High Fashion Androgyny

In her comment on my Tomboy Chic post, angiesyounglover posted a great Studio Show movie  featuring the androgynous Danish model Freja Beha Erichsen.   (Thanks AYL!)  For me, Freja highlights the distinction between being a tomboy and being androgynous.  Like Jenny Shimizu, Freja is so gender flexible that she’s almost post-gender.  And yet, she really does take the risks of identifying with the extremes of gender much like tomboy femmes.  

Especially in light of the “tomboy chic” phenomenon, I’m curious about the influence of Freja and other contemporary models (of various sexual orientations) who are known for their androgynous looks.   Omahyra Mota?  Agyness Deyn?  Anja Rubik?  Who else?  I’m not very familiar with the world of high fashion modeling so please make suggestions.  

Here are some pics of Freja from the February 2009 issue of i-D magazine.  What do you think?







Sublime & Van on Vacay

There’s no place like home, but sometimes you just need to pack up and get the hell out!  Van and I have been working really hard lately so we’re leaving town for a much-needed getaway. 

Our destination is top secret, but here’s a hint.  If in the next few days you meet a fascinating femme who’s a dead ringer for Charlize Theron and her dapper Rachel Maddow look-a-like partner, that’s probably us.  If you start talking to them and find that the femme has a penchant for words like “theorize” and has an opinion about absolutely everything, and the butch generally finds this charming instead of annoying, that’s definitely us.

Update:  Van has now read this post an insists that she’s more annoyed than charmed by my opinionated tendencies.  But I think she’s wrong. (See, this is just how opinionated I am!)  “Charmed” may be a tad overstated by I think she’s generally bemused even if she won’t quite admit it.  

OK, I have to pack and Van is telling me to Stop the Insanity and turn off the computer.  (But she’s bemused, I swear.) 

Happy weekend, all.  Cheers!


Tomboy Chic: Style and Tomboy Femme


I’ve always adored women in menswear or menswear-inspired clothes.   (How hot does Katherine Hepburn look here?  Enough said!) So of course I was pleased about the buzz for the new “tomboy chic” and the so-called “boyfriend look.” (Note to the fashion industry:  Enough already with this boyfriend crap.  Heterosexism is not cute.)  Check out “Tomboy Chic” in H & M Magazine to get a sense of how this trend is playing out.    

For all of their supposed gender coolness, most of the recent articles on menswear trends in women’s fashion ultimately reinforce not only heteronormativity but also gender binaries.    For example, the H & M piece gushes about how fantastic it is to wear menswear (“straight from your boyfriend’s closet!”) only to remind readers in its final sentence:  “Don’t forget to add your own special feminine touch.”  Ugh.  Pardon me while I throw up.  

However, I will admit that this media hype has forced me to consider the differences between tomboy chic and tomboy femme, which I’ve discussed previously.   The more I think about it, tomboy chic doesn’t seem to be a mode of gender mixing at its core–I think it’s more of a revitalized style of femininity. (In other words, it’s like when I wear menswear-inspired pieces but still look femme).   Tomboy chic may be alluringly androgynous, but its gestures are not extravagant or theatrical.  Only tomboy femmes dare to take the risk of identifying with the extremes of gender.   This is what Katherine Hepburn and Marlene Dietrich were all about.   In a contemporary context, Annie Lennox and supermodel Linda Evangelista seem to take similar risks.  Swoon away, my pretties.




What I particularly love about Evangelista is how all of her “looks” read as drag impersonations, lovingly realized.   She can transform into the second coming of Elvis or Sophia Loren, and in both cases she isn’t afraid of flamboyance or exaggeration.  I also love that when she’s looking butch or androgynous, she communicates an authenticity (or perhaps a depth?) that feels very different from the tomboy chic.   I use the word “authenticity” precariously, aware of the contradictions I’m invoking.  As the photographs show, it’s all an act–effacing any sense of a natural gender–but it’s still for real. 


Because she performs all facets of gender as genuinely fake, Evengelista brings a postmodern edge to the multigendered personas of classic Hollywood stars like Dietrich or Hepburn.   This is one of the things that champions of tomboy chic seem to miss when they mistakenly invoke these Old Hollywood stars as tomboy icons.   What was compelling about Dietrich and Hepburn was not just that they dared to wear menswear but that they were daring enough to make the muliplicity of their gendered identities visible for mass appreciation.  And on that note, it’s only fitting that I end with two images that showcase the flamboyant gender flexibility of Dietrich. (If they look familiar, it’s because I’ve copied them from a previous post!) 








Purple Haze

It’s officially spring and time to rejoice in the sublimeness of lavender, my favorite color!   Lucky me because pale violets are totally on trend this season. 

If the thought of lavender lip gloss makes you nervous (not me, darlings–I’ve been patiently waiting for the right moment to pull out my MAC Nico lipglass), have no fear.  Your sublimely femme tip of the day is this:  everyone looks good in lavender eyeshadow, as the lovely Fergie demonstrates in MAC’s new Viva Glam campaign.   Just make sure you keep it light and sheer.

What’s your favorite color for spring? 


Foot Fetish

I finished my big project (on time!!) and am treating myself to a relaxing weekend.  I’ve spent the day sitting around in my PJ’s and lavendar Uggs reading the paper and drinking coffee and I’m now heading to my favorite salon for a spa pedicure. 

I’m a pedicure Diva, I admit it.  In her Femme Economics column, Moira said that pedicures don’t seem worth it.  Is she out of her ever loving mind?  Pretty feet and toes are a necessity as far as I’m concerned.  No need to balance my chakras with reflexology or some other trendy treatment–one  pampering pedicure will revive body and spirit as far as I’m concerned!  If only they had a bar at the salon, life would be perfect. 😉  Happy weekend, darlings!  

Post-pedicure PS:  My feet look exactly like this pic, except that my toenail color is OPI Red.


Who’s Your Femme Style Icon?

I think the first time I “got” femme was when I saw Elizabeth Taylor as Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.   Looking drop-dead gorgeous in her clingy slip, Maggie fights with Brick about their living arrangements and hisses, “I’m not living with you. We occupy the same cage that’s all!”   Me-YOW!   La Liz could deliver a line like nobody’s business.

When I was in my twenties I couldn’t imagine ever being as sexy and femme as Elizabeth Taylor–or even on the same planet as her.  (If Kitty Kelley is right that ET is “the last star,” then actually no one is on the same planet as Elizabeth.)   Watching her old films, I was intrigued by her seductive combination of vulnerability and strength–and those legendary violet eyes. (I want violet eyes!!!)   Taylor is iconic for me not only because of her beauty and style, but also because of her resilience and willingness to admit her imperfections. My favorite Elizabeth Taylor quote? “The problem with people who have no vices is that generally you can be pretty sure they’re going to have some pretty annoying virtues.”  😉

Who are your femme style icons, past or present?  Bettie Page? Beyonce?  Beth Ditto? Also, I’d love to hear about butch/genderqueer/tomboy style icons, so feel to share those too!








Kiss Me I Heart Ireland

I’m not Irish but when I was a kid I desperately wanted to be.  I’m not sure why (too many Shamrock Shakes?), but maybe it was just because being Irish seemed very different from my own ancestry.  I was so captivated by the beauty and magic of Ireland (or really, my fantasy of what I thought Ireland was) that my family would actually give me St. Patrick’s Day cards. It seems silly, I know, but not nearly as silly as everyone drinking all those ridiculous green cocktails and green beer.  Just say no!  What could be better than this Irish beauty to get you in the spirit?  Happy St. Patrick’s Day all! xo SF


Femme Myths

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Myth #1  Femmes are helpless

Myth #2  Femmes aren’t really dykes

Myth #3  Femmes are passive

Myth #4  Femmes can’t be tomboys (or tomboys can’t be femmes)


What myths about femme and/or lesbian gender do you want to rid the world of?  

And hey, don’t I look good putting on my spare tire?! 😉


Sublimefemme Tells All, No. 19

Naughty is always better than nice!


Femme Pleasure and Strap-On Sex

I’ve sometimes felt that some butches are rather too… a-hem… narcissistically attached to their strap-ons.   If you can’t fuck without it, get out of my bed. 

Don’t get me wrong; I certainly don’t think strap-ons or dildos are heterosexist or antifeminist, and I’m not sitting around worrying that I have internalized heterosexist norms because I like sex with toys.  Actually, I think we’ve all absorbed these norms whether we acknowledge it or not.  The question is how do we engage/play with them in empowering and empathic ways (empathy being the opposite of narcissism).

For a number of years I took an antidepressant that had sexual side effects.   The world-rocking orgasms I used to have became a thing of the past.  It was really hard for me to come and if I did, my orgasms often left me feeling dissatisfied anyway.  It sucked, to put it mildly.   You often hear people (women, really) say that sexual pleasure isn’t “just” about orgasms, blah blah blah.  Unless the person in question is stone-identified, I think anyone who says that is (1) suffering from false consciousness or (2) having orgasms!

During the time I was struggling with managing my sexual side effects I suddenly developed a new empathy for those straight women who find sex to be more frustrating than satisfying.  It also made me start to wonder about how the popularity of strapping it on has affected lesbians in general and femmes in particular, who presumably aren’t any more likely than other women to orgasm from vaginal-only stimulation.  

As the website Go Ask Alice!  puts it, “For most women, making it a goal to reach orgasm during intercourse is a bit like making it a goal to find that elusive pot of gold held by a cute little leprechaun at the end of the rainbow.”   (A silly quote, but St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner, so indulge me please!)  Most studies say that 70% of women do not and will not achieve orgasm from “unassisted” penis-in-vagina sex.  We all know that many women with male partners never have orgasms from intercourse and some become accomplished fakers in order to perpetuate the illusion that real women come from big, hard dicks.  To make matters worse, now doctors are “helping” in the way that they almost always do–by locating the problem in women’s bodies and then proposing to “fix”  it.  Good god, even too-cool-for-school Margaret Cho–Margaret Cho people!– got one of those G-spot shots (that’s where they inject collagen into your G-spot to “increase sensitivity”) in her quest to “achieve” orgasm from intercourse.  Just how far will we go to maintain our illusions about heteronormativity?  Pretty fucking far, clearly. 

This brings me back to my central question about strap-on sex, sexual pleasure, and femmes. Do we experience similar challenges around orgasm and sexual satisfaction as our straight sisters?  Or perhaps we experience more sexual satisfaction than they do at least in part because of the advantages of dildos, some of which are designed specifically for G-spot stimulation and/or can accommodate/increase clitoral stimulation?    I think we’re generally more informed and aware than hetero girls about female sexuality and are also more likely than them to ask for and receive other kinds of stimulation (correct me if you think I’m wrong about this), but I doubt I’m the only femme who’s felt inadequate when she couldn’t come from vaginal-only stimulation.   Is this an issue for you?  Do you feel pressured to “perform” for your partner(s)?  If you have different kinds of orgasms, which are the ones that are the most satisfying?  Do you think dykes and butches are relying too much (or not enough) on their dicks?  Are you a femme who likes to strap it on for your girl or boy/boi?  There are clearly gender issues to be addressed here, but I’m especially interested in opening up a conversation about femme sexual pleasure.