Yes, I know, it’s not Sunday (again) I’m getting bad at these, but at least I’m trying to stick to the posting schedule even if it is not the right day! And, that’s what backdating is for! My best excuse for being late is that our mama cat had her kittens yesterday! See all five kittens and the mama or just two kittens close-up. I’ll be posting pics on twitter as they progress.
Somethings I’ve been thinking a lot about since starting The Femme’s Guide (I start off too many posts that way, don’t I? Maybe I just think too much): What is femme? What does it mean to be femme? Who can be femme? Is there any sort of limitation on what femme means?
Something I came across a while ago 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” The abnormality in the normality of feminine can be caused by a number of different things, and in all cases conscious choice is the forerunner, but can also be accompanied by a deviant sexual orientation (queer, dyke, lesbian, bi, pan, etc. to which I also include queer heterosexual), biological sex-to-gender allignment (such as femme males), or etc.
My basic definition of a femme is someone who consciously chooses to embrace fem(me)ininity as a “deviant” identity. Femme is a conscious genderfuck in the rouse of traditional femininity. The major difference between a feminine woman and a femme is conscious gender performance, and anyone who consciously takes on the role of femininity as a deviant identity can be femme.
I don’t believe that femme is reserved for any type of person, there are femmes of all sexes, orientations, sizes, colors, etc. The only thing I believe must be present in order to embrace the identity of femme is just that: embracing the identity and consciously performing femmeininity.
This also doesn’t mean that they must be femme all the time, or that it has to be an all-or-nothing experience. I am an advocate (and practitioner) of gender fluidity, and I don’t believe that once an identity is embraced it must be the dominant identity at all times.
This brings me to the question of how is femme deviant? How is being femme any more deviant than being feminine? In a culture which considers femininity to be a counterpart to masculinity and therefore everything that masculinity isn’t: weak, vulnerable, emotional, etc. when a femme consciously chooses to be femme ze is choosing to take on this culturally slandered role. When we consciously choose marginalized roles while recognizing their marginalization we are, in a way, giving power to them. This is, in my mind, deviant and a small way of rebelling against social order.
The big issue with femme, in my opinion and experience, is visibility. It’s often difficult to be recognized as femme as opposed to feminine.