I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately. What makes me femme specifically, as opposed to just feminine, more generally. I guess another way of posing this question would be: what makes Queer Femme different from Straight? This has been inspired, partly, by some discussion on other blogs (see, for example, Sinclair’s four-part series on masculinity, Dear Diaspora’s post on “butches are not men,” and Packing Vocals on being a gentleman) regarding female butch masculinity and the transmasculinity “spectrum” (I use the word spectrum largely because I’m not sure what other word to use, though I’m not really comfortable with calling anything queer or gender-related a spectrum), and, among other things, what sets it apart from cismale masculinity. These kinds of discussions naturally led me to pondering what sets queer femininity apart from straight cis femininity.
This has also been inspired, though, by my own gradual “coming out” as femme, a process which has been unfolding for the past year and a half or so; with burgeoning self-awareness comes the revealing of a whole realm of possibility regarding what femme can mean, and I’m still (maybe always will be) trying to figuratively pick through and identify what works for me and what doesn’t.
So, for example. Jewelry is not really my thing. It’s not that I dislike it, but rather more that I don’t have strong feelings for it. I don’t get excited by sparkles and shiny things, really, and while I can certainly appreciate a pretty pair of earrings (and do wear them from time to time), I’ve decided that accessorizing with gems’n'things is an aspect of femininity that I’m fine with setting aside (for now, anyway).
Shoes, on the other hand, are a comPLETEly different story. I. LOVE. SHOES. It is an unfortunate love affair, because shoes are not cheap, even if one does one’s best to only buy them when they’re marked down. I’m sorry, but when I pass a gazillion shoe stores every week in my wanderings, how can I not get giddy? In fact, you should be congratulating me that I only own about three dozen pairs. I could easily own hundreds. And the kind of shoes I love are decidedly feminine. Heels, bows, colors, peep-toes, sex-on-stilettos. So there is a characteristic of femininity that I unabashedly own.
There are others, obviously, but there are also many more, I’m know, that I’m still working through. There are a few right off the top of my head that I can think of, and maybe these are even little femme-goals of mine for the near future. Some of them frivolous, others less so:
1) find *my color* of lipstick (you know what I mean, right?)
2) get a tattoo (I’ve got several ideas but need to settle on one and on where) (maybe this will be a separate post soon, because I have oh-so-much to say about tattoos and queer femininity)
3) learn better how to shop thrift stores, because about half my wardrobe is out-dated and I want more skirts, dammit! I now have like three that I wear on a rotating basis.
4) invent a signature cocktail! It will be called The Alphafemme, duh. And it will be fizzy and fruity. That much I can guarantee.
5) get into a regular exercise routine. I want to get back into yoga, which I really miss, and I’m also considering a hip hop dance class.
Those are just five, and there are more, but you see? All of those things, to me, in their different ways, mean femme. What I love is that femme means something totally different for everyone who identifies that way, and femininity can be performed, intentionally or unintentionally, in infinite ways. But I guess what I’m curious about, to bring this back around to my initial question, is: any girl could write the same list I just wrote, and out of the context of this blog, where HI I’M GAY, you wouldn’t know if she were queer. So, are there things that belong specifically to queer femininity? Or at least, do they mean something different as an aspect of queer femininity than they do as an aspect of non-queer femininity?
What is it about femmes that distinguishes our femininity from that of straight women? Whether you think it’s a je ne sais quoi or something very specific, I’d love to hear what you think.
So, the title of this post is misleading, I know. It makes it look like I’m going to NAME what I think are markers of queer femme. But instead, I’m copping out and asking you, because the truth is I don’t know.