—Melissa Etheridge, Secret Agent
But I Don’t Want To Be A Secret!
It feels incredibly liminal to identify as Femme. It is a strange thing to exist in a world where I am both fetishized and invisible.
The (usually grossly inaccurate) portrayal of the Femme lesbian by the porn industry has been fetishized to the point that real-life Femme/Femme relationships are often brushed aside as performative or invalidated as merely existing to fulfill some kind of male fantasy. Perhaps this has some influence on the stereotype of homosexual relationships that one participant must embody traditionally masculine traits and one must embody traditionally feminine traits in order to somehow be valid. We’ve all been asked the same awkward question by a stranger at one point or another: “So which one of you is the man in this relationship?”
Navigating the gender spectrum is difficult enough without forcing heteronormative gender roles onto a homosexual relationship. But what happens when two stereotypically feminine women get together? Heterosexual men often wink and nudge each other, demanding we make out in front of them in clubs to prove our queer (excuse me while I try not to vomit).
Margaret Atwood strikes a chord for me in her 1993 novel The Robber Bride, writing,
“Male fantasies, male fantasies, is everything run by male fantasies? Up on a pedestal or down on your knees, it’s all a male fantasy: that you’re strong enough to take what they dish out, or else too weak to do anything about it. Even pretending you aren’t catering to male fantasies is a male fantasy: pretending you’re unseen, pretending you have a life of your own, that you can wash your feet and comb your hair unconscious of the ever-present watcher peering through the keyhole, peering through the keyhole in your own head, if nowhere else. You are a woman with a man inside watching a woman. You are your own voyeur.”
I want to claim my femininity for me, and for no one else. Perhaps male fantasy has stolen and re-defined Femme inaccurately, and perhaps we can steal it right back. How do you want to redefine Femme as we move forward?