Femme Friday – Loree Erickson

I learned about Loree Erickson whilst reading the chapter on cyborgs in Feminist Queer Crip by Alison Kafer, where she uses a quote from “Revealing Femmegimp: A Sex-positive Reflection on Sites of Shame as Sites of Resistance for People with Disabilities”. The bio from that 2007 publication reads, “Loree Erickson, York University, is a queer femmegimp whose research brings creativity and theory together with her personal experience as a person with a disability to explore issues of sexual self-representation, embodiment and identity.” It is a kick-ass article. My shitty web research skills turned up a few other things on this delicious femme, including that she’s got a selection in The Feminist Porn Book: “Out of Line: The Sexy Femmegimp Politics of Flaunting It!”, that she’s made a porn film called “Want”, and that she’s facebook friends with Minnie Bruce Pratt and Joan Nestle (and has a very nice kitty). Important and lovely information indeed, but of course, not even beginning to scratch the surface. I look forward to more.

Deep gratitude to Loree for being sexually explicit, for her sublime tattoo (“as is”), for her generosity, for refusing to be docile and for saying, “A femme will catch your breath, dazzle your senses and muddy your binaries.”

(The below follows the paragraph on femmes.)

            Such eloquent and adept definitions of gimps have not been as abundant in the literature as those for femmes, and more has been written and reclaimed in regards to Crip/ple. Crips and gimps are adamant in our refusal to be docile. We know that our presence makes the normative universal ‘you’ uncomfortable. Yet instead of acquiescing to a place of shame and servitude, gimps and crips are loud mouths that will deflect your discomfort back to its true source. Many of the articulations of new meanings for crip/gimp appear in discussions of the similarities between crip and queer. As Eli Clare argues, “queer and cripple are cousins: words to shock, words to infuse with pride and self-love, words to resist internalized hatred, words to help forge a politics.”

            Queer and crip/gimp share a “defiant external edge” and “comfortable inner truth”. Through a defiant relationship with normality one can find inner comfort. Further, crip/gimp and queer intersect and intertwine with femmeness, becoming a femmegimp body and identity that resists the pressure to feel shame for its disorderliness. A body and identity that strives to bask in her asymmetrical curves dares you to as well. I do not wish to convey that there are any clear and definite boundaries associated with a femmegimp identity and body. A femmegimp identity relies on the inherent fluidity associated with the concept of becoming where one’s identity and/or body is not fixed.

                                    — Loree Erickson, “Revealing Femmegimp: A Sex-positive Reflection on Sites of Shame as Sites of Resistance for People with Disabilities”, Atlantis 31.2, 2007

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!

 

Pingy-Dingy Wednesday – Barrie Jean Borich over at Older Queer Voices, “Our Bodies, Our Archives”

What a fabulous find this one is, a wonderful addition to “Word Is Out”, which, if you haven’t read and watched, now is the time! I, too, love the butch/femme couple Barrie Jean speaks about, and experienced many of the same complex feelings about them that she did. Barrie Jean also wrote two books I read and loved back in the day, My Lesbian Husband and Restoring the Color of Roses; I am looking forward to resuming my acquaintance with her!

Barrie Jean and Older Queer Voices, you get one pingy-dingy! Thank you for the collection of stories and for everything you do to preserve and promote our precious queer history.

https://olderqueervoices.com/2017/02/03/barrie-jean-borich/

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 and inspiration to be had elsewhere online.

 

Meditations for Queer Femmes – Femme Agenda

I just finished reading Deflowered: My Life in Pansy Division – the Inside Story of the First Openly Gay Pop-Punk Band by sister-Midwesterner Jon Ginoli. I had a little trepidation that his story would be a painful onslaught of drugs and self-abuse, hopefully with a happy ending like in Godspeed, written by his contemporary, Lynn Breedlove of Tribe 8, the first out dyke punk band. (Big femme love to you, Unka Lynnee! I’ve read Godspeed twice!) Instead, Jon sticks doggedly to the point of his book: there was no gay male pop-punk band, so he started one. A and then B.

“That I’m here at all writing this still astounds me,” he says in the last chapter of the book “I actually got to live out my rock and roll dreams. Perhaps some people’s dreams would have been grander, for greater stardom or riches, but part of me is still that kid from Peoria – a place of more modest hopes and ambitions. For a long time I felt that I had something to contribute to the culture at large, like a lot of people do. I feel lucky that I was able to actually make that mark, because many who try don’t succeed. From a young age I had a vague sense of wanting to achieve something, so there’s a sense of relief too, that I haven’t wasted my time and effort.”

In order to further my queer femme agenda, I need utterly queer stories like Jon’s.

His story inspires me because I, too, want to know that following my queer femme heart makes an impact. My efforts don’t include jolly perks like being asked to sign fans’ dicks or singing songs about being the buttfuckers of rock and roll who want to sock it to your hole, but I have gotten to hang out with members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, read my queer chapter book to local fourth graders, sit and have heart-to-hearts with queer, questioning and ally youth, bond with other femmes and so much more. These things feed my queer femme soul.

Some might say that Jon doesn’t tell the whole story in his memoir; for example, he doesn’t go into much detail about his experience with ACT UP or talk all that much about substance abuse or ditch too much dirt on other musicians, but that’s what I love. This is a story about making queer art happen come hell or high water. I appreciate the clear focus on that aspect of Pansy Division: he is satisfied with his work.

I know I’m not the only queer to struggle with not being able to see my strengths fully. Buffeted by heterosexual forces and misogyny and all the rest of it, it can be so hard to be able to clearly understand the impact of your efforts.

Last night, my kids told me they didn’t believe in New Year’s resolutions or taking time to regroup and recharge – you should always be doing that, they told me. Still and all, January is a nice time to put some good queer femme intention into the world, to interrupt the het narrative, to take a breath and not be in such a hurry for the Next. And in this time of frenzied divisiveness, to find encouragement and be heartened by the lives of other queers whose generosity and dedication have brought more bent energy into the world.

Part of my femme agenda in 2018 is to pay closer attention to what I like to do and what I’m good at and how I can use those to queer things up. To continue to champion queer femme and make room for our stories, but to also find love and gather courage from other queers. To take my own work as seriously as I take the work of other queers; to be as generous as I can in my own unique bit of the universe.

Dearest, queerest femme sisters: who and what inspires you in your Femme Agenda? What do you do in order to queerly rest and queerly sock it to us? Whatever it is, I wish you fortitude and every blessing as this new year begins. Your stories inspire me.

Every Monday (or Tuesday), 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.

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“Fem in a Black Leather Jacket” by Pansy Division