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.
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.]
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.
Inspiration from the world of Miss Grace Jones….
“I do what I want and I’m satisfied with it, whether or not it pleases everybody…. Actually, there are certain people I definitely don’t want to please. There are some people I’m like ‘Oh no, puh-leeeze don’t like me!'”
“If you’re out there you’re vulnerable. People prefer to disappear in life, to repress their personality. That’s not living. It’s dying. I see them all over the place, the walking dead.”
“I wasn’t born this way. One creates oneself.”
As many of you already know, my Van is a private person so I try not to put her and our life center stage in my blog. But since Valentine’s Day is coming up–which I love as only a femme can; V-Day haters step away now!–I don’t think Van will mind me telling you a little of our own love story. The truth is, she’s the best thing about my life hands down. Even after 14 years, I’m a smitten kitten.
Van and I have often surprised each other in little or big ways on Valentine’s Day. This tradition dates back to our very first V-Day together, when I told her that I couldn’t drive to her city as planned because of the epic snowstorm that was coming. I was just too nervous to attempt that drive, I said. Van was super disappointed, I could tell, but she was understanding and of course said she wanted me to be safe.
Then as soon as we got off the phone I hit the road. You knew that was coming, right?! Yes, I was crazy enough to drive through a raging BLIZZARD in my little Ford Escort with no anti-lock brakes. (I was a poor grad student then). Seriously, I’ve never driven in worse conditions–snow, ice, terrible visibility, and wind so severe it blew my car all over the road. It was positively harrowing. But somehow I made it to Van’s apt in one piece.
I let myself in and immediately got to work cooking dinner, baking a heart-shaped chocolate cake, decorating the apt, and of course making myself gorgeous. There was a lot to do, but I knew I had enough time because Van would be working late. For a finishing touch, I took a bag of those Necco candy conversation hearts and made a trail from the elevator to the front door of her apt. (Yes I know it’s cheesy and tacky–that’s the point!)
My little plan worked perfectly. Van got off the elevator, sad about spending Valentine’s Day without me. She was grumbling about the V-Day revelers who left all those candy hearts on the floor until she realized that the trail led to her door! I still remember the look on her face when she opened the door to find me there. Happy is an understatement. What did my ensemble look like, you ask? Mamie Van Doren with a dash of Susie Bright. (It was the 90s, after all.)
Now it’s your turn. What’s the most romantic thing you’ve done for Valentine’s Day or the most romantic thing someone has done for you? (For the record, I’m defining “romantic” broadly; I certainly don’t think it has to follow traditional ideas of what constitutes romance or romantic love.)
I’ve been spending a lot of time in the kitchen lately. No kidding; I’m a regular domestic goddess, I swear! I even took time off from grading final exams to make beautiful vegetable tarts for dinner last night. A femme should seize every opportunity to tart it up, don’t you think? 😉
Yes, my lovelies, the holiday season is upon us. Van and I just got our xmas tree today (Van’s all about the tree), so it’s officially time for SF’s holiday how- to. I don’t think I can top last year’s guide and really, why mess with a good thing, right? Enjoy!
Getting Your Femme On for the Holidays in 5 Easy Steps:
- Embellish. More is more. Pull out those dressy accessories and wow coworkers at the annual holiday party with a fab new look that says, “the only good thing about having to go to this party was dressing for it!”
- Take Risks. Those super high stilettos that you can barely walk on? Now’s the time to wear them! People will be too drunk to notice you’re wobbling.
- Think Glitter. The holiday season is your chance to show your more glamorous side. And nothing says ”happy holidays” like sequins and glitter eyeliner.
- Be a Sex Kitten. Show cleavage. Wear the fishnets. Who cares if people gossip about you the next day?
- Embrace Artifice. Pull out your metallic eyeshadows and spritz on a bold fragrance. Anyone who tells you to keep your look ”natural” for the holidays is boring. Why be low-key when you can be fabulous?
Disclaimer: By choosing to ”get your femme on,” you assume all risks associated with being a sexy, sparkly femme.
Sublimefemme Unbound shall not in any event be liable for any direct or indirect damages arising from your unbridled femmeness, including excessive and irresponsible shoe purchases, overaccessorizing, death by glitter, or trip and falls resulting from women and/or other variously gendered people throwing themselves at your feet.