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ontd_feminism

Why don't you just go out with a man?


“”Why Don’t You Just Go Out With A Man?” Has commonly been used as an insult as well as a question poised to many femme-identified people. It has also formed my main basis of inspiration for this book.” – says Leng Montgomery, a final year photography student who’s just completed his BA.

For his final project, Leng embarked on a project based around femme-identified London women: interviewing, photographing and noting trends in this group of people. “…The intention in this is to create a bigger book and release a documentary in which there will be a closer and possibly more critical look at what it is about the Butch/Femme dynamic that is so appealing to some – but not all.”

“Why Don’t You Just Go Out With A Man? [looks at] the relationships had between femme identified women and their attraction to masculinity in all its forms, but with a particular focus on masculinity found within female gendered people. There have been books written about this by people like Judith Halberstam, but the focus of this project is to look at things from the femme perspective.”

The following interviews and photography form the start of this body of work…




What is your preferred name and age?

Lisa, 32

What does identifying as ‘femme’ mean to you?

I have never really sat down and considered this before, I suppose for me it’s about having an identity in itself. I like having a definition, I like the strength and I like the old-fashioned connotations. For me, my femme-ness is to some degree defined by my attraction to butches. I understand that for others this isn’t the case – but for me its all interwoven.

How long have you identified this way?

Around 5 years.

Do you feel identifying in this way is a very important part of your identity?

It is important but not something all encompassing, I have a lot of straight friends and the femme identity doesn’t carry over to those friendships.

Do you have problems with the ways in which you feel you are represented because of your identity?

I do feel the femme identity has become very diluted – the word is used to describe every feminine-looking woman, more as a physical descriptor than an identity.

What attracts you to more masculine types of people? Has this always been the case?

I wish I knew what it was. I try not to over analyse it!

Have you had relationships with men or do you continue to have relationships with men?

I have had and wouldn’t write it off again, though a recent experience suggests that it isn’t for me.

Do you feel there is a difference to the ways in which you feel attraction to men and masculine females or transguys?

I am slightly more intimidated by men physically and yet feel a lot more sexually confident with them, I find sex with women fairly terrifying which results in me being much more submissive in butch / femme relationships than I am with men. I have never been attracted to a transman, at this stage I am not sure how such an attraction would make me feel.

Have you encountered any negativity because of who you are sexually attracted to?

Just the usual shouts on the street, nothing unusual.

Have people made assumptions about you based on your identity?

Yes, I suppose so. But that’s human nature isn’t it – we are all constantly judging and assuming. Its not something I’m overtly aware of.

Have people been confused about you liking masculine types of people in a non-heteronormative way?

I think I do my liking in a heteronormative way – my attraction to butches is extremely heteronormative in nature.

Do you feel people are more understanding and tolerant?

I think people are certainly more tolerant than they were in the past, I think we, in London, are lucky to live in one of the most tolerant places in the world. I’m not denying there are still problems but I often marvel at how lucky I am to live here where I can be myself.




What is your preferred name and age?

Laura, 27

What does identifying as ‘femme’ mean to you?

It means the freedom to embrace who I am without feeling ashamed. I feel like a drag queen, who consciously puts on a disguise, but it’s one I can’t live without.

How long have you identified this way?

Hard to say, but I remember first being attracted to butches when I was about 21/22.

Do you feel identifying in this way is a very important part of your identity?

Integral! It expresses an essence of me.

Do you have problems with the ways in which you feel you are represented because of your identity?

I don’t think I am represented! Well, barely. The only lip service that is paid to femme identity in the public arena is as an insult – to capture an idea of lesbian identity that is assumed to be both based on a heterosexual model of sexuality, and to only exist in the past.

Have you had relationships with men or do you continue to have relationships with men?

Erm, I still haven’t reached a point where I know whether or not I am attracted to men. I certainly can’t imagine being in a relationship with someone who wasn’t queer and masculine and feminist. I think that makes it hard to date cis-gendered men. They so rarely have that level of awareness about their gender identity, which is a must for me. And, do I really want to fuck them? I don’t know.

Do you feel there is a difference to the ways in which you feel attraction to men and masculine females or transguys?

There is always something that stops me from wanting to kiss or have sex with the cis-gendered men I have found cute. I really don’t know what that is. My attraction to butches and queer transmen is far more straightforward!

Have you encountered any negativity because of who you are sexually attracted to?

Yes. Some of my (queer) friends have said that if you date butches, you might as well date a man. It seems so hard to separate our ideas of masculinity and femininity from what makes a man and a woman.

Have people made assumptions about you based on your identity?

Based on my appearance many people assume I am straight. When I say I am a lesbian, many gays I have met assume I like feminine girls (because who on earth would go for that old butch/femme thing?) and some straight people have questioned me about the kinds of pairings that happen between lesbians.

Have people been confused about you liking masculine types of people in a non-heteronormative way?

When I came out to my parents, my Dad asked me if I liked butches and I’m ashamed to say I said no!

Do you feel people are more understanding and tolerant?

The only people I have experienced to be understanding of my sexuality are a few queers. And my close straight and queer friends are tolerant, even if they don’t all understand.




What is your preferred name and age?

Kitty Stryker, 26

What does identifying as ‘femme’ mean to you?

I pick and choose the feminine archetypes I want to reflect in myself- femininity expressed in my own way, by my own rules. Femme is, I think, its own gender identity.

How long have you identified this way?

I was originally a total tomboy- I think I hated standardized “femininity” so much that I refused to do anything that would flag me as feminine!

Do you feel identifying in this way is a very important part of your identity?

I do, actually. I feel like identifying, as femme instead of as female is a way for me to claim it for myself. I feel femme is queered in that you are acutely aware of how you’re presenting an important political statement that refuses complacency.

Do you have problems with the ways in which you feel you are represented because of your identity?

Oh, definitely! Femme is invisible, because it’s so close to “standard” femininity. In the street, I pass as a straight woman- not because I’m femme, even, but because of what I’m not, namely, butch.

What attracts you to more masculine types of people? Has this always been the case?

I’ve always been attracted to masculinity, I think because for me it’s very much an Other. I’ve also never been able to pass as masculine!

Have you had relationships with men or do you continue to have relationships with men?

I currently have a cis-male primary partner, and have dated multiple cis-men in my life, though my preference is trans people and women.

Do you feel there is a difference to the ways in which you feel attraction to men and masculine females or transguys?

I can’t say I’ve ever really thought much about the difference, perhaps because the masculinity I’m attracted to what tends to be a somewhat androgynous masculinity! I’m attracted to people, not their genitalia.

Have you encountered any negativity because of who you are sexually attracted to?

A bit, yeah. I think there’s an assumption that either you like cis-men, or you don’t. If you do like cis-men, then there’s an attitude that you must be wishing the transguy or masculine female you’re with were cis-men. That attitude comes both from the straight and the lesbian community.

Have people made assumptions about you based on your identity?

Of course! If you identify as a queer femme, there’s a lot of assumptions as to how you’ll behave/dress/move through the world.

Have people been confused about you liking masculine types of people in a non-heteronormative way?

Definitely. There’s a lot of the question “well, if you like masculinity, aren’t you just attracted to men?” I think it’s because people subscribe to gender binaries. I’m attracted to a spectrum of genders and presentations of those genders, some of which are considered masculine.

Do you feel people are more understanding and tolerant?

Well, no, actually. I think as a femme I pass under the radar, so people don’t hassle me for being femme- I just get harassed for being feminine.




What is your preferred name and age?

Maria Rosa Young

What does identifying as ‘femme’ mean to you?

Queer Femme = liberty of the feminine!

How long have you identified this way?

10 or so years.

Do you feel identifying in this way is a very important part of your identity?

Not really as labels can be restrictive but I see queer as an anti-label and femme means a woman who is empowered through her autonomous expression of the feminine self. We are all feminine/masculine to different degrees. I am an individual who can own the queer femme label as a type of social commodity. Ultimately though I am a human being free to express myself in whatever way I choose through the use of language or visual portrayal.

o you have problems with the ways in which you feel you are represented because of your identity?

Only if people react to it in a blinkered way and project their own ideas of what feminine is without understanding that it’s an individual thing.

What attracts you to more masculine types of people? Has this always been the case?

I am attracted to individuals and swing around a bit with my tastes. Masculinity attracts me in people as it is my opposite but also I recognise it in myself too. I also love ultra-feminine women.

Have you had relationships with men or do you continue to have relationships with men?

I have relationships with men and women yes. See the next response.

Do you feel there is a difference to the ways in which you feel attraction to men and masculine females or transguys?

Transmen are ‘men’. In my view there is no difference in regards to physical attraction. But emotionally transmen can be more intuitive to a woman’s needs when they are not beng a ‘typical bloke’. Ha!

Have you encountered any negativity because of who you are sexually attracted to?

Some people on the queer scene can find my attraction to ‘men’ distasteful and make snide comments about ‘bisexuals’ etc. I feel this is all fear based on their own insecurities about trans/butch identities. There really shouldn’t be a struggle for acceptance of others in a queer scene but I find this still to be the case on occasion.

Have people made assumptions about you based on your identity?

See above ;)

Have people been confused about you liking masculine types of people in a non-heteronormative way?

Yes. Especially ‘cos of my big bosoms. I can appear very womanly and girlie in both my mannerisms and physique but I burp for England, slob about in a cap, jeans, hoodies & trainers and head banging to Motorhead.

Do you feel people are more understanding and tolerant?

Although people are confused about gender, all my straight friends don’t really care to be honest. They are more concerned that I am happy. I’m seen as almost ordinary in some circles, which is quite refreshing. Safety is paramount as far as the wider world goes.

Source

OK mods! I promise this is the last post tonight haha
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