What you fear you will become…

28 11 2010

“…our patriarchy is so elegantly engineered that women themselves voluntarily do much of the dirty work of oppression, so greatly do they enjoy and freely choose dudecentricity as the logical conclusion of their natural-born femininity. Many Western women hardly need more than the occasional implied threat to keep them on their little painted toes…”

Patriarchy on autopilot

I think the above refers to straight Western women and how they sometimes ‘choose’ oppression, hardly even realising it. But I wonder if there’s more to it  than that…

Why is it that butch dykes often cultivate the walk, the talk and the style of men? And why does male fashion so often dictate butch fashion as well? That is, pants, long sleeved shirts, boots…

If we reject the male and the masculine in all its forms, (do we?) why do we still slavishly acquire all the trappings and accessories of outward masculine appearance?

And it isn’t always just the outward that we acquire. Butch women often manifest many of the controlling behaviours, sexist attitudes and perceptions that men hold towards women in general. Exactly which man becomes a role model is often unclear, or why, but that the model is masculine is beyond doubt.

So why do so many lesbians occupying different positions on the scale of butchness so often feel the need to mimic male behaviours, while frequently claiming to reject the entire male species at many levels? Is this about comfort? Convenience? Or the seizing of a model that is obviously freer, more liberated and comfortable with itself than the one we are born into? Are we simply trying to trade places?

If we as lesbians reject so many male values and behaviours – an entire system of patriarchal oppression in fact – (one which is more apparent and obvious in our region than most), why then are we driven to ape that which we reject?

Do we even see what we are doing and how we buy into the masculine role model all the time?

Oppression elegantly engineered, indeed…





The Association for the Freedom of Femme Women

26 09 2010

Article I

Name

The name of this association is the Association for the Freedom of Femme Women (AFFW) which is designated an unincorporated nonprofit association created under the laws of the Worldwide Commonwealth of Homosexual Women.

Article II

Intent and Purpose

It is the intent of the AFFW to achieve Total Freedom as defined by our membership, which definition may be subject to change according to additional requirements and needs raised by membership from time to time.

The primary purpose of the AFFW shall be to secure full and total freedom as defined by our membership, (specifics of which are set out below), chief of which is to free ourselves in every way from, and cease to be subject to, the general supervision and control of men, butch women, and other authoritarian individuals and organizations that may seek to prevent us from exploring and expressing our thoughts, our emotions, our will and most of all our sexuality, in any way we see fit.

The AFFW shall consist of Femme Women joined by mutual consent for the common, nonprofit purposes of educating and rendering assistance to fellow Femme Women and providing an accessible source of information pertaining to Femme Women and the public whenever possible.

While the AFFW does not discriminate against others on the basis of race, color, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, religious affiliation, ableness, national origin or other personal factors, membership shall be open only to those women identifying as ‘femme’, who are of the opinion that we are an unseen and oppressed minority whose needs are not being addressed and whose rights and freedoms are gravely compromised today.

Article III

The Definitions of Total Freedom

1. We shall be free to walk anywhere at any time without being subject to comments, jeers and other offensive remarks about our hair, clothing, breast size or any other personal characteristic from any man or woman.

2. We shall not be made to feel guilty in public or in private for our choices of sexual partners, by any man or woman.

3. We shall not be expected or obliged to be consistent about our choices of male and/or female sexual partners. It shall be understood that an FW shall enjoy perfect freedom to choose and discard partners as she thinks fit and shall not be mentally or physically penalized or punished for such actions by anyone.

4. We shall not be expected or obliged to regularly cook for our partners and/or families unless we voluntarily choose to perform such activity.

5. We shall not be expected or obliged to indulge in any domestic activity including all general housework, child care, pet care, car care, garden maintenance, marketing or any other household activity, unless we voluntarily choose to perform such tasks.

6. We shall not be expected to desire children or to bear children unless we voluntarily choose to do so.

7. We shall not be expected or obliged to manage household accounts, bill payments, bank matters or the organizing of fund-raising or other events or any other secretarial activity unless we voluntarily choose to perform such tasks.

8. We shall not be expected or obliged to host social gatherings, dinner/lunch parties or any other activities unless we voluntarily choose to perform such tasks.

9. We shall have the right to refuse to perform any such voluntarily undertaken tasks at any time we wish.

10. We shall have the right to dress as we choose at all times. This clause shall include all related matters pertaining to length of hair, length of hemline, showing of skin and all fashion choices regarding dress, shoes and accessories.

11. We shall reserve the right to colour and maintain our hair as short or as long as we wish, at any time.

12. We shall have the right to go to work or not, as we wish. We shall have absolute freedom in our choice of profession. We shall not be expected or obliged to share finances unless we choose to do so.

13. We shall have the right to absolute privacy including our mail, email, mobile phone and all other personal communications.

14. We shall enjoy the right to maintain as many friendships as we wish. This shall include anyone we choose, regardless of race, color, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, religious affiliation, ableness or national origin.

15. We shall not be interrogated or subjected to bullying or mental or physical harassment of any sort whatsoever, by anyone, including our partner/s.

16. We shall not be expected or obliged for any reason to stay in any relationship that we have chosen to abandon.

17. We shall have the right to demand sex as often as we require it.

18. We shall not be expected or obliged to offer sex unless we wish to.

19. We shall not be judged for any choices we make. Instead we shall at all times expect the love and support of all those around us that we deem our friends and family, this organisation included.

20. These articles shall be subject to change as and when the membership sees fit.


IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the undersigned have executed these Articles of Association

on this__________ day of ______________, 20__.

______________________________

President (or alternate title)

ATTEST:

______________________________

Secretary-Treasurer (or alternate title)





Of becoming the femme

15 09 2010

Memories are placed in time in relation to events in my life. Before I left the country and after I came back. Before I went to university and after. When I was straight and when I started loving women. Life sliced into two with that.

When I was straight I was thin. Dark. Long hair down to my waist. I laughed loud, talked loud and put my feet up.  I hung out with lots of male friends and a few close female friends. I was constantly told that I had been born with a male horoscope – that which makes you fight with the men and behave arrogantly.

Now that I am lesbian I am thin. Dark. The long hair has become shorter. I laugh loud, talk loud and put my feet up. My life is full of women. Queer women, lesbians, straight women. And I am constantly told how I am a femme – that which makes me laugh loud and act proud.

When my life sliced into two, I became the Femme.





You might as well be straight!

7 08 2010

Strange things flash about your mind while doing the most mundane things. Like when I was toasting bread this morning and remembered me’s cartoon on the butch-o-sphere. And it struck me in one clear line why I dislike butches (and other women but mostly butches) taking butchness too far.

IT IS NOT PLAY

Half the time I can’t say why I am attracted to the women I am attracted to. I don’t know why, but I can say what I like. A woman’s body in men’s clothing. Make up on a butch woman. But when it gets to the point where the lines are too clearly drawn it is not play anymore. ‘Eeek this is girly’ and ‘oh you are wearing flowery prints’ and ‘eewww look at your hairstyle, it’s too femme’ becomes the same as masculine vs feminine becomes the same as male vs female. When you stop playing, you might as well be straight!





And everything in between

8 03 2010

“Butches are known by their appearance, femmes by their choices.” Joan Nestle

I like girls. The experts around me sometimes tell me I am a butch dyke. I intensely dislike being told who I am and what my own little personal definition is going to be. I am extremely wary of being defined at all but writing this forces me to look at this matter of identity.

I am not very keen on anything that categorises people although I know it is inevitable. (Virtually every choice in life puts one into some demographic or the other after all). But I don’t think that the relief of conformity that comes with embracing these groupings is worth the blocking of other information that goes with that decision…like evangelical christians and gay people, who often seem to have so much in common – we tend to interact with our own groups almost exclusively and so continuously reinforce what we already choose to believe and feel. I do not choose the titles of butch or femme or any other for myself. But I do see that people very consciously choose and need religion and other groupings to belong to and that they may also need the reassurance of clear definitions of identity in their lives.

Years ago, I have to admit to doing my share of clomping around in Doc Martens, jeans and shirts in the fiery heat of Colombo, simply to broadcast the point that I was a dyke and I would dress as I pleased. But now I really don’t care about any of the accessories, for myself or for others. I like girls…femme, butch, whatever they choose to call themselves. But I like them for their characters, their humor, their strength and their tenderness to me. I am attracted to butch girls’ androgyny and the huge energy they have, which I do not possess myself. I am also attracted to femme girls’ knowledge of their own power, their lack of need to explain themselves and their desire for butch girls. It is these things that I love, not their definitions of themselves.

Here are some generalizations of my very own. Butch girls are sometimes thorny, controlling and insecure. They are also competent, logical and sometimes dearly loved in the mainstream world where they could have close male friends. They are resilient, having spent lots of time trying to lure girls into bed and have a good sense of humor from learning to handle rejection since they were ten.

Butch girls are usually strong and are frequently into competitive sports. They are ferociously attached to their personal fashion choices and wear their pants and shoes and hair like weapons against a hostile world. Since they are visibly different, they have to fight harder.

Femme girls are delightful. They are quite aware of their massive power which they are capable of using quite ruthlessly when necessary. They also possess the softest hearts and can be persuaded into the wildest activities, sexual and otherwise, by smart butches. Since they do not have to deal with the battle against the mainstream world as much as butch girls do, femme girls are often more relaxed about themselves and their choices. But this also means they are not always forced to think too deeply about these choices and what they imply. Femme girls are usually gorgeous and funny and in many ways are quite like straight girls, except that they are fatally attractive to butch girls and they know it.

Femmes are perhaps best described as lesbian, bisexual, and queer women whose manner and style falls along the lines of what is traditionally considered feminine. Whereas butches are sometimes accused of trying to be men, femmes are sometimes accused -by other lesbians -of donning accoutrements of traditional femininity to pass as straight in the mainstream world. Actually, however, femme lesbians subvert prescribed sexual and gender roles by co-opting conventional ‘womanly’ traits to indicate their attraction to other women.

(http://www.glbtq.com/social-sciences/butch_femme_ssh.html)

This may not always be true in real life but it is a revolutionary idea so I like it.

And then there’s all that lies between…the soft butch girls sexy in short skirts, the strong femme girls in charge of their lives – and all the physical and emotional characteristics that we lesbians exchange and share. And in the end I don’t think there is any final definition of femme or butch that covers it all anyway. How could there be?





I need you

28 02 2010

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nxq-wCf5G8o

Anyone who’s ever been in love would have used the words ‘I love you’ at some point of their campaign of persuasion. And most people over the age of four would have heard and understood the phrase at some point of their lives.  ‘I love you’ is possibly the most emotionally moving, courageous and meaningful thing anyone can say to another person and it takes precedence over any other claim that a lover especially, might make. ‘I love you’ has the power to remove all doubt, reaffirm one’s faith and even perhaps re-create feelings which might be fading away. ‘I love you’ is magical.

The words ‘I need you’ though, are not half as exciting and are not advertised half as often as ‘I love you’ in popular music and culture – implying as they do a more selfish wanting which is not necessarily a compliment. Unless of course you are of a masochistic turn of mind. And that’s the thing.

People leave relationships for all kinds of reasons. Discoveries of sexual incompatibility, differing life-agendas, infidelity and boredom are some of the common reasons one hears. (There are lots more of course, such as violence, mental trauma and other psychological issues which are more complex). Excessive neediness by one person however, is not really seen as a valid reason for the other to leave a relationship, possibly because it is not often very obvious and can take years to manifest itself to its true maximum potential of horror. Indeed, a person ditching someone for reasons of simple boredom might be astonished by the levels of uncontrolled insecure behaviour they could be forced to witness from a previously calm and stable individual. But how could we not know this about them? Is it an entirely new development in their character? Can we simply blame them and quietly sneak off or do we too have a responsibility for their condition? Why have we spent so many years with someone whose black hole of neediness is now driving us away? Can we honestly claim that we were not attracted to and turned on by this very need? Didn’t it appear to be sweetly vulnerable and didn’t it arouse all our most protective instincts – back then? Before it turned into this monster? Neediness could be the reason so many of us are in co-dependent relationships, that weirdly work if both parties are on the same page but not if one person decides to grow or change.

We all have needs, and these are mostly made manifest in our love relationships. And while we know that the failings of our childhood relationships with our parents almost always drive the flaws within the relationships we have as adults, it is interesting to observe how neediness works across all ages to different degrees. Since many of us have huge insecurities about ourselves, we seek to find the perfect partner. That is, one who will validate our lives, boost our egos and give us unconditional love. This is not easy. Some people spend their entire lives seeking their Soul Mate and most never find them. Most other people, gay or straight, settle for the closest thing and if this means compromising on attributes such as strength of character, will-power or critical analysis skills, then we are usually willing to do it. And some of us find our partner’s failings and flaws very attractive. Their fears, phobias and little white lies might be enchanting at first. In time however, the cost may be high and distressful.

In Sri Lanka as elsewhere, many straight relationships and marriages are founded on common interests, mutual benefit, social acceptance and family values. Gay relationships are not always so clearly defined and certainly do not have the public and private support systems that straight people can access. Sexual attraction is often a primary driving force and other factors may not be considered so important when falling in love, especially in a small queer community such as ours where choices are limited anyway. And neediness manifested appropriately can be the best means by which to attract lovers, especially in lesbian relationships. Many ‘fragile’ femme women’s maternal instincts are aroused by their ‘strong’ butch women’s need for mothering (which can lead to lasting relationships). However it could be that in crisis, the butch identified woman might completely lose the plot while the fragile femme might reveal herself to be the real Schwarzenegger of the two.

It is an interesting paradox. The very characteristics that many of us claim to aspire to and celebrate – independence, strength and unwillingness towards emotional manipulation, are not our most common experiences on the route to finding companionship and love. The refusal to use the weapon of need is rare. In reality the woman whose inner strength is too apparent could be so intimidating that few women and fewer men, would dare approach.

Where lies the difference between one person’s desire for honest intimacy and the other’s desire simply to possess?





Calling all Butch Lesbians

14 12 2009

At least one criterion under Checklist 1 must be fulfilled as a pre-requisite by Candidate for above post, in addition to the criteria under the Secondary Checklist.

Checklist 1

Please select a minimum of one of the following categories. It is not possible to pre-empt, circumvent or vent them in any way:

  1. You were born a lesbian
  2. You realized you were a lesbian later on in life. However, you have documentary proof that you never liked men
  3. You liked women before identifying as lesbian. However, due to unmentionable but understandable pressures, you were in the emotional state frequently described by professional lesbians as ‘denial’*

Secondary Checklist

Please check at least 8 (including 1 & 2)

  1. Wear men’s clothing or unisex forms of dress (e.g. of unisex clothes: kurta, skinnies, linen pants)
  2. Exhibit  walk with no signs of movement that can be classified as swing, sway and/or sashay
  3. Wear your hair short cut in a men’s hair salon and/or the men’s section of a unisex hair salon by a male hair stylist
  4. Walk disdainfully past the women’s clothes section and shop in the men’s section in clothing stores
  5. Store  enough stationery in wallet to enable one bulging butt
  6. Indicate revulsion when asked to wear make-up, sari, skirts**
  7. Socialize with men at the level generally accepted as ‘buddy’
  8. Demonstrate very little cooking  skills OR level of culinary skills considered near professional
  9. Prove regular attention from attractive non-butch females at social events
  10. Sport accessories in the following categories: leather or steel arm bands,  rings without flowers or heart designs, wristwatches preferably 1’ in width

PLEASE NOTE: Bonus points will be given to the candidate if she was refused entry to a popular nightclub on Duplication Road, Colombo 04 at least once (conditions apply***)

*Reports of candidate liking men during the period of denial will not be taken as evidence of being a non-butch lesbian at present

**If in doubt over a particular item of clothing, it must be submitted to unanimous approval by a minimum of 3 Butches

***Candidate must have been refused entry without any explanation and must be able to name witnesses to the event