The Purrfect Femme Fatale

Yes, my lovelies, you were right–I’m going to be Catwoman for Halloween.  Purrrfect, right?   I must confess, I was super tempted to be a lesbian vampire, but with all the Twilight fans running around, I don’t think the world needs another vampire this year.  So, consider yourself warned:  once I slip into my catsuit and high-heeled black leather boots, watch out.  I may just sink my claws into you! 

There have been so many great looks for Catwoman, but I’ve decided to do the retro version–part Julie Newmar, part Emma Peel spy chic, mostly because I want to wear a huge belt like Uma Thurman did in The Avengers. Who’s your favorite Catwoman?  And hey, does anyone have a whip I can borrow?

As my favorite feline villianess, I of course will be using my considerable powers to corrupt the good and innocent and spark evil doing.  However, it remains to be seen whether I’ll be able to use my catacylsmic charms  to entice Van into being Batman.  (We’ve often done couples costumes but not always.)

But wait!  I have breaking news! Van just came home from work and was so smitten with the sight of me in my cat ears that she agreed to be Batman on the spot!  So Halloween will be filled with (butch) bat/(femme) cat sexual tension here at chez Sublime–the question is, who will emerge victorious?  Only time will tell, my pretties.


catwoman_eartha kitt


catwoman_Michelle Pfeiffer


Top 10 Reasons Not To Wear A Culturally Appropriating Halloween Costume

Are you working on your Halloween costume, darlings?  I know you’re busy shopping for wigs and whatnot, but take a few minutes to read this terrific piece by Portland’s Freddie Fagula, co-director of  the drag-u-mentary Third Antenna:  The Radical Nature of Drag (which I love).  I’ve reposted from Angry Black-White Girl’s blog–thanks for posting, AB-WG!

While we’re talking about costumes and cultural appropriation, a few words of advice from yours truly:   for heaven’s sake, don’t piss off Screaming Lemur by dressing up as a witch!   As she says in her post Green Skin Optional, “Witches are a big part of the imagery of Halloween…. But honestly? I find it to be as stereotypical and lazy as putting on some buckskin and a feather headband and calling yourself an ‘Indian’ for Halloween. It’s othering, it’s tired, and frankly it annoys me.”  

Actually it sounds to me like Freddie’s piece is indebted to Lemur’s post. If so, it’s unfortunate he didn’t give her credit or acknowledge witch costumes as a form of cultural appropriation.  For the record, that sexy witch pic in my Halloween Pin-Up Girls post is a subversive reinscription.  A-hem.

Top 10 Reasons Not To Wear A Culturally Appropriating Halloween Costume – Please Repost [by Freddie Fagula]

10. That shit is tired and you’re more creative than that. You can be anything.

9. You don’t wanna be “that guy” at the party.

8. You won’t be endorsing a history of domination, colonization, and genocide through your flippant, cartoonish, or stereotypical portrayal of cultures other than your own.

7. People of color won’t have their night ruined by your costume.

6. No one will have their night ruined by your costume, (well… unless you’re like me in fourth grade and your home made zombie make-up gets all over some girls princess dress. Sorry Christy Godwin!)

5. People who you’ve never met won’t take one look at you and decide to avoid the ignorant person who would wear THAT.

4. Your odds of getting laid will be dramatically increased because you won’t have offended half of the people at the party.

3. You aren’t an unfeeling jerk who likes to insult and hurt people.

2. You won’t be asked to leave Fruitcake’s All Homo’s Eve party because you are a white person dressed in black face or as a “native,” a Nazi*, Indian, gypsy, geisha, sheik, or hula dancer, etc.

1. You are an awesome, deep, conscientious individual who understands the importance of respecting the life, experiences, culture and ethnicity of people different from yourself.

*Yeah, I know it’s not technically “appropriating” but please, not okay.

Here is how wikipedia defines cultural appropriation: Cultural Appropriation is the adoption of some specific elements of one culture by a different cultural group. It denotes acculturation or assimilation, but often connotes a negative view towards acculturation from a minority culture by a dominant culture. It can include the introduction of forms of dress or personal adornment, music and art, religion, language, or social behavior. These elements, once removed from their indigenous cultural contexts, may take on meanings that are significantly divergent from, or merely less nuanced than, those they originally held.

Obviously, there are many ways to create an offensive costume that may not be pointed out above or fall into the cultural appropriating category. If you’re wondering whether your costume will offend someone than it probably will. If you’re still thinking about wearing it, ask your more thoughtful friends to weigh in on it. I realize this is a multi-faceted topic deserving more attention than once a year on Halloween, but this is as good a time as any to bring it up. 

I believe it’s healthy for people to want to transform themselves, and Halloween encourages that. It gives people a sense of possibility. It’s a creative outlet in a culture of full rules about who can make legitimate “art.” It’s the extra nudge one may need to let go and be someone else. Even if it’s just for a laugh. It’s an opportunity that I wouldn’t want to deny anyone. What I do want is a Halloween where one persons liberating costume is not another persons insult to their life, experiences, culture, or race.

Please give it some thought and don’t be “that guy” on Halloween.


Freddie Fagula

Why Do Femme?

This is my response to Making Space’s recent post on femme and femininity.  You can read her whole post here.

It just never ever ever in a million gazillion years would EVER occur to me that ANY woman EVER EVER EVER EVER (have I emphasized this enough?) would voluntarily paint her nails or wear makeup every day. So I’m sorta confused about this. If you’re not doing it because you’re “supposed to” to look good for men, why the hell would you do it? And apparently there are ACTUALLY women out there who, regardless of orientation, LIKE to be all manicured and made up and wear heels and stuff like that. I find it exhausting to contemplate. I mean, have at it if you wanna, absolutely. But if you’re not trying to catch a man, and you CAN look however you want, well – I guess it just never occurred to me that some women would still WANT to do all that stuff to themselves.

I recognize that performing femininity can and often is heteronormative, but the idea that femininity serves only or primarily to “catch” a man is a shocking and troubling thought to me.  What this seems to suggest is that wearing make-up or sexy/feminine clothes is so demeaning and onerous that no one in her right mind would actually choose to be feminine outside a heterosexual economy!

In the media we often hear the notion that women who perform rituals of beauty/femininity aren’t doing it for a man, but rather “for themselves.” As in, I didn’t get these implants for my husband; I got them so I can feel better about myself.  This rhetoric is problematic because it never questions why women need the implants in order to feel better about themselves in the first place.  It pretends that the boundaries of feminine performance are individual when in fact they are social and cultural.

This broader social context is crucial, in my view, because historically femininity has been ridiculed, demeaned, and treated as an emblem of passivity and subordination.  I think it’s a feminist act of resistance to reclaim femininity and separate it from the male gaze–to show the world that women can be strong and smart and beautiful, all at the same time.   And, as I’ve said here before, we need to recognize femme as a lesbian gender and source of power and pleasure for queer women.  From this perspective, femme performance is quite different from conforming to traditional scripts of femininity (e.g. the “dumb blonde”) in order to attract men or bolster the male ego.

For those of you out there who are femme-identified, why do you do femme?  Do you see femme as reframing traditional scripts of femininity?

Halloween Pin-up Girls

Here are a few of my favorites.  Enjoy!

pin up sexy witch

Elvgren halloween pin up


Sublimefemme Tells All, No. 26

Don’t hate me because I’m fiendishly clever.


How Do You Describe Your Style?

I was recently asked this question.  Here’s my answer; what’s yours?

I am a queer femme professor who likes to mix trendy and classic looks and aspires to be polished and stylish 24-7.  Unfortunately, I have to admit that right now I’m wearing jeans and an oversized university T-shirt.  My nails, however, look fabulous.

Autumnal Femme

lymari nadal_vanities0705


“I am she: I am he”

The charming G has a great new post Hurry, look–I posted poetry, which  immediately made me think of one of my favorite poems by Adrienne Rich,”Diving into the Wreck,” which is also about change. 

Maybe one reason I like Rich’s poem is because I have had no shortage of wreckage to explore in my life–dysfunctional family dynamics, loss, feelings of betrayal, abandonment, identity, self-doubt, sexuality.  (Thank god for therapy. )   Although “Diving into the Wreck” takes up  big questions of sexuality, gender, history, and myth, it has always felt very personal to me.  

Like the diver in the poem, I often think of myself as the feminist explorer who is outside the “wreck” of culture only to discover time and time again that I am actually inside it.  Try as I might to distance myself, I often feel as immersed in cultural myths about sexuality and gender as my students.  And yet, the wound of being marginalized–of being a queer woman excluded from  what Rich calls “the book of myths” –is enormously painful, and so even the “drowned faces” and ruined, “threadbare beauty” of the wreck can draw me in when I least expect it.   

For me, diving into the wreck is a productive metaphor because it means exploring territory that is both new and old.  It means valuing the multiplicity of gender like the androgynous diver; “I am she: I am he,” Rich’s mermaid-merman declares. It means finding ways to confront our myths and desires and fears in order to transform them. 

PS I actually was lucky enough to have lunch with Rich when she came to my university for a reading, which was a thrill.  This was just a few years after she refused the National Medal of Arts from the Clinton admininstration because, as she said,  “[Art] means nothing if it simply decorates the dinner table of the power which holds it hostage.”  Yes, she’s just that cool and brave and leftist and feminist!

You can read “Diving into the Wreck” here  or, for a more multimedia experience of the poem, watch this video:

Couldn’t Resist

Shhh…Van is very jealous so please don’t tell her I was out on the town with a cute butch last night!helmut_newton_dog date Bash 2009 Las Vegas Bash Oct 8-11