do i need to wear lipstick to be femme?

what is femme?  do i have to be a girl to be femme?  or a woman?  can a man be femme? can i be neither man nor woman at times and still be femme?  or is that just not allowed?

is femme a presentation or an expression?  or is it a style you enact?  do you have to do femme?  if femme can be did, then there times femme is done potentially implying that it can’t be done at times when it is attempted to be did.  is femme a being, a way of thinking and understanding the world?  what is femme?

can i be femme some of the time?  & not others?  would you associate femme with me?  i think most people would not.  definitely not.  do i have to be 100% femme all the time to be femme, or can i be femme when i choose?

this is the hardest part of the day: choosing my outfit.  i have a standard that includes tshirt/tank top, hoodie/crewneck, jeans/shorts, sneakers/boots, snapback/5panel.  i usually start with the tshirt/tank top or hoodie/crewneck and build from the there. sometimes it the bottoms that can influence the whole outfit.  but if i get a new pair of shoes, a new hat, a new shirt or a new anything, that shit is getting worn the day of or the next day for sure.  do i want to wear a hoodie and hide my long hair or do i want to wear my hair down with a snapback backwards?  my outfit of the day #OOTD is art, it’s an expression.  this is the hardest part of the day.

i am a self-proclaimed queerbabe.  i am declaring myself to be an object of desire, to be gazed up and you “like” it.  i use the hashtag #queerbabe when i do my #selfie (s).  when i am with friends or my love <3, we are #queerbabes.  i encourage you to use those tags as well.  so femme.  queerness has always been a way for me to open up possibilities, not limit them.

do i have to wear heels, do my makeup, wear a dress and clutch a purse to be femme? because my partner doesn’t even do half those things and she is totally read as femme. does my facial hair just signify too much man, could it never be femme?  does not having facial hair make femme intelligible?  does my love for fashion, bubble baths, skin care products, selfies and intimate conversations not say femme?  what makes a person femme?  please, try and define it.

what is femme?  is there a disconnect between my expression and your interpretation?  say it again, that i am not femme.  again, is there is a disconnect between my expression and your interpretation?  this is a self-proclomation: i am femme.

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2 Responses to do i need to wear lipstick to be femme?

  1. I love the term queerbabe, so ingenius!

    I get that a lot of your questions are rhetorical/meant to challenge the answers that are so often assumed to be true, but I guess it never hurts to reiterate that femme is a space of amazing possibility and anyone trying to gatekeep its practice or identification can swerve and take right off!
    I love this piece, and your declaration of femme.

    For me, femme is this ephemeral, internal force that can be present in as little as the look in someone’s eyes. I feel like my femme-ness is less about my style or presentation and more about how I feel and the vantage point from which I look out of myself at the world that day. It’s such a powerful, intimate part of me in a way, like having a special secret or power that makes you smile. That being said I admire so much the femme folks who are so loud and publicly unabashed with their manifestations of femme. I would like to learn how to resist my own fear of femmephobia/fear of not being taken seriously in public spaces and conversations and let it out more.

    I spent years trying to dress super feminine as a way of fighting against the queerness I was too afraid to admit was inside me, and so I think despite my more outwardly feminine appearance before I never felt truly femme in the ways that I do a lot of the time now when my presentation is far more hard femme/boi. Femme is when I’m feeling myself and know I’m a bad bitch. It’s been hard to renegotiate femme because of not trusting myself in knowing what is an authentic expression of myself and what is internalized misogyny/people pleasing behaviour/trying to fit into normative standards of beauty or femininity. I also have a very normative ‘thin cis white girl’ body, and so I feel so reticent about outward physical expression of femme-ness in the form of things traditionally read as feminine because of how quickly outside gazes can project a thousand hegemonic meanings onto my image and body, especially too b/c my body type is sooooo over-represented and those images are used as tools of oppression and white supremacy and it makes me feel like I want to hide it because everyone else is so sick of seeing ones like it everywhere all the time…… :\ gah! I dunno. It’s a slow and careful process.

    I can only hope that those of us who claim femme can be forever honing our ability to pick up on the subtle cues and sacred emanations of femme in others, especially those not traditionally read in that way. I love the idea of having a super femme-y day and being in tune with that feeling and space and then seeing the femme radiating in someone else and being like damn I totally see you! And that recognition and affirmation being a beautiful space of shared understanding as well as expanding the power and possibility of femme and how femme folks interact with one another. Femmesplosion!

    The last main thing I really feel femme means to me is vulnerability. I feel femme often at times where I’m most confident, but then also when I surrender to vulnerability, and recognize it as a space that femmes through history have occupied with grace and strength, deep intuition and defiance even. I also wonder if the disdain or contempt that people have for vulnerability is part of what drives femmephobia, because femmes find such an important part of themselves in that space. Like a hate for it, yet jealousy or resentment to those who are vulnerable and especially those who are somehow ok with that.

    Anyways, thanks so much for this post and all the thought prompts it contains. Gave me lots to think about! Your writing is beautiful, I’ve been on your blog all morning:)

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