Meditations for Queer Femmes — Still Here

A femme avoids looking in mirrors. When asked why, she says she doesn’t like to be reminded of how she’s aging. She doesn’t like to see how different she looks on the outside compared to how she feels on the inside.

As queer femmes, we have the valuable opportunity to reject standards of beauty that weigh so heavily on straight people. The physical signs of growing older are not signs of failure. Allowing young people to represent everything that is beautiful and healthy affects everyone negatively, including the young people, who will grow old themselves and who do not benefit from having free reign to dictate rules of appearance and health to the entire culture.

And why does feeling good mean that you can’t be old? Don’t we all aspire to growing older as healthily as possible? And what is beauty, anyway? Yes, dew on a bud is lovely, but so is the full blown flower, so is the wilting flower, and so is mulch, which is rich and filled with nutrients. All part of the cycle, no part of it better or more useful than another.

Femme sisters, let us honor our bodies. Our bodies have moved us through so much; our bodies carry our intentions of love and connection and peaceful living. Do not give up on your beautiful body just because you may not be able to trip the light fantastic as you once did, because you trip a different fantastic now: more weighty, with more complexity, depth and wisdom. You are polished, rugged, tough, and sexy exactly where you should be. Still alive. Still femme. Still vibrant, contributing, resplendent, and still here.

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.

 

Femme Friday — Nisrine, from “Nisrine, Inside” by Pavini Moray

Sometimes, a girl just wants to take charge. That’s what happens to Nisrine, who’s being taken care of really well by her Daddy, but just feels like exploring some toppy feelings. The two of them make a plan for Nisrine to top her Daddy’s live-in boi, Miki, as it just makes the Daddy chuckle to think about his girl ever topping him. After reading the story, see if you agree with me that Daddy just might have some rethinking to do.

Deep gratitude to Pavini Moray for this sexy, novice femme top!

           She knocks at the door lightly, and as she enters my eyes devour her – matching panties and bra, lace of course. Both the color of sweet cream, well made, and obviously new. Her alabaster skin contrasts sharply with her dark eyes and hair. Her nipples, now hidden by the bra but once rouged by me with her own lipstick, stand erect through the material. I trace the outline of the right nipple, and watch her shudder. I smirk at my ability to make goose bumps rise over her body with such a light caress. She smells of roses and frangipani. I pull her to me.

            I lay her down on the bed and pet her into relaxation, kissing and teasing at the edge of the fabric of her bra. I gradually work my fingers under the bra, until I grasp and fondle her hidden nipple. She starts in on her sweet sighs, but I have to pull back before she’s fully gone into sexy land. We have work to do.

            We go over the plan again. When my boi arrives home, she will go to greet him, and inform him that he is to come to the bedroom. I will place his collar around his neck, snap his leash into place. And then, to his complete surprise, he will be invited to sit in a chair at the foot of the bed, while Nisrine holds his leash.

            And then, if it pleases her, he will be granted permission to touch himself while she and I have sexy time and he watches. His masturbation will be at her discretion, at her desire. Inside, I am nervously excited about his surprise, of my allowing him to be used in this way. It’s not happened before.

–“Nisrine, Inside” by Pavini Moray, from Me and My Boi: Queer Erotic Stories edited by Sacchi Green, Cleis Press, 2016

Published in: on August 25, 2017 at 9:00 AM  Comments (1)  
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Pingy-Dingy Wednesday — Black Girl Dangerous: Amplifying the Voices of Queer and Trans People of Color

I am incredibly grateful for Mia McKenzie’s work. Every white person should read BGD, not to horn in or co-opt, but to find ways of starting and continuing conversations with other white people and in our own souls so we can act better, so we can help rather than hinder. A reader-funded, non-profit project, Black Girl Dangerous: Amplifying the Voices of Queer and Trans People of Color, consistently discusses with brilliance and heart issues of queerness and race, oppression, self-care, joyous living and so much more: it is a work of love, of creativity, of outside-the-box thinking and of community. Buy BGD Press books, donate to the website, bring BGD founder, Mia McKenzie to your school or organization to kick you into deeper understanding of intersectionality! And, on the heels of last week’s Pingy-Dingy Wednesday, read Kai Minosh’s incredible BGD post, Why Non-Native Appropriating “Two-Spirit” Hurts.

BGD, you get one pingy-dingy!

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 — “What, you think we needed your permission?”*

“What is it with all these quotes?” my father asked me plaintively. I was in grad school getting an MFA in Creative Writing at one university and he was well into his 30th year teaching philosophy at another. “The kids these days use so many quotes at the beginning of their papers!”

Guilty! I had probably just written a paper about Maud Gunne and Yeats where I’d prefaced it with the quote, “I’ll be your mirror; reflect what you are,” from the Velvet Underground. Certainly meaningless and banal to someone like my dad, but replayed in its full glory in my mind, incredibly important to my sense of self, my understanding of the world and its many complexities, and utterly relevant to the topic of the paper at hand.

Last week, I wrote about the album “Horses” by Patti Smith. The album certainly means nothing at all to a lot of people, but for the people who were there, whose minds were similarly blown, well, you know what I’m talking about. And even if you’re more “eh” on the subject of this particular rock poet goddess, you’ve got your own heart and soul connections to other songs, so you still know what I’m talking about, even if you don’t feel Patti in your DNA.

It happens when you’re young and it doesn’t stop happening, that intense connection to a piece of art that reaches you at the exact moment you are examining life’s most compelling questions. And as high school teachers try and explain when talking about Shakespeare or the Greek tragedies, those questions just haven’t changed since Lucy (whose name was surely not that). But oh, those moments when it happens. When you feel that indescribably deliciously satisfying CLICK that both nails something in place and flings wide open doors and windows you hadn’t even known existed: someone has been here before me! someone amazing! they had this to say! they know what I’m feeling!

A good teacher can convey this experience, definitely, although it doesn’t have exactly the same impact. Still, when my junior high French teacher, worn out from decades of trying to reach the untamed minds of hundreds of uncaring American children, held onto her desk as she swayed, eyes closed, quoting Jacques Brel’s “Barbara” to us, let me tell you, I was not one of the kids whispering and passing notes. I still get goose bumps thinking about it:

                        Rappelle-toi, Barbara,

                        Il pleuvait sans cesse sure Brest ce jour-là

                        Et tu marchais souriante

                        Épanouie ravie ruisselante

                        Sous la pluie

                        Rapelle-toi, Barbara,

                        Il pleuvait sans cesse sur Brest

                        Et je t’ai croisée rue de Siam

                        Tu souriais

                        Et moi je souriais de même

                        Rapelle-toi Barbara

                        Toi que je ne connaissais pas

                        Toi qui ne me connaissais pas

                        Rapelle-toi

Remember! And reconnect with those most passionate feelings that make us human, that carry us forward into spiritual, political, sexual maturity. Those feelings that might dim, but that can be ushered back into brilliance with the sound of a few dirty guitar chords, a poem, the cover of a book, a painting, a play, a quote.

Queer femmes have had to do so much translation in this regard. Nico wasn’t singing to a butch in “I’ll Be Your Mirror”; the narrator of “Barbara” is not queer and neither is the vision to whom he writes; none of the seminal texts (and I use the adjective deliberately) we read in high school allow for any queerness at all to seep into our worlds. This is why it is so important for us to make and to seek out queer art. So that we can feed our queer femme souls.

Do not lose sight of our rich resource, our queer femme art. There are so many of us, and we are all and always engaged in the art of reframing “reality” to include our bodies, our lovers, families, interests, concerns and stories. From Liz Nania’s paintings and her Femme Flag; Miel Rose’s embroidery, candles, fiction and prayers; SublimeLuv’s poetry; Kathleen Delany-Adam’s smut; Constance Clare-Newman’s dance; Tina D’Elia’s theater pieces; Dorothy Allison’s fiction; Kitten LaRue’s burlesque, and so many more, to the art of any and every queer femme’s daily life. Reach out for it Nia Witherspoon’s plays, surround yourself with it, reconnect and go forth fierce and with love. Do not wait for permission.

*The Butchies, “To Be Broadcast Live”, Are We Not Femme

Every Monday (and sometimes 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.

 

Meditations for Queer Femmes — Crafting Queer Femme Ritual

Today, in honor of the solar eclipse, Miel Rose guides us in the basics of crafting a queer femme ritual. She says,

Ritual appeals to/communicates with the deeper parts of ourselves through symbolic action. So the key is to find the symbolic action that feels intuitively right for you.

One technique I like to use is to do some automatic writing and this is my suggestion: set a timer for 5 mins (or whatever length seems appealing). Write continually for this time whatever pops into your head. The first topic could be: what themes are up for me right now? What have I been thinking about? Are there recurring themes in my dreams?  What has been most present in my mind, or what has been nagging at the edges that I’ve been ignoring? 

The second topic could be: what do eclipses mean to me? What are my associations, memories? When I hear the word ‘eclipse’ what do I think of? 

 After this, read your writing out loud (getting in an openly curious and intuitive state of mind). If you are doing this with another person(s), look for overlap between the pieces and share what you think relates in the other’s pieces. Alone or together, see if there are already easily accessible imagery/symbolism that jumps out at you. If not, look at the themes and open yourself up to see what imagery comes to mind.

 Examples– someone feels burdened so they fill a bag full of rocks to symbolize their burdens, naming them and carrying them around until it feels right to empty the bag and let the burdens go.

 Someone feels called to work with water, but doesn’t have access to a body of water near by, so they fill a clear glass bowl with tap water and do their ritual around that.

 Someone wants to do ritual to preserve some of the high energy of the harvest season to carry with them into the dormant winter time. The first thing that pops into their head is a pantry full of canned goods, so they turn canning into an intentional ritual of kitchen magic.

If you get stumped, or don’t have the time or inclination to craft your own right now, a really simple format is writing down either your intentions for what you want to manifest/what you are committing to/what you would like divine help with in the coming months OR what your ready to shed and let go of. Write them on pieces of paper and burn them, sending the intentions out into the universe. You can also do both of these in the same ritual, burning what your letting go of and then what you’re calling in. When you’re doing this with someone else it’s really nice to do it out loud and witness each other.

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.

 

Published in: on August 21, 2017 at 8:33 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Femme Friday — T.J. Bryan AKA Tenacious

My internet research skills being what they are and aren’t, I don’t know what she’s up to now, although it is sure to be thought-provoking and femmetastic, but ‘round about 2002, T.J. Bryan AKA Tenacious contributed an elegant genre-fuck essay/poem/memoir to Brazen Femme: Queering Femininity. She has also been published in Canadian Woman Studies, Fireweed (she is also a former collective member), Fuse, Now Magazine and On Our Backs, and I’m sure many more since then. In her 2003 film, “No You Can’t Touch It,” she says, “This hair marks me as a nomad, not just black, queer or female…eternal, twisting, undulating, dread, dark, dangerous and true.” She is a multi-media artist, and in 2000 had a show in Toronto called UN CUT: A Queerly Erotic Coup.

Deep gratitude to T.J. Bryan AKA Tenacious for her words and her art and for fighting erotophobia.

IV

Now…

            Testing the waters cautiously, I critically delve into my Femme(ininity). I wanna stand and be counted cuz me and mine done been here long enuff. Moving careful though. Mindful of the ways I can be seduced into denying the woman I am. Which is easy when everywhere I look I’m reminded that any sort of contentment couldn’t possibly be attained from where I stand.

Femme…

Deep throating every last big,

I’d swallow it whole.

Using the word AS IS…

If I could. As if…

It would evah fit completely.

If I could,

I’d sing it, proclaim it,

If it’s rhyme and reason,

It’s pink pastel seasons

Didn’t clash with

damn near everything

I own.

Sometimes…

            Femme can feel like someone else’s cast-offs. Another woman’s old, worn-out frock.

–from “It Takes Ballz: Reflections of a Black Attitudinal Femme Vixen in tha Makin’” in Brazen Femme: Queering Femininity eds. Chloë Brushwood Rose and Anna Camilleri, Arsenal Pulp Press, Vancouver, 2002

 Every Friday, I showcase a queer femme goddess. Suggestions welcome!

 

Pingy-Dingy Wednesday — Unsettling American

I was bussed to a new junior high when I was in 6th grade. My neighborhood elementary school had been integrated, but now we were in a place where kids from all-black and all-white elementary schools were mixing it up. A lot of things happened at once for me. I got bullied by some of the black girls. I fell in love with others, who could and did perform “Rapper’s Delight” in its entirety in the locker room, wearing only bras and panties. I saw how the new principal didn’t know how to deal with the racial tensions exploding in school, and it was extremely frightening to see that a grown up in charge was clueless. At the same time, my 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Brown, with her afro and great big tortoiseshell glasses, was determined to educate us, white and black alike. She took us on field trips to the projects, to see “Shaft,” and to tour downtown St. Louis, where slaves used to be auctioned off. In 7th grade, my hippy teachers turned me on to reading books like Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and The Gulag Archipelago. Not every little nascent white baby femme got the radical wake up call that I did so early. I was fucking lucky.

“Unsettling America”, you get one pingy-dingy, in memory of and gratitude to Hanley Junior High and all its students and staff, Mrs. Brown, and the Team Zero teachers: you woke me up and you started me on my way, long, long before the word “intersectionality” became part of my vocabulary.

https://unsettlingamerica.wordpress.com/2017/08/08/support-the-all-others-gathering-for-two-spirit-and-lgbqt-people/

I’m a typewriter whompin’, card catalogue lovin’ 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 — Queer Femme Insight

This week, our local paper had a horoscope column for the first time I can remember. The astrologer talked about the upcoming solar eclipse as a time when things formally hidden will be revealed, particularly around the doings of our political leaders.

The more the ugly erupts, the harder it becomes, even for those deep in denial, to ignore that America is a country monstrously off track and deeply wounded because of its historical and present-day violence.

We queer femmes know that things may not be what they appear. We are used to looking below the surface, in nooks and crannies. And we know a thing or two about dealing with denial. We know that when the truth is ignored, people get hurt, even when we’re talking on a personal level. When it’s on a national level, we’re really in trouble.

We queer femmes know truths about the world that other folks have had the luxury of ignoring.

We may be afraid to look, but we can’t afford to look away. As Zamarra Perri says in her post, “What Every Black Femme Fears When Dating a Black Butch”, (Black Lesbian Love Lab, Dec. 2, 2015), “One of the most dangerous things to do in in front of a heterosexist man is to be an openly stud-femme couple. “And, “The double whammy is the white racist who is enraged by our pride, confidence and very comfortable existence in spaces that they think belong only to them.”

We queer femmes are always on the lookout. All queers are always on the lookout. We have to be. That nice man over there? Maybe not so nice. That group of innocent picnickers? Maybe not so innocent. That event at which “All are welcome?” Maybe not so much. The neighbor who had been friendly and helpful until he saw you with a butch or genderqueer friend or lover, and who now watches you silently in a way that terrifies you. He knows where you live.

We queer femmes already know so many dirty secrets. We aren’t surprised by the big reveal happening now in our country. Because we’re already so far along in understanding the political situation, we have the ability to help our straight, white, cis friends, neighbors and family members – you know, the ones who can’t stop being amazed and horrified, who are frozen and don’t know what to do – we have the ability to help them through so we can all take action.

Our queer insight is in high demand right now. This country’s secrets, never out of sight for those of us who are targeted, are exploding. We can help with the grief and the anger because we live our lives with grief and anger. We can help with feelings of being the outsider, the uninvited, the lost, the victimized, the scape-goated, the hated, because we live with that reality. And we find strength. And we make art. And we understand how to make community. It is through art and community that we will survive.

I woke up thinking about horses and the sea of possibilities. Patti Smith’s song “Land: Horses/Land of a Thousand Dances/La Mer (De)” from her album, “Horses,” blew my little teenage mind when I first heard it. Back then, I didn’t know it was about heroin, and even now, listening again, even knowing that heroin is a subject, I am challenged and comforted and inspired, because she’s also talking about violence and resisting violence.

Asked about the obligations of poets, Adrienne Rich had this to say:

I don’t know that poetry itself has any universal or unique obligations. It’s a great ongoing human activity of making, over different times, under different circumstances. For a poet, in this time we call “ours,” in this whirlpool of disinformation and manufactured distraction? Not to fake it, not to practice a false innocence, not pull the shades down on what’s happening next door or across town. Not to settle for shallow formulas or lazy nihilism or stifling self-reference.

 Nothing “obliges” us to behave as honorable human beings except each others’ possible examples of honesty and generosity and courage and lucidity, suggesting a greater social compact.”—Adrienne Rich, interviewed in 2011 in The Paris Review

When the light shines into darkness, many things are revealed, including that sea of possibilities Patti Smith sings about. We need our poets right now. We need our queer femmes right now, our honorable human beings all.

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.

Published in: on August 15, 2017 at 11:56 AM  Comments (4)  
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Femme Friday — Shar Rednour and The Femme’s Guide to the Universe

Currently tweeting apace at @SharRednour, our featured queer femme goddess, has, in her long and glittered career, co-authored a book with Carol Queen (THE Sex & Pleasure Book: Good Vibrations Guide to Great Sex for Everyone!), been an editor at On Our Backs, written and published on many important queer topics, including virginity (Virgin Territory 1 and 2), toured with Sister Spit, gently guided Susie Bright in an understanding about the difference between stilettos and Stouffer’s, created and edited starphkr the zine, which later was published by Alyson as Starf*cker, and taught classes like, “Great Sex, Good Parent: The Missing Chapter in Your Whole Life Parenting!”. And that’s not even the half of it! In short, Shar has had her impeccably manicured finger right smack on the pulse of all things queer femme for some time.

The Femme’s Guide to the Universe was first published in 2000. The Guide was updated by Her Shar-ness in 2012 to include even more essential femme content, and is a must for every femme, new and experienced alike.

If you’re like me, for example, and grew up with a very down-to-earth mom who had very little to give in the arena of girly tips, it’s fun to have an accomplished femme like Shar walk you through, say, nail care and “The Power of Delightful”, but The Guide is au fond a beacon of queer femme love from one big-hearted queer femme to you and to me.

Deep gratitude to Shar for being so fucking femme!

What I absolutely do not want to do is put femmes into a box or to perpetuate, in any way, the silly notion that gender identity is rigid. I think women are so used to the whole fucking world trying to contain and define us that we get defensive and see opposition where there often is none. Girlfriend, you’re welcome here even if you’re a boyfriend tomorrow. So, with that said, allow me to sexplain….

Femme dykes come in a cornucopia of sexualities. We are not all bottoms, vanilla or otherwise. Nor are we all whip-wielding, corset-wearing dominatrixes. Some femmes are high femme, some medium. Some look corporate, some punk. Some live quiet and some loud. Some make quiche and others make noise. But I’ve found that whether we like to put a butch over our knee or another femme between the sheets, we’re all objects of desire. You might think that I just misspoke, that I should have said, “We all love being objects of desire.” No, I wrote what I meant.

 The phrase “object of desire” (OoD: pronounced “oo” as in coo-o-ool and “dee” as in de-e-elicious) usually refers to a person being the subject or object of another person’s lust, obsession, and desire. I have determined that “object of desire” is its own class of sexual orientation, the way the terms fag or femme or dyke or S/M are often used. OoDs get their rocks off independent of others’ reactions to them. This is my turn-on, no matter who I’m with or even if I’m not with anyone. Being an OoD means our levels of arousal rise when someone gets excited by being with us or looking at us. We get turned on simply from turning on others.

The Femme’s Guide to the Universe by Shar Rednour (2000 edition)

Every Friday, I showcase a queer femme goddess. Suggestions welcome!

Pingy-Dingy Wednesday — Be Transformative, Not Transfixed

There is solid advice, as well as much-needed inspiration and ideas for fighting the power in the generous and brilliant work of our shakers and movers. Because of the nature of oppression, work done last year, 5 years ago, 15 years ago, 25, 50 years ago and more still calls us to action, comforts us, connects us to the long resistance, and reminds us that we are not alone.

Today, let’s all SWOT with Urvashi Vaid, whose giant, queer, compassionate, creative brain and heart are giant, queer, compassionate, creative gifts to the entire world.

Urvashi, we need you more than ever, and you get one pingy-dingy!

Be Transformative, Not Transfixed

I’m a typewriter whompin’, card catalogue lovin’ 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, laughter and inspiration, 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 from other online queer darlings.

 

Published in: on August 9, 2017 at 6:00 AM  Leave a Comment  
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