Today is B’s birthday!

I love birthdays … or maybe I just love cake?

However, birthdays have always been a bit problematic for me because I am not very romantic at all. So, in order to prepare P gave me a little romance 101 crash course. After her little pep talk I felt prepared … of course I wasn’t.

I tried flowers – I picked a bunch that I thought were pretty – yellow tulips . I was pretty proud of myself, until I got home and P asked me if it was Easter early this year…

I tried baking a cake, however, my baking abilities are poor at best.Thus, after a small fire and series of failures I had to resort to a bakery made cake.

I was planning on returning home after class this morning and surprising B with breakfast in bed, however, when I walked in at 11 she was already up and cleaning the apartment. Cinnamon raisin french toast was still delicious – but  unfortunately it wasn’t a surprise.

Creating romance is much harder than I thought it would be!

Fingers crossed that dinner turns out well. ❤

P said to me yesterday that i’m angry, and that is what makes me a feminist.

I glared at her, but then I realized she had a point.

I am angry, and I am a feminist — but it is not my anger that makes me a feminist, instead it drives my feminism. When I am angry about something it moves me to react, to write, to talk about it.  I admit most of my posts comes from a place of hurt, anger and frustration.

Those emotions bring you today’s post on femme.

I’m really tired of people using 1940’s femme stereotypes to understand and explain femme. I came across an article a few weeks ago that tried to explain the “femme phenomenon” and painted us a submissive, stereotypically feminine, and using butch women for as a replacement for the men we are really attracted to (how original).

Writing like this is the fuel for my feminism. It drives me to respond, critic and challenge. In this way I think this type of work is almost necessary. A lot of femme autobiographical or auto ethnographic work I have read and loved has come from a place of hurt, and anger. Its the kind of work that pushes you to move, to act. I’m thinking of work along the lines of Hadassah Hill’s Femme Fuck Revolution. Hill starts off with a call to arms inviting femmes to get all riled up and ready to act.

“I want a revolution to start now, with the femmes, and with all the people who loves femmes, and with all the people who have yet to realize that they love femmes. Because I am tired of femmes getting the short end of the dick.”

Hill’s work is powerful, it’s raw and its angry. This is kind of work that makes a difference, and that builds solidarity.

“I say it’s time for a femme fuck revolution. It’s time for femmes to consistently have the status, make outs, and hot dates we deserve without any unwanted assumption. A great place to start is by giving respect to each other. “

We need femme solidarity. We build solidarity and friendship on the ground of our shared experiences. I met a great femme this week, we went from strangers to friends in ten minutes over a cup of coffee and shared stories of femme discrimination. (Strangely they were both about being dismissed as non lesbian at the same lesbian sex positive event).

I hate to admit it, but I think that we need to be angry about our experiences in order to work together, in order to mobilize and in order to create amazing femme positive work.

I like my anger, i’m keeping it.

I’ve been kind of MIA lately …

However, I have a good reason. I promise.

I read the Body Project (Joan Jacobs Brumberg) a few months ago and it inspired me to start working on an alternative body project. As positive as it is, i’m tired of all the “love your body the way it is” discourse. I don’t think that it is particularly productive. I also think that it just promotes acceptable deviations on the status quo i.e. you might not be thin but your morals and whiteness make you acceptable.

I think alot of the current body positive media and cultural products out there are still just offering us the same idea but just repackaged. This kind of discourse still restricts non normative bodies and sexualities. I’m frustrated with it.

So I decided to get together with some other young feminist to create a body project that makes the invisible, visible. We are looking for a wide variety of poetry, stories, photographs, and other creative pieces that explore the sides of our bodies and sexualities that we don’t talk about. I want to expose the intersections of race, sex, sexuality, (dis)ability, class, age etc. So far i’ve been promised smut written from a feminist s&m perspective, a (dis)ability perspective,  from a self proclaimed slut, and from a gay leather perspective. I’m still looking for more pieces that expose the gritty, complex relationship that feminist women or men have with their bodies.

If you have some interesting, intersectional work and would be interested in participating in the project let me know.

I just finished reading Whipping Girl, which my brother bought me for Christmas. It was actually rather surprising gift to recieve from a generally homo and trans phonbic person. Which leads me to suspect that he didn’t acutually choose it.

Regardless of where the book came from, it is still a brilliant book. I adore Juila Serano. She writes with the fire of  woman who has been told countless times that she, and her identity are not significant or real. She has a true activist spirit. It infuses her work in a way that reminds me of Leslie Fienberg.

I was reading this book on the couch yesterday, and P looked at me and asked why I was reading it. She didn’t understand what I could possibly gain from a book about trans women. I told her it isn’t a book about trans women, it is about women and the repression of femininity. This book crosses the barrier between trans and cisgeneder in seamless way, reminding us that we are all in woman together. This category is ours, and it is problematic.

This book discussed boundaries quite a bit, specifically in terms of the construction and maintenance of the boundary of woman (who constitutes a woman and why? )

This got me thinking about the boundaries of femme. I have often had people new to the term ask me to define femme and explain its requirements – essentially to explain the boundaries of femme. I have no answer to this. However, I would argue that despite its historical association with lesbianism, femme does not have to be queer or female.

I understand femme to be an a state of consciousness in which the individual recognizes the problematic nature of traditional femininity and its relation to the patriarchal state and structure. As a result, the femme reclaims her femininity in a non traditional, ironic way and uses her body to subvert the ordinary, whether this be through queering or other means. Essentially we do femininity in a different way, a way that empowers us.  To me this does not have be gendered, or sexed.

I have seen drag queens who have challenged and repositioned femininity in a most admirable way. The don the utmost feminine attire with power and confidence, and at the same time challenge the way we think about, and perceive woman. Similarly there are some kick ass straight women who challenge the expectations of femininity daily. There are men that are brave enough to adopt the disadvantaged characteristics of femininity and who perform them proudly. To me, these individuals are as deserving of the femme identity as we are.

I understand the importance of boundaries. If you do not define who is in included, than there is nothing to separate you from everyone else. You can’t have an identity without boundaries.

I understand that lesbian femmes are working to honour the history and legacy of the femmes that came before us. Our sisters in the 1940’s whose femme status did not grant them access to the category lesbian. Our sisters who have suffered the doubts of those around them, doubting the legitimacy, their queerness and their identity. Our sisters who have been experienced violence and rape from men who didn’t believe that they were queer.  The boundary that keeps us together, unified, is important. But there could be so much more.

I am not trying to diminish the importance of our history and commonality. Instead, I suggest that their is a greater commonality out there.  What we femmes all have in common in that we want to gain respect, and acceptance of femininity. We want to make being a girl, being a woman, being feminine not hurt. Perhaps that is more important.

Its January 2nd, and i’m already struggling with my new years resolution.

Last night B and I were fighting. She was sitting next to me crying, her tears dripping down her chin onto my shoulder. I sat there silent, I didn’t feel anything. Nothing at all. I had this overwhelming desire to get out, to walk outside in the snow storm in my t shirt until I felt something. Even if it was just cold and numb. I needed to feel something.

It was then that I realized that it was true. I’m a cold and unfeeling person. I’ve been told this before by ex girlfriends and lovers and yet I chalked it up to their anger. But it’s true. It is as if in that moment I could finally see myself and what i’ve become.

I have a confession to make. I’ve suspected this before, that it was true. I’ve meet someone else like me. At first, she captivated me, I was intrigued by her. She was brilliant, funny and sweet on the surface, but once I really got to know her it was all darkness. She was cruel, selfish. She didn’t feel anything, any emotions, she just played with the hearts and minds of those in her life. She was full of this raw sexual power, which she used to ruin people.

She terrified me. She terrified me because I saw part of myself, in her. I was terrified that in time I would become like her.

Perhaps I have already.

But perhaps I have more strength than she did.  Last night when I wanted to run. I didn’t. I stayed and talked and I started to feel. It wasn’t much, but it’s a start.

I’ve been a little melancholy lately. However, I have decided that with a new year around the corner it is imperative for me shake myself out of it and re-prioritize.

In retrospect 2009 was a bit of a tumultuous year, and has left my personal life in shambles.

So with the new year approaching I’m hoping that 2010 brings me two things; passion and courage.

B and I talked last night. We have both been having a rough time trying to keep things together lately. Regardless of how hard things are right now, for the first time in my life i’m not ready to give up. This time I refuse to take the easy way out and run when things get hard. I’m going to have to make myself vulnerable.

Honestly, I’m terrified. I’m terrified i’m going to have talk about my feelings, and allow myself to open up, and really feel my emotions. But, I love B, and I owe it to her and myself to try.

So with the new year approaching I hope that it infuses passion back into all areas of my life, and gives me the courage to embrace all levels of my femininity.

I love S. Bear Bergman.

Bear’s writing is powerful, its sharp and has such a unique perspective. I adore it.

Last night I finished readings hir new book The Nearest Exit May be Behind You and it was not what I expected. It was really challenging and provoking particularly in terms of identity location. This book is a perfect example of the evolution that we each go through with our identities. It reminds us that our identity is never firm, it is always evolving, and that we need to open ourselves up to the change. Moreover, it reminded me that regardless of trials we endure we must always keep our humour and humanity.

I like this book so much I went out and bought a second copy to give to my friend T for christmas (belated of course). He is my favourite bear and queer theory discussion partner. Hence this is the perfect gift.

Of course being my femme self I wrote him note on the inside cover.

Darling,

I adore you. Even though sometimes it seems like we are located in different worlds, each with their own

expectations and understandings of gender and desire. It is my hope that this book can grasp onto our commonaility

and reduce the gap between our lives and understandings of each other.

All my love,

Lou


Sometimes you find what you’re looking for, what you crave in the most unexpected places. Nothing is a truer example of this than the friendship that I have found in P.

I’ve mentioned P before. She is my roommate and long time best friend.  We have a very complicated relationship due in part to our extreme differences. I’m a radical feminist lesbian with leftist political views and P is straight, conservative and about as right-wing as you can get. This has caused many problems, heated debates and resulted in a few taboo topics. Last election we discussed platforms, which escalated into a battle of political ideology that ended in punches. Shortly after politics became a forbidden topic.

Many people have attempted to understand our friendship which on the surface appears to be held together delicately by common taste in music, tendency to drink too much, and a secret love of Dr. Who.  However, if you look much closer below the surface, we are very similar.  We are bound together by our common understanding of how we keep others out. One the surface I appear soft, delicate and sweet – but those who know me also know I’m a tough as nails bitch. P is similar, but she lacks the sweetness that I have, she makes up for it though with her incredible ability to keep her emotions hidden.

We have both built up many barriers in our lives, strongly fortified to keep people from getting close, protecting us from any pain.  We fail at relationship after relationship because we can not let people get as close to us as they need. We never allow ourselves to feel anything real, that would be too dangerous.  Tears and direct questions will not break our fortified barriers, strengthened by our years of emotional withdrawal. This common experience is the iron bond that hold us.

It can be unbearable sometimes, to suppress every emotion that you have, to lock it away so that it can’t be used against you, to make you weak. I grew up understanding that my femininity was a something to be feared, something that made me unstable, wild.  In order to reconcile with myself I adopted the masculine emotional tactic of denial. I denied that I was hurting, scared and broken and projected delicate, happy persona.

P and I recognized this in each other one of the first times we drank too much together. Life was chaotic and we were stressed, the more we drank the more emotions surfaced.  P ended up punching a hole in the wall and we spent the night sat crossed legged, and crying on the floor. That night we let our guards down, and let some of our true feelings out. Over the course of our friendship this ritual has reappeared.  Usually this is spurred on by an excess of alcohol and a moment in which we actually feel something, perhaps some remorse. Remorse from a lover who can’t take the emotional isolation and coldness anymore, or remorse from ourselves, wishing we could let ourselves be vulnerable. It is in this moment that our friendship is cemented. Two emotionally stone people pouring their hearts out to each other over love we didn’t give a chance.

Our greatest connection is that we both understand what others fail to grasp; that we have barriers that no one will ever cross.  We don’t push each other for information, and feelings, we understand that in time they will reveal themselves. We are held together by the loneliness we can not liberate ourselves from.

 The point is that sometimes you find strength in someone, a strength that allows you to finally have some support in your life, support that you didn’t know that you were missing.

I went to go see Nine today, and it got me thinking about affairs.  The mistress is always sexualized in popular culture; she can never be seen as more than a sex object. However, I challenge the legitimacy of this representation.  I think the mistress; particularly the lesbian mistress is often an object of intellectual desire as well as physical.  I had an intellectual affair last summer – my first.  It was the kind of affair that is frustrating and full of pent up passion, the kind that builds until it is unbearable and threatens to consume you.

The funny thing is I can’t even remember where I met her.  It just seemed like she appeared in my life one day.  She came in with witty email, Bowie commentary and promises of painting barefoot in the grass.   She came at a time where I found myself increasingly unhappy in my relationship, and I was craving an intellectual challenge. She gave me that challenge. We talked about poetry, art, and argued about Foucault.  We drank strong coffee and debated queer theory. We walked down the canal in the rain musing about the purpose (or lack of)  of life.

She had me. She held me in the palm of her hand. I was in awe of her brilliance, and passion, and slightly afraid of her darkness. Sadness had engulfed her life. She was stuck in one of many loveless, sexless relationship but was determined to see it through. She was also plagued with a distaste for commitment. However, this time she had promised herself that she wouldn’t leave.  I couldn’t bear to see her so unhappy, it only reminded me of my own unhappiness. We were each other’s escape from reality.

The chemistry between us was intense; her words were electric and her touch unbearable. Emotionally, we got very close in a very short period of time. I opened myself up to her and exposed my raw emotions. I would leave the bar after a night together and then spend the rest of the night talking, probing each other’s minds. However, I could never bring myself to give myself to her bodily. I knew if I did, there wouldn’t be anything left to hold me back.

It was a terrible time for my morals to kick in.   wanted her and I could tell from the way that she looked at me, that she wanted me. I kept having to pull myself back, to resist giving myself completely to her. She was magnetic, but I was wary.  I ended it on a whim. I was scared. Scared that she might be able to break through the barriers that I built up, scared that she would see my naked core.

To be honest, I regret it. She was the challenge that I ran away from, unwilling to be venerable.

I am a restless person. I have a hard time staying in one place, one situation, one life, and an even harder time staying with one person. Clearly I have commitment issues, they only thing I can stay committed to is my desire for change, and to break free from the ties that hold me in place. I go through these stages where I can live life happily, everything seems perfect and in place. In this moment I think that perhaps I have finally changed, found the right path, job, girl… but it never lasts.

Then there are days that I wake up restless, and dissatisfied. Everything seems wrong, and I have an overwhelming desire to turn everything on its head. This happens more often than I like to admit, and I try to suppress it, but it always takes me over in the end. It starts as a small tumultuous mass in the core of my being churning and rolling. It spreads like fire, licking up the sides of my chest, flickering down my arms and legs making my muscles ache and begging for release. I get the urge to run to see if I can escape. Today I ran in a thin t shirt out in the cold, my extremities numb. My feet hit the pavement to the beat of the music pulsing through my ears attempting to drown out my thoughts. After a while my fingers and toes start to warm, then they reach a heat that prickles. My muscles ache and burn and I return, realizing that I am still restless. My body aches to break the bonds that hold me. I crave change.

I gave into the restlessness last summer. It felt good at first to liberate myself from everything that held me in place. I broke up with my girl friend, ended a few friendships, moved apartments, and changed my job. I changed the surface, the scenery of my life, my the foundation remained strong, unchanged. I still wasn’t happy. I started drinking and I didn’t stop for the rest of the summer. I wanted bathe in drunkenness like Countess Bathory bathed in blood, but instead of youth and vitality I want liberation and freedom to wash over me. I want to crack me open like a walnut and uncover me, reveal my naked and true self. Drinking wasn’t the best plan, but I didn’t care I was hooked. I came undone, because I had freed myself from everything that held me in place. I cut all the puppeteers strings and was left in folded in a heap.

I loved the break down, I loved every moment of glorious freedom even when it was covered in a drunken haze. To be honest, I was perfectly happy with the chaos that encompassed my life. I thrive off chaos and stress; it is the calm that unnerves me. I might have continued if I didn’t meet B. She came into my life at the worst possible time, I was a mess and living off the ruins of my pervious live. She didn’t care. She was beautiful and full of life, a life she wanted to breathe into me. She was strong in a way that I desired to be. Shortly after I met her, I stopped drinking. I never thought about stopping, it just happened. She occupied my time and mind. It was like I blinked and my life was together again. And the cycle began again. I had built everything up… and now it is waiting, taunting to be torn down. I am left trying to suppress the urge to run.