Tuesday, September 30, 2008

This whole gender / sexuality thing

Last month, I read an article on fairly recent controversial attempts in academia / psychotherapy to explain lesbian sexuality. (Controversial, because the basis, for each of the theories was Freud and castration / the phallus / fetishism. I mean, how far are we going to get if the basic assumption is that male = active and female = passive?).

Anyway (!), it got me thinking…….. Are straight / gay men struggling to describe their sexuality? Are (some) lesbians feeling pressure to explain themselves in order justify having a sexuality at all? What about us femme women, are we also labouring here? Firstly, with the guilt / need to justify thing and then (double whammy) being invisible as lesbians / or worse still, being seen as damaged heterosexuals who “really want a man.”??

Having said that, I ponder the questions and yes, I want answers.

But, can lesbian / femme sexuality be explained? Is there a one size fits all definition? No. Even if there were, do we have the language? I think not. The patriarchal heteronormative matrix is a formidable web and communicating anything outside of that thick-as-mud framework is not easy – is it even possible?

So, what have we got – a heteronormative straight jacket, not enough gender representation and limited language.

I’ve come to realise that in my youth, before I really knew what “gay” was, I knew when people used that word they somehow meant me. I’ve come realise that I’ve always been queer.

I’ve had “lesbian” experiences. I’ve had “lesbian” fantasies. I went through a period about 15 years ago, when I struggled with being straight, but then, lesbian didn’t fit either. I realise now that I was struggling because I was questioning my identity in terms of sexuality and not giving gender even a sideways glance.

My emerging identity caused me to question gender and my refreshed starting points are a refusal of the constructs of heteronormativity, realisation that gender is a galaxy and therefore that possible sexualities are limitless.

Acknowledging all of this, really knowing it, knowing myself as “feminine” & queer and having thought long and hard about what turns me on, rings my bells, pushes my buttons and coming to the conclusion that it is butch women – well, I think that kind of makes me, what is called “femme”.

I’m enjoying embracing and celebrating my femme-ness, which is:

Sexy, feisty, headstrong, stubborn, wilful, formidable, powerful, sassy, nurturing, loving, questioning, challenging, difficult, emotionally articulate, courtly (thanks to femmeismygender for that word), empathic, lingerie loving, decadent, frivolous, intuitive, gentle, fierce, strong, vulnerable, funny, purring, capable….

This is mostly the “best of” and only some of the “worst of”.

For me the most thrilling, liberating and essential aspect of my femme-ness concerns power and finding total freedom in submission. (A whole other post and one I look forward to writing!).

Although contemporary gender theory says that nothing about gender is innate, it sure feels that way. But it feels intentional and played with and performed too.

This is my own personal experience, written today, in September 2008. Gender theory is evolving and I’m so excited about that – I’m reading what I can, discussing it when I can and hope to take up formal study at some point.

Who knows where I’ll be with this in a years’ time, in 10 years time? Or, even later this week – I’m really looking forward to discussing all of this with my good friend femmeismygender at the UKFC2008 on Thursday. Watch this space.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Here goes..............

Well, here goes! My first post. In a few moments I’ll no longer be a blog virgin and would have committed myself to starting and maintaining this message in a bottle.

What am I doing here? Processing, I guess. So, some context – a little more stuff about me:

I’m 43 and came to describe myself as femme early last year. My emerging identity (together with some other bumps along the way) resulted in my ending a long term relationship with a (very special) man. I’m now deeply in love with my girlfriend, P, and have been for sometime.

I describe myself as femme because that is what I am, and, importantly, what I’ve always been. “Lesbian” is a term that I don’t choose because, for me, it has a meaning that does not describe me for the first 41 years of my life – where as “femme” (and “queer”) do precisely that.

On good days, I would compare my journey to a happy, no, joyous, awakening and on bad days to a very difficult birth (not that I have any idea what that feels like!).

At the moment I’m endeavouring to move forward and build a life that is intentional and owned. I’m also trying to feel guilt-free about that, sometimes successfully, sometimes not.

My endeavours have been and are hugely supported by P, TSM (The Special Man), femmeismygender, Holden and friends & family. I’m a very lucky woman.

This blog will be framed around the fact that I want to remain anonymous, because for me this means, less attention to censorship. I hope it works out that way!

Have to sign out for now – P has just emerged from a soak in the bath and well…………