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Unicorns How Do You Sleep At Night Knowing People Don’t Like You Shirt, hoodie, tank top
The stories of these five femme women, as well as my own, all stand to illustrate an insidious problem in LGBT, and specifically lesbian, communities. Femininity is sometimes seen as the opposite of queer, for mysterious reasons that have no provable basis. Some call it internalized homophobia; others call it misogyny. Either way, feminine women are not taken seriously—no matter how many times they clearly state who they are and what they want.
Trans feminist theory writer Julia Serano’s 2013 book Excluded tackles the strange shunning of femininity in female-centric communities, summarized in the following passage.
It is commonplace for people in both the straight mainstream as well as within our queer and feminist circles to presume that feminine gender expression is more frivolous, artificial, impractical, and manipulative than masculine gender expression, and that those of us who dress or act femininely are likely to be more tame, fragile, dependent, and immature than our masculine or ‘gender neutral’ counterparts. By reclaiming femininity, those of us who are femme are engaged in a constant process of challenging these negative assumptions that are routinely projected onto feminine gender expression.
Whatever the twisted roots of femme invisibility, femmes are actively working to fight it from inside queer communities. Blogs like Femmeonamission.Com, and an annual Femme Conference are just a small part of the movement to celebrate femmes within the LGBT community. Writer Jamal Lewis—who is compiling an anthology on femme and gender non-conforming people of color—reminds us that ‘femme’ is an identity that can be claimed by anyone of any gender, and its dismissal and devaluation can be experienced by all who claim it.
With cries of ‘femme solidarity,’ queer femmes are banding together to fight the idea that femininity is somehow less valuable or desirable, somehow less queer, than masculinity.
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