Thursday, August 23, 2012

All in the Femme-ily

[thanks yaara]
Haaaaay snatch-snackers!

What's happening?  

TONS is happening 'round these parts. (Heh.)

Over here, as I write this righthissecond, I'm looking over at CJ, who is doing this:

She is honest-to-god asleep like that. 

If I were a better person, I'd wake her up and take her shoes off and tuck her in instead of photographing her and posting it on the internet.

CJ's real tired. 

She's real tired because she's been packing up her apartment and her studio. 

In a few days, she's moving awaaaaaay, off to teach letterpress at Rutgers for four months.  

I'm really proud of her! 

And...feeling a little dreary about it. 
[thanks Rye K.]

I mean, four months is not a big deal, and we can visit back and forth, and fergawdsakes, we've been separated longer than this before - remember when I had that job for two years where I traveled to a different city every day and never came home?

We've been through all this before. 

But man, we move a lot.  

So far, I've moved from Pasadena to Green Bay to Minneapolis to Italy to Minneapolis to Taipei to Minneapolis to Seattle to Minneapolis to Chicago. 

That's only 10 full-on location changes, but when you throw in moving to different houses and apartments within each city...hmph. 

It's starting to get old. 

CJ has moved 35 times.  Don't even ask. 
This time, it's me that's staying put, but sometimes I wonder how anyone ever buys a house, or even just looks around at the city they're in and goes, "You know?...This is it. I think I'm home."  

How do you know you're home?  What if you love lots of places? How do you decide where to settle?  How do you pick? 

So many places are wonderful!
[Dolores Park]

How on Earth can you commit to a location???

Incidentally, I have these exact same questions about committing to human beings, too.

But! It's easy to distract me. 
When I was moping about CJ moving away, she said, "Cheer up, baby. Isn't the Femme Conference in a few days?"  


Why yes!!!  

OMG, faggettes, the 2012 Femme Conference just happened in Baltimore, and it. was. epic.  

Three whole days of close to 400 femme queers wandering around a hotel together, attending classes and having coffee and going to lectures and generally showin' off their swag.  

So much good style!!  So much cuteness!!  


It was soooooo wooooonderfuuulllllll.
[ via rhiannon-random]

At Femme Con, I learned, among other things, how to:

- do my own drag queen glitter eye makeup

- politely ask someone at a play party (I found out very late that a 'play party' means 'a sex party' - WHY DOES NO ONE TELL ME ANYTHING??) if they want to, um, do stuff

- bootblack 

- fix my bike

- seriously disable a large attacker while wearing heels

- make the Largest Earrings on Earth by putting both giant hoop earrings and a large dangly earring into the same hole in my ear, thus creating MASSIVELY HUGE hoops with a giant swinging centerpiece.

[thanks Anna R]

Skillz!  Knowledge!  Community

I wanted to make out with everybody, and - good news! - everyone at Femme Con wants to make out, too! 
[who sent me this great photo?  email meee]

There was, um, an awful lot of smeared eyeliner at the coffee shop every morning, gheys.  

By the end of the third day, you couldn't go anywhere without bumping into at least one homo you'd either: kissed, wanted to kiss, squealed with over outfits at the clothing swap, seriously discussed femme dynamics with, or seen having a vulnerable moment in one of the workshops.  

You would've loved it.  It was fucking magical.  
[via yeswecancan]

But I didn't go to the Femme Conference for purely selfish reasons. 

I didn't go to make out with femmes and rip off their fashion ideas (yes I did.)

No!  I went for Serious Research Purposes. 

I went to Femme Con with a singular goal in mind:

Figure out femme gaydar tipoffs. 

[via serenadeofaneclecticloversmirage]

I wanted to see hundreds of femmes gather in the same room and try to finally come up with some dammit answers.  

For you!  
For your benefit, not mine!

Because y'all are always writing me plaintive lil' letters, asking sadly about femmes.   

Where are the femmes? What about femmes?  How can I tell between straight girls and femmes?

How do you find them?   
[thanks Celeste]

As if femmes were delicate and elusive Narnian fauns, only coming out under a Spring's full moon to dance around a clearing in the forest with their reedy pipes until daybreak. (You know you didn't dream them because of the cloven footprints.)

"Sure," you taunt me, "gaydar spotting tips about butches and bois and sporties and tombois is easy....but what about the femmes? Not so easy now, is it??"

[thanks Raquel - via sugarcoatedrenegade]
Guise, so many letters.  

So many sad, starved, femme-deprived, hungry lil' dykes, desperate to find the girlygays.  

So I bought my plane tickets.  I reserved my hotel room.  

I went to Femme Con to seek Truth

And maaaaybe make out.  
If there was time. 

With me was my trusty equipment: one notebook, one camera, and one black fountain pen.  

I would capture the essence of Femme Gaydar if it was the last thing I ever did.

I hopped off the plane, got my rental car, and drove into the confusing swirl of Baltimore's endless and utterly nonsensical one-way streets. 

Arriving at 3 p.m. on a Friday, I was just in time to get cleaned up before the femme-on-femme speed dating event.  Yaaaas!! 

I ran upstairs to my room, put on big hoop earrings, threw on an extraordinarily tight dress, and bolted back downstairs. 

Speed dating! 
For femmes who like femmes! 
[thanks Allison]

It was the best possible starting place for my research. 
The room was overflowing with dykes, and the deal was this: you got three minutes with each person.  

Just enough time to size up everyone's style!

I got out my notebook.  I couldn't wait to analyze.  
My three main questions were: 

What do we, as femmes, share, gaydar-wise? 

What are our style common denominators, our markers? What marks us as femme? 

How do we 'flag' queer? 

[thanks KarinaR]

Buuuuut then my first three-minute date sat down. And then another. 
And another and another. 

And fuck, everyone was gorgeous.

Cute baby femmes.  Older glamorous femmes.  Punk queerfemmes, transfemmes, tattooed femmes.
[thanks Jules & Amy]

I was overwhelmed with the sheer fashionable masses.  
These girls looked good.  Holy shit.  

I became nervous.  I babbled.  I did not take notes.

A girl gave me her number and I sloshed coffee all over my dress in alarm. 
[thanks Ana W.]

When speed dating was over, I shakily went up to my room to collect myself.  

I threw myself down on the bed, annoyed with my piss-poor researching skills. 

What was I doing flirting?  I had notes to take! Theories to form! 
I didn't have time for extracurricular conference dalliances, I needed answers!!
[thanks M.]

Well. The three days of the conference flew by.  

There were caucuses for femme sex workers, for femmes of color, for deaf femmes. 
Classes about loving your body and dance workshops and classes for femme-allies and classes about fashion and workshops about fucking while femme. 

By Saturday afternoon, as I sat in the auditorium during the keynote speaker address, I was so into the conference that I'd lost my head completely.  

Who cared about Science, I loved and wanted to do everyonnnnnne!!
[thanks Dylan]
I'd forgotten my main objective for Femme Con, as well as left my gaydar notebook in the room upstairs.  

And then, as if I was waking up from a warm, vanilla spice-scented dream about cleavage, I suddenly looked around the auditorium and realized I was surrounded by everyone attending Femme Con at once in one place, and the time was now to figure out how one might spot femmes outside of the fuzzy iridescent shimmering circle of the conference.

Panicked, I dug frantically in my bag for something to write on, and ended up taking notes on this:

[don't act like you don't carry dirty lesbo alien fiction around with you]

I started scanning the crowd. 

Here are my notes.
[what organized notes!]

Annnnd...the data's been gathered.  The results are in. 

It's as I suspected.

Just like all gaydar style tip-offs, there is no definitive femme "look." 

We knew that was coming, though, right?

Femmes, like all dykes, come in every possible gradation and variation, from high-high-high femme to punk to stealth femme to anything and everything else.

I did notice that, as a people, we femmes display a decided preference for gigantic hoop earrings - earrings that really could not get any bigger. 

With a bit more funding, I could probably crack the genetic code for this preference in a few years.  

But - horrors! as I scrutinized the crowd, a thought occurred to me: 

The queers at the Femme Conference self-identify so strongly as 'femme' that they had flown in from all over the country and world just to be with other femmes. 
[thanks Patsy]

These weren't ladyqueers whose taste in style casually leans toward the more feminine end of the clothing spectrum.

These were the people who label themselves as femme and are deeply proud of it; people who think about the politics of how they dress every time they reach for a tight boobie-shirt!
[thanks Ivan I.]

Hmm.  Hmm.  The data results might be skewed.  M
y only observation subjects were Femme Con attendees. 

But do not despair! 

Lift up your hearts and be glad, m'hearties!  
We don't come away from Femme Con 2012 empty-handed!  Certainly not! 
[thanks Maria J]

I learned three very basic femme gaydar tipoffs this weekend.  They are: 

#1: Lots of femmes have a particular, extreme love for anything that seems to have vintage, rockabilly, or burlesque roots.  

[via tessmunster]
This involves, among countless other things:

Bandannas tied in cute knots on the head, like Rosie the Riveter. 
(I counted thirteen hairstyles incorporating tied bandannas! this is a thing!)

- Brilliant red, matte lipstick. 
The classic femme lip color of choice!

Liquid black cat-eye liner.
[thanks pea and seven]

- Lip and monroe piercings.
(From where I was seated, I counted seven lip or monroe piercings in my direct line of vision, not including my own.)

- High-waisted skirts, shorts, and pants.
What better way to show off your femme curves?
[thanks Nikki May]

Large, chunky, vintage-looking pairs of glasses. 
Dykes love smart girls.  Glasses make you look smart. 
The end.  
[thanks Zoe]

- Wedge heels. 
Wedge heels are adorable and make your legs look longer while still providing a sturdy-ish, walkable base from which to kick asses with.

- Leopard-print or polka dot anything.
'Cause leopard print and polka dots are the shit, doi.   

*Note!* You can obvs identify as femme without liking any of these things, and you can identify as femme without identifying as female. Femme is not really about the trappings. Shit, hunnybun, you can identify as anything you want, or not identify as anything, forever and ever, amen.
But you know that.

[sara and micaila, via  number1musthave]

#2: A lot of femmes like pretty things mixed with a little bit of nastiness. 

[that's a cool piercing, via jennycash]

Something to balance the sweetness, you know? 

Like a soft, pale sweater with an obvious black bra showing underneath, or a delicately made-up face with a tough-looking facial piercing.

Like ripped fishnets, or a put-together suit paired with a streak of purple hair, or a cute, candy-colored vintage dress with serious stomper boots on underneath. 

A mixture of hard and soft.  
Classic red lipstick and black eyeliner paired with a septum piercing. 
[thanks Tea S.!]

This kind of style mashup was the fulcrum upon which the femme style at Femme Con turned. 

Soft yet fierce, like a flowy sheer skirt paired with a torn, hand-patched jean jacket. 

Gentle mixed with angry.  
It was fucking great.  

That hard n' soft style for femmes also went perfectly with the Official Haircut of Femme Con 2012:

The undercut
[via fuckyeahundercuts]

Folks, the undercuts! There were so many!  

An undercut, if you don't know, is when you shave a part of your head underneath some longer hair, thus allowing you to look punk yet ladylike. 
[thanks Hazel W. and Tiger]

Flattering on almost everyone I've ever seen, it's an extremely common haircut for femme dykes, and I counted 22 undercuts in the first few hours I was at Femme Con (before I got totally distracted by hot girls and forgot about counting.)
[via pepperedminds]

Finally, #3:  It is all, all, all about eye contact and confidence.  

There is no one way to tell a femme, just as wearing plaid doesn't automatically make you a dyke.

But the femmes I met had a proudness about them - they were proud of themselves; proud of being fiercely femme in a queer culture that values, prizes, and recognizes classically masculine-type traits as the tell-tale markers of gayassedness.

[thanks Cate]

They were not sorry about liking glitter and they were not going to fucking go change into jeans if that's what everyone else was wearing to the bar. 

These were steely femmequeers, wrapped in deceptively soft packages.
(Source: terrysdiary)

These were the girlyqueers who come out over and over and over again, every day, all the time - when men assume their clothing is for the benefit of dudes, when their own community calls them fag hags or accuses them of passing and taking the easy way out or questions their right to be in queer spaces, when other dykes assume they're weak or submissive just 'cause they're wearing a dress.

These femmes were not "passing" for straight. 
They were doing everything they could not to pass. 
[thanks Asia]

While I recognize that it must sometimes be dangerous and often take a lot of patience to "look gay" - i.e. have short hair and dress in a way that society perceives as "looking like a lesbian" and have to deal with strangers and assholes staring and making comments and assumptions day after day... 

haaay, it is also difficult and more than a little sad to be an active member of a queer community that doesn't see you or recognize you as one of its own until you somehow 'prove' your gayness. 
[thanks Connie L. hey girl hey]

When I looked at the femmes I met this weekend, most of them held my gaze for a second longer than normal. 

Most of them were rocking Serious Femme Outfits. 

All of them looked like they could break up a fight, fuck you silly with a strap-on, and put up their own damn shelves. (If they wanted to.)
[thanks Sarah C]

There was the confidence of dykes - real live dykes! - who just so happen to wear skirts and still know how to get you off so hard you're seeing stars.  

These femmes knew who they were, and what they liked, and how to get it. 
[via toridori69]

I bet if you met one of the femmes I met this weekend on the street, they'd maintain eye contact with you just a fraction of a second longer, shake your hand firmly, and have their head up. 

There's strength behind those liquid-lined femme eyes, and I was so so proud to be among them this weekend. 
[thanks Elizabeth]

The femmes are out there, homos, and they want you to see them! 

[thanks Ann]

Go get 'em!!