Saturday, December 30, 2006

On the Causes of Lesbianism in the Feminine Female

A common theory regarding the causes of lesbianism, particularly in otherwise "pretty" girls, is that some negative experience with men has sent them into a rebellious tailspin, or that having sex with women is the only thing they can handle. If the "women" they have sex with look suspiciously like men, that only adds to the evidence against their genuine lesbian identity.

I would like to counter with another theory. Femmes turn to lesbianism because they are sick of looking for guys with huge dicks which they can keep up long enough to truly indulge their lady friend. I have developed this theory based on my own experiences with femmes. Show them a dildo which falls within the parameters of average penis-size (about 5.5 inches long and 4.75 inches around) and they look at you like you're stupid. That's about as small a dildo as you can find. My lady friends and I generally start with something about 6.5 inches long and 5.5 inches around, but within a month or so, they express interest in something bigger, like this—which is easily bigger than 95 percent of men's penises. This makes femmes' statistical chances of finding the right lesbian for them at least as great as those of finding the right man, since lesbians make up at least 4 percent of the biologically female population. Add to that that dykes can keep it up literally forever and that only a statistically negligent percentage of us are afraid to go down, and well, there you have it.

While I'm on the topic of femme identity, I feel I must express my confusion about femmes' frustration with what they perceive as their invisibility. I understand that straight people must constantly be reminded, and that men continue to approach femmes even after they've been told (often with a "confession" that they "find it really hot"). That part sucks, I'm sure.

The part I don't get is that femmes often say butches and transmen mistake them for straight. It's not like the femme-lovers among us don't know that sometimes femme dykes look straight. So if we see a girl we like, we make the effort to suss it out. All it takes is the tiniest bit of flirting and voilà. (If you don't know how to flirt, I'm sorry, you have no business being a butch-loving femme—that's the unspoken deal, girlie girls plant the seed, and dudes take the risk of saying it out loud. )

I've met most of the femmes I know in explicitly queer settings—dyke clubs, dating sites, parties. But even if you're a femme who's not "on the scene" enough to have lots of face time in such settings, surely you have a few friends who are dykes. Those friends, in turn, each have a few friends who are dykes. And dykes like to gossip, so it won't be long before a big chunk of the community knows you like the bois--or the ladies, as the case may be.

And finally, there are those little signals to send off. Your attitude. A leather bracelet or a studded belt. A coded T-shirt or a foxy tattoo. All of these options make me wonder if the femmes who complain most about being invisible in the dyke community are completely devoid of sexual energy and personal style. Is that just wrong? Chime in, femmes.


saltyfemme said...

I should say that I’ve been reading your blog for a few weeks now, and I link to you from mine. I think a lot of your writing is great. So I say the following with the utmost respect as a fellow queer blogger.

Please, please tell me that the penis theory is a joke. I assume it is. Do I need to go into all the assumptions you made? Firstly, not all femmes enjoy penetration. And the femmes who do not enjoy penetration are not the exception to your rule. Secondly, many butches and masculine-types also like penetration, so according to your theory, they are only queer because they like big dicks and are unable to find big enough dicks among the non-trans boys. Hhmmm. Thirdly, saying that a sexual/gender identity is based on how big a dick one needs is so straight I don’t even know where to begin arguing it. Wow, just wow.

I also think your penis theory demonstrates the femme invisibility that you think is pretty minor. Femme identity is not about penetration, and it’s not about lipstick – it’s not even about figuring out how to get the hot butch you run into on your morning commute every day to notice that you’re a big queer. It’s about a specific kind of queerness, where power is accessed by putting a queer spin on something that might be read as straight in another context. It’s about questioning assumptions about femininity as passive and ‘other.’ It’s also about making the rules for femininity and not having to play by the straight world’s rules for it. It’s about taking the femininity tools that exist in the world and making something completely different from them.

From personal experience, the invisibility thing isn’t about wanting to shout “I fuck women, not men!” It’s more like, “you’re misinterpreting my femininity for something that it’s not.” Does that make sense?

Also, and I feel like this goes without saying, femme is not the opposite of butch. They sometimes go together, but they exist as two very different (not opposing) identities.

A great read on this topic is Joan Nestle’s “A Restricted Country.” It helped me tremendously in learning about femme and eventually finding the power in identifying as one. It also taught me a lot about butch/femme relationships and dispelled the myth you addressed in your first paragraph (re: dating women who look like men).

Cameron said...

Yes, it is a joke. The purpose was to illustrate that femmes are much more powerful than people assume. I really like what you said about femme identity.

The Ghostis said...

I really appreciate this comment as well.

Val said...

Damn Cameron, you had me worried for a minute - I was shocked and ready to kick yer a** on that 'theory'. But heck, maybe that should be a mockumentry, in the style of Guest, like Spinal Tap or Best in Show...just a thought.
But I'm diggng your blog...(so this is what you're doin' over there :)