Boss Up with Bevin Your dream life is at the end of your comfort zone

2009-08-20

Additions to the Queer Lexicography: Relatables

First of all, thanks to everyone for the lovely comments on Jessie’s photoshop work! I told her if this were the Lez Sep 70s we would totally have put on bandannas and crawled up to the top of that billboard with wheatpaste and spray paint. Luckily we’re in the cushy aughts and can do this shit via viral internet magic.

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Cherry Poppins here is wielding spray paint at Jessie Dress. Okay, it’s spray glitter. Again, the cushy aughts.

Now! Additions to the Queer Lexicography!

This first one was brought to me by the gorgeous Mira Bellwether.
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Codefriendant: If you meet any of the following criteria, you might be codefriendant. 1. You text every morning when you wake-up? 2. You rarely do anything on your own if you have the option of your friend being there? 3. You are so close that everyone you meet thinks you’re a couple? 4. You fight like you’re in a relationship? 5. You had sex a few times and it made you feel really complicated? 6. They had sex with someone else and it made you feel really complicated? 7. You have bad boundaries?

“Every morning Josie gets into bed with me and my girlfriend. I get that they’re best friends but their codefriendancy is making me feel like the third wheel in my own relationship!”

Process Aggressive: I’m not positive who came up with the term, but it was brought to me by someone who has experienced this. Before I define Process Aggressive, it’s important to know the base term, “processing”. Processing is thinking and analyzing a topic to some great length with specific reference to the involved parties’ feelings and thoughts. Primarily processing is used to describe talking about relationships, but you can process lots of things like politics, policies and ground rules. Processing is often abused, to the extent of overthinking, overanalyzing and overdiscussing something so that you’re going in circles.*

Anyway, process aggressive is a great way to describe someone who insists on processing. You either do not want to process or do not wish to continue processing and the other person is insisting that you process.

“I told JiJi last week I didn’t want to process with her and then she came up and put a note in my pocket. She’s so process aggressive!” This example of process aggressive is especially egregious because it involves invading personal space to get a point across. Not okay!

Story Dropping: This one was from my friend Gina de Vries. Story dropping is where you tell a story about someone but don’t use their name. Writers do this a lot, I am especially prone to it. It’s a great way to relate your life but not reveal too much about the person so that it’s not obvious who the person involved is (unless, of course, they already know the story or enough about both of you to guess).

“I open Best Lesbian Erotica 2008 and I’m story dropped on pages 35-47. This is what I get for fucking that writer for three months. At least we didn’t have licky licky lesbian sex.”

Tentacles: This is a great term when you’re at a festival or event that involves camping. You can use the term to describe people who are camping with you but not in your specific tent.

“We have a lot of tentacles, which is great because someone is always in charge of getting ice for the coolers. It’s not so great because one of my tentacles is camped really close to me and has loud sex every night.”

*I have an aversion to collective organizing because of the hyper processing involved. I also don’t like processing relationships unless we’ve made out a few times and/or you’re a good friend. And even then, I like a sharing of perspectives and once we’re going in circles or not making progress, I prefer an agreement to come back to things once we’ve cooled down. I have a Virgo rising, I feel very attached to efficiency.

2009-07-27

Girl You Look Expensive: Taueret

In the last few months, I have read and heard a lot of musings about Femme that begin with sentences like “There’s an unspoken expectation that Femme means consumerism” and “Femme is more than how many labelwhore handbags you own” and on and on about how Femme is so much more than spending money.

I find statements like this troubling. Partially because I think when people make arguments against “unspoken” anything, they’re making assumptions, usually out of insecurity. Assumptions and insecurity are the kryptonite of community building and connections. I also find it annoying because I think it’s falling into the WASPy* notion that we can’t or shouldn’t talk about money.**

The part of being Femme that I’ve found to be the most rewarding are the DIY*** aspects of putting yourself together. I haven’t known any other way to be Femme.

When I came into Femme, I came into it knowing lots of people who shared their resources. When I compliment someone on their make-up, for example, usually I get a response like “Thanks! It’s MAC blah blah blah” or “It’s wet n wild blah blah blah can you believe it?” Or if they didn’t offer where they bought something, and I wanted to know, I’d just ask. I’ve never had anyone bristle at the question and it’s been a great way to piece together my sense of style.

As fat girls, especially, since plus size clothes are so much harder to find than clothes under size 14, it’s always been my fat femme sisters who told me where to find things, how to modify things to fit, how to wear things to make them flattering, and most importantly, how much stuff costs!

Femme cannot be bought. Period. But the process of putting together a style that makes you feel comfortable in your skin does sometimes take some scrapiness and bargain shopping. I love bargain shopping–I call it Femme Hunting. Half the time the process of getting together an outfit is fun in and of itself.

So it is in this spirit of opening dialogue about Femme Hunting that I present my new blog series: Girl You Look Expensive****. I’ll find a fierce fat femme, interview her about her outfit and post it here. The idea is how you can look fierce and fashionable without spending a lot of money.

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My top was free. Like, really, really free. It’s a t-shirt that I got at a Divabetics event at ReDress and then altered. My skirt is from Torrid via ReDress and was, like, $9. My shoes are glitter peeptoe flats and were a whopping $5 on sale at Payless. My bangle and ring are cheapie H&M. My earrings were $12 and are the most expensive piece in this ensemble. I bought them from a fierce young Black womyn artist on 125th Street in Harlem.

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There are folk who are constantly talking about how femmes are totally materialistic and into consumerism and how it’s rare and special for a femme to have a budget, be eco-friendly, diy-fierce, or even poor. That idea is really classist, all on its own. It makes the assumption that all femmes have the resources and income and desire to spend small fortunes on their wardrobes. It makes the assumption that femmes who have fierce things spend a bunch to become that fierce. Untrue.

I am lucky that I live in New York City and have cheap and fashionable clothing resources available to me. As a femme of Color, I also have a shit ton of pressure imposed upon me to dress and carry myself in a certain way (clean and poised). I have the privilege to dress as funky as I want, have natural hair, and still be seen as human in the POC and queer communities. Julia Starkey’s essay “Fatness and Uplift” is a great resource about the cultural standards imposed on Black womy/en, especially when we are fat. Read it.

I also refuse to judge other femme’s priorities. Most of the Femmes With Money that I know are super humble and generous. And crafty and aware of their privilege.

I have a great balance of cheap and pricier items in my wardrobe. My friends and I don’t brag about how much our fierce crap costs or about silly brands, that just isn’t how our community works.

Places I love to shop because I’m young, fierce, fat, and poor:

ReDress NYC (Duh! Fierce fierce FIERCE)
AJ Wright (Great deals on handbags, shoes, and dresses!)
GirlProps (Cheap and cute accesories)
Etsy.com (Handmade goodies, totally worth $1 or $100)
H&M (I’m fat, but I swear by their jewelery and I know lots of plus size folk who can fit into their stuff)
Payless (But only during BOGO)
DSW (I love the purple sale tags….)

Taureret is starting a Radical Fatshion Zine. There’s a group on FaceBook if you are interested in joining and donating your skills!

*Defined by urban dictionary here. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=waspy
**In this society, as women, as queers, as folks who don’t have access to making a lot of money, it is really important that we get rid of the tendency not to talk about how we manage our money or how we make our money. A lot of us just don’t have skills or weren’t raised in households where we were taught how to do that, or know any other way but living paycheck to paycheck. Let’s be real, a lot of us don’t have the option of doing anything but living paycheck to paycheck, but even some of us who do have an abundance don’t know how to manage it. When you have to get creative with money, that’s when having an open dialogue with community members is really helpful–about bargains, work arounds, making do and mending.
***Do it Yourself.
****Named for Jenna Riot’s song of the same name. http://www.myspace.com/jennariotmusic

2009-07-17

On Femme Dates, Femme on Femme Action and Cultivating Both

In reference to my previous post Additions to the Queer Lexicography: Dry Spell Edition, I received a comment that stated they thought calling a date between two Femmes was exclusionary of Femme on Femme Action (FOFA). In fact, Mae says my term Femme Date is heterosexualism and “it seems to imply that anything between two Femmes is platonic and just friends”.

Mae! I have to respectfully and indignantly disagree with you! If you read my definition of Femme Date, I say “In this context I mean it as a platonic event that is ultimately constructed as a romantic date is, but without the bumbling, attraction questions or all of the other baggage of a regular date. It’s specifically designed for Femme bonding time.” Femme Dates are all about not being romantic dates. NOT TO THE EXCLUSION OF FEMMES DATING.

Here’s the thing–if two Femmes go on a romantic date, it’s called a DATE. Just like if a Butch and a Butch go on a romantic date, or a Genderqueer and a Femme or whatever. Two Femmes going on a date is a date that, of course, increases the FOFA (god that’s such a great acronym) in the world, and, according to Cherry Poppins, when two Femmes do it they produce glitter that comes out of nowhere. It happened to her and her ladyfriend and they were very thrilled.

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Cherry Poppins commented on this photo, “Bevin, what I really ♥ about this picture: it’s like Southern high femme realness (fancy frocks + Lone Stars + cute shoes + camp chairs).”

I think titles give something an air of importance. What I mean by giving Femme Date a special term, is because making time where we treat our friends with the same special devotion and attention we lavish on our romantic dates, it honors our commitments to them and honors our common identities (here, Femme, but you could easily do it with fat friends, trans friends, Femme friends over forty, etc…) and how special it is to have a friend who you see across from the table who embodies what makes up you. Who can really SEE you. I want to give at least the same amount of attention to a Femme Date that I do on a date with someone I might want to do it to.

Recently I’ve had my nose buried in Femmes of Power: Exploding Queer Femininities*, and I’m being all meta, quoting Ulrika quoting Clover Cuthroat, who is talking about her BFF Vagina Jenkins.

“About [Vagina Jenkins], you in return wrote: ‘Even thought there is an age gap between [Vagina Jenkins] and me, we’ve such similar lived experience, it’s like I’ve known her all my life. Because we both grew up black, poor, fat and awkward, we know what it’s like to be invisible aside from our sexual orientation. She encourages me to take up more space and exaggerate my beauty. We understand each other’s past and present and love each other for it.'”

Vagina says about Clover:

“‘I love her like the sibling I never had and always wanted. My childhood girlfriends understood my socio-economic background, my college girlfriend from the Black Student Union understood my racial politics and my queer girlfriends understood my sexuality stuff. I love those friends for the gifts they’ve given over the years. But Clover is the one person who gets it all without explaining any of it.'”

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Clover to the left and Vagina to the right. You should book Vagina Jenkins at your venue, she’s phenomenal, sexy, sparkly and really down to earth.

I will admit to tearing up a little bit when I read that essay. There’s something so special about creating friendships with people who really see you, understand you and bring out the best in you that just gets me to that spot in my heart where Beaches and other BFF movies from the 80s settled in. Plus, I have that in my life, with quite a few people. And I do sacred rituals like Femme Dates with Zoe, Femme bonding trash tv time with Chris, and long weekends with Rachael in order to make sure that my Femme relationships are cultivated with the same intentionality as my romantic relationships.

I want to also make it clear that just because I make a lot of noise about dating Butches or folks on the transmasculine spectrum, it doesn’t mean I exclusively date them. Quite the contrary, before I dated my ex of 3 years Seth (Genderqueer), I exclusively dated femmes. They weren’t femme identified necessarily, but definitely gendernormative and very feminine presenting. A couple of them would go on to become quite butch** but most of them are still just as girly.

What I struggle with now, as a Femme community leader, is the fact that so often I’ll make a new friend and default to Femme friendship because it’s really complicated. Femme bonding is so special and distinct, and as a leader I don’t want to screw things up for people, you know? Also, I am very wary of power dynamics and the complications of queer ethics. I had a crush on a Femme recently and it really spun out my tires because I was weighing all the measures of whether it would disturb community building or power dynamics too much to try to date her instead of just being friends and working together. Some of the ways in which I’ve figured out how to determine whether to default to Femme friendship is to find out right off the bat if they do date Femmes, have considered it or are open to it. I also try to make sure people know that about me. I’ll tell you my Femme type (which is oddly specific, as are my types of the transmasculine variety) if you ask nicely.

So, anyway, Mae, I’m interested to know your tips and tricks for a Femme dating Femmes. How do you meet girls and not default to friendship? How do you ask them out and make sure they’re clear it’s a date-date and not a lesbian not-date? Do you date Femmes who perform Femme in the same way you do, or do you go for a different kind of Femme?

*A book by Ulrika Dahl & Del Lagrace Volcano that just came out in the US. We celebrated the East Coast launch in Atlanta last weekend. Holy crap was that fun! I cannot recommend this book enough. It’s so lovely and wonderful to read and see images of all of this Femme lusciousness. If you can’t buy it from your local feminist bookstore, if you click on the link to Amazon right here I will make some pennies towards the costs of producing FemmeCast, which is totally unfunded and a lot more than you’d think.

**Hot damn is my first girlfriend a really good looking genderqueer now, but she was also hot when she had long blonde hair. At the time I was embarassingly clueless.

2009-07-16

Additions to the Queer Lexicography: Polyamory Edition

It’s time for some additions to the Queer Lexicography!

A long time ago, this term was given unto me by my BFF Rachael.

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Side Dish: An apt way to describe a special lover who is not your main lover or partner. As further explicated by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha when I threw the term around her the other day: “You can enjoy a meaty entrée on its own, but how much better is it with a delicious side of greens or okra? Giving you vitamins and tastes that you just don’t get with the main dish. Making both taste more delightful in the mouth. How lovely.”

Another oldie but goodie, my friend Erica came up with it years and years ago, when we went to our first Michfest, to describe how some of the folks there deal with being on The Land with or without partners.

Free Ass Pass: The arrangement you make with your partner or primary or date or ladyfriend and side dishes or whatever, that when you are at a particular place or doing a particular thing, you are free to get booty. I’m in the process of making buttons to sell at events, conferences and what what that say “Ask me about my Free Ass Pass”. It’s a great idea to advertise that, especially when you’ve got a limited time, a vast pool and since the queer community can be SUPER shy about cruising.

This one tossed around me last night at Femme Family Femme Book Club by Damien D’Luxe.

The Slow Burn: A way to describe the extended flirtation of going out with someone and not going all the way or even kissing right away, or where no one is making a move at all but there’s still some palpable chemistry.

Often, timing and circumstances dictate the need for a slow burn. Long distance is a bitch. So is someone getting out of a weird life situation (in recovery, big break-up, etc…) so the slow burn is the emotionally responsible choice for both parties. We’ve all been there with the Reckless Rebound. That shit rarely lasts. She’s 6 weeks out of a long term relationship, so we go on these dates where we make out like Mormon teenagers in front of subway stations and then part ways because we need to use a slow burn to preserve longevity.

For long distance slow burn situations, Damien suggests periodic text messages of interest (factual and flirtatious) to the intended to fan the flames until the slow burn does something at some point. She also gave a lot of great advice about courting out of town ass for the upcoming episode of FemmeCast on courtship. She’s my Trampage hero and is totally going to be coming to a town near you this summer on her Stonewall Femmes Fight Back tour. I’ll update here about it, or you can check out her website.

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Sometimes a Slow Burn happens with an intown date where you’re just waiting for the right timing/life circumstances to bring it back around. Holly and I had a date right before she left town on the Equality Ride and when she came back she’s gotten together with this other girl and I still don’t know what their poly situation is. I’m letting this go on the slow burn and see what happens.

Glenn Marla warned that the danger of the slow burn is that things might fizzle out too soon. Last summer I had a slow burn that definitely died, but it was nice to go on dates and just hang out with someone hot and fun, a little kissing at the end of the night, but I was still far too broken from the end of my relationship to try to ratchet up the passion. And my date at the time was way too shy to ratchet it up himself.

But it is important to remember that anticipation can be an excellent aphrodisiac. Vivia the slow burn!!

2009-06-16

Additions to the Queer Lexicography: Dry Spell Edition

I have the following updates to the Queer Lexicography to present unto you.

The first, courtesy of Zuleikha Mahmood, co-founder of the Femme Sharks.

Critically underbanged. It’s a great alternative to the term “dry spell” but can also be used to describe Lesbian Bed Death and any really unsatisfying sex. She used it in a craig’s list ad of all places, to request that someone help her protest her state of being. It worked, too, she totally found her recent boo from it and is now contentedly well-banged.

I think it’s also important to use this term during times in which your critically underbanged status has more to to with your own choosiness than any lack of interest. I am not going to settle or have sex with people who I am ambivalent about. It’s nice in periods of critical underbangedness to have such a colorful turn of phrase to use.

The second, courtesy of Glenn Marla, Tranny Superstar and oft-contributor to FemmeCast.

Tragic. It’s an alternative to the term depression, since being depressed is such a sad word that means inaction. When you’re depressed you’re sitting around like a lump, but tragic is an action word. So next time someone asks you how you’re doing, instead of saying “depressed” you should say you’re “tragic”. I find it’s a great way to spur me to action and making art out of my sad feelings. (In fact, Mr. Marla, together with Silas Howard and Heather Acs, put together an amazing piece of theater called “Tragic Magic” which was all about taking really horrible things in their lives and turning them into beautiful art. It’s moving and wonderful and when they go on tour through the Pac Northwest, CA, etc… this summer you need to bring your friends. Fan them on the Book.)

Of course, sometimes you give into the depression for a little while and listen to some hardcore Tracy Chapman (Smoke and Ashes anyone?) and play Bejeweled Blitz over and over again.

Trampage. Brought to you courtesy of Ms. Cherry Poppins, head whatever of the Femme Mafia ATX.

Trampage is a great word to describe sleeping your way through a town. For example, “My recent trip to Austin was a total trampage, I hooked up in a boxcar, a gay bar, an abandoned theater, my friend’s couch and in a van.” That was not my trip, I’m just using it as an example. But if anyone wants to invite a Femme to ATX sometime for some abandoned theater action, I might be up for it.

Femme Date. This one is totally just so obvious it can’t be attributed. It’s awesome to ask someone out on a Femme Date. In this context I mean it as a platonic event that is ultimately constructed as a romantic date is, but without the bumbling, attraction questions or all of the other baggage of a regular date. It’s specifically designed for Femme bonding time.

I had a lovely Femme Date with Zoe last night, because I wanted some one on one time with her to find out about her recent Toronto trip to see her sweetie and try out a new restaurant in my neighborhood. It was marvelous. And tonight I had a wonderful Femme friend of mine ask me on a Femme Date because we’d never hung out one on one. It was wonderful, we went to a wine bar nearby and had a couple of glasses and some cheese and great conversation. She was very chivalrous and ordered for me and it was quite lovely.

If you’re somewhere and know a Femme you want to get to know better, I highly recommend asking her on a Femme Date. Or if you’re just hitting a dearth of romantic action, being romanced by a friend (or romancing a friend) in this kind of sweetly platonic way, is really a wonderful way to feel special intimacy. Also, when you are having lots of romantic regular kind of dates, you should still have Femme Dates to build community and have those wonderful special bonding moments that Femmes have together.

It’s a great way to have an adventure and do those fun things you do on creative dates (pull out a guide book for your home city and find something fun you’ve never done! explore a new restaurant! split a bottle of wine and hang out in your backyard!) with the addition of a Femme bonding focus. I also suggest Butches, Genderqueers and the Trans do it, too! More buddy time!

In other news, if you’re in and around NYC for Pride (Sunday, June 28, 2009) you should march with the Femme Family!! Meet at noon at 54th Street between 5th & 6th Aves. Look for our van! RSVP and keep track of updated info at our Facebook invite! All femmes and allies invited!

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