Meditations for Queer Femmes – Ground by Miel Rose

This lovely prayer for you today, sweet sisters.

 

May I never lose my connection

With the ground under my feet

May gravity hold me firmly in my body

As I walk my path

Anchored solidly to the Earth

Roots pushing through soil

Nourished by the fertile darkness

Let my chord drop down

Down

Through underground rivers

Through layers of bedrock

Through oceans of magma

Secure in the Core

Connected to the Center

Held and blessed by the Earth

Overflowing with gratitude

Miel Rose is a witch and healer living and practicing in Western, Mass. Check out her etsy store, Flame and Honeycomb: an eclectic line of magical offerings, including sacred votives, herbal skincare, magical honey sweetened chocolates, hand embroidered art pieces and more!

Every Monday, I offer a Meditation for Queer Femmes, in the spirit of my maternal grandmother, Mimi, who was fabulous, 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 November 11, 2019 at 5:07 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Femme Friday – Jackie Monahan

Jackie was handing out fliers for her show at the annual Women’s Week football game when I rather abruptly asked her if she identifies as femme. Although her first answer was that she does not, when I explained that I have a blog called The Total Femme and asked her if she would be interested in speaking about femme, she very graciously said that she would. Welcome Jackie! Thank you so much for stopping by. And you, precious reader, might like to stop by Jackie’s website to see what she’s up to!

Deep gratitude to Jackie for her kick-ass queer humor, for sharing the fact that she had a toad collection as a kid, for loving to read (me too!!), and for her willingness to explore femme even though some days she might actually be a stealth butch.

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Do you identify as femme?

I identify as Queer. On stage I am most comfortable in a dress because it softens the things that I talk about. I think most people identify me as femme and that is completely 100% fine with me.

Why or why not?

Some people call me stealth butch, I had one girlfriend that totally felt I was butch, as she identified as femme. None of it bothers me as I pretty much identify with all of it at one time or another. I feel like I am always changing. I do not have a favorite color, a favorite movie, nor a favorite musician. I love so many. It is easier to name what I do not like.

I identify a lot with this Alan Watts quote  “Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth.”

What is your (femme) coming out story? 

I lived in Providence, RI. I kept accidentally sleeping with my female friends. Then I met Anne Robertson my ex-wife of 12 years. (We are still very best friends and I love her new wife.) She knocked me off my feet,  I officially came out, we had a ceremony, and moved to Philly and then to NYC.

What does “femme” mean to you?

 I do not want to identify myself as ONLY femme. I can be femme. I can look very femme, but I am not just femme. I feel as though a total femme cares about her appearance a bit more than me. I absolutely do not unless I am on stage or have to be “on”. I want to be as comfortable as possible and to have zero makeup on and play sports. I love playing basketball. I was the first girl picked on teams growing up. I beat boys at sports all the time and still do. I was a major Tomboy. I played with toy guns instead of dolls. I had a barbie pool that I put frogs in. I had a toad collection. With 14 toads. I may look femme but I feel very down the middle. I went on a tour with 4 very butch lesbians and I had the least luggage and took the least time to get ready.

If you are a femme who is romantically attracted to butches, please discuss!

My ex is a soft butch Ellen look alike:

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I have never dated a hard core butch but I have made out with a few.

If you are attracted to other femmes or other identities, please discuss!

I used to get mad when femmes hit on me; I cannot even imagine it now. I really do like Femmes now. I have dated a few. But I do not have a type. I am really attracted to energy. Strong, confident, authentic, and joyful energy. Something I noticed, for me, with dating femme women is that when you break up with them they won’t let you. They scream, yell and rattle off all the things you did wrong.  I am sure that is not all femme woman it was just my experience that I found interesting.

What does “butch” mean to you?

More rugged looking.

What attracts you to butches/other femmes/other identities?

Independence is sexy. A passionate existence. Finding satisfaction in every moment. Being unstoppable. Loving themselves and taking care of themselves. Travel. Educated. Good sense of humor. Good taste in films. I love to read so it is nice to date someone who also likes to read.

Is your femme intrinsically linked to butch? In what way?

Sometimes I hate how girly I get around butch women. I catch myself saying hiiiiiiii and want to throw up. But I love how butch I get around a more femme woman. All of a sudden I am chivalrous and I don’t even realize I am doing it.

If not, how does butch connect with your femme?

I have to say when I was younger I really enjoyed being femme there was a power in it that really was A BLAST. It is still there but it isn’t as fun for me now. So much has shifted for me recently. I felt like it was fun being femme and flirty but now we are at a time when the definition of fun has changed for me. We have to help the fall of the patriarchy along. For me that is fun. I feel very much that femme woman can stay femme and kill it in that area. For me I am tapping more into my butchness because I find a lot of personal strength there. Don’t get me wrong my femme side is just as strong if not stronger. She has dealt with stuff my butch side probably couldn’t handle. For where I want to go and what I am doing now, I am embracing my inner butch and femme equally. At my core I really feel as though I am both, and that can change — it always does.

Has your understanding of femme changed over the years?

Heels have gone back and forth as strength and self sabotage in my mind. But Ginger Rogers proved them to be strong and so do Drag Queens. I do my best dancing in heels. I feel powerful in heels and I feel powerful in sneakers. It is just different power.

How do you see femmes as radical? Unique? 

When I was a kid my Dad said feminists “were women who never got the door held for them so they said they didn’t want them held. ” I remember that making my blood boil. I knew that was wrong and I knew I hated all the unwanted attention I got day in and day out. At 12 years old I could not walk down the street without grown men honking at me constantly. I remember walking home from school and counting all the honks. I made myself feel better thinking maybe they thought I was 16. These men were much too old to even be honking at a 16 year old. Also, they knew I was 12.  I live in LA and just the other day I took an Uber and the driver assumed I was straight and made a homophobic comment. I took my car to the dealership in Santa Monica and the employee of the month made complete homophobic comments to me. He actually said “the gays are bringing the rapture.” Not looking gay means we have to come out all the time.

Who are your femme role models in the present? The past?

Sandra Bernhard, Grace Jones, Suzanne Westenhoefer and St. Vincent

Do you have a femme community? Why? Why not?

I have a lot of femme friends they are badass and I love them.

Have you encountered issues in the wider queer community as a femme?

No

What are three things another femme did to cheer you up when you were sad?

They have helped me get work; they have taken me to the beach during hard times and screamed at the ocean with me; they have also told me I am incredibly loved and supported.

How many femme friends do you have?

17

What is one wonderful, special, unique thing about each of these femmes?

They are beautiful, strong, and they won’t take any shit . All while staying incredibly calm, together, and fierce. They each want to be the best versions of themselves. For themselves and for the world.

Anything else you’d like to share with readers of the blog about your life as a femme? 

That I love being a woman. Growing up all I said constantly was “it isn’t fair!

I was ANGRY I knew the world was set up for men and I was powerless to change it. Everyone around me just conformed to it and wondered why I had to be so mad all the time. I went to Catholic school I saw the nuns live in poverty and the priests live like kings. My Mom had been a the first female pilot in New Jersey but she quit when her instructor kept making advances at her and stalking her. She really never had strength again, just rage. I am beyond happy for the status quo finally being really shaken up and things made right. I am proud of all my friends who have lived through the same nonsense I endured. They are here, being themselves, falling down and getting back up. The hate has always been there and I am beyond glad people are way more aware. I want all the beautiful woman in the world to not let an ounce of that hate in their hearts. To keep their centers filled with love so we can make this world as beautiful as she deserves to be.

Jackie Monahan is a comedian, actor, writer, and producer who is setting comedy stages on fire from LA to New York with her fearless brand of humor. She toured the country featuring for Amy Schumer, which included opening for her monthly in Vegas. Jackie has since been headlining clubs, colleges, and cruise Lines such as Atlantis and Olivia. She can be seen live at: The Comedy Store, The Improv, and alternative rooms throughout Los Angeles. You may have seen her on Adult Swim’sThe Eric Andre Show, NBC’s Last Comic Standing, or Comedy Jam on Showtime. Jackie currently co-stars in Wild Nights With Emily starring Molly Shannon as Emily Dickinson. The film premiered at SXSW to a rave review in Indie wire and currently holds a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. In addition, Jackie starred in and co-wrote Madeleine Olnek’s beloved Sundance feature film The Foxy Merkins which was also nominated for an Independent Spirit award for best Director. Jackie was Zylar in Olnek’s Sundance hit Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same which received rave reviews from both Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. Roger Ebert called Monahan “A delight, and the Queen of Deadpan.” She has been professionally trained at UCB and Groundlings but she was born with a spot on sense of timing and a unique look at life that cannot be duplicated. Jackie won Time Out New York Joke of the Year and was voted comic to watch by Esquire magazine, who said “Jackie has the looks of your friend’s hot older sister with the jokes of a deranged serial killer. She will kill you and you will be smiling.” Jackie’s dynamic presence, both on television and on the stage, brings an unapologetic fearlessness to every performance, and a spontaneous combustion that will give you an ab workout and make you want to dance in the aisles. According to The Comedy Bible  “Jackie wins over the crowd with her contagious energy. Jackie is fearless and patient. She keeps the energy up with every joke and she always delivers. She shines when being herself which is silly, relatable and absolutely disarming. She embraces universal humor that is genuinely entertaining to all audiences.” So do as the Brink says and  “…jump at the opportunity to see this unstoppable comedian on the rise.”

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 November 8, 2019 at 4:50 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Meditations for Queer Femmes – To the Irascible Last

It’s college application time, and I’m helping students with their application essays. It’s so excruciating for them! Instead of listing accomplishments and turning out a neatly packaged tale showing their best qualities, I’m suggesting they dig as deeply as they can, expose vulnerabilities, inconsistencies, struggles. I’m suggesting they let go of their desire to control. As difficult as this is, it certainly makes for a more honest story, and it’s an excellent exercise in keeping an open heart. Of being genuine.

My recently-deceased father was pretty much always who he was. It would drive me crazy quite frequently, as who he was included a lot of irascible and even offensive behaviors, but you could count on him not trying to fool you. He was always himself, grumpy, charming, deeply observant and kind, infuriating. Once he told Tex he wasn’t going to help with the dishes “because that’s women’s work” and he went off snickering to do something else. Tex didn’t appreciate that remark much at the time, but was recently recalling it, laughing at herself and admiring how astute my father was about knowing how to really piss her off, his gruff, Midwestern way of saying, “I know you; I see you; and I’m going to get you!” Nothing PC or disingenuous about that man, and even with Alzheimer’s, that man was still there.

I was recently speaking with a woman who has a rare form of lymphoma and who has really had a difficult time. She was telling me that she’s been feeling a normal level of energy for the past few days, for the first time in a very long time. She shared some of the details of what was going on in her life – concerns about her kids, her job, her marriage – and strikingly, kept asking, “What do I deserve?” Even up against such an incredibly strong reminder of mortality, she’s still struggling with that question. We queer femmes certainly struggle with that question, no matter our situation, wondering where we fit in, especially up against homophobia, misogyny, our own difficulties in our families, our communities.

Sisters of my heart, do you remember being 17? Younger? Those moments when you knew, without a doubt, who you were, what you liked, what you wanted? When you knew just exactly how you were connected to the bigger picture of humanity? What your gifts are and how you were going to use them?

My darlings, what can you do for yourselves today to keep coming closer to your true selves, away from the expectations, requirements, judgments and projections of others?

Take a quiet moment. Put your hand on your heart.

Remember and celebrate your I AM.

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 November 4, 2019 at 3:01 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Femme Friday — The Word “Femme”

Along with many of you, I’ve been tracking the way the word “femme” has changed in meaning since lo these many years ago when I read Joan Nestle’s The Persistent Desire: A Femme-Butch Reader and realized with a delicious, shocking, soul-shaking thrill that I am a femme who loves butches. Back then, my understanding was that femme was utterly queer, and kind of a niche identity, often maligned, within the queer world. Although gay men sometimes used the term about other gay men, usually in a derogatory fashion, femme mostly meant a lesbian like me: more than ok with being a girl – and I got to define what “being a girl” means for me – but romantically and sexually completely off limits to men, completely queer and queering all kinds of gender and sexuality stereotypes.

Lately, though, the word “femme” has been roaming around all over the place, and I haven’t been able to see myself in some of the new usages, which has been disconcerting. For some time, I thought that this was because the usage had been expanded to include all kinds of folx other than lesbians, and I was rather stern with myself, a former linguistics student, for being so grumpy about this prime example of changing language.

Last night, I was reading an article in Boston Spirit magazine about a new show by KAIROS Dance Theater exploring the objectification of women, and came to the following paragraph:

The playful and provocative experience starts when the audience walks through the doors. They’ll see a ‘Garden of Femme,’ three performers in the BCA lobby. One is dressed as a femme fatale; another a nonbinary drag queen; the third, a beauty pageant contestant, all ‘moving statues’ weaving around that challenge gender notions, says Pellecchia (the choreographer). *

The missing piece fell into place for me: my discomfort with the new usage of the word “femme” is less about its expanded umbrella and much, much more about how “femme” seems to now be used exclusively to refer to gender. That’s why it feels so upsetting to me: it’s like “femme” no longer encompasses my own, beautiful, utterly queer, utterly exciting sexuality.

Well, of course I still have my sexuality. But the changing meaning of the word “femme” has ironically taken away, rather than expand. I expect that if I say “I’m femme,” to folx these days, they’ll assume nothing other than that femme is how I express myself, rather than how I’m wired romantically and sexually. And that’s a loss for me.

This is a really good example of why it’s incredibly important for queers of all kinds to make an effort to come together in community, the old and the young and the in-between; the super old school and the super new. Concepts such as nonbinary are saving lives today, just the way my understanding of femme saved mine back in the day. If we don’t talk with each other, listen to each other, communicate about our histories and personal stories, we will lose nuances and sources of knowledge. The status quo is more than happy for us to rumble with each other, disappear each other in a desperate scrabble for resources, when the reality is there is so much room. Room for all of us, and room for all of us to learn from each other.

I’ve never stopped being femme, and I don’t suppose I ever will. Think you know what I mean when I say that? Well, you might and you might not. But I’m happy to talk, so ask me a question. I might have a question or two for you, as well. The most important thing is that we not shut out or down each other’s vibrant, beautiful, true and lovely queer identities.

*Boston Spirit, Nov./Dec. 2019, “Backwards and in High Heels: KAIROS Dance Theater tackles objectification of women in new show” by Loren King

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 – LexPride

Just a couple of years ago, LexPride came barreling into existence in Lexington, Massachusetts, with its one-word mission: EQUALITY. From working with the schools and local government to setting up a support group for LGBTQIA+ teens to establishing a Lexington Pride celebration to organizing a Lexington Transgender Day of Remembrance event and much, much more, LexPride is the organization that keeps finding more to do, and more importantly, has the energy and drive of its co-chairs and members to keep offering skilled, imaginative, politically savvy and nuanced programming and organizing.

LexPride, you get one pingy-dingy! Thank you, for your great big heart and your amazing accomplishments. Lexington, its surrounding communities, and even, perhaps, the world are the better for it!

https://www.lexpridema.org/

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 – The Facts of Life

At the oncology clinic last week receiving my infusion of chemo lite and immunotherapy drugs, I overheard one of the nurses telling another about a certain patient, the wacky Barbara: “I was talking about an iv, and mentioned I was having a little trouble getting it in, and Barbara goes, ‘That’s what he said!’”

Oh, hello, straight ladies, getting up to shenanigans here in Cancer World!

Before I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I thought there was such a huge gap between no-cancer and cancer. That the world would change completely and for the horrible worse if I got cancer, or any of the other dire illnesses I could hypochondriacally imagine grabbing me.

Well, yes and no. There’s a lot of pressure from the medical establishment for you to act as normal as possible and to carry on as if you were healthy – as if you are going to be healthy again, really – and that’s understandable, I guess, since their job is to heal you. There is also some denial on my part, as it’s just hard to understand that abrupt jolt from healthy to dealing-with-a-dread-disease; hard to understand and a little bit hard to believe. So sometimes I have trouble remembering how sick I am, but, sheesh, it would be hard for me not to know I have cancer, what with the whole chemo/being bald/getting ready to have radiation and so on.

In spite of all that, the thing I’ve learned most poignantly is that I’m still the same person, right down to the bone. I’m still a complex, comprehensive, complete queer femme. The things I think about, want to write about in my fiction, the essence of myself, are all still the same. Not that I haven’t been worked on by being this sick. Not that I haven’t thought about mortality in a slightly different way. Not that I’m not still scared, depressed, and angry about having to blast off so suddenly to the Planet of Cancer…but I don’t feel like I’m going to have to move here permanently. One of these days, I’ll be an ex pat, and life just continues to move on.

Pema Chodron says, “I find it extremely comforting that there is no getting around the facts of life,” and I know just what she means. Illness is a fact of life. Me and Barbara and countless other folks have cancer – it sucks, but it’s a fact of life. And it doesn’t mean that shenanigans get shoved to the side, either!

Sparkles of existence, my darling queer femme sisters, there is always something going on in our lives. Breathe deeply. Give thanks. Your queer femme core revolves in your very essence, always bright and healthy and filled with every blessing. Close your eyes and imagine cupping your hands around it. Feel how warm and marvelous it is?

Today you are fully yourself, and oh the wonder of it: you are alive!

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 October 28, 2019 at 3:15 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Femme Friday – Apocalypse, Darling by Barrie Jean Borich

Queer femme Barrie Jean Borich’s latest book, Apocalypse, Darling, is a sumptuous read, loosely structured around a wedding she and her spouse attended in Indiana, but encompassing so much more: growing up in the industrial landscape of Illinois and Indiana; the effect of industry on landscape and heartscape; being queer and femme in the Midwest (and in the world); not to mention a conversation and continuation of T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land”.

Barrie Jean was a Femme Friday femme a while back, and I am honored to feature a sample of her work today. Congratulations on your beautiful book, Barrie Jean. Deep gratitude!

(Barrie Jean and her spouse, Linnea, are meeting the bride’s sister for the first time.)

Well hello, Linnea enunciates, as the lady leans closer. You must be the lady, she says, of the house. Linnea possesses the social charm to pull off phrases like lady-of-the-house without sounding foolish.

The lady blinks at Linnea’s cropped gray hair – the same cut as usual, nearly a crew cut. She had it trimmed by her favorite barber before we left Minneapolis. The lady blinks as Linnea continues. I’m the groom’s daughter. She is practically shouting at the blinking lady, who clutches her cocktail, who blinks and stares again at Linnea’s bristled hairline.

 

This lady’s smile is wide and static. We know this one. We’ve seen this before, though not so much lately as we did in the old days. She must not understand why this smiling man has introduced himself as a daughter. She has that look of one hypnotized by thunder. Linnea’s arm is outstretched. The lady speaks without parting her teeth.

I don’t know, says the lady, what we’re talking about here.

Apocalypse, Darling by Barrie Jean Borich, Ohio State University Press, 2018.

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 October 25, 2019 at 5:42 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Meditations for Queer Femmes – Vat of Grief

Tex and I were lucky enough to be at Women’s Week in Provincetown last week, and Thursday night we stopped at the Gifford House for Darlene and Monica’s singalong. Two dykes, one guitar, and a line up of songs from Elle King to Stevie Wonder. Sitting with a glass of wine in front of the fire with cheezy gay D & A art all over the walls listening to stripped down acoustic versions of love and revenge and party and girls and suddenly I was filling up and spilling over, I mean crying.

“I have a vat of grief inside me,” I told Tex, and I do. It’s not just the breast cancer diagnosis I got last spring and it’s not just that my dad died last month, although those are definitely top layers. Surrounded by other queers in this bar, surrounded by dykes all week, I was feeling, I was free falling (they sang that one), I was buffeted and messed about by emotion, more than just my personal stuff.

The vat of grief that all of us queers carry that has to do with our inherited pain along with the pain we’ve survived and are surviving. We’ve all had to work so hard to be us, no forget that, to even figure out who the us is, after being told our whole lives that what we like and who we might be and become is wrong. After having been given such distorted views of ourselves. After isolation, bullying, closeting, hypervigilence, addiction, abuse, dissociation, depression, anxiety – and what didn’t happen to us, happened to people we know and love and definitely happened to our ancestors. We queer femmes may be carrying grief about how the world treats our butches, or about how misogyny affects our own lives and those of all we love, or about how we couldn’t figure out we were queer until well along in years and now we can’t figure out how to find a date. We carry on and are brave and sometimes don’t even recognize how much grief is with us – we just get used to it – but then something hits a nerve and the burden is right there.

When I told Tex about the vat of grief I’m carrying, she pulled me into a hug and said I could just allow the grief to flow, in whatever ways I wanted. I love that, because it’s not a facile “there, there” but rather an acknowledgement that my feelings are not scary or a burden, but something natural. Part of being human. And that they will shift and change if I allow it; they don’t need to stagnate.

Grief isn’t bad – no emotion is bad – so it’s definitely ok to sink down when those feelings come over you. Pushing grief away will ensure it comes back, perhaps in a more severe way. After I cried that little bit in the Gifford House, there was room for me to feel the joy of Darlene and Monica’s music, the joy of being in Provincetown with the art and the sea and my people.

Delicious and marvelous my darlings, your grief is utterly allowed, it is completely healthy and human. It is an appropriate response, but it is not the all or the everything. Let it come, let it flow. Honor your grief today, sweetest of peas.

Honor your grief, and honor the emotions that come after.

Honor the continuous flow.

 

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 – Kayleigh Marie

About a year ago, Kayleigh wrote to me on a much-neglected email account, with kind words about one of my stories. When I finally checked that account and wrote back to her, I was delighted to learn that she was interested in being featured on Femme Friday!

Deep gratitude to Kayleigh for generously sharing her story and her thoughts with us here on The Total Femme!

You asked, What does femme mean to me?

Well, to me, femme means: A woman who is very much in touch with her softer nature, a woman who sees herself as a soft blank canvas but takes out her brush and creates the most beautiful picture that she has ever seen, she is the blank canvas, and the brush is her potential. It is her make up. She can be whoever she wants to be and seeks great pleasure in doing so.

The clothes that she wears on her back are not merely pieces of material, they are part of her identity, she wants to wow, she wants to be noticed, she wants to look in her mirror and smile back at what she sees and feel that thrill in the pit of her stomach.

But who is to say that all femmes have to be just a fluffy, soft pillow princess with nothing about them but make up and clothes and beautiful hair?

Take me for example, I’m 28, I’m ALL of the above: I feel inconvenienced when I break a nail, I throw a fit if my hair doesn’t stay in the position that I have trained it with 3 cans of hairspray and I swear to almighty god that I’m not going out tonight, my brand new 6 inch heels can remain in their box because somehow it’s all their fault!! I am a femme, spoilt, princess little brat! But alas, that isn’t ALL of what or who I am. There is more to me than all of that. There’s alot more to all who identify as femme.

My coming out as femme story: hold on for this one, you might want to grab some tissues.

So, as a little girl, maybe around 6 or 7, I was much more of a tomboy than I ever was a femme. You’d see me climbing trees, you’d see me climbing people’s balconies like I was auditioning for the remake of “The Planet Of The Apes”. I outran many old, angry men, brandishing sticks and telling me to get to school, (they often called my school and told them that a troublesome child kept playing “Knock Down Ginger” and throwing herself over the balconies and getting away. Knock Down Ginger is a British Term for knocking on people’s doors and running away).

Even as I got older, 12-13, I was still doing this. I was a physically underdeveloped teenager, childhood was a very tough time for me. I didn’t fit in anyway, I had long, mousy brown hair with a very dodgy cut fringe (we all know what mums can be like when they get their hands on a pair of scissors: they suddenly think that they’re John Frieda but their work says Edward Scissorhands). I was skinny and the clothes that I was dressed in (not through my own choice) were usually 3 sizes too big and very boy-ish. I hated them. I had to wear shoes that weighed more than I did; I’m surprised my skinny legs could even lift with those things on.

I envied the girls at school. They wore make up everyday, their hair was always perfect, their clothes were beautiful, and then there was me, always watching them, always sad, always wondering why I was ugly and couldn’t be like them. I wanted to look like them, to be girly, but mum never allowed it. The saddest part is that, I really was beautiful, I just couldn’t see it then. When I look back at old photos of me as a teen, I was so pretty, so naturally pretty. I had these big blue eyes (that even to this day, when people meet me, one of the first things they say is that I have beautiful eyes) I had perfect skin, so smooth, I never ever suffered with acne, I had the cheekiest smile that melted hearts, with little, faint dimples in my cheeks that made my smile worth so much more. But again, I couldn’t see it back then…….

It wasn’t until I reached around 14 years old that I saw my potential. I was at secondary school and each term the school published a magazine, featuring all that they had to offer. A few of the students were hand picked to model the sportswear. Of course, I wasn’t the first choice, but because one of the girls dropped out, she begged me to take her place, probably because I was the only girl left in my year that could fit into the size 0 clothing that had to be modeled.

So I took the job. I had make up professionals fussing around me, hair stylists, it was REALLY overwhelming! I felt so important that day, and when I looked in the mirror after they had finished, I couldn’t stop staring at myself. I looked like a girl. A girly girl, a femme, and all of the girls that didn’t even notice me before sure as hell noticed me then. They wouldn’t associate with somebody like me in reality but just because I had half of the Mac counter on my face and my hair was braided into a snake around my head, apparently I fit in?!?!?!

But right then and there, it wasn’t those girls who made me realise I could be more, it was the girl staring back at me and wanting to stay looking that way forever! I loved the make up, I loved the hair! I had a new found respect and admiration for who was looking back at me. And to this day I have remained as feminine as I became that day and I love it. I include photos in this post of myself, ranging from when I was around 5-14 to now.

You asked: If I am a femme who is romantically attracted to butches to discuss it.

Well, you know, I never started out that way. I was always attracted to girly girls, to femmes, especially when I was in school — that’s when I fully began to explore what it was that I was feeling whenever I saw a girl half dressed in the girls’ changing rooms. I was very confused about my feelings towards girls because I couldn’t understand them. Lesbians and gays were a taboo in my family, it was never discussed. But I remember looking at one particular girl (she was a great friend of mine, and still is to this day), she had jet black hair, she was tall (everybody was tall in comparison to my tiny teenaged self), she was SO beautiful! You know that kind of beautiful that really stops you for a moment and makes you wonder how that kind of beauty really exists? And not only that, but she was beautiful inside too, and she didn’t even know it, she was just so oblivious to it all.

I didn’t come out of the closet until I was 19. I had been in an abusive relationship with a man for 5 years previous to that because I believed it was the norm. I stayed in denial about my sexuality for so long. My tastes changed when I started to explore my sexuality. I had believed that a femme was absolutely my type, but getting older, my sexual preferences changed. My desires changed. Femme women didn’t make me feel how I felt whenever I saw a butch walking by me in the street, or in a bar. My stomach would knot up so hard that I’d feel like I wanted to throw up. I’d fantasise daily about butch women, about how they could pin me to a wall and take charge of me. I loved that feeling of losing all control to a fierce, manly butch but with all of the needed attributes of a woman. I have dabbled in BDSM and nothing could get my juices flowing (quite literally) more than the sight of a butch. I know that butches hate to be stereotyped, but it’s very difficult to not envision the chequered shirts, the baggy jeans and the short hair cut when somebody simply says “Butch woman” but to me, that is incredibly appealing. The sexual appeal is carnal for me. I want to be tamed, I want to be put back into line.

Most that identify as butch just have a way about them that screams power and domination and that is the biggest turn on for me.

You asked: Who are my femme role models in the present, or in the past? 

I mean, I don’t think I ever really had or have a role model. There’s a difference between admiring people and then seeing them as somebody you would aspire to be. I lean towards admiring people more than aspiring to be like them or to have their nature. My only role model is me, to be better, to try harder in life, to love others more and to love myself better for the woman that I am. I have come along in stages and I look back at how far I’ve travelled and realised that there may have been a time in my life that I wanted to fit society’s perfect mould of who I should be and who I should look up to but no amount of chains or cable ties could hold me down and stop me from breaking free to being who I want to be. I am my own femme role model. I always have been, it just took me several years to see it.

And lastly, you asked if I wanted to share anything else with the readers of the blog.

All I can say is: It’s great to identify as something, but don’t let an identification be all that you are. What does it truly matter who or what you identify as? Do you love yourself? Are you happy within yourselves and with the paths that you have chosen in life? If you are, then don’t allow a label to determine what you do with yourself, don’t let a label determine the people that you surround yourself with. Just be you! Embrace you! You’re all beautiful and you all have something so special to give. Yourselves. And if that isn’t enough for others, then they are not worthy of your time or your presence.

Lots of love, Kayleigh. All the way from the U.K.

So, my bio: I’m Kayleigh Marie, Born in the U.K, in the south east of England.

 Music is the biggest interest in my life. I’ve written music and lyrics in college in Canterbury where I studied for just over a year.

I trained as a chef 6 years ago. It was a bit of a fluke, I started as a pot washer but within 6 months I became a chef. I worked at a hotel for 3 and a half years but I knew I wanted more. I travelled to the channel islands alone in 2017 and worked in a Michelin starred restaurant.

Food and music motivate me. Eat well and sing well. 

If you ever get to study Cher, study her. She is an inspiration and I have tickets to see her in this fall!

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 October 18, 2019 at 12:00 AM  Comments (2)  
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Pingy-Dingy Wednesday – Virago and Virago Modern Classics

I must have found the first one at a booksale, perhaps even in Provincetown, but ever since, I’ve made it a habit to look for Virago Modern Classics, for that distinctive green stripe on the cover that means the novel is written by a woman and is almost certainly some kind of wonderful. Currently, for example, I’m reading Hester by Mrs. Oliphant, first published in 1883. Not only am I exposed to Mrs. Oliphant’s scintillating vocabulary, I am thoroughly enjoying such passages as the following:

Many people no doubt have waltzed with very little inclination for it, people who were both sad and sorry, disappointed, heartbroken; but few more reluctant than Hester, who felt her position intolerable, and by whom the complacent injustice of it, the calm assertion that such blind adherence was all that was to be looked for from a woman, was more irritating and offensive than can be described. Was it possible that he thought so? That this was what she would have to encounter in the life she should spend with him? Her advice, her intelligent help, her understanding, all ignored and nothing wanted but a kind of doggish fidelity, an unreasoning belief? Hester felt it cruel to be made to dance even, to be spun through the crowd as if in the merest caprice of gaiety while at such a crisis of her fate.

Other fabulous Virago Modern Classics I recommend are: Frost in May by Antonia White; Mary Lavelle by Kate O’Brian (a lesbian, unless I’m much mistaken); The Friendly Young Ladies by Mary Renault (more lesbians); and Troy Chimneys by Margaret Kennedy. With almost 700 titles, though, including some children’s books, you will surely be able to find your own favorites!

Virago and Virago Modern Classics, you get one pingy-dingy! Thank you for seeking out and publishing or re-issuing work by such amazing authors. My life and those of countless others are the richer for it.

https://www.virago.co.uk/imprint/lbbg/virago/page/about-virago/

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 October 16, 2019 at 12:02 AM  Leave a Comment  
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