A Compilation of Femmes Describing "Femme"

Whether it’s glitter, an attic, confidence, defiance, softness, a prince, or a witch, one thing is for sure; femme can’t be fit into a box. In fact, the femmes cited here who describe what the identity means to them are saying just the opposite. As Key states, “Femme is an identity you have to claim for yourself, rather than it being assigned to you” (The.Femme.Project, 2019). This means that there are as many ways to describe femme as there are femmes, and more.

Now as much as ever it’s important for femmes’, particularly femmes of color, trans femmes, disabled femmes, indigenous femmes, and poor and working class femmes, voices to be heard. I hope you enjoy this little compilation that I pulled together after reading so much incredible femme writing.

“When I re-discovered femme, it was really linked to witchy things, and spirituality, and care work. Femme is connected to emotional labor and healing. It’s based on the energy you put into the world, the connection you make with people and the care you have for them. It’s allowing a particular kind of tenderness to be part of your identity.”

-Rudy Loewe (Chung, 2016)

“I am attic femme. Boxes full of punk dreams, old VHS dance videos, altar candles, glitter raffia femme.”

-YAT/TA (Chung, 2016)

“I'm a queer femme with a dark lipstick exterior and a soft, glitter-like core.”

-Artemisia FemmeCock (Donish, 2017)

“One of the things I grapple with is how do I fit as a queer, nonbinary, indigenous, black person? How do I fit, where do I fit? What does that mean? What are the ways in which you take space, or make space, or create space? One of the things I love about my femmeness is that it's an act of being able to exist, which feels like an act of resistance; just being who I am.”

-Key (The.Femme.Project, 2019)

“...I think of femme today becoming more inclusive as an acknowledgment of what already was rather than a new reclamation. It always feels new once you realize who you are and choose not to hide it!”

-Aja Jones Aguirre (Chung, 2016)

“It feels like connecting with the long line of Mexican women and witches that I come from and want to be more like. I definitely think that for me, my femme-ness is tied a lot to my emotions. I use it to find myself and center my mind and my heart and, in a way, be my truest version of myself. If I’m not being a femme, I’m hiding more than just my fashion or my attitude or my personality, I’m hiding my essence.”

-Mey Rude (Chung, 2016)

“When I use the word femme to describe myself, I’m trying to reclaim a way of living that isn’t defined by my assigned gender, but by my experience of femininity. I have always thought of femme as intentionally living as a feminine person. Taking ownership of my existence as a femme is more than the way it looks, it’s a revolutionary act in itself. As a non-binary femme, I am received as threatening, harsh and edgy in spaces that claim to be inclusive of femme people from any background. Claiming femme puts me in an unsafe position, and it makes people like me have to choose to change nothing or everything about ourselves in this world. Being femme is a process of unlearning the reasons to hold my tongue while being faced with the risk of speaking up.”

-Bryn Juniper (Chung, 2016)

“Femme means that you’ve got some sensitivity that doubles as strength and you are down to aestheticize it, commune over it, or fucking fuck about it.”

-YAT/TA (Chung, 2016)

“Femme: A person who has one of a million kinds of queer femme or feminine genders. Part of a multiverse of femme gendered people who have histories and communities in every culture since the dawn of time. A queer gender that often breaks away from white, able bodied, upper middle class, cis ideas of femininity, remixing it to harken to fat or working class or Black or brown or trans or non-binary or disabled or sex worker or other genders of femme to grant strength, vulnerability and power to the person embodying them. A revolutionary gender universe.”

-Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha (Piepzna-Samarasinha, 2017)

“My femme is tomboy femme/hausboi femme/femme prince. It’s feminine and utilitarian. It’s full of hearts and stars and silks and velvets and glitter, and always includes a good shoe that still allows me to run full speed across a field of flowers and do a cartwheel.”

-Al(aina) (Chung, 2016)

“Femme is a performance which subverts and rejects standards of heteronormativity, patriarchy and cis-sexism— with an explicit focus on the ways femininity (often understood as excessive, artificial, and criminal) must be understood outside of a masculine/feminine and male/female dichotomy in which femininity is only defined as it’s biological or performative opposite.”

-Blu Buchanan (Buchanan, 2018)

“Femme for me is about defiance in a world that has a heavily polluted focus on gender. The femme body is totally expressive in a world that is obsessed with restricting and policing any kind of feminine movement… Femme in my body feels like a breath of fresh air, or an “aha!” moment [of realizing] that it’s okay to be just who you are. Femme is confidence of self.”

-Kieron Jina (Mohale, 2017)

“Femme for me feels like I’m finally settling into the way my body wants to be seen.”

-Al(aina) (Chung, 2016)


Citations:

Buchanan, B. (2018, March 19). Women and Femmes Unite! – Blu Buchanan – Medium. Retrieved from https://medium.com/@BlaQSociologist/women-and-femmes-unite-30ec59e6a658

Chung, C. (2016, July 18). What We Mean When We Say “Femme”: A Roundtable. Retrieved from https://www.autostraddle.com/what-we-mean-when-we-say-femme-a-roundtable-341842/

Donish, C. (2017, December 04). Five Queer People on What ‘Femme’ Means to Them. Retrieved from https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/d3x8m7/five-queer-people-on-what-femme-means-to-them

Mohale, Maneo. (2017, April 11). The (Femme) Fire This Time. Retrieved from https://www.bitchmedia.org/article/femme-fire-time/gender-creative-south-african-artists-reimagine-femininity

Piepzna-Samarasinha, L. L. (2017, July 13). A Modest Proposal for a Fair Trade Emotional Labor Economy. Retrieved from https://www.bitchmedia.org/article/modest-proposal-fair-trade-emotional-labor-economy/centered-disabled-femme-color-working

The.Femme.Project. (2019, May 03). Key FEMME Interview. Retrieved from https://drive.google.com/file/d/1euj6IFtIkx9tVj8FrrJJ37R0x_mwDDZe/view

The.Femme.Project. (2019, May 10). The.Femme.Project on Instagram. Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/p/BxS6l7kgL9w/

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