A New Phenomenon: Femme Flight
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The Butch Voices conference... a completely amazing event, clearly such a labor of love, and from what I could tell, a landmark occasion for the butches who participated. Which was, after all, who it was meant for.
Funny, though, that it ended up being such a turning point for me in relation to this community — because of how the social dynamics went down in the same old, same old way.
There's always some butch grandstanding onstage about how amazing femmes are, to thunderous approval... yet in my experience, most of you actually treat us without any real regard. I heard a lot of y'all talk a big talk about "chivalry," but then you pushed me around in line and in the crowds, held conversations across my physical space without acknowledging me (apparently expecting me to contort myself to accommodate you), and left me to take the bus home after all was said and done. (If I'd been driving, I'd have been offering rides myself, 'cause really, none of us want to be stuck at the bus stop with odd men giving us the hairy eyeball in the middle of the night. Before you worry about heroics and chivalry, just start with the basics of looking out for each other.)
Lots of you couldn’t hold a conversation with me without assuming I wanted to sleep with you. Many of you seem to hold the belief that being a femme means being constantly sexually available to every butch, FTM and trans-masculine person in the world and their brother, as a sort of public property — this, regardless of our actual status or interest in you, and with no consideration whatsoever that some of us have a sexual orientation that precludes those of you who aren’t women.
I’m not a consolation prize you’re entitled to by virtue of how badly you’re treated by the world at large.
Many of you, when expounding on butch/femme, think it’s romantic to say that your self-concept is dependent on the way I look and the way I look at you. This doesn’t sound romantic to me anymore. It just sounds really co-dependent.
Also, a lot of you assume or imply (or, in the case of one prominent presenter, explicitly state during a talk) that as a femme I am choosing between you and men. I'm not. I'm a dyke, and I'm too tired of having to explain that to you guys, of all people. When I am choosing between a butch and someone else, the someone else is another woman. Maybe you find it more useful to continually frame the dialogue as a comparison of butches to men because of course you’ll always come out ahead in that scenario. The real comparison that I make is very different. I compare you to other women — women who are available to be touched, who don’t need me to contort myself into a caricature trophy in order to feel okay about themselves, who are just plain considerate instead of having a hero complex and calling it “chivalry;” women who are willing to receive what I want to give — who will let me take them out and treat them for dinner, who will let me pleasure them, who will give me room to enjoy being a dyke as much as they get to enjoy it.
There are plenty of women who are butch enough for me who meet this description — I'm finding that generally they don’t identify as butches or if they do, they aren’t so heavily invested in it as to be much a part of the “community.” I’m also finding myself attracted to women who aren’t butch at all, but dykey and beautiful in a completely different way. I'm dating these women and not interested in going back. I've been flipped. Femme flight! It feels like soaring! I get to feel so open with women who don't ritualize, fetishize, and invest in their hang-ups, who don’t cultivate that accompanying weird self-aggrandizement — women who don't go in for all the showmanship, apparatus, and hypocritical big talk.
In short, goodbye “butch/femme” for me. I don't want to participate anymore in this dysfunctional "dance" which always promises and never delivers. Regardless of what I look like, I'm not a femme. I'm just a dyke. So long, and thanks for helping me grow.