I don’t know about you but it’s been a killer week here in The Land of Sublimefemmeness. To get our collective weekends off to a good start, here’s a little cherry cheesecake featuring Masuimi Max.
Why is it so hard to claim femme? This is one of the many things I was thinking as I read Visible: A Femmethology, the new two-volume set just released by Homofactus Press. I’ve been puzzled by this question myself for years. As a professor, I teach about all kinds of “hot-button issues”–abortion, queer theory, AIDS, gay marriage–pretty much without fear. I also come out as a lesbian regularly (and fairly effortlessly) inside and outside the classroom. But it still makes me nervous to stand in front of a class and come out as femme. There is nothing else that makes me feel so vulnerable.
Femmethology is a community-minded collection that does a wide range of cultural work, all of which I cannot do justice to in this post. I read the anthology not as a scholar but as a lesbian who is on her own journey to “own” femme, the beating heart of my queerness. What I appreciated in Femmethology is the bravery of all the femmes who dare to tell their stories and claim their femme-ininity. One of the real strengths of the collection is the diversity of femme the authors bring into view; on these pages, we get to meet trans femme-inists, femmes with disabilities, Southern femmes, African American femmes, fag hag femmes, and gender warriors who cultivate new forms of trans-masculine femininity (to name a few). I was particularly interested in the way that several of the writers explore the intersections between transgender, gender fluidity, and femme. In her essay about coming to terms with her identity as a trans femme-inist, Josephine Wilson writes about how her affinity for femme made sense “because being femme and being trans were so closely related for me.” Readers are reminded that femmes are gender outlaws, even as we struggle against narrow definitions of transgression that all too often make our forms of gender trouble hard to see.
Speaking of visibility, I love Sharon Waschsler’s observation that as femmes “we work at being distinctive…. I haven’t met a femme whose aim it is to blend into the woodwork.” I couldn’t agree more. If anything, Femmethology shows that we are claiming femme with panache. To quote the slogan made famous by London’s radical femme activist Bird La Bird, “Femme invisibility–so last year!”
Don’t miss the rest of the Femmethology Virtual Tour:
4/1. Sugarbutch Chronicles
4/2. Ellie Lumpesse
4/6. Catalina Loves
4/7. cross-post: The Femme’s Guide and Femme Fagette
4/8. Daphne Gottlieb
4/9. Bilerico Project
4/10. Screaming Lemur: Femme-inism and Other Things
4/13. The Femme Hinterland
4/14. Bochinche Bilingüe: Borderlands Writing and The Vagina Adventures
4/15. Dorothy Surrenders
4/16. Miss Avarice Speaks Her Mind
4/17. The Femme Show
4/18. CyDy Blog
4/19. Sexuality Happens
4/20. Queer Fat Femme
4/21. Sublimefemme Unbound
4/22. Tina-cious.com and Jess I Am (butch-femme couple day!)
4/24. The Lesbian Lifestyle
4/25. Femme Fluff
4/26. Weldable Cookies
4/27. The Verbosery
4/28. A Consuming Desire and Creative Xicana
Etiquette divas and beauty bloggers have grappled with The Great Primping Question forever: just how much primping can a girl do in public before crossing the bounds of decency? This post offers my own thoughts on the matter, which of course any femme may reserve the right to ignore, revise, and/or reinvent to suit her own style. But first, check out this great 1943 photograph of a woman in Washington, D.C. putting on her lipstick in a park with Union Station behind her. It’s from the Library of Congress.
Sublimefemme’s Philosophy of Primpology
1. Primping in Public. First we must define “public.” For example, restaurants, trains, hotels, theaters, bars, shops, airplanes, classrooms, any place of business, and parks and other outdoor spaces are all public. In these spaces, applying lipstick or lipgloss or a quick bit of powder is fine. If you pull out your mascara or hairbrush, you’ve crossed the line into the yuck factor. In these spaces, I think it’s OK to quickly and discreetly file a snagged nail, but not if you’re in a restaurant or any other place that serves food. I would never spritz on perfume in public.
2. The Restroom. A restroom is a public place, but I think we would agree that, unless you plan to give yourself a bath in the sink, you can reasonably expect that it’s OK to primp in a restroom. In a bathroom before an event last week, I pulled out my cosmetic bag and refreshed my makeup, swept over my outfit with a lint roller, and popped a few breath mints. A restroom is also the place you can reapply your fragrance, but obviously you should be considerate of others when doing so. Once in an airport bathroom a few years ago I was touching up my nails and got the hairy eyeball from a woman whose delicate sensibilites I had clearly offended. (!!!) A full-on manicure would be crossing the line, but I don’t see anything wrong with a little nail polish and a few drops of cuticle oil in the Ladies.
3. Cars and Taxis. I don’t care what anyone else says; I think cars and taxis are different from public forms of transportation. On public transportation, see rules outlined in #1. For cars and taxis, you can do whatever you damn well please as long as you do not pose a threat to public safety by curling your lashes in the rearview mirror while driving on the highway. If you weren’t supposed to touch up your makeup in the car, why would visors come equipped with mirrors on them? I rest my case!
Do you think there are do’s and don’ts of primping in public? If so, what are your own rules?
Because you can’t get enough! Here are some of my favorite photos of the stunning Dominican model Omahara Mota. I like these images because they highlight her gender fluidity. Because she’s so edgy, she doesn’t really read as androgynous to me–I see her as more genderqueer or tomboy femme.
The first 2 photographs are by Ellen von Unwerth. Sorry I don’t know the name of the other model (reclining on the bed) in the first image. If anyone else does, please let me know. The third photo is from a fantastic series by Phillip Meuller. I believe the last pic was taken at Fashion Week in Paris last year. Enjoy!
“I like butch girls and I cannot lie!” So say the self-described “hyper fly ladies” of TEAM GINA as they show their appreciation for butches “on behalf of the queer femme nation.”
I came across this lighthearted video, which features the Seattle-based duo Team Gina with Cindy Wonderful, on The New Gay. I like the whole ironic homohop thing, but the video actually struck me as very 90s. And very white. Kinda sweet, kinda problematic–but funny anyway. Thoughts?
We deserve a meme of our own!
Best all-around femme self-help book Miss Piggy’s Guide to Life. A fountain of wisdom. The book includes gems such as:
- “Never forget that only you can ever fully appreciate your own true beauty.”
- “The essence of managing money is managing to have enough of it.”
- Miss Piggy on choosing a career: “Does your chosen career offer an opporutnity fo genuine fashion growth?”
Butch literary crush (character, not author) Beebo Brinker by Ann Bannon
Femme literary crush (character, not author) See my post Delta of Venus for answer 😉
Favorite femme author Amber Hollibaugh, My Dangerous Desires
Book you’d like to see turned into a movie Leslie Feinberg, Stone Butch Blues
Best lesbian vampire of all time Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu (literature) and Catherine Deneuve in The Hunger (film)
Favorite femme fatale Norma Desmond from the film Sunset Boulevard of course!
Butchest book you own Judith Halberstam, Female Masculinity
Femmest book you own Helena Rubenstein, My Life for Beauty
Favorite genderqueer book Read My Lips: Sexual Subversion and the End of Gender by Riki Wilchins
Bizarre conversation starter William Burroughs, Naked Lunch (also qualifies as one of the butchest books I own). Causes straight guys who would ordinarily never speak to me think we have something in common. Sorry, dude, we don’t.
What author do you own the most works by? Literature: Virginia Woolf ; Theory: I own tons of Freud and Marx.
Favorite magazine Allure. If only they would make me an honorary beauty reporter!
Go-to beauty book Kevyn Aucoin, Making Faces. This is why they call them makeup artists.
Favorite biography (queer) Tie! The Scars of Sweet Paradise: The Life and Times of Janis Joplin by Alice Echols and Holy Terror: Andy Warhol Close Up by Bob Colacello
Lesbian classic you want to encourage more people to read Djuna Barnes’s Nightwood. Not an easy read, but the prose is gorgeous.
Hottest thing you’ve ever read Carol Queen, The Leather Daddy and the Femme