Femme FATale


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.



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.



musings on a first date.

so, i went out with e last night and it was a really nice first date. i’m a habitual friends-first dater so, like, everyone who i’ve been involved with in my entire life, save for one or two exceptions, have been friends first and lovers/girlfriends/boifriends later. this was different. e and i, as detailed by my previous post, met after i posted on craig’s list in response to some idiot’s posting about “what lesbian equals” and how sick and tired she was of butches and genderqueer folks who “just want[ed] to be men.” e wrote me back, complimenting my “defense skills” and then we just struck up conversation and out we went.

again, i mentioned in my earlier post that i had to out myself as fat to him over the phone. this was such a complicated situation for me. again, friends-first, but also, i’ve never done internet dating..if this can even be considered that. he had seen my myspace profile, but i wasn’t exactly sure that my body size was clear from that. so here i am, in this awkward situation, of thinking that i need to tell him because i want to be upfront, but also not put myself in a disappointing or dangerous situation where i show up exactly as he did not expect me. but also, simultaneously trying to figure out how i’m going to convey what is mere fact and not actually a value judgment on myself and my body. like, how do you tell someone you’re fat who you don’t know whether or not they’re in any way fat positive and, at the same time, don’t want to make it seem as if you’re dissing yourself. lord! what a weird situation to be in.

anyway, e handled it awesomely and so, out we went last night. i have to say, i was struck by how nice it was to have doors opened for me and this consciousness for chivalry on his end. i mean, i’ve dated a lot of butches and while chivalry has never been dead, so to speak, it hasn’t been as well attended to as it was with e. we even had ourselves a good laugh about it when i tried to pay for my drink at one point and he insisted on paying and responded with “know your gender role!” cute. i mean, door opening, meal/drink paying, cigarette lighting, car door opening and closing. i mean, cute.

but yeah, the date was fun. he’s interesting and has a great laugh and smile that made me feel comfortable from the start. it was too short, in all honesty. we met up at 9 and i was home by 11:30. mostly, i think, because it was easter night and a lot of places weren’t open late, coupled with the fact that i totally would have invited him to see my apt. and meet lula (my cat), if my place wasn’t such a disaster from living a spring break lifestyle the past week.

i guess we’ll see what happens. i’d like to go out again. he was really sweet and fun and i’m definitely attracted to him. i’ll see what comes of it.

also, not for nothing, but serious props to me. #1: i went out on a date with someone i didn’t know, who wasn’t my friend. awesome. #2: i went out on a date not even a week after deciding to end the destructive hook-up situation i was involved with. eat that.



open letters to my crushes.
March 21, 2008, 7:10 pm
Filed under: butches, crush, dating, genderqueer, swooning, trans guys | Tags: , , , , ,

crush #1:

dear e,

you weren’t the response i expected when i posted that craig’s list ad about stupid lesbians hating on butches, genderqueers, and tranny boys in the w4w section. you are sweet, funny and seem to have good politics. judging from that one phone conversation we’ve had and the slew of text messages we’ve exchanged, you seem like just the kind of guy i’d like to meet. your response to my being frantically upfront, due to the nature of our meeting, about being fat was pricelessly endearing – “it ain’t no thang.” thanks. i think you’re a “severe hottie” too.

i’m excited that i get to have drinks with you on sunday. i hope your snowy travels between mpls and wisc. are, in the meantime, safe.

xo,
hussy red


crush #2:

dear j,

i was swoony over you the first time i met you, but after your attendance at the femme mafia meeting where you claimed a “femme ally” position and sat back and listened, consciously making femme space and questioning what you could do to be supportive, i melted into puddles.

i know you’re already seeing someone not so seriously, i know you already casually asked out my best friend (good taste, but ouch!), and i know you’re poly and all that noise, but if you might consider kicking it with me for one minute, i’d mend that broken heart of yours like florence nightingale on speed, son.

just sayin’.

yours,
hussy red

p.s. stop sending me so many text messages. i read too much into them because i like you so much. the end.


crush #3:

dear e (which is actually your name),

i saw you at the bar after pride in june 2007 when you sold me a beer and then didn’t see you again until a few weeks ago. this time, you seemed to notice me…at least a raised eyebrow, big smile, and a “hey there” would suggest such. i tried getting up the nerve to talk to you, but every time i approached, you were surrounded by friends. you are handsome as all get out. i get all hot thinking of being domestic and cooking you eggs and bacon on sunday mornings.

they say you’re single. they say you don’t approach women. they say you like femmes. i say i’ma talk to them and see about you.

xo,
hussy red