Femme FATale


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.

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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.



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



butch vs. femme, or why it’s not ok to play "i have it harder than you."

after a fairly successful weekend of fun, i was visiting my usual online haunts before getting ready for bed and came across the most recent vlog by resident youtube butch, AJ on her sister channel, the Beaver Bunch. i don’t know how popular AJ, of Ask AJ Anything fame, is amongst us tech savvy queers out there, but basically she gives advice and makes a lot of “top 10” lists. i’ve never found her much to write home about, but that’s just my opinion.

anyway, this week’s vlog was about sharing coming out stories, which was all well and good until about 4minutes and 45seconds in when AJ starts talking about being visibly queer and how she can never not be “out” because of her appearance. shortly after this, she relays the following message that has had me fuming for the past hour. basically, this: femmes have it easy. maybe my anger is misdirected. AJ is only one of many butches i’ve heard voice these sentiments in the past few years and i’m officially over it. so, to AJ, and all those who might agree with her, here’s my rant:

so, check it. unfortunately, most of us who are queer have had homophobic speech slung at us at least once in our lives. whether it was directed to us individually, as part of a couple, or with a group, the impact is still the same. for me personally, this usually isn’t what i get called out on the street for when i’m on my own or with a group a friends. if i’m going to be heckled in broad daylight in the middle of downtown, it’s going to be because i’m fat or, the way i like to think of it, because i’m a hot fat girl who defies every convention of what it is i’m supposed to do – cover up every inch of skin, wear dark colors, talk quietly. basically, do everything i can to keep attention away from me, to fade into the woodwork. though truth be told, assholes on the street would find me there too.

when i’ve been the target of queer bashing though, it’s always been in the company of others. a big group of my homo friends at a non-queer bar or arm-in-arm with someone i’m dating who, because i always date on the more masculine end of the gender spectrum, tends to be more visibly queer than myself, thus drawing attention to us. those times have mostly been scary, some downright terrifying and, later, when safety is certain and blood pressures have resumed a normal range, angering for everyone involved. never, though, have i sat down afterward with my significant other or with my friends and deliberated which one of us motivated the attack, who’s most queer in appearance, or who has it easiest/hardest…and i, frankly, can’t understand anyone who would!

i know all about the differences of visibility and invisibility when it comes to butch and femme (or anyone queer who doesn’t pass as straight and anyone queer who does – the labels don’t matter here); i deal with what it means to be invisible to a straight world, and even a queer world sometimes, on a regular basis. for example, there are few things more infuriating to me than my lack of recognizability as queer and the swiftness with which that changes based on who my partner is. far too often, my entire gender and sexuality become about the gender identity of the person i’m dating rather than anything about me. all this being said though, i also know that i’m privileged in passing because my queerness is rarely a visible target of staring, behind-the-back whispers, or violence, and that those are things butches and other masculine-identified, female-bodied folks are forced to deal with constantly. i don’t deny AJ, or any other person who exhibits female masculinity of any kind, the fact that their visibility is always more dangerous. the ways in which they bravely navigate that on a daily basis will always have my utmost respect and appreciation.

my frustration instead is about the need to make this comparison, to attempt to outdo eachothers’ experiences of oppression. i would never say to a butch, a trans guy, someone genderqueer, that i experience discrimination worse than they do because of x, y, or z. i realize, in the case of visibility, their identity puts them in a different place, a more volatile place even, than myself, but i’m not going to tolerate them or anyone else telling me that i have it easy. this is not to say that differences in experience don’t need to be acknowledged. of course they do! and in the particular case of discrimination as a result of visibility, i know who has a roughter time. but what’s the point of sitting around contrasting whether the attack on your queerness is greater than mine? what gets accomplished in that? and more so, what significant information gets erased in this attempt? what about the particulars of space and time? or the specifics of the person and the variety of other intersecting identities like race and class and size, amongst others, that operate simultaneously with queerness and how we experience discrimination? are we really going to spend time figuring out whose feelings were hurt more or who was treated more unjustly when a stranger called you a “dyke” and me a “fat bitch”? or are we going to acknowledge the fact that it sucked in a bunch of different ways for both of us, but we learned a bit from each others’ experiences as a result?

if we’re queers and know what that means to us and understand the politics and investments of using that word beyond an identity of being G, L, B, or T, we need to learn what it means to be allies to one another; to be supportive, caring, respectful, self-reflexive, and to know that finger pointing and pitting ourselves against each other is futile. acknowledging the different ways we experience our lives and our identities is invaluable, but the pissing contest of who has it easiest and who has it worst seems to be a game with no actual winner.



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



just.
March 30, 2008, 11:51 pm
Filed under: butches, dynamic, exes, femme, love, memory | Tags: , , , , , ,

when i slip my hands in the pockets of your jeans as you’re getting dressed in front of the mirror, tying your tie with shoulders scrunched, brow furrowed, legs slightly spread in solid stance, i move up on tip-toe in order to position my mouth just behind your left ear. careful to avoid the collar of your shirt, lest i muss it with that carnal red shade of lipstick you love so much, i lean in closer, pause, whisper, “handsoooome.” i draw out the last syllable for amatory emphasis, of course. you pause, turn to me eye-to-eye, smiling. no other word could better describe you right this moment, you know. that face, that body…don’t even get me started on those hands of yours…fingers rounded, palms wide, wrists thick and strong.

i love the physical strength i associate with you. when my body responds to your first touches it is because of what i know is there lying asleep deep in the muscles beneath your blanket of skin. i also know, though, that this attraction, this pull is more than just good looks and strong forearms. to imply otherwise would be an insult to everything you embody and to the inherent infractions your masculinity and your queerneess makes in the world every day. this need i feel in my stomach for you, this yearning, is about gender fucking. it’s about a dynamic that i can’t describe to my best of friends despite the endless amount of words at my disposal.

it’s about…how you smile with both your mouth and your eyes when you tell me i’m “such a fucking girl.” it’s a statement meant to tease, but one that is ultimately filled with pride and with validation for my femininity and your masculinity. you, my butch, my lover, my whole heart, understand femme, understand me. to you, i am the definition of what it means to be femme – both physically and politically. you never forget the latter and it is as important to you as it is to me. for the first time in my life there is you who values who i really am. i know it the day you tell me that i fuck with gender as much as you do. you get it and you love it. it turns your head, it spins your heart, it turns you on.

it’s about…the look that we exchange every time you are called “sir.” how my stomach flips at the utterance. i blush with excitement for you – of all that you already are in this place, in this body, and with the anticipation of your constant evolution and the privilege i feel in witnessing it. you should know though, that in this moment, i am only two seconds away from scanning the room, looking over our shoulders, preparing for battle in case someone should realize the gender trespass being made here at this cigarette counter. because while you’re still enjoying your moment of passing, cataloging the details of this space – from the mismatched linoleum flooring to the smell in the air – i am planning our escape. to be on your arm, to be with you is to silently vow your safety as you have promised me mine. you will drop your guard, you will take this all in, you will revel in it. you will be safe to enjoy it on my watch. i promise you this.

see, this thing we call butch and femme is so much more than your chucks vs. my heels, though the way they sit side-by-side next to the front door of your apartment makes me smile in that way that causes me to, when i think about it long enough, drop my eyes, fold my chin down my neck, and bite the corner of my lower lip as it begins to sneak its way up my right cheek. this thing we do, that we feel, it is dependent, it is complementary. it’s not just a dynamic, it is dynamic.

i am yours, you are mine, show me where and i will sign.