This is my first post about being (a) femme. I’m sure there will be more after this one, but I’ve been thinking about it quite a bit recently and I wanted to write a post, partly to clarify my thoughts for myself, and have a record of them somewhere. It’s hard to break this down to think and write about it, but I’ll try my best.
“There is more to you than this identity. It makes everything make more sense, and without it you might be lost, but with it you are only ever on one path. You contain more multitudes than that.” ~ Sinclair Sexsmith
Although the post/poem is about being butch, I found it interesting and helpful to read, and that sentence resonated with me. Being femme does make everything make more sense: it felt quite natural when I first assumed this identity. The phrase “without it you might be lost” seems to relate to being femme as finding my place in the world; I would say that ‘kinky femme’ is how I would define myself as queer. (I hope that sentence makes sense. It does to me, but you’re not inside my head.)
Femme is not my gender: I am quite happy with my gender being female, and feel that femme is my way of saying what being a queer woman means to me. Femme is related to my sexuality: I think my femme identity is inseparable from my identification as gay and as a top, sadist and mummy. That is how “there is more to [me] than this [femme] identity”: being femme is a part of the way I define myself, but so are those other things.
I think it’s interesting that I agree that my femme identity makes everything make more sense, because I am comfortable with a lot of traditionally feminine attributes assigned to me because of my gender. (I find talking about things like this quite problematic because I’m uncomfortable (not sure whether uncomfortable is exactly what I mean here) with the idea that certain attributes are inherently feminine and others are inherently masculine; hence the use of ‘traditionally’.) However, I feel somehow ‘other’, and am most comfortable around queer people. I am happy for people to refer to me as queer, though haven’t started using that word to describe myself (yet – I’m not sure whether it feels like the right word yet, though a queer kinky community is certainly a place where I feel at home). This ‘queerness’ is my femmeness and my kinkiness, I think. I don’t feel I fit in with straight women, and didn’t feel I fit with some of the more culturally visible expressions of being a gay woman, and then I found femme, and that felt right.
Dressing to express my femme identity is lots of things: it is a way of telling other people I am femme; it is the way in which I feel most attractive, at ease with my body and confident (sometimes to the point of toppiness and sadistic thoughts, as an illustration of how I feel they’re connected); it is an outward expression of a feeling of hyper-femininity which I feel makes me femme. (That clause is clunky and repetitive and feels unclear – perhaps I’ll manage to refine it in time.)
Noun or adjective? This is something I’ve been thinking about quite a bit. Given how I’ve written the above, it seems to come more naturally to me to use femme as an adjective – it flows better when writing. Using it as a noun isn’t something I’d completely discount, though. ‘A femme’ makes it an identity rather than a way of describing yourself and means you belong to a group comprised of other femmes. It makes it clearer that it’s important to you and integral to your ideas about yourself, in the same way as being a top or a sadist is different to topping or being sadistic. For some reason, it seems easier and more natural to say “I’m a kinky femme” than “I’m a femme”, which is a little odd.
This exploration of femme (because that is what this post is) is ongoing and unfinished, but I wanted to set down some of my thoughts because they’ve been filling my head recently.