In the nineties there was this weird thing in the adolescent/early twenties lesbian community, certainly around Manchester and online, of how you weren’t supposed to be butch or femme because that was mimicking heterosexual sexual/relationship norms. Androgyny was the thing in the nineties and noughties, a lot of us queer girls went through non-binary phases before anyone thought to tell us they/them pronouns could be a thing much less the idea that neopronouns existed. Some of them turned out to be genderqueer or trans, I didn’t and rooted my sense of gender identity in my body a la radical feminism and put up two fingers to the notion of gender role norms.
Fuck knows what a lot of older lesbians made of that because butch/femme dynamics are in some ways so much more sticking two fingers up to heterosexuality than pretty little androgynous teens making out. Not that the latter can’t be you understand but ugh how much we get stuck in things that were once rebellions and genuine expressions of self once the corporations and mass media have decided to package and parcel it up. And the fucking manufactured false dichotomies, I hate them. If androgyny is good then butch/femme must be bad… argh the lack of room for nuance, for the full circle of expressions. Gah.
In anycase I never did well with androgyny. Femme though, femme is where I make my home.
When I was a kid I hated to wear dresses and skirts, absolutely hated to. As an adolescent despite a complete fascination with makeup I was very clearly communicated to that I shouldn’t be wearing it, and given that I was allergic to most ingredients in easily available cheap high street make up I wasn’t inclined to buck against that. I was a bookish tomboy, albeit with long hair, I grew used to the idea that I wasn’t ever going to rock attractive but other than the idea of being a tomboy I never swung towards butch either.
I think I really embraced my inner femme after living in Asia for two years. The thing about combining skincare with an eczema regimen is that it really is selfcare on a medical level so I guess it feels more justified than having a bubble bath just because. Doing such full on SoKo skincare routines really makes me embrace my inner femme, hell I even wear skirts and dresses entirely deliberately these days and when I realised I was opting in to wearing makeup during the pandemic to cheer myself up that was when I realised I do love my inner (and not so inner) femme.
But whilst I do crush hard for a lot of soft butches I love femme women, femme is where I live and where I love to love as well. There’s something transgressive about that too, femme is where we’re taught the heterosexual women live but no that’s us too. We get to love here too.