I’m writing today because I need to come out. Yes, again.
I’m coming out as a Femme ally. This means that I value the richness that Femmes bring to my life in a myriad of ways. This means that I value the diversity that Femmes bring to our community. This means that I recognize the validity of a Femme gender identity, and I affirm the place that Femmes hold in my radical queer community. This means I recognize the ability of Femmes to stand up for themselves, but I also recognize my responsibility to be responsive when Femmes ask for back up. This means that I reject the misogyny and femmephobia perpetrated on Femmes by non-Femme presenting people, and I’m asking you to come with me.
Well, what are you afraid of?
Actively identifying myself as a Femme ally means doing my own homework. Take everything you know about other kinds of privilege, and apply it here. I have a lot of Femme friends, and I read their blogs, ask their opinion, ask how I can be a better ally, ask what they need from me and other radical queer identified people. I read a lot of blogs written by Femmes I don’t know as well. Being a good ally, in my opinion, means making yourself available but doing your own work. Start conversations, confront femmephobia, but know your place. Do not take over Femme space. Do not make everything about you. Have conversations about being a good ally to Femmes– and start by asking Femmes you know how you can be a good ally. Do not assume that all Femmes want and need the same thing from you. Do not assume that Femme is a homogenous group.
It seems that someone is always maligning Femme with high maintenance. This is Femmephobic. I think it’s important to confront Femmephobic rhetoric, and for me, part of that is being able to identify with what I don’t like about what someone else is saying. When it comes to the triggering phrase “high maintenance”, I think it’s really important that we find a common definition of high maintenance. Dictionary.com defines high maintenance as slang:
[of a person] requiring much care and coddling. : He’s sort of a high-maintenance guy. He requires lots of reassurance.
Okay, as far as I can tell, this has nothing to do with Femme. There may be people who ID as Femme who require coddling (something I assign negative value to) but care? I am human and I require care– no matter how butch I am feeling on any given day. All people require some care.
When I think about high maintenance, I think of people who expect me to read their minds. People who demand a lot, but don’t lay out any parameters for their expectations. I think of people who expect me to know eactly what they want and need, but refuse to give any guidance. I think of people who can’t make decisions, don’t know what they want, don’t know how to ask for what they need. That’s what I think of when I think of high maintenance. Those are bad behaviors no matter what your gender identity.
So I guess my question for you, lovely readers– if you identify as Femme, what are things you want/need/expect from allies? If you are already considering yourself an ally to Femmes, how do you do this? How can we do better?
Edited to add already:
So after posting, I got into a chat conversation with an awesome human i hold near and dear to my heart. Through that convo, I was able to identify part of why I think this specific issue requires specific attention.
I stated to identify as a feminist in elementary school. I continue to identify as a feminist–and all of the chaotic imagery that entails. What I am trying to articulate right now is that femmephobia is misogyny. Anti-Femme sentiment is an extension of patriarchal, anti-female attitudes and behaviors. I think it can be about sexual objectification, silencing women’s experiences, and rejecting and maligning femininity.
I also think that we need to stop policing gender in every way. I wrote about butch gender policing recently–but i think we all need to move into a space where people in our queer community are not policing each other’s genders. I’m sick of having to constantly reassert my butch identity up against a traditionally female hobby–one that was taught to me by a male member of my family–but that’s not the issue now is it?