Femmepire Records: Femme-on-Femme and Conspicuous Rainbow Flags
Femmepire Records is an interview series on femme identity. Click here for the elevator pitch and first interview.
Here's Louise, a writer and shelver at the public library.
If you don't have a definition of "femme," what do you think of Google's: "A lesbian or a male homosexual who takes a traditionally feminine sexual role."
I think I would be hard-pressed to define it any better. I was going to be snarky and say "the opposite of butch."
Do you identify as femme? Why?
I don't exactly identify as femme. However, when I think about it (which is rare) I do see that I'm decidedly feminine in most traditional ways: I have longer hair, like pink, and wearing makeup much of the time; I am probably more drawn to romantic comedies than disaster films; I have a maternal instinct (though it's currently being utilized by my cat only); I am pretty tidy, and I often consider cooking. But I am much more likely to dress like Samantha Ronson than Lindsay Lohan on a given day; I like the look of dresses but hardly ever wear them anymore.
Regardless of your previous answer, do other people identify you as femme? How do you feel about that?
I don't know if they think the word "femme," but yes, I think they consider me feminine. "Girly" so to speak. As for how I feel about it, I think there's more to me than that. I change from day to day and tend to drift to and away from being very feminine.
Do you feel like you have to try harder to be read or seen as queer? If so, how do you deal with that?
I definitely do. When I talk about my last relationship to someone new, I often have to correct them when they assume my ex was a man. The best way I have found to deal with it is to remain visible. Showing up to queer events, hanging around in groups of queer women, and, if all else fails, adorning my bag with very conspicuous rainbow flags helps get the message across.
Do you feel constricted in who you date/sleep with because of your appearance?
Yes, I actually think (and this is completely a generalization) many women who appear femme prefer less feminine partners. Not always, of course, but it seems pretty common. If one is "femme" in appearance, a lot of similarly feminine women aren't interested. I actually tend to be more attracted to femme women (although there is not one thing I am attracted to 100 percent of the time). However, on dating websites, I tend to get more messages from women who are more on the butch side.
What prompts you to present the way you do? Is it something you consciously think about?
Really, no. Very rarely, at least. I think the only reason that I present the way I do is that it's who I am. Plain and simple.
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 do, slightly. It should be the opposite, but I think so many movies and television shows depicting femme lesbians make those women look promiscuous or perfectly willing to run off with a guy and become hetero were the occasion to arise. On Queer As Folk, for instance, it's the more femme lesbian that has an affair with the man. I think that film and television representations could use more diversity in the kinds of women they fictionalize and the kind of stories they tell. I suppose, though, it's not entirely an issue of how the butch/femme dichotomy is portrayed. It's an issue of how (and how rarely) lesbians in general are drawn in the media, and that's a whole different issue to tackle.