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“Not Femme Enough”…?

This is a post I have been slowly working on, a little at a time, because I am finding it quite difficult to process and articulate this topic; also, recently, I have been focused on my beloved sick cat, Ari, so it’s been hard to focus more than a few minutes on anything else.

Before I start trying to explain today’s topic, I wanted to mention that I’ve written before about being a Femme Lesbian, and this post will continue with that topic.

If you are interested in reading those previous posts, which are directly related to this post and which provide some important background to this post, here are the links:

Deciphering Butch/Femme

Femme: Defining Ourselves

Femme: Fact Versus Fiction

Do Femmes Wear Lipstick?

Today’s post is about the rampant misconceptions and outright lies about Femmes, and how these misconceptions and lies are prevalent, even within the Lesbian community.

There is a huge gap between what people THINK Femmes are versus what we ACTUALLY are.

Many people incorrectly THINK Femme Lesbians:

  • are hyperfeminine;
  • are obsessed with makeup, clothes, hair, shoes, etc.
  • are overtly seductive and hypersexual
  • are helpless, dependent, clingy, needy, etc.
  • are dumb, flighty, stupid, etc.
  • are Stepford Wives
  • are uninformed, unfeminist, old-fashioned, etc.
  • are “mimicking heterosexuality”
  • are an “identity” that can be chosen by anybody
  • are “performing gender”
  • are “really Straightbians
  • are subservient to Butches
stilettos

Shoes People THINK I Wear: Image: Pixabay: Pexels: CC0

These stereotypes have been perpetuated by a huge number of sources, including, but not limited to, so-called Lesbian experts” who are neither Lesbian nor expert, by purported Femmes who are actually Straightbians, by allegedly  Lesbian magazines/media/blogs/etc. which are decidedly NOT Lesbian, and by websites/forums which falsely proclaim to be for Butch/Femme Lesbians, but instead are just hideous mockeries, chock-full of Straightbians mingling with a few lonely, confused dykes.

Here is the truth about Femme Lesbians ~ we are:

  • REAL LESBIANS;
  • Born this way;
  • Equal partners in our relationships;
  • Independent, capable, strong, practical, etc.;
  • Typically outspoken;
  • Just being ourselves (Meaning: We are NOT mimicking heterosexuality, NOT performing gender, NOT playacting, etc.);
  • NOT obsessed with looks, makeup, hair, nails, clothes, shoes, etc.;
  • Dress appropriately for the task; function is important;
  • Can/do dress up if/when we choose to, but we don’t feel the need to impress the guy bagging our groceries;
  • NOT an “identity” which can just be adopted by anyone; because you either ARE a Femme Lesbian OR you are NOT…period.
Converse

Shoes I ACTUALLY Wear: Image: Pixabay: Wokandapix: CC0

So, you would assume that most actual Lesbians would be free of such misinformed assumptions, but sadly, this is rarely the case.

This widespread ignorance, even within the Lesbian community, results in real Femmes often feeling invisible. Sometimes, this invisibility presents itself in the form of being rejected and/or unrecognized by other Lesbians. At other times, paradoxically, this invisibility presents itself as being thought of as “not Femme enough” to some dykes who have issues of their own which leads them to partner with Straightbians.

Please see Dirt’s companion post, here, about some of the possible issues dykes might have which would lead them to partner with Straightbians. I won’t be covering that in this post.

Instead, I wanted to address the issue of my being perceived as “not Femme enough” by some dykes. This phenomenon has happened to me, although I didn’t fully understand it until recently. For instance, I was told repeatedly by 2 previous Butch partners that I was “too athletic”, and I was encouraged incessantly by both of them to dress more provocatively and to wear more makeup, etc. I didn’t EVER stop working out, nor did I change my appearance/clothes (because I am a particularly stubborn person, LOL!), but I will admit that such comments did bother me and make me feel criticized and unwanted. Interestingly, although not surprisingly, both of these Butches had only dated Straightbians before me, and both went back to dating Straightbians after we broke up. In other words, both of them were comparing me to Straightbians, and found me quite lacking in the hyper-femininity department. Both of them wanted another kind of woman (a Straightbian!) who would meet the male fantasy of a sexy, seductive woman —  which is so NOT me.

Another instance in which this scenario has affected me is when someone Dirt and I know online (from our blogs or Twitter or Facebook) wants to meet us in person. I always worry about what people’s reactions will be when I don’t meet their incorrect Straightbian/sexy/seductive/MALE-fantasy notions of what a Femme “should” be. Often, it feels that people are expecting me to show up looking/dressed like I plan to be on the cover of Vogue, but when they meet me, I am always dressed as I normally do (which certainly does NOT include high heels, skimpy dresses, or plunging necklines; instead, it usually includes shorts/pants, a t-shirt, and tennis shoes).

It is impossible not to feel that such people are somehow disappointed with me for not being the femme fatale of their imagination. (Not even remotely close!).

When I was younger, I was both puzzled and hurt by such situations. Now that I am older (and hopefully at least a little bit wiser), I finally realize that I am fine as I am; heck, I always was. I am proud to be a dyke. If anyone has the nerve to feel like I am doing it wrong, she is the one with the problem, not me.

Why The Truth Matters To Lesbians

The most frequent comments/questions my sweetie Dirt and I have received since we began our quest to expose some of the fake “lesbian experts” who are neither Lesbian nor expert and to call attention to the myriad of ways Straightbians wreak havoc upon Lesbian lives are some variation/combination of the following:

“Why do you care?  Why does it matter? Why can’t you just live and let live? Why are you being mean? Who are you to say who is really a Lesbian? Etc.”

This post will attempt to answer these questions (as well as endless variations of the same theme) by explaining why the truth matters to Lesbian lives…and yes, even to those Lesbians who are asking these questions.

At least on the surface, it initially seemed that it would be obvious why the truth matters to Lesbians (or, at least, why it should matter).

Intuitively, it would seem that everyone would want to know the truth about themselves and their partners, as well as about the so-called “lesbian experts” that have taken it upon themselves to define “Lesbian“.

After all, who would consciously say to a potential love interest: “Please lie to me, because I don’t care who you really are and I don’t care that I am going to get hurt!”?  Who would intentionally pay hard-earned cash to buy a book or to attend a lecture by someone who is an active charlatan peddling false facts?  Who would deliberately follow an alleged “Lesbian expert” on social media if it were known that their “hero” is not really a Lesbian (or an expert)?

What we have learned (and are still figuring out) from the backlash is that there is much more going on underneath the surface than was/is immediately apparent to us.

There is so much resistance to hearing the truth that all women cannot just magically become Lesbians and so much resistance to hearing the truth that the much published and publicized alleged “Lesbian experts” are neither Lesbian nor expert that we need to pause to consider the underlying reasons for this brouhaha.

The primary, and most obvious, issue with facing these truths is denial. It might be that a Lesbian has already fallen in love with a Straightbian, perhaps even invested years of her life with said Straightbian. To admit that it all has been a lie is too painful, so it is much easier to knee-jerk into defensiveness and to lash out at Dirt and me.

From the Straightbian‘s perspective, there are also many reasons to either stay in denial herself (if she is trying to convince herself that she “really is” a Lesbian)…or, if she is self-aware enough to realize on some level that she is a Straightbian, to deflect the attention in order to maintain the ruse. For example, perhaps she has been sexually, emotionally, and/or physically abused by male(s) and is therefore resistant to being with a man, and being a faux “Lesbian” is her safety net, rather than dealing with the real issues.  Perhaps she is getting positive reinforcement for being a fake “Lesbian“: money, attention, security, adoration from a lesbian partner, fame, followers, book readers, lecture attendees, interviews, etc.  Perhaps she is having fun “exploring her sexuality” and feeling like she is “edgy” or a bad-ass rebel. Perhaps she wishes to dominate her relationships and finds it easier to dominate Lesbians than men. Whatever the case (and the situation will vary depending on the reasons she is a Straightbian), there is enough gain for her to continue her behavior — and she doesn’t want us pointing her out as a trespasser, a fraud, and a Nightmare on Lesbo Lane.

One thing that both of us initially underestimated was the sheer amount of Straightbians who have invaded Lesbian lives, both in our everyday social circles and in our collective consciousness. We will write more on this topic later, but, for now, I just want to say that I used to wonder why someone would say she is a Lesbian when she is not.

After all, it is not always easy being a Lesbian. We face many hurdles that straight people do not: potential discrimination in jobs or housing; possible rejection from family, friends, and society; legal struggles;  even the possibility of violence; just to name a few. Lesbian don’t have the straight privilege that heterosexuals blithely enjoy.

So, Dirt and I have both frequently wondered in the past why a woman who is straight would choose to say she is a Lesbian.

Well, the potential reasons vary, as mentioned above and in this post, but a major point I want to make today is that it does, in fact, happen ALL THE TIME ~ for various reasons.

And: most importantly, I want to make the point that because, as Lesbians, we do intimately know the potential problems inherent in coming out and therefore we cannot imagine why someone would falsely claim to be a Lesbian, we, as a group, have had a tendency to automatically believe any woman’s claims of being a “Lesbian“.

Lesbians’ own good-hearted, but ultimately naive, suspension of disbelief has had the chilling effect of leaving our metaphorical windows open for intruders to easily enter and to rape, rob, and rapine whatever they want from right under our trusting noses, including the very definition of our existence.

This harsh truth is difficult to face, but it is necessary for us as a community to start facing the truth in order to reclaim our existence and begin to finally define true Lesbian existence for ourselves.

As long as Lesbians believe, promote, and/or support the false myth that any woman can become a Lesbian, we will be at least partially responsible for the devastation wrought upon our own Lesbian community.

The truth matters, because Lesbian lives matter. The truth matters to Dirt and me, and we have the right to speak out about it, because we are LESBIANS and because we care about other Lesbians. We can say who other Lesbians are because of a little thing called gaydar (and common sense once you know what to look for). And: we won’t shut up as long as Lesbian lives are being harmed and until only true LESBIANS define Lesbian.

Breaking It Down (More About Why Being A Lesbian Is NOT A Choice AND Why It Matters)

The recent posts regarding the topic of Straightbians which were made by Dirt and I have been offensive to many people. I wish that the topic weren’t so divisive because it is not intended to be.

I wanted to clarify our position further by trying to break it down to the most basic examples; in order to try (once again) to convey to the disbelievers the seriousness of situation that Lesbians are faced with when unknowingly dating Straightbians.

To summarize a ton of previously posted information, basically, a Straightbian is a heterosexual woman who chooses to try to partner with another woman due to a variety of possible reasons, including, but not limited to: political reasons, being sick of dating men, curiosity, thinking “the grass is greener on the other side”, trauma, mistaking friendship for love, etc.

A lot of people have mistakenly taken our posts to mean that we are being callous, exclusionary, disapproving, hostile, discriminatory, and/or just plain mean.

A lot of people, including some Lesbians, apparently want to believe that any woman can simply choose at any time to “become a Lesbian“.

But: the simple truth is that all females cannot “choose to be Lesbians”, just as Lesbians cannot choose to be straight.

To imply that orientation is a choice implies Lesbians could choose to be straight if we just wanted to, and this faulty thinking is what leads to harmful, barbaric, and ineffective ideas like conversion therapy.

As I have said before, magical thinking simply does not work. If a female is straight, she is never going to fall in love with a Lesbian like another Lesbian would.  It is not possible ~ no matter how much you wish it were so.

The Straightbian may even stay in the relationship for a long time, so her behavior may change during the relationship, but her orientation will never change.

Those people who are so very offended are missing the very basic core message we are trying to send, which is: JUST BE HONEST.

We are not telling straight females that they shouldn’t make the choice to partner with another female; BUT we are saying that if a straight female wants to date a lesbian, she needs to be honest and to admit that she is straight up-front ~ rather than falsely claiming to be any sort of “Lesbian” (including a “political lesbian”, which is a flat-out misnomer).

Similarly, someone who is straight should not falsely claim to be a Lesbian, nor should she speak for and about Lesbians.

Let’s break it down:  It’s all about truth and communication.  

No matter what your orientation is, I hope everyone can agree that all people have the right to know their potential partner’s true orientation and intentions before consenting to a sexual/romantic relationship.

Because when we don’t know the truth, we cannot give true consent.

Here are just a few examples of possible situations that most people would want/need to know about a potential partner before consenting to a relationship/sex:

1). If you are a heterosexual woman, you would probably like to know that the handsome, funny, charming man you are flirting with is really gay.

2).  If you are a straight man, you would probably want to know that the woman you are considering proposing to is a closeted Lesbian before buying an engagement ring.

3).  If you are a straight woman who just got proposed to by a man, you would probably want to know that he already has 3 wives and believes bigamy is the way of the future.

4).  No matter who you are, you would probably want to know that the person you are considering having a relationship does not believe in monogamy and therefore, does not plan to be exclusive.

5).  No matter who you are, you would probably want to know that the person you are falling in love with is not interested in ever having sex with you.

6).  No matter who you are, you would probably want to know that the person you are considering having sex with has a sexually transmittable disease or other contagious illness.

7).  No matter who you are, you would probably want to know that the person who you are making out with intends for you to be a one-night stand only, and therefore, is not interested in seeing you again…ever.

8). No matter who you are, you would probably want to know if the person you are getting seriously involved with has any secret that could end up hurting you eventually (possible examples include already being married; having a criminal history; having financial problems that would affect you; lying about who they really are; etc.).

9).  No matter who you are, you would probably want to know that the person you are taking home is the sex they say they are (nobody wants a “Crying Game” episode in real life).

10). Finally, last but certainly not least on today’s list is: If you are a Lesbian, you should definitely want to know that the woman you are falling for is really straight.

This is not rocket science, folks. It’s basic common sense.

All people (and the term “people” includes Lesbians, just in case that fact is not entirely clear to heterocentric individuals) have the right to know who they are becoming involved with sexually and romantically.

It is not offensive for Lesbians to demand to know who were are getting involved with.

What is offensive is the fact that the so-called “feminists” who are defending Straightbians care so little about Lesbians that they think Lesbian needs/lives should take a backseat to the desire of Straightbians to hijack “Lesbian” for their own purposes.

Lesbians, Open Your Eyes

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how Lesbians have been so starved to see ourselves in television or film that we will often hungrily devour the tiniest morsel of purported “Lesbian” content, no matter how meager, unhealthy, or unsatisfying.

There’s been a lot written recently on the propensity of writers to kill off lesbian characters, so I won’t rehash all those grim statistics and depressing examples. I will suffice it to warn you that if you see a Lesbian (even a purported one) on TV or in a movie, you will probably want to consider not getting too attached. You’ll thank me later.

And: even if a Lesbian character miraculously does not die a horrible death, it is still very unlikely that there will be a true “happily ever after” ending. All-too-often, the (so-called) “Lesbian” will end up with a man (Note: she clearly wasn’t really a Lesbian then, huh?!?). Or, the Lesbian may end up in prison, end up alone (when she doesn’t want to be), end up on-the-run, or end up trapped in some kind of weird alternate universe. Or, Lesbian relationships are often portrayed as drama-fests of cheating, lying, screaming, and conniving.

Alternatively, some shows tease Lesbians with “subtext” and hints of flirtation, but never actually deliver an up-front and honest Lesbian relationship to the incredibly loyal Lesbian fans who are still buying their merchandise and showing up for their conventions over a decade after the show is over. Sadly, the reason for this cowardly tendency is usually to keep the possibility of a heterosexual-relationship-storyline open…because we wouldn’t want to disappoint the straight folks, who only have approximately 5,479,032,865,321,123 of their own love stories to fall back on, now would we? No, that just wouldn’t do at all.

And yet, despite the numerous slaps-in-the-face we have received from the writers, shows, and movies we have supported, Lesbians somehow remain hopeful. Surely, we think, somewhere, somehow, somebody is going to portray us accurately and not disappoint us.  We still watch the shows, we still buy the movie tickets, we still root for the characters, we still buy the merchandise, we still invest our precious time and attention. Only to be crushed again. And again. And again. And again. And yet again.

It is time that we open our eyes and stop settling for less than we deserve. We need to attack this problem with our money, our time, and our attention. Lesbians need to stop gobbling down the putrid scraps that have been carelessly and thoughtlessly tossed at us. We need to stop wasting our breath protesting our angst to the very people who screwed us over (because, if they cared, it would never have happened to begin with).

Lesbians need to focus on ourselves for a change. We need to prioritize ourselves over the wants and wishes of everyone else. We need to write our own stories. We need to support authentically Lesbian writers, producers, actors, and filmmakers who we can trust to tell our stories authentically. We need to stop giving our money, our attention, and our time to projects that treat us like an afterthought, an embarrassment, a titillation, a sensationalized plot-device, and/or a freak-show.

Lesbians deserve better. It’s time we demand it.

Here is my partner’s piece on the same topic:

Lesbian Hunger by Dirt:

That moment when your Lesbian ribs meet your Lesbian stomach. You ALL know what I’m talking about. Hated, feared, despised, zero clout. Our Lesbian image tattered and torn. We don’t exist outside of Het male porn. Where girl on girl is portrayed as right, our Lesbian voices too few to weigh in THEY are wrong! For a minute there back in some Gay 90’s when suddenly there was Melissa, Ellen and KD, we thought it might not be too long. Just as suddenly, we gone or watered down.

Lesbians are fodder or faux, where in male fantasies we never say NO. Invisible. We settle for any hint of Lesbian colour. No matter magazines, books or movies. The first ten minutes of any lesbian film its lickety-lick with another woman. By movies end our Lesbian is murdered or worse she falls into the loving arms of just the Right man. In fiction she’s quasimodo, only less attractive. She’s mannish, a predator of women, lonely and damaged. She’s a drug addict, an alcoholic, a first class mess. A nympho luring innocent young women into giving her sex. Lesbian characters are under developed, one dimension. They love kissing girls for male attention.

But we’re all so hungry, starving for any lesbian glimpse, we accept Hollywood filth. We pay good money to see a second rate actress in a secondary role go from kissing the female movie’s star to riding some random guy’s pole. Lesbian food rations too thin for Lesbian demand. We are so famished, we’ll do anything to see that single lesbian kiss, no matter how the rest of the show turns out. We shout and high five, that kiss makes us feel like we’re really alive. But as long as we settle for remnants, our Lesbian floors will remain bare. Be brave, don’t be scared. Who better to tell our story than us? Go to your social media sites, cause a ruckus, cause a fuss! Our stories are much too sacred to be lost or turned to rust or ruin. Give our Lesbian children something more than we had to chew.

dirt