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“if that twinkle in your eye is darin’ me to try”

September 15, 2008

Who cares who i dress for? (or, why being a queer femme is not subversive.)

There is a common assumption in the femme world that being feminine in an effort to attract other women is a subversive act. It’s always rubbed me the wrong way; here’s to trying to figure out why.

(Fuck) The Male Gaze. That’s the “yeah, i’m sexy, but it’s not for you, mister!” If it’s only gaze we’re discussing, i have no control over it. The mere fact that i am trying to attract girls has no effect on whether i attract guys. One, i can’t stop someone from thinking i’m sexy. Two, i don’t want to, because the part that i think is subversive (so, yeah, i was just being inflammatory before, sorry) is that you can’t tell i’m gay by looking at me – and, so, (this is the progressive part!) someday it may be assumed that you can’t tell i’m straight by looking at me. With that as the goal, i can’t expect, and wouldn’t want, my presentation to attract only the kind of person i like (plus, even if i only get girls’ attention…i’m pickier than that, and it will take more than the way i look to find someone). Note, however, that actions based on these thoughts are a different matter, and all i’ll say is that general civility should, but can’t, be generally expected, gender aside.

Moving beyond just the gaze; what about when you really get to say that to someone? Well, against my wishes, i must admit that i think that statement is moving in completely the wrong direction. I love being able to reference being gay or my girlfriend in response to guys’ come-ons (i’ve happily noted that it is taken more seriously now than it was even a few years ago when i came out). I like it primarily because i’m a big pansy, and i hate saying no to people, and those sorts of blanket responses act as a big ol’ shield. But that is precisely the problem. Every time i use a euphemism for the word “no” in response to being hit on, i further degrade the power of no. And, really, the point is not actually that i like girls, the point is, i’ve (probably politely) turned you down. And no one should ever have to give a reason for that.

That is, to date, my problem with the focus on who my femininity is “for.”

Lady Brett
“I’m Ready If You’re Willing” – Johnny Horton

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