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:
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
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.
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.