Oh I bloody love her! I also love how she’s like…yeah I was a stripper deal with it. And the whole audience gasps.
(this isn’t directed at dolcevitared, just a general frustrated exclaimation as this keeps coming up)
She WASN’T a stripper, past tense. She IS a stripper. She has said, SO MANY TIMES, that she IDENTIFIES CURRENTLY as a stripper and that anyone who thinks burlesque isn’t stripping is fooling themselves.
BURLESQUE. IS. STRIPPING.
And Wendy? No. There is no one ‘best’ form of femininity or feminine beauty. Damn I hate that absolutionist shit.
That’s the wonderfulness of it - that there’s so many types and so many forms and so many expressions of femininity and have been throughout history and how wonderful we live in a time when women and others who are feminine get to reach back into such fantastic gender history and create their own expression, or innovate completely.
I always find a lot to connect with in what Dita says and I think she often says some amazing things, although she can also be hugely problematic. I had an absolute obsession (what am I saying, ‘had’, it continues…) with lingerie as a very young girl and likewise, I didn’t covet it with the idea of wearing it for men - it was because it appealed to my particular manifestations of self. It just appealed to my aesthetic to my sense of femininity as decadent and self-indulgent. My love of 30s-40s vintage fashion was formed by both lingerie & Golden Age Hollywood musicals. I bought my first garter belt - bright red synthetic lace - when I was about fifteen. I still have it. <3
[image: a retro drawing of a thin light skinned, anglo featured hourglass shaped girl with long, light hair, in a tight one-piece bathing suit, and heels, surrounded by the text… “I FIGHT BACK in caps, with “against a mindset that makes me a victim and then blames me for what was done to me, against policies created solely to control or humble me, against social conditioning that says feminine = weak/bad/dirty/wrong, against Toxic Girl Hate, against the idea that it is ok to touch/hurt/rape/shame/control my body because it is considered public property, against harmful gendered politics disguised as “protection,” against defining people by an outdated gender binary and/or their genitals, against a worldview that has no place for growth, change, art, freedom, or revolution. You might think I look Like “Just A Girl,” but you should be very, very afraid of me.” subtext= this message brought to you by The Riot http://theriotmag.tumblr.com]
finally a woman oriented mini manifesto that doesn’t confuse femininity with womanhood or pussy with woman or any of that. <3333
I want to live in a world where little girls are not pinkified, but where little girls who like pink are not punished for it, either. We can certainly talk about the social pressures surrounding gender roles, and the concerns that people have when they see girls and young women who appear to be forced into performances of femininity by the society around them, but let’s stop acting like they have no agency and free will. Let’s stop acting like women who choose to be feminine are somehow colluders, betraying the movement, bamboozled into thinking that they want to be feminine. Let’s stop denying women their own autonomy by telling them that their expressions of femininity are bad and wrong.
Antifemininity is misogynist. What you are saying when you engage in this type of rhetoric is that you think things traditionally associated with women are wrong. Which is misogynist. By telling feminine women that they don’t belong in the feminist movement, you are reinforcing the idea that to be feminine and a woman is wrong, that women who want to be taken seriously need to be more masculine, because most people view gender presentation in binary ways. This rewards the ‘one of the boys’ type rhetoric I encounter all over the place from self-avowed feminists who seem to think that bashing on women is a good way to prove how serious they are when it comes to caring about women and bringing men into the feminist movement.
AND CAN I JUST SAY HOW FUCKING SICK I AM OF THIS SHIT COMING OUT OF THE QUEER COMMUNITY?
So. Over queer misogyny and queer anti-feminity.
For me, this is a similar issue to body-shaming. People conflate individuals with societal pressures/shaping. It’s totally awesome and okay and right and necessary to criticise media-created standards of idealised beauty. It is NOT okay or right or necessary or ethical to criticise people who either naturally fit - or work hard to conform to - those standards.
Yes, it’s vitally important to criticise and be aware of heteronormative gender binary roles and talk about them and how they impact on our lives.
No, it is NOT okay, NEVER okay to shame people who are naturally inclined to those roles.
People argue that it’s all nurture - that gender is an absolute construct to which we are trained to conform. Unless, of course, you’re going AGAINST the binary. If you’re in line with the binary, then you’re deluded and your desire for that which societally fits in neatly with your presented gender is constructed and false.
But if you’re a tomboy or athletic or ‘masculine’ - then so many feminists and queer theorists see this as ‘natural’ - as a natural rejecting of the ‘shackles’ of the kyriarchy. But how is that any more valid than my hyper-feminine expression of self?
All my life I have been flagrantly, wantonly, even aggressively feminine, according to contemporary Western standards. I was drawn to everything pink and frilly and fluffy and sparkly from a very young age. My aspirational figures in films were Marilyn Monroe, Jessica Rabbit, Ivanna Trump, Bette Milder and other helium-voiced, dangerously-curved molls, dames, starlets and divas who wore sequins and fur and velvet and silk and dripped in jewels, towering in stilettos with perfectly coiffed ‘dos and faces of immaculate make-up. I never grew out of wanting to be a princess with pretty things. As I have gotten older my desire for all things hyper-girly has not abated, but increased. I surround myself with them and immerse myself in them and, in that, find wholeness. Because I’m being true to myself.
As a feminist, a High Femme and a queer woman, my persuit of my own femininity has been relentless and even increasingly exaggerated, almost parodic, as I rebel against a community that always seeks, in some way, to ‘tone down’ my feminine self even when it is professing to love femmes and advocate for femme visibility. Femmeness is okay, so long as you still have hairy armpits and wear boots and a shaved under-cut. So long as you don’t love pink.
I LOVE PINK. I yearn for pink. I dream of pink. Pink marketing is like heaven to me. I feel like weeping with joy every time I seek out some household necessity and discover it comes in pink - because it means that I don’t have to compromise my self-expression to own something which, in my eyes, is ‘ugly’ and doesn’t fit into my home, which is a reflection of me. I have been relentlessly persuing my embracing of pink - which, not so long ago was a boys’ colour - to have a whole home violently accessorised in various hues of the colour. In fact it was Dee, from whom I’m reblogging this post, who first dubbed my home ‘The Pink Palace’ some years ago.
What’s bad about pink? Pink is AWESOME. It is a vibrant, expressive, loving, fierce, inviting, nurturing, consuming, vivid, energetic, emotional colour. It’s all good, always.
My femininity is like an armour as much as it is like peeling back my outer flesh to reveal my inmost self. Don’t think it is easy to walk in the world being a girly-girl. There is always someone ready to remark that you’re ‘very dressed up - what’s the occasion?’, always somebody ready to scorn you, to call you a traitor and always always someone ready to talk down to you, expect less of you, not take you as seriously. When I wear my full face of makeup, my stilettos and my tight or full-skirted dresses, I feel stronger at the same time as I’m making myself more vulnerable to criticism.
Of course the gender construct of femininity needs to be discussed and debated, broken down and analysed, just as the construct of masculinity does. Yes, feminine gender expectations can be a trap, can be stifling and repressive for many women and those assigned female. And it is important we discuss ways those people can be free of them. And we should also be aware of how we discuss gender construct without regard to race and culture in Western discourse on this subject, as that has significant intersectional factors.
But just as fat pride and fat positivity is not aided or progressed by turning against skinny people and shaming and demonising them, nor is gender non-conformity aided or progressed by hatefulness against those individuals who naturally conform to femininity.
Just because I’m a hyper-feminine girly-girl does not mean I am not aware of this stuff and have chosen to persue my most natural, happy self in full awareness.
And even if I wasn’t fully aware - so what???? I’m still expressing myself in the way that makes me feel most happy and natural. Even women who don’t ever become aware of gender theory and how gender to many degrees is constructed still express their femininity along a broad spectrum, from the girls always in jeans and flip-flops with no makeup to the girls bleaching their roots, getting their acrylics filled and their tans touched up every week. Femininity is not a static thing, even in heteronormative society. Don’t underestimate us. Haven’t you seen the movies? That’s how we always win.
The Transgender Day of Remembrance serves several purposes. It raises public awareness of hate crimes against transgender people, an action that current media doesn’t perform. Day of Remembrance publicly mourns and honors the lives of our brothers and sisters who might otherwise be forgotten. Through the vigil, we express love and respect for our people in the face of national indifference and hatred. Day of Remembrance reminds non-transgender people that we are their sons, daughters, parents, friends and lovers. Day of Remembrance gives our allies a chance to step forward with us and stand in vigil, memorializing those of us who’ve died by anti-transgender violence. (http://www.transgenderdor.org/)
Adelaide, South Australia - Will be holding a Transgender Day of Remembrance event on Saturday, November 20, 2010 at 8:00 pm at Light Square, Adelaide.
Brisbane, Queensland - A small and safe candle-lit gathering in Remembrance will be held Saturday, November 20, 2010 from 6pm at Paradise Park, in Highgate Hill.
Sydney, Australia - Will be Holding Transgender day of Remembrance services: 6:30pm Friday 19th November and 10am Saturday 20th November at Emanuel Synagogue, 7 Ocean Street, Woollahra, NSW 2025, Australia, by Dayenu (Sydney’s Jewish GLBTI group).
- Still Fierce will be hosting a workshop on Saturday, November 20 at 11.30am, and performances hosted by Regrette Etcetera from 6pm - both at 33 Wellington St, Sydney
These are the only Australian events I know about..
I should be at the Still Fierce event for at least a little while (I’m booked to do two burlesque shows at two different events that night!). At any rate, I encourage all trans-allies to come along. I may go to the Synagogue service too.
And now, in the postmodern reign of The Queer, the femme reappears, signifier of another kind of gender trouble. Not a performer of legible gender transgression, like the butch and his sister the drag queen, but a betrayer of legibility itself. Seemingly “normal,” she responds to “normal” expectations with a sucker punch - she occupies normality abnormally. Though femmes occupy the shifting borders of lesbian identities, they are never heterosexual. Though they may traffic in men, they do not, cannot, will not take up a position within a heteronormative framework. -A Fem(me)inist Manifesto
i am theorizing the [cis-gendered] femme. i am taking her out of the butch/femme dichotomy. the femme is autonomous, and in her stilettos she struts her agency. I am taking her out of the political idioms embodied in manifestas, out of her making claims of the world. and in that naked form, i am revealing the awesome potential of the femme in herself to fuck the gender-binary, the patriarchy, heteronormativity. the femme’s body and performance is scripted with patriarchal type. but the femme is queer. the femme has class. she rearranges the text written upon her. she performs a parody of heteronormativity and subverts it with her neo-burlesque moves. she becomes empowered by being an object of desire and turns that power against the male-gaze. rape culture collapses under the weight of her femininity. the femme is thought to conform to the gender norms. so she is excluded from discourses around the gender-binary and genderqueerness. but the femme is a gender-fucker. she works from within the system, choosing her femininity, and in the finale of her act reveals her identity to be not normal, not static, but FIERCE.
(rebelboi are you a student of Lauren Berlant’s in Chicago? Grad/Undergrad? Just Curious.)
This proud High Femme says HELLS YEAH.
I’ve always conceptualised Femme as a separate gender identity to female (whilst never pushing the point, in recognition of my privilege in appearing traditionally female and therefore not wanting to hijack the struggle of those who visibly don’t fit neatly into the gender binary) and it’s been really nice to see dialogue increasingly acknowledge this truth as many Femmes experience it. It’s also really nice to see dialogue move increasingly away from ‘you’re all traitors and victims of the patriarchy’ line. HA.
Although I hate any sort of dialogue/descriptors around what ‘has class’ or what is ‘classy’. I think, in this classist, sexist world, describing a woman, any woman, as ‘having class’ is really, really problematic and opens up a whole world of preconceptions around status, income, sexual behaviour, behaviour in general, looks, etc… and those preconceptions are used to persecute, divide and undermine people.
An interview a friend and fellow Femme Guild member and myself did recently for our local alternative queer trans-and-cis-female and trans and gender queer community magazine, Cherrie.
We talk a bit about the Femme Guild, about being Femme, but mainly about our very exciting upcoming conference! The conference is going to be seriously exciting, an Australian first, and is an exploration of femme identity as well as focused on raising visibility and fostering community. We will be having a party on the Saturday night (at which I’ll be performing) which will feature all femme performers. It’s going to be GAYMAZING!
If you have a queer blog or an interest, please reblog this! And if you are femme-identified and from the international community - please consider sending in a video greeting we can play at the conference! Contact me for more details! :)
(I’d had four hours sleep when I gave this interview and actually had to take it over for someone who couldn’t do it, hence my convoluted dialogue - I kinda figured the interviewer would edit my comments a bit, though I suppose it’s a good thing in some ways they’re exact - I’m also NOT slamming feminism of the 70s!!! That bit is slightly decontexualised)
(and yeah, that’s me in the red stripper shoes in the photo)
I’d really love to strongly encourage you all to read this excellent essay that provides some great insight.
I cannot speak to the experience of Women of Colour, as I’m white. But I’d been planning to blog some stuff on femme identity the last few days and this cropped up on the ever-amazing ardhra’s blog (if, like me, you love fiesty, unapologetic, scathingly brilliant women, follow her!) and I found it very instructional and vital reading.
I had a self-described bisexual get all up on me on twitter a few weeks ago because I said that I reject bisexual in favour of pansexual as a descriptor as it implies a gender binary that places limits on what I’m attracted to and is disrespectful to partners past and future that fall outside their binary.
They advised me that since genderqueer people still have the male or female sexual organs, regardless of how they gender identify, bisexual still covered them!!!
So much fail. Not least of which is the total lack of acknowledgement of intersex folks!
If this were in my size, it would be mine in a second.
I WANT THIS SO BADLY.
WHY AM I SO BIG. WHYYYYYY.
Hey—it’s such cute fabric. When my oldest son was little, the only fabric I found with any of his faves on it was Ninja Turtles—but for some strange reason, the only background (behind the little NInja Turtle scenes and logos) was hot pink. Luckily it was his favourite colour at the time, but I always thought it odd (in a culture that sees hot pink as only for girls) that was the only choice. (He loved hot pink until midway through kindergarten. He would wear pink almost every day—had six different shirts, socks, etc. One day, a little fashionista took him quite literally by the hand and hauled him off for a quiet lecture—trying to spare his feelings apparently! “Look!”, she announced, “only girls wear pink—boys wear black!” And not only did my son never wear pink ever again, but he’s kind of worn black ever since. Although some of that was because he went through a phase where he dressed like Johnny Quest, who had a new cartoon series at the time—black tshirt, blue jeans and sneakers. Pretty basic, but he wore it everyday for months.)
That fabric is amazing, but Keiren, that’s such a fucking sad story! Your poor son! I’m sure the little girl in question only had ‘good intentions’, but there’s so much about this story that just makes me feel so sad… that at such a young age these ideas would be so deeply imbedded in both him AND her… of an innocent little boy enjoying something because it appeals to him visually and then having it taken away for some insufferably stupid reason… This story breaks my heart. I ache for that little kindergarten boy. :(
"Both men and women face a lot of pressure to be masculine and feminine respectively. But, ironically, people who rigidly conform to rules about gender, those who enact perfect performances of masculinity or femininity, are often the butt of jokes. Many of us, for example, think the male body builder is kind of gross; we suspect that he may be compensating for something, dumb like a rock, or even mean or narcissistic. Likewise, when we see a bleach blond teetering in stilettos and pulling up her strapless mini, many of us think she must be stupid and shallow, with nothing between her ears but fashion tips.
The fact that we live in a world where there are different expectations for men’s and women’s behavior, in other words, doesn’t mean that we’re just robots acting out those expectations. We actually tend to mock slavish adherence to those rules, even as we carefully negotiate them (breaking some rules, but not too many, and not the really important ones)."
I’m someone who performs femininity ‘perfectly’, so I loved reading this. I am high-femme by nature and my presentation and embodiment of that identity is very conscious and deliberate but also an adhering to my natural inclination.
I have been treated as a bimbo, as a gender traitor and as a deluded victim of the patriarchy for the way I choose to present myself. But to present myself in any other way would be dishonest to my nature and personhood. The construction of gender in visual coding is fascinating to me and I understand it inside-out. It has been critical to me as a feminist, a sex worker and a queer woman to deconstruct gender presentation and how it operates in society and in doing so, I am able to fully own my femme-ness.