that are separate at times and converging at others could so quickly feel like home, that i’d go to chicago excited and leave with a heart full and achey with missing?

to answer the questions i’ve received from readers and from friends: the femme conference was amazing. it was validating and caring, but it was also intense and hard. there was support and there was community, as much as there were the reminders of how much further we need to go to be good to each other as femmes. as loving and thoughtful and supportive as we are to our butches and our bois and to our allies, we need to be good to ourselves and to each other.

i have so much to write about, but need a little bit of time to do so. staying in a hotel room with five other people, meeting new and inspiring friends around every corner, and trying to keep my game up with the handsome company who traveled all the way from cali to hang with me and my crew makes for little processing time. i promise that more is coming though. i’ve got the works of a creative non-fiction piece in my head, as well as a heck of a lot to say about allyship, about solid butches, the workings of a pastie-making how to, and about the improvements needed between us and this identity we call ‘femme.’ this identity that, after this weekend, i’ve never been more proud to call my own.



welcome!
August 19, 2008, 1:41 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

yay! you made it to my new home!

thanks for coming over and don’t forget to update your links and feeds.

thoughts on the move? the new fancy pants background? anything else?

xoxo,
hussy red



femme conference & moving?
August 13, 2008, 9:54 pm
Filed under: chicago, femme, femme conference, femmes, wordpress | Tags: , , , , ,

well, thursday it’s off to the femme conference in chicago! this week has been so busy preparing – there are *twelve* of us from the femme mafia twin cities roadtripping together, not to mention another member meeting us in chicago, as well as a handsome out-of-state friend i met at an academic conference a few months ago. full reports when i get back! i’ll have access to a comp, but i’m guessing not much time to do on-site blogging. we’ll see!

also, i’m thinking of making the move of femme FATale over to wordpress. while blogger suits me relatively fine, i like the option of being able to keep posts private and only accessible via password. i thought this was some fancy html magic you were all using, but it turns out that it’s just another awesome wordpress feature! my readership has been increasing more and more and with it comes the possibility of people stumbling on here that needn’t read certain things, things i want to keep to a select audience, etcetera, thus the switch. i’ll have more info about the move as it happens, but i’m guessing over the next few weeks?

for now though, off to chi-town!

xo.