Sinclair (of Sugarbutch.net) wrote an amazing piece this week on Femme Invisibility. I wanted to stand up and cheer. Thank fucking god and mooses that someone BESIDES the femmes has had the gumption to write about this. I’ve written about it before. People have written about it on the Femme’s Guide. Other femmes have written about it on their blog. But very few n0n-femmes write about.
It? It’s queer-looking privilege, for lack of a better term. It’s one of the things that the femme spiral I created and that some femmes (myself included) have tattooed on themselves was DESIGNED to combat. While in the past, it was hard for butches to be seen and visible, so they got the blue stars, it is now sometimes impossible for femmes to be seen an acknowledges in the queer community. We are seen as feminine straight girls, alternative straight girls, bi girls who don’t know what we want. It’s as though wearing lipstick or heels (which doesn’t define femme, but seems to be an outside indicator of identity for many) somehow deletes our own queerness.
I’ve had this issue for years. It’s bad enough when I go to lesbian poker night, and get hit on by the only cis guy there, because he thinks I’ve wandered in to the wrong bar, just like he did, that I’m certainly not a dyke. But it hurts so much more when I would go to dyke nights, and have people stare at me, wondering what this “fruit fly” was doing there, when butch dykes would laugh at me when I offered to buy them a drink (because goddess knows no one was asking me), and ask me where my boyfriend was.
I hated wearing rainbows, but I did it all the time, because I wanted people to know. I’d “gender drop” in conversation (similar to name droping, but more like “oh, well, my ex-girlfriend used to ____” or “this trans guy I was dating did this thing____.”). No reason to other than it helped to “validate” my identity as queer to the people I talked to. I always feel like I have to out myself in conversation first, because I don’t “look” queer, whatever that means.
I used to tell people that I’d love to get a short “dyke hair cut” but couldn’t, because I’d have a Jew-Fro. Then I stopped telling them that. I love my longer hair. I like it curly, and I like it straight, and I love playing with it when I get ready. While I wear jeans and t-shirt some times, I much prefer skirts and dresses (ah, the breeze! and the ability to have an easy quicky at all times). I don’t wear a ton of make up, but I do enjoy what I wear. I like having the door opened for me by queer people, and I love cunt. Mine, and others people’s. Period.
When I’m out and about with Q, I am much more validated. We’ve talked about this a lot. As she is butch/gender queer identified, when she says “my partner,” or we walk down the street holding hands, i am much more often seen as queer. Why? Because she “looks” queer, and so if she’s queer, and we’re together, I must be queer by default. Obviously. But I’ve also been out with her, and have had other people hit on her. On one hand, this is hot. My partner is fucking sexy and wanted and awesome. On the other hand, as very few people are out as poly, them hitting on her makes the assumption that even though we’re sitting together or dancing together, I must not be queer, so therefore, she must be available.
I like being read as who I am. It’s one of the things that attracted me to Q in the beginning. She had some to my strap on class, and yes, I had thought she was cute, but I wasn’t really planning on making a move until she came up to me after it was done.
Q: So, are your sex toys really coordinated to be red, black and animal print?
Me: Yes. Some white as well. It’s important to look good while fucking.
Q: Damn, you are SUCH a femme.
BAM. She saw me. Just like Sinclair writes about, how every once in a while, femmes do get recognized and seen, Q saw me. She saw me, and she acknowledged me. She didn’t ask me after my strap on class when the last time I’d had a guy fuck me (oh yes, I’ve been asked that). She didn’t try and quiz me on whether I was queer enough or not. She saw it and let me know, and we’ve been together almost a year now.
I hate feeling invisible. I feel it all the time, as a woman, as a queer person, as a disabled person. I am constantly having to speak up, to come out, to ask to be validated. I should not have to feel this within my own community. I don’t assume that everyone who has short hair and a big belt buckle is queer, so why assume that anyone in a dress isn’t?
Would love for this to become a discussion, and am HIGHLY encouraging comments and more posts on other blogs about this issue.
-Essin’ Em10 comments