Femmepire Records: Profesh Lez Trish Bendix
Femmepire Records is a series of interviews on femme identity. Click here for the elevator pitch and first interview.
What prompts you to present the way you do? Is it something you consciously think about?
It's interesting because the way I present myself has shifted a lot in my 28 years. A lot of it has to do with how I feel about my body and how comfortable I feel actually wearing the things I want to. I often feel overdressed but I love skirts, dresses and heels. I like getting dolled up. Why do I? I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I work at home, so I sit in yoga pants all day. When I finally get to leave the house, I'm ready to look presentable and give myself some physical self-confidence. But my wife and I are the same height and she doesn't like when I wear heels, so I frequently stick with flats. But just this last weekend, I bought a pair of booties and felt so sexy in them that I was like "Sorry wife!" Sometimes you just want to feel good, even if you're making your wife look like Tom Cruise to your Nicole Kidman.
In a few words, define femme.
A feminine-identified woman that is part of the LGBT community.
If you don't have a definition, what do you think of Google's: "A lesbian or a male homosexual who takes a traditionally feminine sexual role."
I appreciate brevity so I say sure. Although I've never heard of a male being called "femme" so that's interesting.
Do you identify as femme? Why?
I do. I find that it fits me and I hate the term "lipstick lesbian." Some people don't like labels but I don't mind. We need words to find one another and if "femme" is mine, then I'm cool with it. I wear a lot of skirts, dresses and make-up. My hair will never be cut above my chin and I am attracted to more masculine women, so I fit the stereotype by default.
Regardless of your previous answer, do other people identify you as femme? How do you feel about that?
Yes, and I'm fine with it because the alternative is they usually think I'm straight.
Do you feel like you have to try harder to be read or seen as queer? If so, how do you deal with that?
Yes, definitely and that's the downside. However, I feel like I combat it by being very out in other ways. I speak very openly about my wife, my sexuality and annoyingly shushing people who say things like "That's gay." When I'm with my butch wife, it's easier to present as queer, but in more hetero-normative settings where I'm assumed to be straight, I know that I'll likely have to deal with those assumptions early on. We all make assumptions and gaydar isn't always correct, so I try to remember that about others too.
How does your gender affect your sexuality, if at all?
I don't know that it does for me, specifically, but I know it does for many others. My being a woman, a lesbian, a femme -- all of these things are one in the same to me. I have a unique position in that my day job is also related to my sexuality, so I'm pretty much thinking about being a lesbian 99.9 percent of the time.
Do you feel constricted in who you date/sleep with because of your appearance?
I have had some odd things happen based on how other people feel constricted. I've had an ex tell me she prefers me not to wear dresses and liked me better in jeans. At the same time, I didn't prefer her cleavage bearing shirts so that relationship clearly didn't work out. It's OK - we're friends now because we're lesbians! Otherwise, no. I am attracted to more butch women, but I have heard a lot from femmes who have trouble finding other femmes to date. They do exist though! I think we're all just really picky.
If you could make up your own category to describe your appearance/gender presentation, it would be: ____ and why?
I'm terrible at things like this. I will stick with femme. It's French.
Lesbian representations on TV/movies are almost always femme. Do you feel like this contributes negatively (or at all) to your life/gender presentation/identity?
I like seeing reflections of myself in successful feminine women. However, it'd be nice to see them paired up with someone I'd actually be attracted to. Even Rachel Maddow gets femmed up for TV and I prefer her off-camera look.
What are some resources/websites/books/movies you look to for inspiration about femmeness/queerness?
Queer-friendly fashion for femmes: Refinery29 and Nylon are good for some fashion inspiration. Femmes have it easier because we can get inspiration from anywhere straight women do, like Vanity Fair or Vogue. I'm more inspired by people, like Alison Mosshart (The Kills), Kara Laricks, Amber Heard, etc. In the past I have been inspired by movies, like I had a huge Clueless phase where I took some risks. No one in my sixth grade class appreciated my attempts.