Posted by: alphafemme | October 20, 2009

Investigating my identity: I am Femme.

(Updated to remove weird duping of the post? It doesn’t appear in my editor but I tried to just delete all and re-paste so we’ll see if that works…)

I’ve been learning, lately, how to pay more attention to the little voices in my head. The ones that say “yay!” or “boo!” to all the little things I do. The ones that have the answer to questions like, “do I really love playing piano, or do I just think I love it because I was supposed to love it growing up? because my dad wants me to love it?” or “do I feel like myself when I wear this [insert item of clothing here]?” These voices have been buried in me for a long, long time. Digging them out has been quite an interesting process, and I think they’re still mostly buried, but at least now I know they’re there. And whenever I feel up to it, I can keep digging a bit more, and eventually I’ll have unearthed them all.

There’s something that’s been peeking out of the ground for a while now, and I’ve finally dug it up. It’s a fantasy, and it goes like this:

I am a nurturer. More than anything, I want to take care of you. I want to support you and give you what you want and be your pillar. I want to stand next to you proudly, “I’m hers.” I want to cook for you, and bake your favorite sweets for you, and clean. I want to notice the little things that make you feel better, and do them for you. I want you to dress me, in whatever you want me to wear. I want to be manicured, and pedicured, and wax my arms and legs, and spend a half an hour every morning and evening on my skincare regimen. I want to wear four-inch heels with peeping toes. I want to iron your shirts and make your bed and stroke your head until you fall asleep. I want to plan little surprises and encourage your passions and turn you on. Making you tick is what makes me tick. So.

As I said, that’s been peeking out of the ground for a while. I kept ignoring it, thinking it’s just another indicator of my co-dependency. My tendency is to want to exist for someone else rather than for myself. And I’ve always thought that that’s because it’s easier to take care of someone else’s wants and needs than it is to take care of my own. (The responsibility of making myself happy? Huge.) So it’s been really easy to write off that fantasy as something unhealthy and something I need to dismiss, something I need to work out. I’ve thought of it as the problem.

But maybe the problem itself is the very solution. Maybe it’s not co-dependency, but in fact a valid form of self-identity. Can this be? I have a lot of feelings about this. Frustration — have I really been working so hard to discover what I really want, only to realize that what I want is, again, just to do what someone else wants? Fear — what does this mean? Will I lose myself even further? Confusion — but I thought I was ambitious and driven and independent! Worry — how on earth will my friends and family take it if I come out to them this way? Excitement — wow! So much to work (and play) with here! Weeee! Intrigue – what would this feel like, to actualize this? what worlds might this open up for me?

So, I think I’m going to try this on for a while. See if it fits as well as it does in my fantasy. I need to keep reminding myself, though, that I’m doing this for me. In the end, I’m not really doing this to sacrifice myself for her. Rather, I’m allowing myself to indulge a fantasy. I’m going for a dream.

Maybe I don’t need to find co-dependency support. Maybe I need to find femme support. How about a Femme for Dummies: How to Make Sure You’re Taking Care of Yourself While Caring for Your Lover (and Others).

Anyone out there? Femme bloggers who’ve written about this sort of journey? Any femmes who read here who want to pop out and say hi? Maybe there is a Femme for Dummies that I just don’t know about? Oh my gosh, I feel so thirsty. Is this what it feels like to know what I want?

(Disclaimer: For me, the word that works best to encompass all this is “femme.” I fully realize that many, if not most, femmes probably don’t share this same fantasy and wouldn’t necessarily identify this fantasy as being femme in nature. For now, just realize that yes, I acknowledge that, and I apologize if anyone feels that their identity is stepped on. As this is all coming to light I’m sure I will write more about this in the near future, because boy do I have thoughts…) 

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Responses

  1. Well, I’m a femme, and I think it’s amazing you just put all that out there. You aren’t stepping on identities by claiming your own. I feel like my sense of self is tied to a someone else in some way. I still haven’t resolved whether or not that’s tied to being codependent or not. Unfortunately there is no femme for dummies because it’s not the same for everyone. But it doesn’t stop me from looking. I want support too. I applaud you for being brave and saying all of this.

    • Thanks. I appreciate your comment. I should just write my own Femme for Dummies :) Except that you’re right, it wouldn’t actually work for anyone but me, because femme is different for everyone. But I guess that’s what makes it so much fun, because I get to figure it all out on my own.

  2. On Sunday, I wore 4 inch knee-high boots for 7 hours straight. I wore a belted sexy red/orange corduroy skirt and a cute top. My hair and make-up were perfect. The apartment was spotless and I was in full hostess mode while 13 of gf’s immediate family enjoyed themselves in my living room (it’s a fairly small apartment so all of it is the living room really). I made sure every single glass was full and every one had what they needed. My kitchen was kept clean at all times even though it was in full use. I even managed to have a conversation or two along the way. Success. I don’t think I’ve ever felt sexier. Taking care of them, knowing that gf had complete confidence in my ability to throw it all together and make it look easy. It felt really good to me. Really fucking good.

    The next day, I threw my hair in a ponytail, put on my shit-kicking boots and jumped in my jeep.

    I am femme and that to me means all of the above.

    Go for your fantasy and make it hot.

    • Yes, THIS. Thank you!!

  3. I really enjoyed this exploration of gender! :)

    • Thanks so much! And thanks for commenting — I appreciate it more than you know :)

  4. wow…such acute articulation of something that seems so elusive to me. I am exploring and trying to understand more my own identity and although femme is a word I use a lot, I am not sure I could write out *exactly* what it means to me. I love reading other people’s journeys and understandings though and as usual, it helps me in defining my own self.

    • Thank you :) That’s so lovely to hear, that things I churn out for my own strange understanding of myself are also helpful to other people.

  5. ooh, fascinating. i’m pretty much in agreement with your fantasy – and you make it make so much sense.

    i have a magnet, from my ex while we were dating, that says “co-dependent if you want me to be.” along with being very amusing to me, it makes me think of how that behavior or mindset can be completely awesome (like now!) or not at all (like then), and a lot of it depends on the details or how you relate and how you express it.

    • I love it!!! I want that magnet.

      I think the work for me from this point on out is making sure that in the context of *my* relationship, it’s completely awesome! :)

  6. […] Investigating my identity: I am Femme. at Alphafemme […]

  7. Hi there — I just came over here from That’s What Ze Said. I really enjoyed this post, and wanted to say that I don’t think your desires are a problem. I know you specifically asked for responses from femmes, but as a butch a lot of my identity is the inverse of this — I sometimes screw things up by ignoring by own feelings because I’m trying to be strong for my girlfriend (& others). But the dynamic works beautifully when both people are giving as much as they get.

    I also completely relate to that thirst (albeit on the butch end, of course). I hope you find what you’re looking for.

    • Yeah, that makes a lot of sense — that as a butch you “screw things up” by trying to be strong. Really there are just different ways of being vulnerable and giving and receiving, and butches and femmes have very different methods but I think the underlying feelings and conflicts and joys can be very much parallel.

  8. Wow. I totally identify with a lot of what you’ve written. I just found your blog through a link from The Sugarbutch Chronicles, which I’ve enjoyed reading but haven’t identified with so much. It’s interesting that I’ve been thinking I need to read more or something to help me figure myself out (I guess I’m femme. . .I’m starting to embrace that term for myself despite a number of reservations with the idea). Anyway, thanks for writing; I look forward to reading further.

    • Thanks so much! I’m glad you identify. One of the things that’s been great about writing here is that I hear from other folks that they identify and relate to what I’m writing, and that in turn is really helpful for *me.*

      I’m also a religious reader of Sugarbutch, and while I also don’t relate, per se, to a lot of what she writes, she definitely does push me to think more deeply about my thoughts on my own identity. Plus it’s just HOT.

  9. Hope you don’t mind a butch chiming in here …

    I found your blog through Sinclair’s link, as well. And I couldn’t be happier. I’m always fascinated to read more about the femme experience, because I want to understand more.

    And not just that, but I identify with it, but from the butch point of view. It took me a long time to start listening to those prompts in my head, the ones that were telling me all along what I really want and who I really am.

    Leave the labeling on this to other people; it’s your identity, so listen to your gut.

    • *Mind* a butch chiming in? I *welcome* a butch chiming in :) In fact it’s so interesting to me to hear that the insecurities and the journeys can be parallel. In your comment to a different post, you wrote that you feel similarly vulnerable around receiving — like it leaves you open for being hurt. That’s so fascinating for me, and I never would have necessarily thought that. But I guess you’re right, that we’re all just trying to sort it out as best we can.

      I’d imagine it’s even more complicated for a butch who has the fantasy of the femme who has your favorite dinner in the oven and your drink ready for you when you get home from work. Because how do you express that fantasy without sounding chauvinist? Even though it’s so clearly not. I’m obviously very grateful for second wave feminism, but part of me is so frustrated with the blinders they had on. The blinders that have made it now taboo to express desires or fantasies that sound like gender-roling.

      Anyway, I’m rambling now too, but thanks so much for your comments, and I’ve really enjoyed your blog too (particularly your swoon list!) and was really moved by your post a while ago about fear, and what we would do if we didn’t have fear.

      • Thanks for the response.

        It’s interesting; I can give and give, and I feel power from that. The giving isn’t what makes me feel weak. It’s the receiving, or maybe more specifically opening up to receive. What if I finally let my guard down to receive, and she doesn’t give back? So maybe it’s not the receiving that makes me feel vulnerable as much as it is the want and the hope for receiving? Hmm.

        And you’ve hit the nail on the head with the fantasy issue. It’s difficult to say yes, THIS is what I want without sounding like some sort of sexist ass. I want to appreciate what a woman has done specifically with me in mind, and in my opinion, it empowers her from my perspective. It might sound like gender-roling, as you put it, but what if it’s genuinely what two people want? What is wrong with that?To have the woman who could do anything she wanted, but she chose to cook my favorite dinner (in keeping with that theme)? It’s flattering, but it also just reinforces her independence to me.

        I’m absolutely fine with owning that it’s what I want; it’s just a little trickier to find someone whose ideas match up with mine.

        This is a great discussion. I might try to approach it from the butch perspective over on my blog on of these days.

        • Funny, I think I have that same struggle with receiving. My struggle with giving is that I worry that I’m giving something away, instead of giving in a way that empowers me. So that’s my struggle with giving. My struggle with receiving is very much like yours. I can give and give and give but then the moment I open myself up to receive, what if I don’t get anything? And I’m sort of left adrift? That’s a big fear. That I’ll be empty from giving and will need to be filled by receiving but won’t be. And then I’ll remain empty.

          But I think there are two problems with that. One: as I said before, I shouldn’t be giving in a way that leaves me empty. And two: I think that kind of vulnerability is important to have, in a way. Because it helps establish trust. If I never open myself up for receiving, I’ll never be able to trust that she’ll give.

          Thanks for all the food for thought.

  10. i love this post.

    your fantasy is exactly how i feel as a femme.
    the nurturer, the lady of the house, the one who cooks and cleans and takes care of my partner, the one who gets girlied up to go out.

    yet i have the same thought on my brain: am i being co-dependent? i don’t want to be seen as that. i feel like i am a pretty independent person. but in a partnership, i know where i fit in and doing those things just feels natural. it’s the necessary balance i want and need with a partner. i don’t think i could date another femme. i think there would be too much friction if she felt that those roles were what she wanted to do, too. it’d be too competitive. i need the more butch/masculine counterpart. someone who wants and appreciates those things being done for them. someone who doesn’t want that role. someone who can fix something for me when it’s broken, change a flat tire on my car, man the bbq while i make the salad. ;)

    thanks for posting this.

  11. […] the meantime, see this reaction to my posts on growing into my identity as femme (see here and here), and my response to it in the comments. (As of this posting, my comment hasn’t yet […]


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