Femme FATale


Radical Queer Femmes Gather at the Femme2008 Conference
July 31, 2008, 11:41 am
Filed under: bestie, chicago, femme, femme conference, femmes, yay | Tags: , , , , ,

Here’s a guest post from my fellow Femme Mafia Twin Cities member (and bff!) spreading the word about the femme conference! We can use all the publicity around this that we can get, so if you’re able to do so, please re-post this guest entry on your own blog and leave a comment here so that we can thank you from the bottom of our hearts. xoxo – hussy red


What:
Femme2008 Conference: The Architecture of Femme!
Who: Femme Collective, along with speakers Dorothy Allison, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha and Julia Serano
When: August 15-17, 2008
Where: Chicago Wyndham O’Hare
How: Register online! Registration is still open, and is $95. You can get all the conference details at www.femmecollective.org.

Guest post by Charlotte Albrecht, Femme Mafia Twin Cities

For months now, I have been looking forward to attending Femme2008: The Architecture of Femme this August in Chicago. It has been just a few years since I started to claim a femme identity and only in the last year that I began to find community and connect with other femme-identified and femme-supportive people. As a mixed race light-skinned femme who grew up steeped in middle class white American culture, my models for femininity were clear and, like many other girls, I learned to examine all the ways that I deviated from this norm. When I started to acknowledge my desire for female-bodied people to myself and to those around me, I found myself wanting to be visible to those I desired. This desire coupled with my longstanding understanding of myself as “not feminine enough” added up to a gender presentation that was not true to myself. It wasn’t until a few years later when I met femmes of my age who encouraged me to embrace whatever feminine parts of me there were, that I ceased apologizing for dressing up and accessorizing, and, more importantly, started to think critically about the relationship between my own femininity and my sexual desire.

I see the Femme Conference as a unique opportunity to push myself further to think about the numerous forms ‘femme’ can take – shaped endlessly by each of our cultural and social locations, sexual desires, gendered selves, and outward appearances – and how I can support other people in their own journeys. I am particularly looking forward to meeting others from across the country who are organizing for femme visibility in their communities and actively connecting this work to radical liberatory politics.

You might be asking, but what is femme? Femme can mean many things, and if you ask a hundred femmes what it means to be a femme, chances are, you’ll hear a hundred different responses. Since femme is a complex, varied identity, it is frequently misunderstood. However, we can say that femme is based in a queer subculture of radical femininity. It can be both a sexual and gender identity. Femme is a queered, transgressive, stand-alone version of femininity that can be constructed independent of and/or intimately connected to biological sex.

Femmes have been both underrepresented and misunderstood within and outside of queer communities. The Femme Conference is an important and exciting time for femmes and allies of all walks of life to increase visibility and create radical queer femme community. It will be full of amazing performances and workshops, as well as a powerhouse keynote lineup: Dorothy Allison, Julia Serano, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, and Veronica Combs a.k.a. Vixen Noir.

So join me, and let’s create some radically affirming community together. It’ll be fierce

–Charlotte Albrecht, Femme Mafia Twin Cities

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fail: katy perry

i’ve been trying to write a post about katy perry’s new song “i kissed a girl” for about two weeks now and every time i try to sit down and do it, i go off on these crazy tirades that take me far away from where i began. as destiny would have it though, my friend gave me the heads up on some reporter at the chicago sun times writing an article about how katy’s song is the new summer anthem and asking for readers’ opinions. i wasn’t going to respond, but then my friend made me feel it was my queer duty. did i want some college co-ed responding instead about the merits of kissing random girls for free beer at frat parties? not really. so here’s what i wrote up and sent to the reporter:

Before even getting into the specifics as to why “I Kissed a Girl” is so problematic, it seems necessary to note that the other song responsible for making Katy Perry popular is her “Ur So Gay,” which details her woes of having an “emo” or “indie rock” boyfriend whose masculinity, and later sexuality, falls into question because of both his clothing style and taste in music. As a celebrity who has not gone on record as being anything but straight, we should question Perry’s obsession with queer culture and her unapologetic capitalization of it through her music. Straight performers getting rich off of the experiences of queer folks should be as inflammatory as any other kind of exploitation. As far as “I Kissed a Girl” goes, the song is blatantly ignorant in its trivialization of sexual experimentation and of the lives and practices of queer women. This isn’t to say that girls kissing girls, regardless of their sexuality, needs to be considered Earth-shattering events, but more so that reducing it to a naughty “game” aimed at getting a boyfriend’s attention – a game that, mind you, isn’t even worth Perry obtaining her girl crush’s name – is just belittling for the many queer women who find significance in kissing other women! The video for the song makes any possibility of its subversion completely impossible by its rendering of girl-on-girl action down to the tired scenario of outrageously feminine women clad in lingerie and fishnets, applying each others’ make-up amidst their flirty gyrations. While this demographic of high femmes, or queer women who express their femininity overtly, exists within queer communities and should be rightfully celebrated, it leads me to question whether or not mainstream music and media produced by straight people, Katy Perry now included, will ever actually attempt to represent the breadth of sexual and gender identities within queer women and lesbian communities. I’m not optimistic.

i know there’s a ton more to say, but i was trying to keep my comments succinct and comprehensible to mainstream audiences. if she gets back to me and wants to use any of it, i’ll press the problem of “trying on” another girl and/or queerness for a night and the ease and privilege straight girls have in giving it a go. also, props to my bestie charlotte for actually growling over that line when i sang it to her on the phone.

for reference:
“i kissed a girl” – video
“i kissed a girl” – lyrics
“ur so gay” – video
“ur so gay” – lyrics