Pingy-Dingy Wednesday – Outdoor Afro

I love Outdoor Afro so much. One of our human birthrights is to honor the out-of-doors, to be able to find sustenance, succor, rejuvenation from Mother Earth and all her wonders. For all the usual fucked up reasons, this birthright is often shown and offered mainly to white people. Outdoor Afro defies this idea that “Black People Don’t Camp” and wisely and enthusiastically addresses the fact that “[f]or black people, feeling welcome and safe in the outdoors isn’t a given”.

Outdoor Afro, you get one pingy-dingy! Thank you for the beautiful work you do, for your open-hearted, gorgeous, sacred connection with the out-of-doors, and for the love story that you write every day!

https://outdoorafro.com

I’m a typewriter whompin’, card catalogue lovin’ white girl from back in the day, and I yearn for a time before the covers of trade paperbacks were all squidgy, so you can imagine that I don’t actually understand what a pingback is. I do know that it can in some way be part of spreading the love, and since that’s what I’m all about at The Total Femme… every Wednesday, I pay homage to the laughter, love, and inspiration to be had elsewhere online.

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”)

 

 

 

Meditations for Queer Friends – Never Enough

For a long time, I owned a non-fiction book called, Never Enough, something about the state of the current U.S. culture, or maybe about dieting; I can’t quite remember. It came on a lot of moves with me, but I never ended up reading it. Finally, I gave it to an academic friend who was working on a project we both thought might benefit from this particular book. Just this past week, browsing the bookshelves in a local Goodwill, I came across this same book and started laughing. After I gave it away, I didn’t miss it, didn’t give myself a hard time for never reading it – the title was enough for me to think about. And here it was again: NEVER ENOUGH. I laughed to see an old friend; I laughed because I know more and more each moment how truly enough there is.

How do we find ourselves in the onslaught of information? The siblings in M.V. Hughes’ wonderful autobiographical trilogy beginning with A London Child in of the 1870s have very few books, but they make the most of them. They memorize Alice in Wonderland and use Lewis Carrol’s brilliance to enhance their own imaginations and ideas about the world. As related by Jan Morris in her book, A Writer’s House in Wales, the publisher Rupert Hart-Davies used to say, when people asked him if he’d read all his books (thousands and thousands), “No, but I’ve used them all.” And Jan Morris again, in her early 90s, writing about her beloved library in In My Mind’s Eye: A Thought Diary, makes good and wonderful use of all of her books (thousands and thousands), from just admiring them, to pulling them down and browsing here and there, rereading them, keeping a beat up copy of Montaigne’s collected essays in the car to read when stuck in traffic jams, to using one particularly huge atlas to prop up a wonky table leg. Similarly, though I never read Never Enough and probably never will, the idea suggested by the title has informed my own thoughts for years about what it means to be human, to be alive right now, in the age of FOMA (Fear of Missing Out) when one must grapple with the interminable, siren calls demanding one’s attention nownownownow.

We often hear, “Be you, girlfriend!” or “You do you!” which sound well meaning but can often be used sarcastically. But who else can we be? It just seems so awfully hard to get there. And yet, we possess the ability to be us, it’s a human birthright. Anyone who spends time around young children knows that each individual child is drawn to certain things, is able to pick out areas of interest despite what must be a totally bewildering morass of information coming at them every minute. For my elder son, it was construction machines, for my younger, farm animals – as soon as they had found those areas of interest, they never wavered. Of course, things get more complicated the older you get, but that homing instinct must always be present, if only we can quiet ourselves down enough to listen for it again.

Even if we know and begin to honor our own unique and individual interests, it can be hard to stick with them. People we respect, movements we believe in, school, the media and on and on give well meaning or casual advice that can derail us for years. Personally, I had the distorted voices of my parents ringing in my ears for decades, pushing me in directions that were often the exact opposite from those in which I actually wanted to go. The curse of this only child! But I expect most of we queer femmes have similar voices, and they are awfully hard to ignore.

My examples here are mostly from books, femme bookworm that I am, but you, bodacious and delicious femme sisters have your own beacons in the chaos. Jan Morris is joyously and tenaciously herself, happily detailing her touchstones from literature, travel, family life, connection to animals (particularly her dearly departed Norwegian mountain cat, the inimitable Ibsen), to history, and on and on. Whether or not you agree with some of her thoughts (and I don’t), she is solidly, beautifully, inimitably herself, and this is immensely heartening. Inspiring.

Gorgeous ones, we do not need to wait until we’re in our 90s to be us. Femme angels, born to bless this world, listen through the noise and find those most beautiful tones that make up your one and only and unique song. Take joy in who you are. Be proud. No one else has your particular talents, your way of interpreting a situation. No one else can offer the amazing and inventive interpretations of the here and now. Gather your femme bravada around you, spread your love, be you.

Let me see you shine!

Every Monday, I offer a Meditation for Queer Femmes in the spirit of my maternal grandmother, Mimi, who was fabulous, kind, and wise and from whom I inherited her Meditations for Women.

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”)

 

Published in: on August 19, 2019 at 4:45 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Femme Friday – Soothing and Uplifting Eye Candy from the Days of Yore

Some beautiful photos to feed your queer femme soul here in the last few weeks of summer!

Deep gratitude to our ancestors, who loved each other, and who took pictures of their sweet and sexy selves to document that beautiful queer love!

https://metro.co.uk/2018/01/11/amazing-intimate-portraits-illustrate-lesbianism-ages-7222581/?fbclid=IwAR0wk82AlkhPfLSOhBMRy0s3qWvbrteMPSpu25O-v9ggTuLtiZEPXz-bPis

Every Friday, I showcase a queer femme goddess. I want to feature you! Write to me at thetotalfemme@gmail.com and let me shine a spotlight on your beautiful, unique, femme story! If you’ve written a femme story or poem or song, oh, please let me post it! New Femme Friday feature starting fall 2018: Books from which queer femmes can draw inspiration. What are your trusted sources of light and love? Please share!

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”)

 

Wednesday Pingy-Dingy – The Tiny House Warriors: Our Land Is Home

“Nobody can know the full consequences of their actions, and history is full of small acts that changed the world in surprising ways,” writes Rebecca Solnit in the chapter, “On the Indirectness of Direct Action” in her book Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities. The Tiny House Warriors are building tiny houses smack in the middle of the illegal Trans Mountain Pipeline Project, the trajectory of which crosses unceded Secwepemc Territory. The houses might be tiny, but the resistance is not. From their website:

Investors take note, the Trans Mountain Pipeline project and any other corporate colonial project that seeks to go through and destroy our 180,000 square km of unceded territory will be refused passage through our territory. We stand resolutely together against any and all threats to our lands, the wildlife and the waterways.

Tiny House Warriors, you get one pingy-dingy! Thank you for not and never ceding, for speaking truth to power, and for “building something beautiful that models hope, possibility and solutions to the world.”

http://tinyhousewarriors.com/

I’m a typewriter whompin’, card catalogue lovin’ white girl from back in the day, and I yearn for a time before the covers of trade paperbacks were all squidgy, so you can imagine that I don’t actually understand what a pingback is. I do know that it can in some way be part of spreading the love, and since that’s what I’m all about at The Total Femme… every Wednesday, I pay homage to the laughter, love, and inspiration to be had elsewhere online.

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”)

Meditations for Queer Femmes – Etiquette

I’ve been taking part in the Provincetown Library’s Reading Challenge, and for one of my challenge books, I read: the Student’s Book for Emily Hunter’s Christian Charm Course: A Course for Girls Giving Methods for Improving the Outer Appearance Along with Spiritual Instruction for Developing the True Beauty which Comes from a Heart surrendered to the Lord Jesus Christ (first published in 1967; my copy from the most recent printing in 1984).

Setting aside a great deal having to do with evil Christian malarkey, heterosexism, racism, and just plain fuckedness, I was struck by two messages of a more positive nature. One: it matters how you act in public because you exist with other people. Two: it matters how you feel about yourself on the inside, and that, in turn, leads to the necessity of being connected to something positive that is larger than yourself.

There is nothing at all wrong with these two messages, and this admittedly seriously twisted book got me thinking about etiquette. I believe that the usual attitude this day and age among most hip-happening folks, young and old, is that etiquette is completely ludicrous and out-of-date. No one but snots and snobs care about which fork to use or when to wear white. Didn’t Gloria Steinem famously and fabulously say, in response to a worried question about what woman should wear posed by a reporter referring to Madonna-obsessed young women tripping about wearing lingerie on the outside, “Women should wear whatever the fuck they want!”? Of course she did and of course they should!

But perusing Mrs. Hunter’s tactics for staying neat, clean, and healthy on the outside along with her tips on how to pay attention to spiritual needs gave me an odd sense of comfort. Again, if you ignore the sinister aspects of the book, what is at the bottom is an earnest desire to impart adult wisdom to young people, wisdom having to do with how to meet the most basic human needs. Wisdom having to do with empowering young people with the practical knowledge that they are in charge of their physical and spiritual well-being. If you know how and when to wash your hair; if you have some expert guidance in taking stock of your physical appearance so that you can lovingly and with care find ways to look and feel your best; if you understand how to take a break from the mundane and pray or meditate or otherwise bring yourself into alignment with whatever it is that connects you to the sacred, then you are beginning to discover tools that will serve you for the rest of your life. I am all for children and youth having these tools.

Personally, I had little guidance in this arena. I had to put things together myself, from books, from friends, from the media, and my education around taking care of my body and showing on the outside what I was feeling on the inside (and what was I feeling on the inside, anyway??) was spotty to nil. Forget any kind of spiritual education, not even some kind of regular church experience to embrace or push back against – my rabidly atheist father made sure I internalized early on that religion is the opiate of the people and there’s nothing out there.

It may be old fashioned, but I am in favor of teaching etiquette to children and youth. I am in favor of giving children and youth information about different ways human beings nurture their physical and spiritual selves so that they can find a way to do so for themselves. Methods differ, but the basic needs are the same.

I just spent a lovely, leisurely time writing thank you cards to people who have been kind and helpful to me during this long and difficult summer of chemo. Turning my mind and spirit over to gratitude offered me respite from the dread I am feeling about this last chemo treatment coming up and about what the future will hold. Will the cancer be gone? Even if it is, will I get it again sometime down the road? I can really work myself up, especially in the middle of the night. Sitting down and saying thank you reminds me that, with practice and changed attitude, I can turn my heart in a more positive direction – the direction I’d much rather be going. It’s not easy, it’s not perfect, but it’s better than freaking out all the time. This is something that helps me, and there are many, many lovely practices out there, centering kindness and serenity and love, that don’t try to get kids to do something just because they’re scared that if they don’t they’ll be steeped in sin or otherwise be displeasing to the Lord Jesus Christ (dear Mrs. Hunter, I am afraid that I’m looking right at you).

We queer femmes have our own wonderful, queer perspective on etiquette and how to care for ourselves and for others. I know that you have your rituals, your prayers, your affirmations, and your meditations; your cleansing dips in the ocean or walks in the garden or moments of bliss; your love and your kindness and the way you touch your friend on the arm and the unbearably sweet way you smile into your lover’s eyes. Beautiful, spiritual, generous femme sisters, you model health and well-being to other queers and to the world.

I am grateful. I am grateful. I am grateful.

Every Monday, I offer a Meditation for Queer Femmes in the spirit of my maternal grandmother, Mimi, who was fabulous, kind, and wise and from whom I inherited her Meditations for Women.

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”)

Femme Friday – Aisha Johnston Continued!

Last week, Aisha was remembering her interactions with a Butch/Femme community, where she and her love found themselves fitting in less and less. Here is the conclusion of her essay.

Jo soon started to experience similar levels of misfitting within their part of the community. Recently, Jo has found that they identify heavily with the concept of dandyism (Urban Dictionary has recently started defining a dandy as a charming androgynous person of [any] gender) and, realistically, probably would have identified with it much earlier if they hadn’t been trying to manifest the masculinity that is “required” when claiming a Butch identity. Jo is a fun, floppy, flamboyant Enby (non-binary, NB) that exudes the perfect combination of all sides of being human, within and outside of the gender binary. The fact that they love to dance, that when they get excited their energy is hard to contain, that they love singing along to Broadway and Barbra Streisand — none of these things take away from their masculinity, to me, but because they weren’t the rough-and-tumble, stereotypical Butch, they weren’t accepted by their peers in the same way that I wasn’t accepted by mine. Jo still does all of the “manly” things a Butch would be happy to boast about; mowing the lawn, building things for me, chauffeuring their little family around in their SUV — but also does an amazing job at keeping our home clean, doing our laundry and most of the other day-to-day domestic duties that would be considered, by some, as the “woman’s” jobs.

Spoiler: I find them exponentially more masculine (and sexy) when they’re doing the domestic things, I won’t lie.

The gender role expectations in the Butch / Femme community are too much akin to the toxic masculinity versus female submission that exists in the heteronormative world to be a comfortable space for me. In taking time for myself, especially over the past three months, I have been unpacking a lot of my emotional baggage as well as childhood trauma and abuse that continued, essentially, until I met Jo. I was preened, throughout my childhood and adolescence, for a cis-hetero life. My femaleness was something my narcissistic mother not only used against me as a weapon but also to fuel a strange type of trauma bond so that our femaleness (something that she believed was invincible) was the main thing holding us together. I was enabled to stay in unhealthy relationships, one of which was extremely toxic, where my femaleness was taken and victimized repeatedly, and my “sworn protector” did not and would not acknowledge or bring to my attention that I was being abused. Whether it was sexually, or I was being humiliated for whatever reaction was deemed “what a girl would do”, my femaleness was always on the chopping block, simply for existing. I was fed to a life full of predatory cis-men and manipulative women, so I grew to hate men for what they did to me, and to hate women for doing nothing to stop it.

Looking back, if I had had one person sit me down and ask me whether or not I was gay, my life would have been completely different. My coming out as queer was nothing special; I came out at 24, after having had a child at 18 and gotten married at 23 (with different, but both, men) and none of my family members were even remotely surprised. Meanwhile, I felt like realizing that I was almost exclusively attracted to trans masculine people (well… Let’s be real, one person in particular, hehe) was like falling into an ice bath after being asleep for 3 days. I couldn’t believe it hadn’t occurred to me before, that if I was triggered by both cis men and women due to prior trauma, that I would find my person in someone who wasn’t either sex but exuded the qualities of both, and every space in between. I slept with both men and women when I hit adolescence, because I couldn’t figure out where I was genuinely happy, but my first love interest was my best female friend in elementary school (who was a tomboy), my first “relationship” was with a fellow older, female choir member (who cut their hair short and went by ‘J’ instead of their given name) and I would often openly disregard any friends’ suggestions at “boys I should date”. I expressed dissatisfaction in every cis-hetero relationship I was in, and no one thought to inquire as to whether or not I was actually straight.

Now that I’ve discovered that information for myself, thank goodness, I’ve had the opportunity to sit with my limited memories of my growing up, a person who has experienced more than a life’s fair share of discrimination due to their gender presentation, and an endless world of online information. This has given me the chance to evaluate my own space and gender in a safe environment, with someone that has done their own exploration and work into figuring out what it means to not fall into the socially “acceptable” binary. I’ve come to realize that the word “woman” doesn’t sit right in my heart, stomach or brain and that when I’m not in relation to someone or something else, I don’t feel like a woman by default. This was a realization that also quickly revealed why I had never and could not identify with ‘Femme’.

There are times when I feel more feminine, and see myself through a more female lens; when I look at my son, there is an automatic, biological, ‘you came from me and only women have babies so I am a woman’, for example. I know that sounds almost caveman-esque, an obvious connection to a little human that literally came from me, but when I generally feel more like a floating entity than a person, these moments are incredibly grounding, for the most part. When Jo and I are intimate or sexual with each other, I usually fall into a more feminine headspace (though this isn’t always the case; I’m sure there are times where my thoughts about Jo could be considered far more ‘masculine’ in their grit and animalistic nature), but in contrast, that could also be perceived more as a dominant / submissive dynamic than a masculine / feminine one.

There are times where I feel more masculine, but one main difference in these moments is that I usually end up almost observing myself from the outside, whereas I tend to feel more present when my femininity is at the forefront. The times where I lean more towards masculinity are generally when things get stressful in our day to day life; Jo recently had, arguably, one of the most severe depressive crashes they’ve had in our time together. During those few days, I felt like I could build us a cabin, beat up everyone that was causing us problems, fix our car, remodel our kitchen and carry Jo around in my pocket, while also wanting to erect a literal barricade around our house so that I could protect them. Being strong, big and protective, for me, also means being distant and a little disconnected — behavior that I have observed from every single one of the important men in my life.

Most of the time though, I find myself sitting somewhere in between the lines, which is why I’ve struggled with connecting myself to ‘Femme’. I feel like I flex and flow, my inner gendered behavior seems to be ever-changing and evolving as these yin and yang moments come and go. I think I may start referring to my different sides as my yin and yang, because even calling them masculine and feminine feels derogatory and wrong, considering I don’t feel like those qualifiers really even begin to cover the different sides of me that I’m discovering and exploring.

The idea of masculine and feminine counterparts, to me, seems like old news. I understand that the Butch / Femme culture has been making an attempt to flip the tables on gender roles for years; butches, doing all of the things men can do and being all of the things men can be, in whatever capacity that entails, challenging the role and necessity of men in our society — while femmes, on the other hand, support and love these people in all of their masculinity while also reestablishing what it means to be a lesbian; essentially, queer women can be masculine of center, or dykes, if you will — but there is also a completely separate squadron of queer, female-bodied women that are owning and championing their womanhood and femininity, by refusing to dampen their femme-ness to ‘fit in’ to a standard of what lesbianism looks like to the small and narrow-minded.

The unfortunate thing that I’m observing now that I’m viewing the world through a new, entirely non-gendered pair of glasses is that, in the effort to shatter the glass ceiling on gender expectations and roles, while simultaneously trying to maintain the old fashioned, old school chivalry, dynamic and attitudes that we all love so dearly about the culture, the B / F world seems to be getting stuck in the Mean Girls or Boy’s Club type of exclusivity and elitism, along with the (sometimes near-invisible) undercurrent of misogyny and patriarchy, as well as baseline gender inequality in general. Femmes spoke horribly about Butches, and Butches either lashed out in anger or disappeared in quiet submission. Meanwhile, all of these people were there because they wanted and needed a community, yet spent the majority of their interactions pushing against the very people they wanted to connect with. Jo and I are two really interesting, genuine, kind people, and the people we’ve met who fall into this spectrum generally see that about us, as did the folx in our B / F groups. The problem was, once people started realizing that we didn’t fit into the boxes — Jo, not Butch enough, and me, well, you know — for some reason we immediately became off-limits, like not having a hard blueprint of your gender expression was a communicable disease; heaven forbid you catch the non-binary!!

I realize my perception of this world might be construed as pessimistic or negative. I also acknowledge that a huge part of my views on gender, roles, etc. are skewed and heavily influenced by my history with trauma and abuse. I love Butches, I love Femmes, I love what they are trying to accomplish and I feel so proud of the friends I have that are shattering societal expectations every day. Jo and I used to identify with these people, at least on some level and used to consider ourselves part of the community. I don’t blame the fact that no one considered us there, on any one individual. During our time in these groups, it broke my heart to know that so many of the people I spoke to were excluded or cast out of their queer communities because they were trying to ‘be hetero’, but in the same breath, were exclusionary to my partner and I because we each were so obviously not trying to be.

I guess the point I’m trying to make in a long-winded, drawn-out, rambling sort of way is that we’re quickly coming up on an age where these things aren’t going to matter — or at least, I’m hopeful of that. We have been exposing ourselves to a community of people, all who ID as non-binary, that has been endlessly rejuvenating and restorative. These people make up the most beautiful mix of folx I have ever seen — some are stunningly, beautifully androgynous, as you would expect from a non-binary community — but there are also a startlingly high number of folx who present very much in a certain way, but are finding that, regardless of their outward presentation, they feel neither one way or the other when it comes to their gender. These people have been some of the most accepting, open, wonderful people we have met in trying to find a community online and in person, and I just hope that at some point we will all be welcome in spaces that make us feel like we fit, not because we look or act like we should be there, but because we heal from our wounds much more quickly if we have a community of people to care about us.

I believe that we’re going to get there because I’m watching people I know come into themselves each and every day. We are going to be the ones to flick the first domino, the queer folx that have experienced a level of hostility we don’t want the next generation of gaybies to experience — if there’s one thing we all have in common, whether you’re gay, queer, Butch, Femme, however you identify — it’s that we’re all wounded, and we need the community as much as they do. Like I expressed earlier, if I had been fortunate enough to have an older, queer person in my life to reach out to me when I was a budding, but closeted, young queer person, my experience with my gender and my journey would have looked completely different; instead, my queerness came into being through trauma, pain and a lot of undue damage and now, the only way I’m finding that I am able to recover from those things is by speaking and sharing with as many other queer folx as I can. If we build this community now, we’ll be helping the up and coming LGBTQ+ community, but I promise you, we’ll be healing our own hearts, too.

“We are pitted against each other in order to keep us from seeing each other as allies. Genuine bonds of solidarity can be forged between people who respect each other’s differences and are willing to fight their enemy together. We are the class that does the work of the world, and can revolutionize it. We can win true liberation.”

– Leslie Feinberg

Aisha (like Asia) is an unassuming person, happily partnered and living her best life with her beau and their 8-year-old son in a quiet, queer-friendly theatre town. A writer, baker, and chronic pain warrior, she currently runs a casual blog, All Queer For Takeoff, with her partner, Jo, where they discuss all aspects of living as queer folx, from family issues and struggles to what happens behind closed bedroom doors (wink). She is musically gifted, playing a variety of instruments including, but not limited to, the french horn, piano, guitar and ukulele, and also loves to sing. True to her Pisces nature, she is both fluid and solid and can easily get lost in her own current of thought. Aisha loves to read, is an avid horror buff and craves adrenaline-inducing experiences (roller coaster buddy, anyone?). She loves baking, chilling out by a campfire or on a cozy couch and playing video games with her beau(s).

 Every Friday, I showcase a queer femme goddess. I want to feature you! Write to me at thetotalfemme@gmail.com and let me shine a spotlight on your beautiful, unique, femme story! If you’ve written a femme story or poem or song, oh, please let me post it! New Femme Friday feature starting fall 2018: Books from which queer femmes can draw inspiration. What are your trusted sources of light and love? Please share!

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”)

 

Pingy- Dingy Wednesday – The Diverse Environmental Leaders National Speakers Bureau

The Diverse Environmental Leaders (DEL) National Speakers Bureau represents Rock Stars of Conservation who have climbed Earth’s highest mountains and sailed her Seven Seas; leading authors, artists and scientists; policy, climate, energy and environmental justice experts; urban revitalization strategists; natural resource managers; outdoor recreation leaders and cultural ambassadors. DEL coalesces a wide range of talented and accomplished environmental professionals of color who can help shift the environmental conversation in America to become more inclusive and equitable at all levels. (from the DEL website)

DEL, you get one pingy-dingy! Thank you for the important and inspiring work you do, for your speakers’ great adventures in everything from long-distance hiking to teaching and organizing, as well as for their dedication to the health of our amazing earth. Rock Stars, one and all!

http://delnsb.com/the-diverse-environmental-leaders-national-speakers-bureau/

I’m a typewriter whompin’, card catalogue lovin’ white girl from back in the day, and I yearn for a time before the covers of trade paperbacks were all squidgy, so you can imagine that I don’t actually understand what a pingback is. I do know that it can in some way be part of spreading the love, and since that’s what I’m all about at The Total Femme… every Wednesday, I pay homage to the laughter, love, and inspiration to be had elsewhere online.

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”)

 

Meditations for Queer Femmes – Touch My Perfect Face

Our cat, Seymour, has very sensitive eyebrows. He really likes it when you massage them. His whole body relaxes and he drops his jaw slightly, exposing his tongue and his impressive teeth. His eyes go to half mast. He purrs.

We queer femmes feel so much responsibility, all the time, every day. We are keeping up with the news, we are part of the solution, we are outraged, we are taking care of our bodies, we are traveling for work, we are out of work and worried as hell, we are in a bind and don’t know where to turn, we are isolated, we are an indispensible part of our local community, we are managing our depression, we are taken down by our anxiety, we are in recovery, we are worried we might be drinking too much, our children are wearing our shit out, we just broke up with our partner of many years and have no idea what to do now, we are finally beginning to prioritize our own art and opportunities are popping up all over the place, we just got a diagnosis, our job is amazing but doesn’t pay enough, we know it’s time to finally deal with our childhood trauma but the effort of finding queer-friendly clinical assistance is gargantuan, our best friend just betrayed us, we are blessed to be in a healthy relationship after all these years but the learning curve is steep. We are working all of the time and there is always something urgent to do, somewhere we need to be. Something that needs improvement.

Even when we attempt to slow down – because that’s on our “to do” list, too — our busy minds keep us on the hop. How many times have you said, or heard your friends say, “I can’t meditate? I can’t stop thinking?” I’ve certainly said that. We have such a hard time shutting things off, especially since we mistakenly believe that that’s even possible. Pema Chodron says that even 10 minutes sitting quietly and allowing your mind to do its thing is a successful meditation. It’s less about trying to shut things down and more about observing, being curious about the nature of our human mind. At any rate, we none of us can stop being human, but we can become more open and aware of moments of clarity, and let those touch us with their healing. Places where we connect to the vast natural sweep of things and where we can find solace, however briefly.

Seymour can do plenty of things to amuse and soothe himself – he’s a cat, and extremely self-contained – but he can’t rub his own eyebrows. That is a gift he gives to me.

My loves, my busy, busy femme buttercups, is it watching a bee collect pollen? Is it that primal, gnarly smell of the mud flats when the tide goes out? Is it your pre-verbal baby babbling her song in the dappled sunlight? The sweet smell of your own shoulder, the first ripe cherry of the summer, a brave stand of Queen Anne’s lace in an endless parking lot? Find it today, femme sisters, whatever that perfect moment, wherever you can. I’m asking you to notice, for you, for me, for the way the universe is always offering balance and healing.

Find it and soar.

Seymour.JPG

Every Monday, I offer a Meditation for Queer Femmes in the spirit of my maternal grandmother, Mimi, who was fabulous, kind, and wise and from whom I inherited her Meditations for Women.

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Femme Friday – Aisha Johnston

A young friend and her mother visited yesterday, and we got to talking about, among other things, the word “femme” and the word “lesbian”. The young woman said that she is not a femme, although sometimes her presentation might be femme, but that she very much identifies as a lesbian. “Some people might call me bi, since I’m attracted to men and women,” she said, “but I am a lesbian.” Poor mom, who is a straight ally, wondered if that means the word “lesbian” has lost its meaning. More discussion ensued!

It can be difficult to keep up with things and also to keep to your queer north star in this age of rapidly evolving terms, but the good news is that, as long as we stick with open and honest dialogue and continue to honor our history and our elders, a great deal more of us could come into a place of ease about who we are a great deal sooner than we might have. Below, Aisha contributes to the important and ongoing discussion about queer identity, among other things!

Deep gratitude to Aisha, for her generosity in sharing her experience and thoughts about this intricate and delicious subject!

 “…but you are always too intense / frightening in the way you want him / unashamed and sacrificial / he tells you that no man can live up to the one who / lives in your head / and you tried to change, didn’t you? / closed your mouth more / tried to be softer / prettier / less volatile, less awake…”

– Warsan Shire, “For Women Who Are Difficult To Love”

I want to be honest with you: it has taken me over two weeks to figure out how to write this post. I am now semi-comfortably situated on my favorite couch, with my daily morning coffee and my laptop finally booted after forgetting to plug it in last night — a regular occurrence for me — and a huge part of me still doesn’t know where this string of words is going to go. When previously featured fierce femme, Victoria, reached out to me and asked if she could recommend me to write for a popular femme blog, the majority of my reaction was of sheer gratitude and honor. My partner, Jo, and I started our little queer blog earlier this year, All Queer For Takeoff, and have been happily watching the small amounts of visitors and readers increase in a slow stream over the passing months, but a feature? Whaat?

The secondary reaction was something along the lines of, “am I even femme enough to write for this queer, femme-centered blog?”

Before remembering one of my favorite pieces of poetry by Warsan Shire (excerpt featured above), I had initially intended to title this post: Squeezing Between the Lines: When ‘Femme’ Doesn’t Fit. My journey and exploration into my “femme-ness” (or lack thereof) has been a winding, twisting road, with the occasional 90 degree drop — and my gender versus my presentation has been something that Jo and I have been casually discussing over the past few weeks, so this invitation could not have come at a more fascinating time.

To start near the beginning, and to avoid any confusion: I have always presented as female and that has never been challenged or questioned by anyone in my life. Other physical qualities have, at various intervals; my weight (I went from close to 300 pounds to 140 pounds, and have received both negative and positive comments on both ends of that scale), my interest in body modifications (ear gauges, piercings, I have 10+ tattoos), my choices in clothing — nearly everything I decided to do with my body was met with somebody else’s opinion, but the way I presented my female-ness was never one of them. My outward gender presentation has always matched my biological sex. Being partnered to someone who identifies outside of the gender binary, I would never claim to have shared any part of their experience and I am grateful that I have not dealt with any dysmorphic feelings about the way I or my body looks.

I was introduced to the world of masculine of center, female-bodied folx when I was in sex work for a brief period. None of the clients I met ever referred to themselves as Butch and there wasn’t ever any talk about the Femme counterpart. I’m not sure if this is because I was in a domme role when I was in the sex industry, or that it just wasn’t relevant — I suspect, though, that it had more to do with the deeply embedded patriarchy and misogyny that exists in the Butch / Femme world, which has become more apparent the longer I’ve been involved in this community, and the more I observe the dynamic. These wonderfully masculine of center people were coming to me, to be treated in a way that could be perceived as incredibly feminizing, and I think the best way to eliminate the leaning towards that “femininity” was to eliminate all sides of the binary altogether. This was also something I strove for with my cis-male clients; I truly believe that the act of genuine submission, with a well-matched, responsible dominant, can be one of the most healing and grounding experiences imaginable. It was always much easier to get into that headspace (for both parties) if there wasn’t mention of gender or sex before or during a scene.

Butch / Femme, however, is a relatively new concept to me. Jo and I just celebrated our second anniversary and they were my first real introduction into the B / F community. At that time, in 2017, Jo identified primarily as Stone Butch — considering our relationship began as a casual, sexual escapade, this meant that we had that conversation very early on; Stones having a myriad of boundaries that are often next to concrete (no pun intended) for so many different, varying, individual reasons. Jo gave me a very quick breakdown of what was and wasn’t within their comfort zone, what boundaries were flexible and which ones absolutely weren’t. Having had the “soft and hard limits” chat before, in a sex-based environment, with several different clients, the concept of somebody having no-go zones wasn’t new to me and it was quickly folded into my information bank for any potential future romps with Jo. This, I’ve been told, was also a new occurrence for them, as they had had numerous previous experiences with partners, casual and not, that did not or would not respect boundaries and limits. Both our sexual chemistry and the way we played and built off of one another was soon impossible to ignore, and our relationship evolved.

When Jo became a regular part of my daily life, we began having more discussions about what being Butch meant to them; from more serious conversations, like how to bring up the subject of pronouns with my then 6-year-old child, to lighter inquiries, like whether or not it was appropriate for me to refer to Jo as handsome. They lent me their copy of Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg (heartbreaking but exceptional read, I highly recommend it) and I eagerly devoured it, quickly approaching Jo with any questions, including whether or not, as an exclusive couple, I would then be considered their Femme. I’ve never felt particularly feminine other than in conjunction with the people I was with or situation I was in, so the idea of being Jo’s femme was mind-boggling to me, in a way. To me, they were just my partner; I didn’t realize there was a title or a part to play, too.

At the time, Jo was helping administrate a Stone Support group directed at people in the B / F community. The idea was to offer a space for people who maybe identified with Stone but weren’t sure what it meant, a place for their partners to get more information and just generally another community of people that could relate and empathize with others in similar situations. As a means of getting all the information I could, learning what being Stone meant to others and then relating that to what Jo had expressed, the group was great, and I quickly volunteered to help with posting, vetting members, and other day to day moderator-type things. In a lot of ways, this role was very rewarding; there was a small moderator group chat that made me feel, briefly, that I had a couple of friends in my brand new community, I got pretty great responses when I would open up a discussion to members— but this group is really the place where all of my confusion and questioning started.

Our moderator group was made up of a small, mixed number of Femmes and Butches, including the group owner and a Butch friend of hers that obviously had some history together. It came to a point early on in my time in the group where I remember feeling conflicted as to why I didn’t feel like I belonged amongst this group of people. Jo was still an active member at the time and we were continuing to have open discussions regularly, so I had a daily reference point for what (I thought) it meant to be Butch in this community. I knew that wasn’t me, for a myriad of reasons, but the obvious being that I clearly don’t identify with Butch. Not as a word, or a presentation, or anything other than I, as a queer, female-bodied person, find myself almost exclusively attracted to masculine-presenting folx — and, at that time, the only word I had for these peeps was Butch.

The next logical step for me in recognizing this was that, if I wasn’t Butch and there were “only” two sides, then I must be Femme, right? I was partnered to somebody who identified heavily with the old school manners, chivalry, and dynamics of the B / F world, and they were the Butch, so my place should have been obvious, no?

The problem was, I wasn’t “femme” enough for any of the Femmes in that group. Anybody that knows me, knows that I do not fall into any real form of typical “womanliness”; I don’t really like wearing dresses unless I have something to dress up for — even then, I’d probably rather rock some slacks than a pencil skirt; I almost never paint my nails, do my hair, or any of those things that would be considered feminine or girly; I swear like a sailor (when my kid isn’t around), I can throw a helluva a punch (and have, on a number of different occasions — I’ve, admittedly, taken more punches than I’ve thrown, though), and I could change your oil, fix a flat and figure out almost any computer type problem before I’d be able to tell you what kind of toy my niece wants for her birthday, or what the Kardashians are up to now. When Taylor Swift’s, “You Need To Calm Down” video premiered, it took me a week and a half to realize that people were losing their minds because the video was supposed to signify an end to the feud. I didn’t even know they were feuding in the first place!!

Now, before anybody freaks out — I know these are very stereotypical, incredibly shallow examples of femininity and in no way do I suggest these are the only determining factors; for the sake of this post I want to just exemplify that there was a certain level of womanliness that I experienced among the Femmes that I met during this time that I was, simply, unable to relate or measure up to. I didn’t want to talk about makeup, or nail polish, or fashion, or lingerie, or gossip about or sexualize Butches at every opportunity — so these Femmes wanted nothing to do with me. To them, I was just Jo’s partner, an unfortunate, pitiful example of somebody that was trying to squeeze into a community that didn’t fit me. The Butch members of the group were more welcoming to me and seemed to be far more interested in me, but I soon realized that that was because, well… They were interested in me. The few friends I thought I had made in the Butch faction of the group swiftly disappeared when I didn’t provide the flirtatious, promiscuous behaviors they expected from young, “naive” lesbians. We could have easily talked about and connected over a slew of other things; cars, motorcycles, sports… But I wasn’t Butch and thus was not part of the proverbial ‘boy’s club’ that existed there, so I didn’t have the privilege of speaking about these things.

(to be continued next week!)

Aisha (like Asia) is an unassuming person, happily partnered and living her best life with her beau and their 8-year-old son in a quiet, queer-friendly theatre town. A writer, baker, and chronic pain warrior, she currently runs a casual blog, All Queer For Takeoff, with her partner, Jo, where they discuss all aspects of living as queer folx, from family issues and struggles to what happens behind closed bedroom doors (wink). She is musically gifted, playing a variety of instruments including, but not limited to, the french horn, piano, guitar and ukulele, and also loves to sing. True to her Pisces nature, she is both fluid and solid and can easily get lost in her own current of thought. Aisha loves to read, is an avid horror buff and craves adrenaline-inducing experiences (roller coaster buddy, anyone?). She loves baking, chilling out by a campfire or on a cozy couch and playing video games with her beau(s).

Every Friday, I showcase a queer femme goddess. I want to feature you! Write to me at thetotalfemme@gmail.com and let me shine a spotlight on your beautiful, unique, femme story! If you’ve written a femme story or poem or song, oh, please let me post it! New Femme Friday feature starting fall 2018: Books from which queer femmes can draw inspiration. What are your trusted sources of light and love? Please share!

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”)

Published in: on August 2, 2019 at 6:22 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Pingy-Dingy Wednesday – Gil Scott-Heron and “Whitey On the Moon”

50 years ago this past week, my chunky little 7-year old butt was sitting on Maria Soda’s scratchy living room wall-to-wall while we watched Neil Armstrong boing-boing on the moon. Later Maria would drop me like a hot potato when she entered 5th grade, and I would begin trying to understand why certain black kids were calling me  “honky” when I  was bussed to a junior high where other kids hadn’t had the experience of going to integrated grade schools the way I had. But for the moment, Maria and I were tight, I hadn’t had much education on the history and fallout of systemic racism, and what was happening on the tv was weird and exciting.

Gil Scott-Heron, you get one pingy-dingy! Thank you for going up against all the hype and hoopla surrounding that long ago moon landing then and now.

 

I’m a typewriter whompin’, card catalogue lovin’ white girl from back in the day, and I yearn for a time before the covers of trade paperbacks were all squidgy, so you can imagine that I don’t actually understand what a pingback is. I do know that it can in some way be part of spreading the love, and since that’s what I’m all about at The Total Femme… every Wednesday, I pay homage to the laughter, love, and inspiration to be had elsewhere online.

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”)

 

 

Published in: on July 24, 2019 at 3:21 AM  Leave a Comment  
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