Queer Femmes Respond – Constance Clare-Newman

Today, a letter from the west coast from queer femme extraordinaire, Constance! Having had the pleasure of her company in femme teas, erotica readings and butch/femme gatherings, I am thrilled to welcome her back to The Total Femme!

Deep gratitude to Constance for her sweet and generous sharing of hope and joy!

Dear queer femmes,

We are now well into our second month of shelter-in-place. Some of the ways my husbutch and I have been navigating this time come from our regular resilience practices, upped to the 10th degree!

We both have a meditation practice, which helps us ground into the present and see the big picture. Of course, we don’t know what will unfold in the big picture, but what we do know is that generations of people everywhere in the world have adapted to new and strange circumstances. We will too.

We meditate together sometimes, and just sitting for 10-15 minutes will change the feeling/tone between us to softer and sweeter and more generous. We speak our gratitude to each other.

We both exercise. I take (and teach) online dance and movement classes, and my husbutch works out with her trainer on Zoom. We have a barbell with round thingys in our living room! If we don’t exercise, we make sure to go for a walk outside around our block, (with our masks!) and wave to neighbors doing the same.

We’re both in 12 step programs, so we both attend zoom or phone meetings separately, and together. Going to online meetings in our beloved Provincetown is one of the lucky, happy things about this time.

Maybe it’s weird to talk about what is delightful and sweet about this time, when people are suffering and dying from this pandemic. But (big picture) this is always so. Children in cages and refugee camps is horrifying. How to “hold it” without going to despair? For me, it is always—see it, feel it, take action (however small) and then turn back to pleasure. Over and over again—I see the dreadful situation, I let myself feel the despair, rage or grief. I do a small thing, whether it’s a phone call to a congress person, a $5 donation, or a social media share, I take an action. Of course it’s “not enough” but how to be healthy, so as to be of service in the world? It won’t come from collapsing into despair. Turning toward pleasure is the antidote.

Sensory pleasures like looking up at the tree coming into bloom, hearing the doves in the tree, feeling the warm breeze on my skin, smelling the rose (blooming now in the desert) tasting the delicious dates from our farmer’s market, feeling into the ease of my breathing. And since we are in quarantine together, yes, the pleasures of touch, kisses and sex.

The practice of being with the difficulties and re-orienting to presence and pleasure has been working for me. Many times a day, I see, feel, act, then rest, in pleasure!

See, feel, act, rest in pleasure.

Maybe you will share some of the ways you are moving through this disrupted time in the comments below!

May you feel pleasure today.

Constance Clare-Newman is an embodiment educator with over thirty years of experience in various movement disciplines. Currently Constance is teaching online centering and resilience practices as a path to sanity in these times of disruption.

Married for 18 years, Constance and her partner, Felice attend queer playgrounds, dungeon parties and BDSM conferences. Together they offer workshop for couples, including, Hot, Deep and Connected: The Art of Sex in Partnership.

Check out Constance’s timely new class,“Survival Skills for Sheltering in Place: Presence, Pleasure and Play”

https://www.constanceclare.com/workshops/

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 spring 2020: Queer Femmes Respond. Are you reading more poetry? Are you navigating various technologies in order to see your folx and not be so isolated? Are you still going out to work? Are you able to get out for walks? Who’s home with you? We queer femmes are meeting these unsettling times with queer femme panache, and I want to hear about it! Along the lines of the Corona Letters over at the Sewanee Review, please send in what you’re doing, how you’re staying centered and sane! Write me at thetotalfemme@gmail.com with questions or ideas or a full-on post (with bio, if possible)!

 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.”) As I undergo treatment for breast cancer, however, I’m just going to post whenever I can manage.

 

Meditations for Queer Femmes – One-Minute Practice

Just in the nick of time, Constance Clare-Newman came through as my guest femme this Monday, as I am running on the fumes of fumes… Many thanks to Constance for her care of and love for queer femmes — me included! — and for her wisdom of body, mind and spirit!

Pleasure, not Perfection – a One-Minute Practice by Constance Clare-Newman

We all deal with the instinctive fight/flight /freeze pattern to some extent every day. Whether it comes from deadlines, too much traffic, noisy neighbors or from internal expectations of perfection, this contractive pattern is a human reaction.

If we can bring our habitual reaction of tightening and contracting into our awareness, then we can take a moment to pause, to rest in acceptance, and then to choose another response.

We can choose something more effective, more balanced, which also happens to be more pleasurable. Pleasure in stillness and in movement can often be a guide toward efficiency, and grace.

As you read this, ask yourself—Can I let my head balance with delicacy at the top of my spine? Can I let the floor (and chair) really support me? Can I sense my whole back? Can I allow my torso to respond three-dimensionally to my breath? Would a smidgen of internal mobility feel good in this stillness?

(If you answer no to these questions, it is time to take a break! If you can take 20 minutes, listen to this: https://www.constanceclare.com/constructive-rest/  )

If you answer yes, what else would feel good?

How about releasing my hands into spaciousness, even as I type or mouse? Letting my eyes, mouth, jaw soften? How about taking a couple of seconds to let my deepest values come into my awareness?

As you move into other daily tasks, can you let that movement be pleasurable? Ask yourself—What pace would feel good right now? Can I hold my pen (or cup, or tool, or instrument) with a little less effort? If so, can I sense how it creates ease elsewhere in myself? If I give up my pre-conceived idea of perfect posture or form, and rather, invite a pleasurable balance, what does that do? What would it be like to stay connecting with ease and grace and pleasure even in the challenging moments?

More “One-Minute Practices” here:

https://www.constanceclare.com/category/one-minute-practices-from-constance/

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 May 21, 2018 at 9:33 PM  Comments (3)  
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Femme Friday – Femme Klatsch! With Constance Clare-Newman

Femme Klatsch is a new feature, where queer femmes chat with one another on all themes femme. Sweet femme sisters – chime in!

 What does femme mean to you?

Who are your femme role models?

How did you find your femme?

Today, we begin a conversation with Constance Clare-Newman

The Total Femme:

Can you talk about how your understanding of “femme” has evolved over the years?

Constance:

When I first accepted my femme identity I was so excited. Yay! I could admit to loving butches. They could admit to loving my femme being. It was San Francisco in the early 90’s and butch/femme love was being celebrated. So many butches and femmes out on the streets, that it almost seemed the norm. I think it has never been the norm in lesbian society, but during that brief butch/femme renaissance, we were the trend of the moment. We were leather dykes and activist dykes and corporate dykes. Working class or downwardly mobile (it was San Francisco), we femmes were girly in our tiny skirts with Doc Martens for day and shiny heels for night. Lots of cleavage and glitter or sleek in leather. Butches in their Dickies and chains with keys. Butches in biker jackets with stickers all over. Butches in suits and ties. Dressing up for each other and appreciating the Otherness. In love with the otherness, which had been hiding in lesbian circles for a while.

Some percentage of us lesbians have always been drawn to the difference butches and femmes love in each other. I’m sure since the time of Sappho, some of us have loved and been turned on by our similarities, and others by the differences. The particular way butches and femmes enchant each other with their differences is unique.

When I first came out, I loved butches and felt desired in a particular way by them, but felt ambivalent about the dynamic. In the 80’s, in my small town, no one talked about being butch or being “feminine” without a little derision. We were all supposed to be equal, and tender, and womyn-loving-womyn. While aspects of that were delightful, the overall desire to conform, so as to belong, certainly hampered my own deeper desires. Growing into my femme identity was something that came with little bits of acceptance over quite a long time. Of who I was as a child, as a young woman, as a lesbian who desired lesbians who were on the “butchy” side, to who I became as a femme clear about her need for a butch.

For me, that need is for a woman who looks like a guy, who has the emotional accessibility of “female,” and stands in her power as Top/Daddy/Dyke. Who loves and is enlivened by my sexy girly or elegant lady ways of looking and being. Who is empowered to be who she is in the world by my love, admiration, support, protection. Who responds to my femme sexuality with her butch sexuality, and nurtures our differences.

Lately, with gender blowing up in all our faces, I see lots of young people exploring non-binary ways of being. Still, whether in San Francisco, LA or Provincetown, I do see a percentage of young butches and femmes together in the mix. I don’t know how they identify today, but I do see them, openly drawn to each other’s difference and turned on by the unique frisson that has always been.

Deep gratitude to Constance for sharing her eloquent femme story!

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

 

 

Femme Friday — Constance Clare-Newman, The Bio

Can I tell you how much fun it is walking the streets of Ptown with Constance and witnessing her fearlessness as she sweetly and with genuine curiosity asks likely passers by, “Do you identify as butch/femme?” This because of our ongoing and hopeful organizing to make butch/femme space in Ptown, not as obvious a task as one might think!

Constance is such a dyed-in-the-wool, caring and gracious community member, showing up for her people on both coasts. Check out her efforts to get a real dance floor installed in the Ptown rec center:

https://www.generosity.com/community-fundraising/danceptown

http://provincetown.wickedlocal.com/news/20160816/provincetown-dancers-want-spring-in-their-steps

and read about her beautiful femme life below!

Deep gratitude to Constance!

Constance has over forty years of extensive experience in various movement disciplines. Raised by a ballet dancer mum from Australia, she was dancing before anything else. But being a horse crazy girl, Constance chose horses over dance and grew up to be a horse trainer and a riding teacher. Constance rode dressage professionally throughout California and spent four years studying in Europe. She trained horses and riders through the international levels of the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI). The horse business is filled with lesbians of all varieties and Constance taught and trained with red lipstick and nails while seducing lesbians and “straight” women alike. 

As a young dyke in the late 70’s, Constance had briefly attempted to present as she was instructed to: cut off jeans, T’s, work boots, short hair, no shaving, an attitude of tough. However, and thank the goddess, Constance fell for young butches who encouraged that tight red dress with heels for dancing and that bright red lipstick.

Constance’s next career and decade included a return to dance, a move to San Francisco, and a journey into recovery from addictions. As a modern dancer, Constance performed professionally in the Bay Area with Anne Bluethenthal & Dancers and Purple Moon Dance Project, both companies headed by lesbians and with strong lesbian themes. Lucky!

During this time, Constance was the only femme to work at Old Wives Tales bookstore, which although they had a history of severe lesbian feminist politics, the women who worked together during this time were all fabulously supportive of each other. Femme oppression was in the air, but not from the staff. Femme appreciation arrived in the 90’s in San Francisco. When The Persistent Desire was published in 1992, many butches and femmes breathed with ease again, or maybe for the first time ever. The butch/femme renaissance invited new discussions about sexuality that was exciting to many lesbians who had felt they needed to tamp down their desires for difference.

The next decade or so was spent finishing a BA and going to the 3 year training to become an Alexander Technique teacher. What drew Constance to Alexander was the possibility she saw in others not just of relieving back pain, but of embodying ease and grace and giving up a life of pushing and striving. Particularly one inspirational role model, Anne Bluethenthal, (another femme lesbian,) who prioritized a state of being and a way of working that prioritized what really mattered to her.

Constance met her butch husband in 2000, got married in 2001, (again legally in 2007) and has since enjoyed a delicious marriage in which deliciousness is emphasized.

Constance now lives in the desert of Palm Springs in the winter and in Provincetown, on the bay in summers. As well as running a beautiful house and garden and entertaining many guests, Constance teaches others to increase their postural and movement awareness and efficiency. Bringing mindfulness to all activities creates a life of embodied grace and choicefullness.

Constance’s current teaching is informed by all the disciplines she has studied, as well as her continuing education and exploration in somatic methods such as Continuum, Laban, experiential anatomy, trauma work and consciousness studies.

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