Countering The Femme-inine Mystique
Massive bear hug to all my fellow femmes!
Credit: Maxime Lelievre
Can I send out a massive bear hug to all my fellow ‘femmes’? So, I don’t know how many of you are single at the moment but if you are: how hard is it to meet women? I’ve recently started trying to meet more women naturally, at work or through friends, and I think I’m finally starting to understand the problem of femme invisibility in our big, beautiful community.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t feel accepted; it’s just that I’m so…unnoticed. If I’m at a bar or a party, women’s eyes slide off me like a piece of furniture. So often I’ll be happily bopping away, making ‘come hither’ eyes at a beauty on the other side of the dancefloor and all of a sudden she’s been snaffled by someone in a crew cut and plaid shirt. It’s the story of my life: watching androgynous women run around having hanky panky with one another whilst I’m in a corner being perved on by some dude.
When you’re a single femme, you need to be outer than out. There’s no shuffling about in the shadows hoping someone will clock you and whisk you off to paradise. You have to march around bellowing ‘I LIKE GIRLS’ whilst people tut at you in the supermarket and wonder why you don’t just get a haircut. You have to find ways to smuggle your sexuality into conversations. I bang on endlessly about queer art/theatre/comedy until my companion’s eyes glaze over as she realises I’m not only gay but a crashing bore.
I come out to people more than is natural. Within a month of my new job I’d tracked down rainbow posters with LGBT+ affirmations to plaster all over the wall behind my desk. I’m on the waitlist for a rainbow lanyard for my pass. I have a tote bag that I picked up at Pride and which I waggle at women on the tube.
I have all sorts of odd conversations:
“So, what did you think of the film? I thought it was hilarious!”
“Haha, I know! Amy Schumer is so awesome I’m gay.”
I’m writing this for America’s bestselling lesbian and bi magazine for god’s sake, lady-loving credentials don’t get much finer than this. Short of strapping a giant papier maché boob to my head I’m not sure what more I can do.
Even when you do finally manage to bag a date with someone you can end up battling the femme label. I went on a date with a woman who said I was ‘the straightest-looking woman’ she’d ever been out with. I could see the doubt in her eyes: ‘she says she likes women…but look at that hair!’ In that instant I decided I absolutely had to snog her so she wouldn’t tell people she had a date with a femme who didn’t deliver. (Yes, yes, I’m all selflessness.)
Maybe this whole thing is a brilliant ploy to get femmes into bed:
“Yeeeeah, I don’t know. You look pretty straight to me…”
“No I’m not!” *immediately removes knickers*.
The things is, I’m just as guilty. I’ll look twice at a woman with a pixie cut or a nose piercing but sail right past a babydoll dress. That’s the problem with the stereotypes – so often they’re true. Even when I do try and gently test the water with a feminine woman, more often than not she’s straight.
It’s hard to be too disgruntled about all this. The fact that more women want to look ‘stereotypically lesbian’ is enormously cheering because it speaks volumes about how much society is changing for the better. It feels right that after decades of hostility, butch and androgynous women are finally getting attention for all the right reasons.
So, where does that leave femmes? Personally, I’m still hoping for a late surge in femme women coming out and balancing the scales. I eagerly look forward to the day when we can no longer gauge someone’s sexual preferences based on how they look; when we give everyone we meet a chance until we know which way the wind blows.
Until then, I’ll just have to keep ordering coffees from hot barristas in the only way I know how:
“Hi, please can I have one of those lesbian lattes for lesbians? Cheers.”
Want more? Check out the writer’s lesbian dating column, www.girlmeetsgirl.co.uk