PC Lesbians

Why are lesbians so self-righteous in their political correctness?   Why is it that garden-variety lesbians can have such a difficult time seeing the complexity of my gender or the gender of my (butch) partner?   Honestly, I’m tired of it.  Today a twenty-something dyke told me that “younger lesbians” aren’t into butch/femme because it reproduces heterosexist roles. Hardly a new critique, of course.  We’ve all heard it a million times before.  But there was something about the way she made this sweeping generalization that made me feel angered, alienated, and old–all at once!  Thank you!  (The funny thing is, I actually like the person who said this to me….)  Here’s what I wish lesbians could remember:   all of us internalize dominant sex/gender norms. Political correctness does not inoculate you from heteronormativity.

There’s more I could say about all of this, but I have to go cook dinner and do my nails. 😉

Hats Off

“I may have to confiscate that brim,” said the stud airport security guard to Van as we traversed the Houston airport.  We were on our way to our vacation spot on the west coast and Van was wearing a very sharp Panama hat that always attracts the attention of hat lovers.  Van is never afraid to wear a hat, a quality I think she gets from her mother, who’s a true hat aficionado.

While I have appreciated Van’s hats (not all of them, I admit), I’ve never been a hat person myself.  That is, until I fell head over heals in love with a large black and white sun hat that I bought on vacation, simply because I could not resist its movie star glamour.  I wore the hat on the beach, where it looked great with my black and white bikini, and out to a very fancy dinner Van planned to celebrate our 15th anniversary. Truthfully, I’ve never felt so transformed by an accessory before.  It was, in a word, sublime!

Femme Bibliography Project

I just discovered The Femme Bibliography Project, a well-researched list of academic and community-minded readings on queer femininities and femme sexuality/gender from the 90s to the present. Updated versions to follow.

Repost: Against Femme Privilege

There’s been good discussion over at A Brown Girl on the question of femme invisibility and femme privilege, prompted by ABG’s reposting of Nikki’s thoughtful piece on that issue.   I’m a big fan of Nikki and her blog, give me space (to rock), but I think the concept of “femme privilege” doesn’t actually capture the experience of living as a femme-identified queer.   Here’s why.

Nikki’s point is that femmes have privilege over people who read as “androgynous,” “butch,” or “masculine.”    While I agree with her about the discrimination faced by gender nonconformists, it seems like a dangerous overgeneralization to assign privilege to femmes.  Femmes may deal with different forms of gender oppression and homophobia than other members of the LGBTQ community, but this doesn’t make us a privileged social group.   Furthermore, to describe femmes as privileged doesn’t account for mutiple or overlapping oppressions such as race, class, nation, ability, age, etc.  For example, is a Chicana femme living in poverty more privileged than Ellen Degenerous or Samantha Ronson?

Still, maybe you’re thinking that I’ve been sidestepping Nikki’s central argument–namely, the idea that femme invisibility is a form of privilege. While some femmes may experience forms of unearned privilege–i.e. white privilege–”femme privilege” implies that women in general have a privileged status and that femmes in particular aren’t oppressed sexual minorities (because of the cloak of invisibility).  I just can’t get on board with these positions.

For me, “femme privilege” divides queer women in terms of gender at a time when we would be better served by thinking about what connects us.  By pitting “gender variant” butches/genderqueers against “gender conforming” femmes, femme privilege implies that (1) these are opposing groups that can be neatly divided (2) all femmes can or do pass (3) passing = privilege. The last 2 points remind me of those who say that bisexuals aren’t “real” queers because they can always pass for straight by cashing in on their heterosexual privilege.  (A biphobic stereotype, needless to say.)  It also reminds me of the argument that gays and/or queers aren’t an oppressed minority because, unlike blacks and other racial minorities, they can “hide” their sexual orientation.  Grrr, I hate this one!  I think anybody who says this has no idea about the struggles and problems produced by living in the closet, which is itself a form of oppression.

I think  Nikki is right that we all need to consider questions of oppression and privilege in our lives, but the privilege model doesn’t allow us to do this in a complex, multidimensional way.  My beef is really with the whole notion of dividing the world into privileged vs. nonprivileged people.  In my view, most of us are both privileged and nonprivileged in multiple aspects of our lives.

[For original post and comments–which are excellent–click here.]

Making a Spectacle

I have a fetish for reading glasses.  This penchant developed during my college years when I discovered that the sight of a certain brilliant lesbian professor peering over her readers sent me to the moon. (sigh)  Ever since, I’ve dreamed about the day when I would require reading glasses myself.

I know that most people think that readers just make you look older, but I think they’re sexy.  Maybe this makes me eccentric.  So be it. I see them as a fantastic prop and fashion accessory, like sunglasses.  In fact, I must confess that I purchased a particularly stylish pair of readers a few years back when I had absolutely no need for them. Seriously.  They just sat in my drawer for years.  But I’ve recently noticed that I benefit from a little help when I’m reading the menu in a dimly lit restaurant or bar, so I’ve actually had a legitimate reason to wear my fabulous readers of late!  It’s been a delight to wear them, even if it’s only for a few minutes.

Style blogger Cammila Albertson, who knows a thing or two about chic eyewear, has got me thinking about lorgnettes, which are spectacles or looking glasses with a long, decorative handle that doubles as a case.  They were extremely popular in the nineteenth century, when they became a must-have accessory for ladies of fashion. On her blog, Dressed Up Like a Lady, Cammila confesses, “I’m actually kind of obsessed with lorgnettes, and have a small collection of them. Such a pretty way to handle something as mundane as reading glasses. Sadly (or rather, fortunately), I do not require reading glasses, so these are purely decorative.”  There’s a great pic of her wearing lorgnettes here.

Although I agree that lorgnettes are charming, I must admit that my enthusiasm for them has been diminished ever since I saw Sarah Jessica Parker holding a pair in a poster for Sex and the City 2.  (For the record, I haven’t seen the film but just hearing about it makes me nauseous.)  But there’s a silver lining because I’m starting to think that others may share my fetish for sexy spectacles.  Perhaps the time is right to revive the most iconic piece of lesbian eyewear, the monocle. Are you in?

Glitter in Their Eyes

“As far as I’m concerned, being any gender is a drag.”

–Patti Smith

Contrary to popular opinion, glamour isn’t pretty.  It’s not all about glitz and gold lamé, kids.  And although it may be mysterious, there’s really nothing evanescent about glamour.  Glamorous people–and even objects–are unmistakable.  My point here is simple; we all instantly recognize glamour when we see it, even when it takes unpredictable forms.

Case in point, punk icon, writer, and artist Patti Smith, who channels a gritty, bohemian glamour into everything she does.  I love her androgynous “uniform”–the skinny tie, white shirt, and mannish black jacket–which she’s been wearing since the 70s with an anarchistic insouciance that borders on antistyle. What could be more glamorous than that?

PS  “Glitter in Their Eyes” appears on Smith’s album Gung Ho (2000).

Never Been a Bad Girl

Whether you’re nice or naughty, you’re going to like Sabrina Chap’s new video!

From The Queerist:

In a world of flash-in-the-pan acts and pop music saturation, it’s a joy to discover Sabrina Chap, a deeply talented musician who’s well grounded in songwriting and grand performanceship . When her songwriting career collided with a discovery of ragtime years ago, it launched her in a new direction, creating jazzy-heavy tunes with vintage, hearty vocals. Clever lyrics and a penchant for cabaret only amped up the appeal.   Read the rest here.