Femme FATale


from where we find strength

last night, i went to bed with a full heart and mind over the success of president-elect, barack obama, only to wake up with feelings that are bittersweet because of the passing of several ballot iniatives that proffer hate and discrimination – gay marriage bans in california, arizona, and florida, a ban on gay couples adopting children in arkansas, and a ban on affirmative action in nebraska and, possibly, colorado.

as a queer person who, institutionally, finds marriage unappealing, but who very much supports the rights for everyone to make that decision for themselves, to articulate relationships in any way they see fit – whether that be through an “official” marriage ceremony, sworn commitment amongst only one another, living together in relationships or couples of two, three, or twelve folks – i am heart heavy. again, as a queer person, but also as a white person, a woman, a fat girl who works diligently to engage with her own privilege – race and other, who works to promote anti-racism, anti-homophobia, anti-ableism, etc., in her communities big and small, who is overwhelmed with joy to have a young, more progressive, black president, i can’t help but be crestfallen over actions taken to eliminate access to education and employment that have been so improved by affirmative action.

for the sake of delineating what is at stake, i describe these ballot initiatives to ban the rights of queers and affirmative action as separate incidences, but they’re not. difference, whether it be racial, class, sexuality, gender, ability, size, etcetera, is in the cases of these ballot initiatives as well as beyond, under assault collectively. barack obama may be our next president, but colorado, a state he won last night by 7%, may be, as i write this, overturning affirmative action. california, notoriously progressive, which obama won by 24% of the vote, passed proposition 8. while we hugged and cried on the shoulders of strangers in the streets last night, and as we watched eagerly the writing of history as our first black president gave us his victory speech, a lot of us missed what else was happening until we woke up today. as queers, as persons of color, as part of any marginalized group(s), it is imperative we see the links between each other’s oppression in order to draw strength across issues in our moments of success and defeat; moments like today where both are so present.

i am thrilled about the results of last night’s presidential election. i am for, probably, the first time in my life, honestly proud of saying i am american. i love that voter turn out amongst people of color and young people and young people of color was unprecedented – i read a statistic today that 4 million more youth voters participated in this election that in 2004. that’s huge and nothing to sweep under the carpet. we deserve to continue celebrating this victory even while we mourn our losses and what they mean to us personally and beyond. we are not “just” queers or people of color or queers of color who, last night, were wounded. we’re a nation of “other” people, people who are different across a whole host of identities and in this there is so much present and so much potential love, warmth and strength. that is, if we continue to, and in many other cases figure out how to, harness it.

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a fall aesthetic.
October 10, 2008, 8:34 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , ,

fall has always been my favorite time of year and it’s no doubt for many of the same reasons as the rest of y’all: cooler weather, the change in foliage (if you live somewhere where this happens), and of course the transition to a different and, in my case, better wardrobe. for years my summer wardrobe was a sorry excuse for clothing and i’m sure that was in relationship to where i was in my head as far as body image. i grew up with a pretty fat positive mom, but still one who enforced some sort of “sleeve at all times, on all shirts” rule that i later tossed out as being total bullshit. my summer clothes have evolved into something i no longer dread, including skirts i’ve sewed myself in recent years and new and thrifted dresses. oh, and tank tops. and tube tops. lots of them. behold! a fat person with fat arms! gasp! how unusual!

but fall? fall is my joint. say it with me: sweater weather…mmm. and this is ironic because i’m not huge into sweaters. going to class and teaching in colleges and universities, as well as several office buildings in between when i lived in d.c., made me a fan of layering: cute camisoles, light sweaters, carrrrdigans (drool), and shrugs. jeans, of course too, pencil skirts, dresses, but with tights. this season, because i’m hopelessly flawed in keeping tights for long without running them? black ribbed ones, deep purple, turquoise, and gray! fall equals jewel tones after all, no? oh, and scarves! fall is scarf weather and thanks to a grandma with fast crocheting fingers, i am a queen to many lovely, homemade ones. my favorite is made of a deep red wool that is of the same skeins my grandmother knit my baby blanket.

oh, fall aesthetic! you are, of course, not just for the femmes either. the butches and bois, the transmasculine folk, this is button-down shirt and sweater weather. argyle sweaters. wide striped sweaters. sweater vests. tweed pants. boots. plaid wool scarves. swoon! the fun of thrifting with a butch for a fall wardrobe. or merely just observing their dashingness from across the street…with a wink!

fall, it’s about time you got here. last night, you had me dreaming of houndstooth and herringbone.


i took this picture in northampton, ma two weeks ago. the trees there are already so stunning. my foot? maybe not quite as much!



Fat, Queer Anthology – take 2!
September 4, 2008, 3:48 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

i’m currently in the process of sending out the second round of calls for submissions for my anthology project, “Spilling Over: A Fat, Queer Anthology.” in the event that any femme FATale readers are interested in submitting, i’m reposting the call for submissions here. drop me an email at spillingover@gmail.com if you’re interested! also, please feel free to link back to this, share it in your reader, or send your friends the anthology’s myspace link. i’m trying to get the word out about this as much as i can. thanks! xoxo.

Call for Submissions

Working Title: Spilling Over: A Fat, Queer Anthology
Contact: spillingover@gmail.com
Submission Deadline: December 1, 2008

Despite the attention given by queer studies to the materiality of bodies and the cultural and social inscriptions that designate them, still a dearth of both scholarship and literature exists around intersections of gender, sexuality, and fatness.  As fat studies begins to emerge as a viable academic location of inquiry, questions surface as to how fat bodies, deemed “excessive” in their trespasses of size and space, create even more complex subject positions when compounded by queer desires. This proposed anthology seeks contributions addressing junctions of “fat” and “queer” in pieces that consider the representations and resistances of non-normative corporeality and also writings considering the theoretical conceptions of these intricate subjectivities. Spilling Over will reflect the notions of excess, boundaries, and containment implied by the labels “fat” and “queer” both singularly and collectively.  In the form of scholarly writing and creative non-fiction pieces, essay submissions might consider (but are not limited to):

•    theorizing the concept of “excess” as it pertains to fatness and queerness
•    fat and queer identities; personal narratives; reclaiming “fat” and “queer”
•    notions of (in)visibility, hypervisibility, and passing and/or privilege
•    intersections of race, class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, (dis)ability, age, and religion
•    the economics of the obesity “epidemic” and the diet industry
•    fat, queer art and performance; performativity
•    pleasure, sex-positivity, eroticizing non-normative bodies
•    acceptance movements, political activism, resistance
•    the engagement of feminism with fatness
•    global, transnational, transcultural constructions of fat, queer bodies and lives
•    critical reflections of fatness and queerness in media, literature, film, music, and visual arts
•    the rhetoric of fat oppression, fatphobia, homophobia, transphobia, bigotry, responding to and/or addressing hate speech

By December 1, 2008, please send your 2,000 – 6,000 word submission, along with your complete contact information and a 50-100 word biography, to spillingover@gmail.com with the subject line of “Spilling Over – Submission.”  Submissions must be received in 12 point Times New Roman font and sent in via Word documents (PDFs will not be accepted).  Pieces will be reviewed and decisions made by April 2009. Please note that accepted submissions will be approved on a tentative basis, pending editorial board approval once the anthology has secured a publisher.

Questions can be directed to me at spillingover@gmail.com or visit the MySpace page at http://www.myspace.com/spillingoveranthology

Please distribute widely.



fail: beth ditto
July 31, 2008, 2:03 pm
Filed under: arg, class, fail, fatness, over it, pop culture, privilege, queer, race | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

this week has been one where you can’t blog fast enough about something. it seems like the second i read the news about beth ditto’s recent problematic spread in nylon magazine, five other posts popped up on my reader about it. namely, check out the smart and thoughtful responses from tara at fatshionista.com and the fierce ladies at threadbared (which is also cross-posted over at racialicious, one of my favorite reads!). both of these pieces are super insightful and exciting for the fact that they are so complete in their analyses. read them and love them!

the only 2cents i want to add is oh how i wish this photoshoot had come about a month sooner! don’t get me wrong, i wish it didn’t exist period, but if it’s going to, the least we can do is use it as a teaching tool and that i find exciting amidst the harm a photo like this does.

i’m thinking about june of this year when i went to an academic conference for an area of study whose evolution over the past thirty or so years has been so dedicated to thinking intersectionally about issues like gender, race, and class, along with the much-needed additional analyses of other identifiers like dis/ability and size. and yet, at a meeting aimed specifically at making space for fat studies within future conferences and the discipline as a whole, conversations about fat inclusion were “justified” by claims that “being fat is the last acceptable oppression.” i was so stunned by this response that i couldn’t control my body’s reaction to shake my head “no” rapidly and uncontrollably despite what i’m sure many assumed to be quite rude. this position is so offensive and so privileged, yet surprisingly rampant amongst a number of straight, white, fat folks.

and so then here’s beth ditto! someone who is white, but who grew up poor and has working class roots, is fat (publicly and on-stage!), and is queer and partnered with a masculine-identified, female-bodied person (i’m not sure how freddie fagula identifies, so…). and despite all of this, a photo like this exists that just so “brilliantly” makes clear that we are so far from any kind of place where any one identifier is the final frontier of oppression.

beth ditto, i thank you for being a strong, fat, queer girl, and for all of the awareness you’ve raised about what it’s like to be fat in the spotlight and in the mainstream, but it takes so much more than that to hold my respect. where’d your good politics go, girl? the ones that made us all fall in love with you in the first place? we’re all waiting for your response…



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.



fat/queer anthology project!
May 27, 2008, 8:18 am
Filed under: anthology, fatness, queer | Tags: , , ,

here’s one of the many side projects i’m working on! i say “side” because anything not part of coursework or studying for prelim exams counts as “side.” bleh.

Call for Submissions

Working Title: Spilling Over: A Fat, Queer Anthology
Contact: spillingover@gmail.com
Submission Deadline: December 1, 2008

Despite the attention given by queer studies to the materiality of bodies and the cultural and social inscriptions that designate them, still a dearth of both scholarship and literature exists around intersections of gender, sexuality, and fatness. As fat studies begins to emerge as a viable academic location of inquiry, questions surface as to how fat bodies, deemed “excessive” in their trespasses of size and space, create even more complex subject positions when compounded by queer desires. This proposed anthology seeks contributions addressing junctions of “fat” and “queer” in pieces that consider the representations and resistances of non-normative corporeality and also writings considering the theoretical conceptions of these intricate subjectivities. Spilling Over will reflect the notions of excess, boundaries, and containment implied by the labels “fat” and “queer” both singularly and collectively. In the form of scholarly writing and creative non-fiction pieces, essay submissions might consider (but are not limited to):

  • theorizing the concept of “excess” as it pertains to fatness and queerness
  • fat and queer identities; personal narratives; reclaiming “fat” and “queer”
  • notions of (in)visibility, hypervisibility, and passing and/or privilege
  • intersections of race, class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, (dis)ability, age, and religion
  • the economics of the obesity “epidemic” and the diet industry
  • fat, queer art and performance; performativity
  • pleasure, sex-positivity, eroticizing non-normative bodies
  • acceptance movements, political activism, resistance
  • the engagement of feminism with fatness
  • global, transnational, transcultural constructions of fat, queer bodies and lives
  • critical reflections of fatness and queerness in media, literature, film, music, and visual arts
  • the rhetoric of fat oppression, fatphobia, homophobia, transphobia, bigotry, responding to and/or addressing hate speech

By December 1, 2008, please send your 2,000 – 6,000 word submission, along with your complete contact information and a 50-100 word biography, to spillingover@gmail.com with the subject line of “Spilling Over – Submission.” Submissions must be received in 12 point Times New Roman font and sent in via Word documents (PDFs will not be accepted). Pieces will be reviewed and decisions made by April 2009. Please note that accepted submissions will be approved on a tentative basis, pending editorial board approval once the anthology has secured a publisher.

Questions can be directed to me at spillingover@gmail.com or visit the MySpace page at www.myspace.com/spillingoveranthology

Please distribute widely.



Protected: excess baggage.
May 5, 2008, 2:29 pm
Filed under: bigotry, butches, class, exes, fatness, friends, race, resistance | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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