Firstly, in English, “femme” is a Lesbian term. I plan to do a post on the history of the usage of the term by Lesbians, but for now I’ll focus on the meaning.
A genuine femme is, first and foremost, a genuine lesbian, a specific type of genuine lesbian.
So, What is a genuine lesbian?
A female who was born a lesbian. There are many ways in which lesbians differ from straight females, but the defining characteristic is homosexuality. By which I mean, we have an innate, biological, homosexual orientation. We sexually desire females and not males. It’s very simple. Yet, there is SOOOO much controversy around the meaning of these terms!!!! Straight people just don’t get it!!!
So, now we have defined Lesbian, what is it that makes a lesbian a femme???
Firstly, her primary desire, both sexually and of the heart, is for butches. Which brings up another semantic question, What is a butch?? Well, that is for another post. I will get to that because again, like “femme” and “lesbian”, the term has been misappropriated by many and truly represents but a few. For now, you will just have to trust me on this, a butch is a butch, and femmes know butches <3.
Femmes have one big problem, and that is the fact that butches are RARE, perhaps rarer than femmes. There are dykes a plenty in the world and some of us settle. And yes, for a femme, dating a dyke is “settling”. The connection just isn’t the same, the desire isn’t the same, it’s like the difference between the flame of a match and the flames of a roaring bushfire.
So, what else defines a femme? Well, she is usually interpreted by others as being “feminine” in appearance. What does that mean for a lesbian? Well, nothing really, femininity is a heterosexual categorisation/construct and really doesn’t apply to us. Femmes do not “perform femininity” because to do so, we would be performing for men. And that is one thing WE DO NOT DO. In fact, we HATE it when men look at us in a sexual manor, ewwww!!! It feels like a violation because we do not want to be a male fantasy EWEWEWEWEWWWW!!! But, short of covering ourselves head to toe in baggy clothes whenever we leave the house, there isn’t a lot we can to do avoid the so-called “male gaze”. So, what DO we do?? We say “fuck it!” and we be ourselves. Though there are days when we just can’t deal and we cover up and try to go unnoticed as much as possible. I’ll only talk briefly about clothes and presentation because it’s not really that important, it’s not what defines us. A femme can cut her hair short and wear jeans and a plaid shirt (I have!!) and still be a femme. However, we do like to dress up and look sexy in what the straights would call a “feminine” way and when we do, it’s for our own pleasure and that of whoever the lucky butch is that we are hoping will notice us. For those of us with a longterm partner, we love to see that twinkle in her eye when she sees that we have made an effort especially for her, thought about her enjoyment. Her alone. Not because we are subservient, not because we are only decoration, but because we are sexy and sensual and we enjoy being adored by the butch we love.
Okay, enough about fashion. Femmes are fierce. Unlike the heterosexual
male/female stereotype that hets see when they look at a butch/femme couple, femmes are not delicate little flowers being protected and owned by our butch masters. HAHAHAHA!!! Our dynamics are SOOOO different. Seriously, it’s hilarious to think about the misconceptions people have. We have equal partnerships and we defend and protect each other. It truly is us against the world and a femme will fight to the death for her butch and vice versa. Femmes see how the straight world perceives and acts towards our lovers and how it affects them; and as a result we become fiercely protective and fiercely proud of them. Fuck the fuckers!!
What is really important is that we are who we are, we were born who we are and we are a very real and a very specific type of lesbian; and no matter how many people, males or females alike, who call themselves “femme” because it’s their chosen identity of the month, we are the genuine femmes and they cannot take that away from us.