Femme FATale


the moratorium is over.
December 9, 2008, 11:48 pm
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the title of this post should say it all. the moratorium on blogging and other fun and enjoyable things is officially over! monday night, i took my oral preliminary exam and passed! i am now an official ph.d. candidate and considered “all but dissertation” (ABD)! resuming normal life starts now!

blogging is not the only thing that has been put on the backburner in the last few months because of these horrific exams. socializing, laundry, moving generally beyond the 625 sq. ft. of my apartment (or library), are all other examples. seriously, i leave to see my family and friends back east in a week and my apartment has never been messier. life has been on hold far too long because of these things.

i miss being physically around my friends here in minneapolis. i’ve seen folks here and there and i’ve been to others’ houses for dinners and movies and thanksgiving, but no one’s been in my apartment since october. i realize that sounds pathetic, but when things got intense with writing my papers, my whole way of keeping up my apartment just took a nose-dive. i think it’s because it’s the one thing i *can* allow to slip, so it does. alas, i’m preparing to teach my last class of the semester tomorrow and then, for days on end, i will be armed with laundry detergent and pine sol in order to get this place livable again.

in the midst of all this stress and letting my apartment go to hell, i’ve never been closer connected to friends and family. there are folks out there in this world who, no matter what time of day and no matter with what frequency, high or low, allowed me to call them excited and hyper after too much coffee or crying and sniffling over what i assumed would be my academic decline. i owe so many thank you’s to the folks who got me through. allow me a few shout-outs, no?

my post-exam acceptance speech: (ahem!)

* to my parents, who don’t read this, but who i absolutely must acknowledge. i think we’re closer than we’ve been in a while because i called you nearly every day for weeks just to hear the encouragement and support in your voices even when we were talking about banal things like christmas, living wills, and the downstair bathroom renovation. mom, i’m sorry i bugged you so incessantly, but you make me feel better when no one else in the world can. knowing i make you proud is what’s most worth it. dad, i know you’ll never understand that what i’m writing is a dissertation and that it’s a lot different than my undergraduate “thesis,” which is how you repeatedly refer to it. still, the best part of passing monday night was calling you right after, when you were working on the trucking dock, and you yelled and cheered so loud that all the other guys on the platform knew i passed and they beeped the horns of their 18-wheelers and forklifts in congratulations. i will never forget the pride in your voice.

* to kelley, i’m finally getting around to giving you the address to this blog and with perfect timing. now i can say ‘thank you’ without breaking down into tears on the phone. i’ve never doubted the power of our friendship almost 10(!!!) years old now, but you reminded me why you will forever be so important to me. thank you for letting me sing entire songs to you that night i was losing my mind. thank you for telling me silly stories and rehashing all four years of college in order to take my mind off of the present. thank you for nearly getting into a throwdown with your boss monday night when you squealed with delight over my exams during the office holiday dinner party at a fancy pants restaurant. you’re the best surrogate sister a girl could have. family indeed, genius OF MY LIFE. xo.

* to emily, for being supportive and loving two time zones away. thanks for allowing me the occasional freak out phone call, my bombarding questions over gchat, and for not allowing me to wallow or be as self-deprecating as i probably would have liked to have been at times. you’ve always taken such good care of me – from first year to now – and you somehow still manage to do that even all the way over there in san francisco. i miss you way more than i can ever say. thanks for my surprise celebratory dinner. nothing says “you passed!” like pizza luce. you’re truly the best.

* to e, i’ve said it once and i’ll say it again, for all of our drama, you still know me more than most and know how to comfort me truly as a result. thanks for the much needed distraction of your neverending shoe dilemma, the oh-so-helpful and last minute study session over this past weekend and the reassuring phone call right before i went in. you are the only person i texted when i was waiting for the verdict to hear if i passed. that must mean something, no? xoxo.

* to all the other folks, some who read this and some who don’t, but who nonetheless i’m so grateful for: grandma, katie b., jasmine, porter, becky, uncle david & john, ricky, kandace, diane, bevin, and victoria (who sent me the most amazing femme-inspired care package ever!). special thanks also to leo, freedomgirl, kyle, sublime femme, and others for keeping me in your thoughts and leaving comments/sending emails of support and encouragement. love, love, love to all of you.

i worked harder than i’ve ever worked before these last few months and for all the effort i passed an academic milestone and simultaneously was reminded of the epic amounts of love and support i have in family, friends, and community. i am so thankful for all of you.

i’m sure that to some this whole post is going to seem dramatic and maybe it kind of is, but i’m too elated to really care right now. i’m happy and excited and *relaxed* for the first time in weeks. i’m savoring all of this and making it last as long as i can.

…in fact, until further notice, you can all refer to me as ph.d.-elect, hussy red!

xoxo.

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keyboard obstruction
November 24, 2008, 4:37 pm
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Lula Bodeen

…and you thought the reason i wasn’t posting as much
was because of school. silly readers!



what’s hot.

obama-fist-bump1

y’all, we have a soon-to-be-president and first lady who give daps*.
that’s hot. just sayin’.

*conservatives, you might be familiar with daps as “a terrorist fist jab.”
also, sorry about that whole “sweeping the election” thing.
xo, hussy red.



stunning.
November 5, 2008, 1:23 pm
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3005470798_63523bf644
3004586190_f5f1c276241

what a beautiful family, our new first family.



maddow mania & the new poll tax
November 4, 2008, 12:45 pm
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if you’re not twitter friends with me and this little blog crew of ours, you should know that we’ve all got maddow mania. as a regular viewer of rachel maddow’s show and as someone obsessed enough to make her my desktop background, there is no denying she’s the handsome. she’s also incredibly smart though (i do prefer my butches with brains) and passionate about progressive politics (also a requirement. applicants, take note!). so smart and so passionate that if you’re even thinking *for one second* that you can’t afford to spend the time and effort in line waiting to vote today, you need to watch rachel explain how waiting and inaccessibility have become the new polling tax meant to disenfranchise you.

watch. get angry. and then go vote if you are physically and financially able to do so…though i can’t believe i even have to type that. voting should be accessible to everyone. arrrg. seriously. go watch the maddow, stealer of queer hearts everywhere!



at 8:23am CST today, i voted.
November 4, 2008, 10:54 am
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for the 2004 presidential election, i was living in washington, d.c. and working at a women’s political action committee that raised money for the campaigns of progressive, pro-choice women candidates across the country. from the start of 2003 to the day after the election when john kerry conceded to george w. bush, i lived, breathed, slept politics. part of it was because i loved it, was excited about and part of it was because even if i wanted to completely hide from it, living in d.c. during a presidential election cycle makes that an impossible feat. i loved my job, enjoyed the work i did, saw where raising a few thousand dollars online and in the mail made a difference on the ground to campaigns struggling against conservative incumbents. still, i was working 60 hours a week and getting paid for 40 on my $25,000 salary in one of the nation’s most expensive cities.

when kerry conceded the election the day after election day, i sobbed uncontrollably in the conference room with my co-workers. kerry was ok, far from my favorite, but frankly, a candidate for the u.s. presidency who has politics as left/radical as i do will probably never see the ballot. still, i wept, disappointed, overworked, and exhausted. i left d.c. about eight months later to spend a month or two in jersey with my family during my dad’s first cancer surgery before moving out to minneapolis for school. washington, my job, that last election had drained me. i still cared, obviously, but i didn’t want to talk about what had happened and where we’d be four years from then.

with this a big part of my very young voting, living history, it took me a while to get excited about this election. i’ve liked barack obama since i saw him speak live on the floor at the 2004 democratic convention in boston, but i was afraid to put my heart into this. even all of the stories and youtube videos forwarded to me over the last year or two failed to tug at my heartstrings that are usually more than willing to be tugged into producing a teary-eyed, sentimental hussy red. not this time. i’m sad to write that i’m so jaded at only 27, but i find faith in that two weeks ago, my heart finally kicked itself into alignment with my brain who was going to vote no matter what. better late than never, old heart of mine.


so on only three hours of sleep, with not even a shower, let alone a drop of make-up (usually unheard of for this high-maintenance-and-proud-of-it femme), i left my apt. at 6:30am this morning to stand in the chilly minnesota morning for over an hour, with literally *hundreds* of other folks up that early, to go and cast my vote for: barack obama and joe biden for president/vice president; al franken for u.s. senate; keith ellison for u.s. representative – district 5; state representative – district 60a, margaret anderson-kelliher; mpls school board, carla bates, lydia lee, and sharon henry-blythe; associate justice to the state supreme court, paul h. anderson; seat 16 on the judicial court of appeals, terri j. stoneburner; seat 9 on the 4th district court, philip d. bush; seat 53 on the 4th district court, jane ranum; and the soil and water supervisor of district 3, james wisker.

now it’s your turn:

progressive voting guides; these go state-by-state! click here to access full lists of who is running, who lines up with your politics, and why you should or shouldn’t vote for a particular candidate

– if you’re in the twin cities, here’s the link to ballot information composed by young/pissed off voters. this isn’t an excuse to not do your homework, but it does help to guide you. props to my girl becky for sending this to me weeks ago! xo!

– at least in the state of minnesota, you *are* allowed to bring yourself in a cheat sheet of sorts. this might seem obvious for many, but is unclear to some old and new voters.

find out where you vote and get there before the polls close.

– be diligent and report voting difficulties that seem like fraud and/or attempts that keep you or others from the polls. take this number with you to report issues from the scene: 1-866-VOTE-411.

– when you can, vote on a paper ballot. sure, this is slightly archaic and yes, the scanner you insert your paper ballot into can be rigged and tampered with or produce it’s own errors as much as voting machines can, but at least with paper ballots, there is always (if they don’t go missing! ahem!) a paper trail.

enough with the preaching, you all know what to do. in 2004, the election was decided by a mere handful of votes. don’t be complacent and think we’ve got this just yet. now go listen to j. smooth of illdoc who always says it way better than most others ever can:



The Femme Archive
August 31, 2008, 7:30 pm
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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.