May 012011
 

As many of you know, I've been a blogger here at the Femmes Guide for several years now, and after considerable thought I’ve realized that with my schedule the way that it is, the time has come for me to say farewell.

 

Over the years I’ve written on numerous occasions about how femme community is something that I've struggled with. My roots, my home, my base community has always been amongst butches and bois and other generally masculine of center folks. That’s the community I came out into, they are my closest friends, and on the whole are the folks that I feel most seen and understood by --even though femme is the presentation that I at this point in my life feel the most at home in.  Consciously engaging in femme spaces, and with queer femininity explicitly over the past few years on this site has been a really interesting and at time challenging experience. Though my craving for femme community hasn’t increased in anyway, the act of being here, and writing about the world I inhabit with an explicitly femme lens has been one that I cherish

 

Over the years here at The Femmes Guide, I’ve had the chance to pull in some of my favorite longtime femme friends in guest posts, and even been able to convince a few to come onboard as regular bloggers.  It’s been fun to connect with femmes out in the larger community who have recognized me from my posts here, and I have generally enjoyed being part of a group of femme bloggers. Writing can often be a solitary art form (one of the things I like best about it), however it also can be an exciting change to be able to connect with folks collaboratively in this space.

 

With all that said, my touring schedule has increased substantially over the past couple of years since the release of my anthology Kicked Out.  Right now, other than biting my nails waiting anxiously for the Lambda Literary Awards (which I have a super cute dress picked out for) I’m fully in the midst of finishing my novel, and know that I don’t have the space in my schedule for some other projects like Femmes Guide.  For folks interested in keeping up with me and my adventures moving forward you can follow my blog at www.pomofreakshow.com as well as www.kickedoutanthology.com and please feel free to add me on twitter and facebook.

 

xoxo

 

Apr 162011
 

When I found femme, when I admitted the pull that butch/femme had on my heart I sought books. I wanted examples of people who had done this. Proof that this desire had history and community, that I was not alone. I found an old well loved used copy of Joan Nestle’s anthology ‘The Persistent Desire: A Femme Butch Reader” at my local bookstore, and immediately knew that I was home.  The stories in that book gave me an anchor.  With that history I’ve been waiting anxiously for my review copy of “Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme” the new anthology by Ivan Coyote and Zena Sharman.  It arrived in my mailbox much earlier than I was expecting it, and even though I was in the midst of reviewing a few other titles I could not resist cracking it open.  I was not disappointed.

In some ways,“Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme” is the update to “The Persistent Desire” that a lot of us (or at least I) have been looking for. From the introduction by Joan Nestle herself, this is a book that packs a punch.  It is unapologetically queer, in your face, and incredibly powerful. Even the dedication left a lump in my throat:

“We would like to dedicate this book to all the femmes and butches who came before us. WE want to thank you for your strength and your spirit, for your red fingernails and your fishnet stockings and your neckties and white button-down shirts. We want to thank you for your bravery and your broken hearts and busted-up knees and bad backs. WE want to thank you for keeping on, for rising above, for remembering, and for what you left behind.  We want to thank you for making us possible.  We want to thank you for being, for believing, and for persisting.”

This was a book not to be read quickly, but to savor. It was late night conversations with a good friend, and exciting discoveries at new ways others have seen and experienced butch and femme.  There is an obvious love and tenderness that Ivan, Zena, and all the contributors put into each page and I was blown away by the diversity and range of experience present.  For me, the strongest pieces were the ones that didn’t just talk about identity but sculpted a story about that identity.  Standout pieces were S. Bear Bergman’s ‘Brother Dog’ and Zoe Whittall’s ‘A Patch of Bright Flowers.’  My only disappointment with the text came in the only submissions from Ivan being her now iconic ‘A Butch Roadmap’ and ‘Hats Off.’  Don’t get me wrong, they are two of my favorite stories of hers, but I was secretly hoping for some new stories as well.

Without a doubt, ‘Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme”  is a community treasure.   I predict that this is a book that will be seen as a touchstone for years to come by those of us who have found home within butch/femme identities and community.  This book has earned itself a special place on my bookshelf right next to that old loved and battered copy of “The Persistent Desire.”

 

Don't miss the Persistence tumbler for interviews with contributors and updates on release events (I know i'm eagerly awaiting the one here in NYC) http://persistenceanthology.tumblr.com/

Mar 272011
 

Yesterday was busy busy busy. I was running from morning to night between tabling at the Rainbow Book Fair (only LGBTQ book fair in the United States) during the day to keynoting The Loft’s annual gala dinner in the evening.  It was a great day filled with books, community, and really great conversations.  However there were a couple really femmephobic interactions with people at the book fair, and though they certainly didn’t ruin my day in the slightest, I have continued to think about them.

 

In the early afternoon my partner ran to grab us lunch and I stayed behind at the booth talking about Kicked Out, and the other books my publisher has produced.  There was a pretty steady stream of people who would stop for a few minutes, ask some questions, pick up flyers, and occasionally buy a book—all very basic stuff.  At one point a woman stopped by and was looking at things on the table, and she asked me a question but I hadn’t quite understood. I thought she was asking the price of a book, she was actually making a comment about it being a nice day. Very minor communication error. Right? Not to her.  She looked me up and down and responded that clearly they (I assume my publisher) had only hired me for my pretty face, and not a charming personality.

 

I was stunned.

 

All I could think to say was that I wasn’t hired at all and was an author (pointing at the book in front of me).  She again looked me hard up and down and said really? You’re Sassafras? With a sarcastic and distrustful tone in her voice.  Thankfully by this point some other folks had come to the table and I was able to engage with them and eventually she went away.

 

Kestryl returned with lunch, and while eating I was relaying the story of what had happened when another woman came over to the table. She was involved with one of the numerous lesbian presses that were at the fair, we chatted about business for a couple of seconds.  I thought she was going to move onto another booth, but instead she looked at me and said, “There are great things happening all over your body.”  Stunned again, I think I just sat there in silence until she walked away. I assume she was talking about my tattoos, and I like public flirtation as much as the next person, but that was really not the vibe or energy that had been happening in our previous brief interaction (she was so far from my type it’s not even funny).  Later I was walking around the different booths and while looking at material at Ms. Inappropriate-Sexual-Comment’s publishing house she mentioned to the woman sitting next to her “that’s the woman I was telling you about.” Her friend/business partner replied “oh wow you’re right, she really does have the whole package, just look at her.”    I laughed it off and walked away.

 

It was gross.  Quite frankly, I expect more from lesbians. I expect more from queers in general.

 

I was wearing a red dress, a really really good red dress. I have a lot of tattoos. I’m not a subtle person visible or otherwise, but none of that should have mattered.  The nonconsensual objectification was just overwhelming. I know that femmephobia is alive and well within queer community, and yet I still found it surprising within the context of  queer literary space to be reduced to my appearance, and to have my credentials questioned because of how I looked.

 

 

Mar 222011
 

tonight my partner and I are curled up on the couch, the dog is between us and the cats are periodically visiting. It's my second week at my new job, and my late evening. Ze went to a lecture afterwork. I got home first, took a bath, made dinner and then we curled up on the couch to eat and catch up on the internet.  A couple minutes ago ze turned to me and showed me a poem that had come up on a google reader feed.  Regardless of the intention of the poet, to hir (and now me) there was a beautiful butch/femme quality to it.

New Age

via Linebreak by J. P. Dancing Bear on 3/22/11
As surely as architects fall in love
with angles and lines     I come to you

adjusting my buttons and lapel     fascinated
by the hover of your dress

as though you floated into the room
a jellyfish     a single bulb

She's not on the same field     of play
they'd all whispered to me

yet I lean forward     closer to you
and away from my secured counsel

As you speak     whole cities blossom
within my chest     a new age

out of the slow bone and flesh existence
and here ideas are     rivering through

As surely as highways pulse between
major metropolises     sex is a subtext

I imagine sliding down each ravine
and ripple     within your dress

the touch of your hand     changes
an avenue of traffic lights     to green lust

With you I dream of new equations
how y might multiply     with x

a new proof     effervescing beneath our
formalities     I don't care who's watching

I come to you wanting to build structures
together     not to gaze dumbly into your eyes

 

 

 

Mar 042011
 
I found this online and though it would be fun to share here
***Disclaimer - obviously this is describing a very particular sort of femme, it happens to a sort of femme that I am in many ways, but I fully recognize that it is not representative of all or even most femmes.
Tell-tale Signs a Queer Femme is Queer:

She is WAY over-dressed

She has swagger

She tells loud stories and funny jokes and tries not to let anyone around her feel uncomfortable

If you make eye contact with her she does not break it, in fact she smiles back at you

If you talk to her she’s flirtatious

She owns a pair of cat-eye glasses

She has visible tattoos

She uses ambiguous pronouns to talk about her exes

She has extensive knowledge of women’s history, feminist art, and is involved with political issues of all sorts

She looks straight but all her friends are big dykes

If she tells you she’s gay don’t question it, SHE IS!!!

Ways to get a Femme Girlfriend:

Buy her zine, follow her twitter, shop at her vintage store online or in real life, read her blog, go to the dance party she djs, just generally learn what she is into and support it.

Tell her friends you think she is hot (she is then guaranteed to know within 5mins).

Make eyes at her

Be chivalrous

Look cute

Ask her on a date

Be charming

Be interested

Be good at what you do and impress her

Compliment her

Validate her queerness, tell her you knew she wasn’t straight all along.

Be amazing in bed…be mean in bed…leave marks.

DO NOT BE INTIMIDATED. We can smell fear.

 

The original post is here.

 

Feb 272011
 

Normally I review things like queer books, but this was a product I’ve fallen so deeply in love with, I couldn’t help myself from sharing with all of you.  I have really long hair, and while I enjoy the look of wearing it down I really hate it getting in my face, and like to keep it pulled back while commuting etc.

I needed some new hair clips and have been noticing these strange silicone ones making appearances in drugstores all over new york.  given that they were actually cheaper than the ones I would normally have bought I decided to give them a try.

Ok seriously, silicone is not just for sex anymore! Only with hair silicone is incredibly anti-slip which um…. yeah opposite of what I’d be looking for in the other scenario ;)

Essentially, I can’t recommend these enough, especially if like me you have hair thats slippery!  For those of you with longer hair, what are your favorite hair bands/clips etc. ?

Feb 052011
 

This month write about something you love about being a femme, or  something you love about femmes, or write about something that you love doing as a femme.  Essentially treat this prompt as a way to celebrate your love of femme as an identity and/or way of being in the world.

*** Disclaimer – i know that lots of folks hate Valentines day.  It’s not even a holiday that my partner and I celebrate, however pink and red is one of my favorite color combinations of all time, and i adore hearts aesthetically, and cherish love in general so…..

Jan 312011
 

I got tagged on facebook in the call for submissions for this FANTASTIC looking new zine by a couple of super rad femmes.  I LOVE the idea behind this and immediately started thinking about how my life on the road is all about fitting 4 days worth of clothes aka 8 + outfits plus 20 books into a suitcase that fits into an overhead bin ;)  Needless to say I’m going to be submitting a story to this, and I hope that a bunch of y’all will too!!!

Attention all Femmes that are strapped/poor/broke ass/working class Artists! Performers! Writers! Activists! Wanderers! Seekers!

We are looking for submissions for our zine compilation of stories and art from the road that we are calling Bus Fare To Kentucky.

Show us how do you feed yourself artistically and otherwise. How you afford plane tickets, train tickets and gas money. How you make it all fit in your suitcase. Show us your tour romances, hook ups, art inspiration and friends you made along the way. We want your struggle and your triumph. We want to know your hilarious, raunchy, heartbreaking and fierce stories of touring and traveling with your art (whatever that looks like for you) and making it work while maintaining your standard of Femme in the process.

We accept all visual art, photography, stories as long as it can be emailed. Stories must be submitted in Times 12 point single spaced. Art must be a reasonably high DPI and viewable on a Mac.

Femmes of any gender encouraged to submit. Tell your friends!

Deadline for this project is March 15th.

Please email kentuckybusfare@gmail.com.

Kiss Kiss,
Alysia Angel and Nicky Click

Jan 232011
 

Probably not a big surprise, but I spend a whole lot of time reading most things femme I come across on my internet wanderings.  This week I found a new tumbler because of a post that was getting quite a bit of attention with some of my facebook and twitter friends. The post is called ‘policing femme identity‘ essentially it’s conversation about if femme as an identity is inherently queer, who has a right to the word/identity etc. etc. etc.  It’s an interesting conversation, and one that I’ve seen come up quite frequently with varying outcomes in different femme & queer communities. In the post in question one of the points that stood out to me was:

“FEMME IS ABOUT RECLAMATION. FABULOUS, GLITTERED RECLAMATION. not about who you fuck/love, or how you identify outside of femme. i understand that some people feel that het cis women claiming femme is appropriative, but i whole heartedly disagree with this! part of the historical oppression of and by femininity has been its exclusive and inherent assignment to heterosexual cis women. for queersexual-identified femmes to not allow heterosexual-identified femmes to reclaim the identity of femme is to not allow a marginalized group to reclaim something that has been historically oppressive to them. these same ideas also often suggest that femininity is an inherent part of heterosexuality, or that it is simply “normal” to be het and feminine. that contradicts radical concepts of gender presentation not being inherently tied to sexuality.”

I personally take a different stance on this, and have a hard time agreeing that heterosexual cis women are the marginalized ones when in compared w/  queers. Then again, while I have ZERO interest in being the identity police and think anyone has a right to whatever identity they choose, and to have that identity respected I also tend to come down hard on the side of femme is a queer identity, is property of queer folks/culture and is inherently queer.  I guess I’ve always been a little bit of a queer separatist about this kind of stuff, and I’m alright with that.

I’m curious femmes guide readers, what do you think?  is femme inherently queer?