The Queer Fat Femme Guide to Not Blaming it on the Fact That You Don’t Like Femmes

Backstage at Cupcake Cabaret, World Famous *BOB* told a story about how a (now former) beau had called her high maintenance.

“I called my drag mom and asked if she thought I was high maintenance. She said ‘Of course you are but you maintain yourself. You’re like a classic car, if someone is going to drive a 66 Caddy they will. If they want a Honda they should drive a Honda.'”
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World Famous *BOB*. Next Cupcake Cabaret is February 7, 2010! Photo by Syd London.
I agree with this statement wholeheartedly. It is so frustrating when people comment on how I am high maintenance.

Number One: Yes I am high maintenance, and take your value judgment off of that, it has nothing to do with you.

Number Two: I don’t expect my partners, lovers or anyone to bear the brunt of this and do any more for me than I would ask of a friend.

Number Three: I really hope that anyone who wanted to date me or be my friend would, in some way, be excited about the shows I put on, the art that I create and the other amazing whirlwinds that happen around me. Not to mention how fabulous I look while doing it. The most work that manifests for lovers of mine is a high impact social schedule and if I’m carrying more stuff than you I’d love it if you offered to help.

Number Four: I think everyone can be high maintenance in their own ways, and that’s not a bad thing. It’s just a matter of whether or not your maintenance is compatible with another person’s, really.

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I do admit to often running late but that has more to do with Farmville and my lack of time consciousness than how high maintenance I am.

In fact, as a woman with high self-esteem and a lot of confidence, I probably require a lot less emotional work and support than a typical partner.* I am really low maintenance in a lot of ways.

I also have news for you–Femme does not automatically equal high maintenance.** Most of the powerhouse Femmes I know are, in fact, pretty self-sustaining. The most high maintenance thing about going out with us is scheduling dates!

Dating situations have been broken off with me and many friends before because the person “Just doesn’t date Femmes”. Often this is accompanied by an explanation that Femme is high maintenance and they don’t have those kinds of resources to date a Femme.

Historically I’ve always accepted that, too. You can’t do anything about someone’s preference for or against Femmes. And I am certainly not going to argue myself into someone’s bed–I don’t chase once I get “No”. I gave that up many years ago. The “Yes, no, yes, no” game is something straight girls are taught to play and I don’t do that.

But frankly, “I don’t date Femmes” is a flimsy excuse and used far too often as something to hide behind when the true reason is something different.

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I love Cherry Poppins.

Formerly I understood “I don’t like Femmes” to be a preference, after dating for a few dates I never stopped to say “Wait a minute, why don’t you tell me what’s really going on?” When I sat back and looked at the situation I realized “I don’t like Femmes” was an excuse generally hiding emotional shit or other bars to dating that had nothing to do with my Femme identity.

If you have paid even a little bit of attention to this blog, you will know that Femme comes in a myriad of forms. Femme is fat, skinny, born boy, born girl, born whatever, wears high heels, wears stompy boots, wears flats, wears sneakers, wears boots at a construction site. Femme always wears make-up, Femme never wears make-up, Femme surprises you, Femme is emotionally giving, Femme is emotionally needy, Femme is emotionally stone, Femme is pretty middle of the road, actually but sometimes has the Seasonal Depression.***

You get it. Just like there is no one right way to BE Femme, I refuse to further support anyone’s blanket assertion that they “Don’t like Femmes”. I feel like I’ve met enough different kinds of Femmes that there for sure is a Femme out there who would fall under the realm of who you might be attracted to.

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Femmes at Femme Camp.

There are those who say “I just don’t do the Butch-Femme thing.” Oh honey, me neither. I can’t stand anything compulsory and if someone is doing chivalry out of a sense of role or antiquated obligation I can smell that shit a mile away. I like people who treat me right because they like to make other people feel good and they have good home training. Chivalry is not exclusive to boys or butches, I know plenty of chivalrous Femmes and friends who are sweet, caring and nurturing

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I don’t know a person more chivalrous than the very Femme Jessie Dress. She beats all at catering to my every desire before I even know I have it out of a genuine love for hospitality.

It’s not the 50s anymore. And while Butch/Femme couplings are, of course, alive and well, there is no one out there telling you how you have to be if you’re in a Butch/Femme partnership (and if there are, please direct them to me as I’d like to have a lively debate on my podcast).

Femme, for me, is stand alone. It does not rely on my partnership with anyone, butch, genderqueer, trans, whatever. Just as, I would hope, your identity doesn’t rely on who you happen to be fucking at that moment, too.

I date lots of different people and that occasionally includes Femmes. While it is true that I have a few “types” there are plenty of people I’ve been attracted to who meet the characteristics of what I am looking for and presented and were embodied in super different ways.

Also, just because you have a bad experience with one Femme does NOT mean the way she/he acted has anything to do with how another Femme will act in a relationship.

In sum, this is a call to those out there who are using the generalized “I don’t date Femmes” as an excuse for whatever is going on that makes you want to run away or never give Femmes a chance, here are some things to think about instead of blaming it on Femme:

1. If you’re not into someone, try just saying “I’m not feeling chemistry for you.”
2. If you’re not feeling emotionally available, try doing the work you need to do on you BEFORE you start dating.
3. Recognize that dating someone who is more like you (for example, when you are a genderqueer who only dates genderqueers) is sometimes a default to what is easy and familiar. A doppelbanger.
4. Femmes are not all “high maintenance” –I challenge you to redefine what you mean by “high maintenance” and put words to the ways in which you find someone’s relationship needs hard for you.

(Some of the above are direct responses to recent actual incidents in my Femme friends’ lives.)

And the following I say to everyone with all the gentle, loving, kindness, I-know-this-work-is-hard sweetness I can muster:

5. Think about the ways in which Femme phobia and anti-Femme bias in your attraction might have more to do with internalized misogyny, fear of loss of power, loss of visibility and other marginalization in the queer community versus just a “preference” as the CraigsListers likes to say.
6. Being queer is about having choices and having a non-default sexuality (as opposed to the heterosexual paradigm).
7. If you’ve never dated a Femme before, challenge yourself to look past your perception of anyone’s identity and onto their characteristics as a human, see if there’s some sort of road block in your attraction that manifests as Femme, fat, race, dis/ability, age, transition status or any other characteristic that might have more to do with your own unexamined bias.

Anyway, I’m not trying to sway the tide or anything. Some people really just aren’t into something/a gender presentation/body whatever, I get that. But having heard of so many people lately running into the “I’m not into Femmes” thing and also know plenty of primarily faggot identified butches/transmen dating Femmes that I see a disconnect. I want people to broaden their horizons, that’s the best part about being a queer!

This post is especially dedicated to the genderqueer friend of mine (who shall remain forever anonymous) who had dated other genderqueer and transguys exclusively for so long that they were intimidated by Femmes because of the bra situation.

*Of course, that always comes with the sweet side-effect of inspiring other people to “do the work” to get to my level of confidence and emotional maturity, which often means they are “not ready” to date me or whatever other euphemism for that I’ve gotten.
**Lest we forget that butches/boys/bois/men can often require just as much if not more preening and primping. My ex, a genderqueer named Seth, required 45 minutes after her shower start to finish on her hair and fashion for the day. She looked good, though, and I always appreciated it.
***If you’re still confused about what it means to be Femme, buy the Femme Family Coming Out Zine. It’s cheap and it supports the Femme Conference. It will also teach you a thing or 20 about Femmes. Promise.

This Post Has 18 Comments

  1. Hey Bevin,

    “Femme comes in a myriad of forms. Femme is fat, skinny, born boy, born girl, born whatever, wears high heels, wears stompy boots, wears flats, wears sneakers, wears boots at a construction site.”

    I just wanted to say that as a bisexual boy who’s femme-identified, your definition of femme means a lot to me 🙂

    I’m absolutely loving the blog btw!

    Dan

  2. Thank you, thank you! Your advice is simply, simply stellar. Makes me rethink why I rejected all of those beautiful girls, makes me wonder why I haven’t asked more out.

    Seriously, you’re helping me realize my courage.

  3. Loved the part about challenging one’s own ideas of beauty and datability and all that in potential partners. Pushing the dating envelope a little, within your own comfort zone, is what makes life worth living!

  4. “Femme does not automatically equal high maintenance.** Most of the powerhouse Femmes I know are, in fact, pretty self-sustaining.”

    Amen, my sisters, Amen!

  5. Bevin, I <3 you, too!! Thanks for the shout-out, and for posting my mermaid-on-the-rock pose!

    I adore this post. Bevin, I too am frequently late, but it’s most likely to be because I got caught up working on my art or was too busy sending 67 emails about an upcoming event or because I was busy running the world or whatever. One of the best ways to get my panties in a bunch is to bring up some pointed stereotypes about how high maintenance femmes are.

  6. Bevin, I don’t know you, but I think I love you. Or want to be you. Or both. Thank you for writing fabulousness that always improves my day!

  7. Just so you’ll have a little bit of a sense of where I’m coming from: I am Black genderqueer butch who is partnered with a fabulous Black high femme. I mention our races because all of our identities are interlocking, and for both me and my partner, our race informs our experience and manifestation of gender, and vice versa. We been together for since well before Shrub was president, and over the years, I have come to understand more and more the ways in which each of us need to help maintain each other.

    Neither one of us is particularly high maintenance, but we have had to get better and better and communicating what kinds of maintenance each of us needs from the other.

    THis is all to say that I appreciate your thoughtful and thought-provoking post, but I have to say that a couple things felt kind of dismissive to me. First, you wrote,

    “The “Yes, no, yes, no” game is something straight girls are taught to play and I don’t do that.

    This felt really generalizing and stereotyping to me. I am not straight, but I have to say that most of the straight women I know are just as powerful, thoughtful, and self-possessed when it comes to both their sexuality and their relationships as most queer women I know. I believe that your point was strong enough without tearing down straight women.

    Second, I felt that the use of the term “dopplebanger” to describe folks who love folks of the same queer gender was similarly dismissive, especially since it was part of a larger passage in which you suggested that same queer gender loving folks (genderqueer butch on genderqueer butch, etc) was something people did because it was “easy.” Some friends I truly love and respect are butches who are either partnered with butches or who have been with butches in the past and have not ruled that out.

    Such people strike me as strong, thoughtful and open as you are, in your willingness to consider and engage in relationships with butches, femmes, and everything in between. I loved that part of this post, and it seemed to strangely contradict your suggestion that genderqueer on genderqueer might be something someone did because it was “easy.”

    Thanks for this space, and thanks for your post. I’ll be sure to subscribe. Can’t wait to read more.

  8. I LOVE IT, Bevin!! I’m not exactly a femme, just a feminine-identified lesbian. Ever since I went the FemmeShow a couple of months ago, I’ve also been thinking about HM.

    I *am* high maintenance and *proud* of it. Especially in regards to emotions, I’m no joke. And I’m fucking worth it. I’m very in touch with my feelings and I like to process. I’m not playin’ games. If that makes me high maintenance, so be it. Yes,no,yes,no, is TOTALLY for straight girls. I have high expectations of both myself and other people; nothing less will do. What’s wrong with that?

    Oh, and femmes are WAY chivalrous. Word.

  9. Bevin! This is the most excellent advice I’ve read all week! Let’s stop stigmatizing high maintenance and making it mean something that it does not (taking a long time to get ready)!

    I’d also like to say, thank you for the shout out, and – for the record, that you make being chivalrous easy!

    xoxo

    jDress

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