Tag Archive | Butch/Femme

“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.

Lesbian Truth

Since Dirt and I first started writing about the havoc that has been wreaked upon the lesbian community by Straightbians of all varieties and speaking out about the multitude of alleged “lesbian experts” who are neither lesbian nor expert, the resistance (and sometimes outright hostility) to what we are saying has been appalling.

We have both been unfollowed/blocked by numerous lesbians/feminists (or, I should say: allegedlesbians“/”feminists“) on Twitter, which has prompted me to rethink my own previous position about blocking. We have both received numerous nasty comments and emails (most of which were deleted promptly). We have been subtweeted about relentlessly, because, apparently, some people want to gripe about us, but don’t have the nerve, or the courtesy, to address us directly.

We expected some disagreement, of course. After all, everyone has been spoon-fed lies about lesbianism for decades, and suddenly Dirt and I come along and call it out for what it is: complete and utter horse manure. So we naturally expected some disgruntlement, perhaps even some anger, but the histrionic reaction we have received is as over-the-top emotional that it is as if we told a bunch of preschoolers that Santa had been killed in a tragic mishap at the toy factory.

Why?  I have been thinking about it a lot, and I think there are multiple reasons for this backlash. In fact, there are likely even more reasons I have not even thought of yet. But after much consideration, I think that there are 3 primary reasons that we have received so much hatred and anger:

1). People are highly invested in the erroneous myth that “any woman can become a lesbian”.

For straight women, this myth is a back-up plan if things go wrong with men.  The myth is a way to feel special by asserting their straight privilege upon lesbians. This myth is an all-purpose fantasy of a sort of all-female Amazonian utopia, (purportedly) free from the damaging effects of patriarchy.

Re: Lesbians, this myth allows lesbians to falsely believe that the Straightbian we have fallen in love with (or the one we have a crush on) could truly fall in love with us. It increases our dating pool. The myth allows lesbians to feel inclusive, welcoming, and supportive of our straight sisters. Lesbians get approval and attention from straight women for buying into this myth; by perpetuating the falsehood that we all can live in an all-inclusive “lesbian“-lala-land.  Lesbians therefore often choose to ignore the obvious fact that sexual orientation is fixed in order to bolster straight women’s egos and fantasies.

Straight men love the thought of sexuality being “fluid”, because…HELLO!  Hopes of a threesome!  And although I don’t give a flying f**k about what straight men think, I mention this factor to illustrate one of the many reasons that this myth is so harmful to lesbians…because it implies that orientation is simply a choice. To incorrectly imply straight women can magically become lesbians also implies that being a lesbian is a choice, when the truth is that orientation is not changeable. Period.

2). Plenty of Straightbians have become famous and made fortunes/names for themselves by appropriating “lesbian” with their straight-privileged nonsense. Many others, who have perhaps not become as famous/rich as those profiled in our Unstraightening Lesbian series, have nevertheless carved out “lesbian” niches for themselves, particularly on the internet, and they don’t want us spoiling their fun-and-games with simple facts.

3).  Finally, and related to the points above, I think a major reason that the myth that “any woman can be a lesbian” has flourished is simple: straight privilege and lesbians not being privileged enough to see it happening nor to stop it from happening.

Real lesbians everywhere have been too busy living our own lives to see ~ or understand ~ the travesties perpetuated by Straightbians unfolding around us: we were too busy coming out, dealing with the fallout of coming out, working, going to school, falling in love, breaking up, having potluck dinners, going to the movies, marching in dyke marches, playing Scrabble, buying houses, selling houses, living, dying.

Sure, lesbians saw our friends, and sometimes even ourselves, getting hurt by Straightbians on an individual level, but we didn’t fully understand that  lesbians as a whole were systematically being bulldozed by harmful myths and “queer” (ugh!!) theory while we were busy barbecuing on the back porch on sultry summer nights.

When Straightbians, with their straight privilege, barged into our lesbian movie nights, we didn’t feel comfortable telling them that almost every movie ever made has been for straight people and that they needed to get their own damn movie night.

When Straightbians took over our women’s groups and tried to tell us what “Lesbian” means, we felt we had to be polite and listen to our feminist sisters.

While Straightbians of differing camps engaged in inappropriately-named “lesbian sex wars”, fighting over what lesbians “should”, or “shouldn’t”, do in bed, real lesbians were too busy actually having sex.

In other words, while non-lesbians have been hard at work defining us, lesbians have been busy…well, being lesbians.

As I have said many times before, the definition of lesbian is actually very simple: Lesbians are female homosexuals. Be very wary of anybody who tries to make Lesbian theoretical or otherwise complicated. Lesbians don’t need a handbook. Lesbians don’t need academics with their complicated and long-winded jargon defining us. Lesbian don’t need Straightbians, or anybody else, telling us how to have sex nor how to live our lives.

What lesbians need is to stand up against all the horseshit about us that has been spread all around like fertilizer, which has allowed Straightbians to flourish. Lesbians need to start calling non-lesbians out for speaking for and about us. Lesbians need to speak out for and about ourselves.  Lesbians need to keep asserting, and demonstrating, that lesbian is normal.

In short, after decades of lies about us, lesbians need truth. Bottom line: if you’re not completely with us in that quest, you’re against us.