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.



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.



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



femme conference!
Femme Conference!

click the image above for some info. on the national femme conference, which is being held in chi-town this august! i’m definitely going to be there with the femme mafia twin cities and cannot wait to see the amazing keynotes that are lined up, as well as the variety of workshops and performances. also, the femme conference is all-inclusive, so all the hot non-femme queers out there are welcome too…especially all of you single butch/genderqueer/trans boy types! spread the word and let me know if you’re going! xo.