This blog is not a prescription I’m writing on how to be a femme (buy two lipsticks and call me in the morning), nor is it a secret plot to convert queer girls into femmes (although I know some of you out there would love that, wouldn’t you?!). Those of us who are butch and femme are not trying to impose our identities/expressions on anyone else.
You don’t have to identify yourself as femme or butch or high femme or transmasculine or lipstick lesbian or boi or genderqueer or, well, anything at all! However, my femme gender is central to my identity and my sexuality. And here’s the thing: how is my wish to call myself a femme undermining or threatening anyone else’s identity or self-identification?
I strongly support and respect the right of others to self-identify in whatever way they chose–including those who oppose categorizing their sexualities and/or genders. As I’ve said many times, Sublimefemme is all about sexual and gender diversity! Exploring, promoting and educating about sexual and gender diversity are at the core of my life’s work.
Why is it that critiques of butch and femme genders always seem to revolve around the problems/shortcomings of labels? LaurynX has a great discussion on her blog about how class, race and privilege play a part in our identifications, particularly with respect to butch and femme genders. I’m not going to repeat her points, which are terrific, but if you haven’t read these posts, you should! Be sure to check out Social Class and Butch-Femme and Who Needs Butch-Femme?
As a femme, I feel undermined when my relationship with my butch partner is called “role-playing,” or when our genders are called “labels.” Here’s what I mean. Let’s compare your favorite sublimely femme queer theorist to her next-door neighbor, who we’ll call Average Middle-Class White Guy. I would imagine that my neighbor Average Guy rarely has to self-identify because of his privilege as a straight cisgendered male. But when he does, I doubt anyone has ever said, “Dude, what’s with the labels? Why can’t you just be a human?”
Dude, why is it so hard to respect and welcome difference?