Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Heteronormative Privilege and the Femme dilemma.

Ok, so in my last post I said that people are assuming i'm a 'straight girl', and i'm wasnt happy about it.
I should probably explain what that means for me as a Femme (ooh another class on Queer Stuff 101!)

I'm not saying being Straight (heterosexual) is bad, but when people assume that i'm straight I lose my Queerness and Femme identity.

Suddenly i'm dressing like this/wearing makeup/etc for the male gaze or to attract a male partner (or because of societal expectations), not because its a queer expression of femininity. (I dont presume to speak for all/any heterosexual women here either).

It makes me uncomfortable to have to come out ten times a day.
I hate having to justify being queer to people around me because I look feminine ("but you're too pretty to be a dyke!"). I really hate it when I have to justify it to other queers because I don't look like Justin Beiber.

I get discouraged because sometimes the only time people can read me as queer is when I'm walking down the street with my girlfriend.

It hurts when other queers bring up Heteronormative Privilege, and think thats why i'm looking the way I do. "Heteronormative culture "privileges heterosexuality as normal and natural" and fosters a climate where LGBTQ are discriminated against in marriage, tax codes, and employment". - Wiki.

So, if I act/look straight I get the associated privileges for aligning myself with dominant heteronormative culture. I also get shunned by my own community. Yay me!

The dilemma Femmes have is how to navigate this fine line. Its uncomfortable.

We're not going to get beaten up for looking 'butch' - but our partners have been.
No-one is going to question our right to use the women's toilet - but our masculine-female friends get it all the time.

On the other hand, our partners and friends see how we struggle with our invisibility (its an interesting mix, hyper-visibility and invisibility).

There is no easy way to explain what its like to be Femme, but I hope this ramble might explain the political reasons why i'm umcomforable with people thinking i'm straight.

But I do love you Straighties, my sister's one too!
*tongue planted in cheek*



Andi B. Goode said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andi B. Goode said...

Reading this and things written by other femme lesbians I can understand (whilst it doesn't relate to me personally if that makes sense) the difficulties and I think it's important to think about? I can't write what I want to say properly. but I think it's great you wrote this.
(And as a hetero woman who dresses in a feminine way, I still have people assume I do it to attract men which I don't. Which is nowhere NEAR as frustrating or possibly even damaging, culturally or otherwise, as what you would face, of course. Hope it doesn't seem like I'm saying that at all).

Vintage Grrl said...

In all honesty, Bex, even with your uber short bright pink hair etc etc, I didn't assume you were gay, nor did I assume you were straight. I guess in my younger adult years, I knew so many different types of people (goth, transgender, gay, indie, swingers (not the dancing kind), hippy etc etc) that I never assume anyone's sexuality, because it's none of my business really.

I understand, however, your wanting to maintain your queer/femme identity because it's important to you.

Pixie said...

Thanks for posting that. I suppose I am puzzled at why people are so wrapped up in other peoples' sexuality. You simply should not have to explain yourself to anyone. Period.

Serina said...

It's nice when someone else understands. Thank you for being willing to say it.

Lisa said...

Ah, this is why I fucking love you lady. Yep, I totally identify with the coming out 10 times a day thing. xxx

Reana Louise said...

"Too pretty to be a dyke"? Sexuality isn't based on a hottie rating.

By the way, loving your new tartan skirt!

elise said...

Great post.

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