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Old 05-17-2010, 09:15 AM   #1
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Default The Femme Continuum: The "Highs" and "Lows" of Visibility

There was some discussion going on over in another thread about Female masculinity and how there is a certain "celebration" around a Butch person moving toward a "more masculine" way of being with adopting male pronouns, transitioning, etc.

That discussion sparked me to start thinking a little more critically about how the Femme community impacts and is impacted by this same continuum of "being more homogenous/acceptable/feminine (and insert any number of things that mean "more than what you already are")".
How do we as Femmes impact the visibility of Female Butches?

Do we, as Femmes, have a continuum in our own community where the hyper-feminine is more valid/valued? What does that look like to you when it's in action?

How does this continuum affect our visibility or does it?

There was also some discussion around pronoun usage and several folks brought up what it might look/feel like to a Femme if she were "he'd" on a regular basis out in the world but also (and especially) in this community.
Thoughts on this?

I'm having some thoughts on visibility and the celebration of movement toward each end of the spectrum for both Femmes and Butches. Particularly Im thinking about how there is something going on with Butches being celebrated as they move toward a more masculine presence and Femmes being celebrated if they maintain a more "hyper" Femme way of being. (Although I will say that I personally don't feel a huge push in our community to be more "valid" as Femmes by being "more" Femme)

Im thinking about how all of these things might affect our visibility as Femmes and how much we do/should care if we are invisible to the outside world. Do you think it is important for people to see you as Femme? Do you feel seen as a Femme in this community? How do you think your experience as a Femme with invisibility is affected by the marginalization of Female Butches?

I realize this is kinda random but I wanted to at least start the discussion and throw some questions out there to get us rolling. I havent had coffee this morning so I apologize if this is jumbled.
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Old 05-17-2010, 10:05 AM   #2
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Interestingly enough, here in Western Mass, behind the tofu curtain, I am seen as extra feminine, whatever that means.

I don't think of myself as a high femme, since I generally associate that with a choice of gender markers, but others have said that I am in fact a hippy-flavored high femme.
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Old 05-17-2010, 10:09 AM   #3
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I think it's interesting to see how many views people get on their pics depending how masculine or feminine they appear. It's not a scientific study, but it does seem that the MORE of the societial standard of feminine and masculine the more views people seem to have.
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Old 05-17-2010, 10:37 AM   #4
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I don't care for the way "we" are censored due to language or perceived lack of decorum by other members of our community. As though we were not ladylike enough, or genteel enough.

I want to have strong opinions, strong language and strong emotions without someone shaking their goddamn finger at me and trying to shame me into hushing. I want people to stop acting like they're my "Daddy" just because I am a Femme. I want us to be able to fuck whomever we want, whenever we want and not be called Whores or Sluts and have our morals called into question*.

I want us to stop apologizing because we pass as straight much of the time. It is what it is, and we have nothing to explain or apologize for.



*June isn't allowed to date
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Old 05-17-2010, 10:43 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by June View Post
I don't care for the way "we" are censored due to language or perceived lack of decorum by other members of our community. As though we were not ladylike enough, or genteel enough.

I want to have strong opinions, strong language and strong emotions without someone shaking their goddamn finger at me and trying to shame me into hushing. I want people to stop acting like they're my "Daddy" just because I am a Femme. I want us to be able to fuck whomever we want, whenever we want and not be called Whores or Sluts and have our morals called into question*.

I want us to stop apologizing because we pass as straight much of the time. It is what it is, and we have nothing to explain or apologize for.



*June isn't allowed to date
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Old 05-17-2010, 10:55 AM   #6
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I do see a hierarchy in the femme "realm" just as I do with butch.

It's appears to me to not only have to do with outdated policed perceptions of femininity in mannerisms and appearance, but also how you identify- a to z, lesbian to transsensual... high to low... and strangely enough sometimes to where you're partner falls in the "butch hierarchy".

Oh let's not forget... how a femme behaves in the bedroom, because god forbid she top a butch... or straps (eta: or has so-called "lesbian sex").

Good thread... I'll be interested in hearing more.

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Old 05-17-2010, 11:04 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Metropolis View Post
Oh let's not forget... how a femme behaves in the bedroom, because god forbid she top a butch... or straps (eta: or has so-called "lesbian sex").

Good thread... I'll be interested in hearing more.

Metro

And don't even get me started on the idea that Femmes are somehow "damaged" straight women.
Or straight women who are too fat or ugly to "get a real man".


I feel a tangent comin' on.
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Old 05-17-2010, 11:06 AM   #8
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What an exciting thread topic - I'm really looking forward to reading everybody's responses.

When I first entered the femmebutch community, I felt lots of pressure to be more feminine. At first, it was also rather fun to get all dolled up. Also it felt freeing to play with beauty, style, femininity and know that my intended audience was queer - I felt a lot of release from the male gaze when I first entered the community.

But I'm afraid I also transferred that internalized male gaze onto butches and felt somewhat oppressed because of it.

As far as pressures go, I have over time become more frustrated with not being interpreted as queer at all - which in a way counterbalances the other pressures. *

I do resent what I see as pressure from within the community to be as straight-seeming or straight-looking as possible in order to have femme cred, but I haven't encountered that message overtly all that often.

These days I just am myself. I am feminine (I think), but not super-feminine. I just try to be authentic and I avoid people who would not appreciate me for that.
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Old 05-17-2010, 11:11 AM   #9
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There seems to be awful lot of rules for what women can look like (and act like) and be seen and taken seriously as queer/lesbian.

It seems hyper feminine is seen as the top of the femme hierarchy (most valued) but at the same time seen as the most suspect (supposedly more straight appearing), in terms of being legitimately queer/lesbian.

Why is feminine associated with straight and masculine associated with lesbian/queer when it comes to women?
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Old 05-17-2010, 11:25 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Medusa View Post
There was some discussion going on over in another thread about Female masculinity and how there is a certain "celebration" around a Butch person moving toward a "more masculine" way of being with adopting male pronouns, transitioning, etc.

That discussion sparked me to start thinking a little more critically about how the Femme community impacts and is impacted by this same continuum of "being more homogenous/acceptable/feminine (and insert any number of things that mean "more than what you already are")".
How do we as Femmes impact the visibility of Female Butches?

I wonder WHY it is that some Femmes default to He/Hy? In doing so we absolutely impact the visibility of Female Id'd Butches because we are putting the entire community into that heteronormative continuum.

Do we, as Femmes, have a continuum in our own community where the hyper-feminine is more valid/valued? What does that look like to you when it's in action?

It looks to ME like *good girls* are the preference, and outspoken, opinionated Femme's with a swagger are immediately suspect. After all, isn't swagger the property of Butches? When I see it in action to me it looks like the othering (in a negative light) of Femme's who are not traditionally feminine.

How does this continuum affect our visibility or does it?

Being named a slut, scary, loud, and even being named *butch* affects visibility on a very personal level. On a community level is keeps us subscribed to very binary standards.

There was also some discussion around pronoun usage and several folks brought up what it might look/feel like to a Femme if she were "he'd" on a regular basis out in the world but also (and especially) in this community.
Thoughts on this?

*I* would be at most confused if somebody "he'd" me. That comes with the caveat that I've never been read as having masculine traits, affect, or what have you. It's not a struggle I've had, and probably never will.

I'm having some thoughts on visibility and the celebration of movement toward each end of the spectrum for both Femmes and Butches. Particularly Im thinking about how there is something going on with Butches being celebrated as they move toward a more masculine presence and Femmes being celebrated if they maintain a more "hyper" Femme way of being. (Although I will say that I personally don't feel a huge push in our community to be more "valid" as Femmes by being "more" Femme)

Im thinking about how all of these things might affect our visibility as Femmes and how much we do/should care if we are invisible to the outside world. Do you think it is important for people to see you as Femme? In the world at large, I'd love it and for political reasons I try to make myself visible. There are a lot of people that will not go further than "Lesbian", which I do use. Do you feel seen as a Femme in this community? Yes. How do you think your experience as a Femme with invisibility is affected by the marginalization of Female Butches? The marginalization of any faction of our community affects us all. My specific experience as a Femme who has struggled with invisibility in relation to a Female Id'd Butch having their femaleness erased is not that different at the end of the day, is it?

I realize this is kinda random but I wanted to at least start the discussion and throw some questions out there to get us rolling. I havent had coffee this morning so I apologize if this is jumbled.
I wonder if there is some kind of internal homophobia in play around specifically Femme's defaulting to He/Hy. Before I get jumped on I want to say that I am married to a Transperson. Falling in love with and staying with hym took a LOT of self examination on my part. The only way it works for "us" is that we remain Queer, that neither of us change identities for the other and that we communicate. A lot. For instance: I don't feel comfortable calling my Beloved my Husband. I've tried it on a few times and it doesn't feel right. Sometimes I say things like "I'll talk to my wife about it and see what hy says.." but for the most part I am stuck with partner. Because we are in a Queer marriage. I WISH there were words to encompass the many gender id's, but since there isn't I am willing to do the work and ask. I think I am getting off point here and not communicating what I wanted to, so I'll break now.
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Old 05-17-2010, 11:36 AM   #11
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Perhaps I am the anomaly or I simply had the misfortune of trying to be a part of lesbian communities that were just nasty, but when I identified as Butch and lesbian, I was constantly told that I was, "not feminine enough," that I was, "too much like a man." I have never experienced a Butch/Femme community except as an online community and the few days I attended the BASH in Oakland, an experience that I enjoyed very much. I'm sorry to interject a post that is not about femmes, but I wanted to point out that femmes are not the only ones, who get this sort of grief. I'll shush now.
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Old 05-17-2010, 12:06 PM   #12
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I went to an event once, as I walked in the elevator I stepped in front of 2 butch/femme couples, I did not know them, personally, I knew their names, but had never had any kind of r/t experience till that very day. I smiled and said hello and introduced myself to one couple, as I extended my had I noticed couple on the right, the femme was clasping her partners arm like she was in terror, she pulled him slightly away from me as he extended his hand to shake mine. I pulled back right away, and turned to the other couple, they too had the same look, though the femme partner did address me saying," yeah we know you", I turned my back to them and faced the doors, both women whispering to one another, how I was known for *flipping* good butches and having several sex partners at once, and then a comment about how I had no regards to even those who are partnered.

Another time, I went on a date, with a butch, she had heard I was poly, as she walked me to the car I went to hug her, she slammed me up against the car, and tried to kiss me, I pushed her off and asked wtf she was thinking. Her response, "don't be so coy, you're into that leather shit, what's a lil rough out in the parking lot?"

Then there was the time I went out with my then husband, we did a poker run, as I sat at the Dew Drop, a couple came up to me, they wanted to know if I was up for a quick switcharoo in the back of the bar, see they assumed because I was in a poly relationship with my husband, that I was interested in quick rolls in the back of bars.

I am a masculine/feminine Leather Femme Daddy. I am leather first, since that is what is mostly engrained to me, that comes with me being very sexually open, I have no issues using words such as cunt, vagina, pussy, penis, dick, cock, ass, etc etc. I am very sexually fluid, I don't care about gender I will fuck, boys, guys, FTM's, bois, girls, butches, be they masculine, female, transgendered identified or what have you. What that DOES mean is I don't fuck ALL of them at one time, or that I think they are all mine, OR that I am after your man. I am not shy about sexual talk, topics, conversations and anything else sexual. I am a firm believer that a good fuck is that a GOOD fuck and that everyone should participate in a good orgasm at least 4 times a week.. I know I will.

As a Femme, for me it has been a slow and wonderful evolution, I have found and embraced my femininity 100% and that was a slow and painful process because of the above, I did not fit into a mold that kept being shoved down my throat. In the beginning how I am now and have been was not *femme* enough. You see the idea of femme that kept being presented to me was that of soft spoken, submissive, fluffy and giggly. I found this to be confusing since the *few* femme's I did know personally were nothing like this, even if they were in a D/s enviroment, these femme's were power and did not fit this more how do I describe this, *stepford* kind of femme. It took years for me to watch, learn, get to know, and accept all kinds of femme's even though some not all would me. In my experience we as femme's are a lil more vicious when it comes to the hierarchy of femme when we decide to attack one another we tend to do it and go for the jugular, coming in forms of, innuendos, rumors, and attacks on our moral character if one is more sexual than the other.

I am a Daddy, and I ooze masculinity in my everyday life, I am very much an reflection of my Mentors, the men, dykes, butches in my life. I tend to think alot more like a guy, like more male perceived oriented things and probably have more male presenting, id'd born friends than anything else. I am Master, Sir, Daddy and Papa to the boys, and Cassandra. I strap, so I put this example here since *cocks* are more male prone then they are female prone according to the assumptions of both online, straight and b/f standards. I don't have any rules, I don't have any gender expectations and I don't assign man as default to my butch counterparts. I own 2 boys who are self made men, they are my property I am their Sir.

I don't know where I fit on the scale of Femme, I know I am one, I know that no matter who tries to tell me it's not. I am a Power Femme, my power comes from within, it's a natural part of my dominance. I don't subscribe that because I am this that anyone is lower in the femme status. Femme is femme it's not a scale of low and high, it's my gender, and I don't see gender as something you can put a scaled value, it should have *value* period, not fucking degrees of it.

This will be a great thread if we can all come from our Femme experience and without a *set* of guidelines on what femme is, because honestly what I have learned that within our Queerdom is we are so fluid all of us in gender that it evolves every day, and instead of doing the better than thou thing, we should celebrate that maybe one day gender isn't just about the F or the M we are assigned, and that it's perfectly fine to live out of the binary and for fucks sakes that EVERYONE should fuck till they are sweaty, cotton mouthed, and a lil bloodied if that so pleased you!!!
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Old 05-17-2010, 12:16 PM   #13
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Liam can you share with us how this experience fits in the Femme Continuum? Do you have any other thoughts about the Femme experience?
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Old 05-17-2010, 12:34 PM   #14
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I don't care for the way "we" are censored due to language or perceived lack of decorum by other members of our community. As though we were not ladylike enough, or genteel enough.

I want to have strong opinions, strong language and strong emotions without someone shaking their goddamn finger at me and trying to shame me into hushing. I want people to stop acting like they're my "Daddy" just because I am a Femme. I want us to be able to fuck whomever we want, whenever we want and not be called Whores or Sluts and have our morals called into question*.

I want us to stop apologizing because we pass as straight much of the time. It is what it is, and we have nothing to explain or apologize for.



*June isn't allowed to date
No, not one thing to apologize for!

I am so glad for this thread. It often feels like we take the full spectrum of femme identity for granted and are terribly narrow in what we consider femme. Compare the number of threads about butch identity to femme identity in terms of stereotypes predicated on the B-F dynamic.

Thanks to all in advance and I am listening to you all! This is a great opportunity for butches to get the facts!
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Old 05-17-2010, 01:10 PM   #15
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Liam can you share with us how this experience fits in the Femme Continuum? Do you have any other thoughts about the Femme experience?
My post was in response to Bulldog's...

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There seems to be awful lot of rules for what women can look like (and act like) and be seen and taken seriously as queer/lesbian.

It seems hyper feminine is seen as the top of the femme hierarchy (most valued) but at the same time seen as the most suspect (supposedly more straight appearing), in terms of being legitimately queer/lesbian.

Why is feminine associated with straight and masculine associated with lesbian/queer when it comes to women?
particularly the statement I bolded. My experience has been that masculine is not associated with lesbian, and that is the only point I was making. As I stated earlier, that is the only comment I would be making in this thread, but thanks for asking.
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Old 05-17-2010, 01:28 PM   #16
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I believe you may have misunderstood me, but there is an entire thread already discussing how masculine women are seen. I believe that women that have what is perceived to be a feminine appearance are usually read as straight.
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Old 05-17-2010, 01:34 PM   #17
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I believe you may have misunderstood me, but there is an entire thread already discussing how masculine women are seen. I believe that women that have what is perceived to be a feminine appearance are usually read as straight.
That is how I read it. That Femme is perceived and read as straight, whereas Butch seems to be read as Queer most times.
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Old 05-17-2010, 01:37 PM   #18
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That is how I read it. That Femme is perceived and read as straight, whereas Butch seems to be read as Queer most times.
Yes and many masculine women who are not butch or lesbian/queer are often read as lesbian/queer as well.

I guess my point was, the standard for lesbian/queer seems to lean more towards the androgynous/masculine side than to the feminine side.
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Old 05-17-2010, 01:44 PM   #19
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Yes and many masculine women who are not butch or lesbian/queer are often read as lesbian/queer as well.

I guess my point was, the standard for lesbian/queer seems to lean more towards the androgynous/masculine side than to the feminine side.
I wonder why that is? Is it just THAT ingrained? Remember when K.D. Lang was on the cover of some magazine with Cindy Crawford giving her a shave?

On one hand it was kind of hot, just because I adore K.D. Lang. But it kind of pissed me off that she was up there with a hyper feminine straight girl. I felt uber icky about that.
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Old 05-17-2010, 01:48 PM   #20
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I wonder why that is? Is it just THAT ingrained? Remember when K.D. Lang was on the cover of some magazine with Cindy Crawford giving her a shave?

On one hand it was kind of hot, just because I adore K.D. Lang. But it kind of pissed me off that she was up there with a hyper feminine straight girl. I felt uber icky about that.
What femme lesbians existed back then? How would you know? (and I'm thinking mainstream media models -- IIRC, this was for a fashion magazine)

I think that was one of the prime examples of femmes being invisible (I know Crawford -- or at least I believe she isn't -- gay but how would we know?).
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