As you may have noticed, I’ve changed the title yet again, though this time a minor change from “feminist” to “femmeinist.” Now, the difference is subtle, but I believe there is a big difference. Traditionally feminism has tried to lead women to more androgynous looks, and has really frowned upon femininity as just something which the patriarchy has thought up, a male fantasy, and not something that we should buy into.
As Julia Serano said in Whipping Girl “Even many feminists buy into traditionally sexist notions about femininity–that it is artificial, contrived, and frivolous; that it is a ruse that only serves the purpose of attracting and appeasing the desires of men… After all, as a concept, feminism is much like the ideas of “democracy” or “Christianity.” Each has a major tenet at its core, yet there are a seemingly infinite number of ways in which those beliefs are practiced. And just as some forms of democracy and Christianity are corrupt and hypocritical while others are more just and righteous we… must… forge a new type of feminism, one that understands that the only way for us to achieve true gender equity is to abolish both oppositional sexism* and traditional sexism.**”
Femmeinist thought, however, embraces femininity and femmeininity, and is working toward that new type of feminism (or, femmeinism). While currently gender politics is still working on abolishing oppositional sexism*, traditional sexism** still abounds. It is in the fact that in order to be “gender neutral” one must look masculine, there is nearly no way to be gender neutral while really taking on feminine characteristics. Femininity must be strong, otherwise it wouldn’t be that if someone is wearing make up or a skirt that seems to automatically negate any other masculine gendered performance.
Something I came across here via The Femme Show was a definition of what femme is, or can be: “[the femme is] a betrayer of legibility itself. Seemingly “normal,” she responds to “normal” expectations with a sucker punch– she occupies normality abnormally.” – Lisa Duan and Kathleen McHugh from “A Fem(me)inist Manifesto” This is why part of my idea of who can be femme or not does not have to do only with sexuality. Femme is not about who you sleep with, though it can be, but there are plenty of feminine lesbians who are not femme. Femme is about consciousness: a conscious genderfuck in the rouse of traditional femininity. Anyone who consciously takes on the role of femininity as a deviant identity can be femme. Though, I believe it is easier for those who are already outside of social norms, such as lesbians and bisexual women, to come to a queer femininity and embrace it.
Femme is not something that sneaks up on you (though, it can sneak up on you in some ways, but there must be a conscious awareness to it as well), there is a definite change that happens from feminine to femme, or butch to femme or butch to genderqueer to femme (as was, in some ways, my transition). There is a transition, as with any trans identity: female to femme, perhaps. There is a wonderful movie which I am dying to see (I’ve only seen the trailer for it) which is called FtF: Female to Femme (you can view the trailer here). It seems like a step in the right direction.
I have so much more to say about femme, so many more ideas, and I will have more posts on it in the near future. This is kind of a rough-draft. Expect more and deeper investigation.
* oppositional sexism – “The belief that female and male are rigid, mutually exclusive categories, each posessing a unique and nonoverlapping set of attributes, aptitudes, abilities, and desires.”
** traditional sexism – “The belief that maleness and masculinity are superior to femaleness and femininity.”