Femme FATale


taking space, taking time.
September 21, 2008, 12:32 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

it’s been a rough week and so i haven’t written much. things have been crazy busy, as i’m preparing to go back east for a week and some to attend nolose and then to visit my family in nj and nyc. my best friend, kelley, is coming to visit my family and i in jersey for a few days, which will no doubt be good for the soul.

as i mentioned in my post a week or so ago, i’ve been having a lot of heaviness on my mind in regards to identity issues, not so much personally as much as how we’re all capable of getting caught up in labeling people based on what we want them to be in this queer community of ours. the range in severity of this can span from a minor offense to something tragic and hurtful, but either way i’m finding it so tiresome lately. more on this later as i develop it. i think i feel, in ways, responsible for some of the above mentioned stuff that i’m seeing in my own life and the lives of those around me and i want to figure out my own place in it before i spew on and on about it.

i’m working on these new methods of really trying to be self-reflexive about the things that bother me, partially spawned by my friendship with e, who maybe will always feel like more than a friend. we both have tempers that are quick to burn, so in the interest of trying to keep our shit on lock this year, we’re being more and more patient with one another and more cognizant about taking time and space when we need it to think our shit through. it’s been working well so far and i feel closer to her than i have in a while which is nice.

i’m finding out more and more lately that one of the most loving things we can do for each other is to know when to take space and sit with what we’re feeling. maybe at the end of a lot of sitting, we’re able to talk things through, process, get things back on track. maybe, we can spend months thinking and come to nothing but what we can say to one another only inside of our own heads. regardless of the outcomes, i can think of far too many times when i should have, or you should have, or we should have, stepped back and thought a little bit deeper about the shit between us, but instead we blurted out a lot of filler without giving things much thought and glossed over the important bits. i’m tired of doing this, so i’m taking space from a few things right now to think more about them. no doubt you faithful readers will get an earful…eyeful?

aside from this heavy stuff, good things: i’ve got a pitter-patter crush sorta thang going on with some handsome butch who lives way too far away but who i appreciate continuing to blow up my phone. i’ve got an achey, but full, heart from spending 2 weeks with my friend emily who has now returned home to san fran. i’m one prelim paper down and the second well on it’s way (i have 3 to complete by november). i just received the most beautiful dress, handmade for me by jane bonbon, which i am far too excited to wear – photos to come, i promise! my students are giving me enough humor/horror to keep me going, i.e. “i thought this was feminist film theory, not race film theory?” “errr…really?” mostly, though, i realized that after quite a few days of not posting, i missed talkin’ to y’all out there. what’s a girl to do without her extended blog family?



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.



Protected: throwing in the towel.
July 16, 2008, 8:27 pm
Filed under: butches, exes, fail, fight, over it, reciprocity | Tags: , , , , , ,

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i am my mother’s daughter.
March 20, 2008, 7:31 pm
Filed under: exes, love, mom, reciprocity, resistance, therapy | Tags: , , , , , ,

when i started going to therapy three months ago, i wasn’t sure what i was expecting, but it certainly wasn’t what i got – an amazing queer-friendly, sex-positive therapist with pretty progressive politics for a heterosexual professional who looks like a nicer, cuter version of ann coulter. it took only about three sessions until she had me pegged and left me wandering home, mouth agape, with the realization that after 26 years, there was no denying i was my mother’s daughter.

i had suspicions this was going to happen. i laugh like my mother – loud, unchecked, and with legs stomping if you really get me going. when i’m upset, my words pour out 100 m.p.h. and my new jersey accent is as thick as molasses (…or maybe toxic, newark sludge). my feet are near mirror images of hers…save for my slightly wider instep and far superior baby toes. she is strong, she is loving, she is smart, she is beautiful. she is my heart and i am hers.

unfortunately though, being my mother’s daughter also means that i have been witness to a cycle of emotional abuse that i have not only endured personally, but through her pain and heartbreak as well. my father, a manic depressive, has made 33 years of marriage a task worthy of receiving sainthood. i mean, it would be if you absolutely had to stay or, like, you would die. the fact is, though he has caused us hurt for decades, she has only participated in this violence through her decision to stay married to him and living within the same home. despite her reasons for not leaving being (somewhat) understandable, her continued involvement has enabled a cycle of anger, depression, and neglect. years of debating our staying and going manifested itself into an inescapable pattern for her.

and here i am now – 26 years old and on my own, living and loving the butches and the bois that come and go in some repetitious narrative (dare i say it?) of life that finds me – the strong one, the loving one, the smart one, the beautiful one – playing second fiddle to a conductor without ears. the lack of mutuality, the ungratefulness, the emotional ineptness is staggering, but i have taken it from you. i have participated, i have enabled. i have tried, like my mother, to unsuccessfully make good times out of your bad times. i have put my hurt aside to fix you, to care for you. i have loved you, i have listened to you. i have made you lemon bars, pastina, brownies. i have sent you flowers, taken you shopping, made you care packages. i have kissed your eyebrows, i have sucked your dick. i have raised your self-esteem, i have inflated your ego. i have been your saving grace, your biggest fan, your desire, your love. i have been what you said made you feel whole….

to me, you have been a dearth of reciprocity.

i am my mother’s daughter because i believed you, despite the lack of tangible evidence and despite the harsh words, mood swings, emotional voids. i stuck with you. i let it happen again and again.

except then it stopped.

because i was not going to pay one more $200 cell phone bill to hear you tell me that you loved me, but that now was not the time (5 years from now, you say? go fuck yourself!). i was not going to spend one more long weekend/holiday/spring break without you because you couldn’t get time off of work, but could, in fact, find time to go to nyc and see your mediocre best friend…and her harem of strippers. i was not going to spread for you on saturday, sunday, and monday for you to tell me on tuesday that you “hated” me. yes, even if you meant it ironically.

you see, i am my mother’s daughter, but i am not her twin. i have learned from her mistakes. i have meticulously studied her scars.

i say to you now what my mother should have said to my father at 26:

you, sir, are fired.