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.


femmeismygender said...

Ok, since blogger ate my last post I'll try again..
Language, or lack of is the biggest problem for me. Hard to discuss in queer circles - let alone in straight ones. I guess that will change in time..
Good post Rose, I look forward too to discussing further at the UKFC2008! xxx

Tina-cious.com said...

Welcome to the blog world! :)

I'm really hoping that some day people learn to coexist.

I really... really do.

Anonymous said...

Great post, certainly food for proverbial thought. I've always described myself as femme, but am finding myself in a place where I'm sort of re-thinking. Language is so repressive.

Alexandra said...

Labels and terms don't *make* who you are, nor will they help define *who* you are by virtue of a word. Words by definition only describe.

To be who you are is achieved through action, deed and how you live your life. Continually trying to define that, to find a label and or live too introspectively means you are probably missing the whole point of your life.

Just my two cents worth.

QueerRose said...

Femmeismygender - Thanks and it was lovely to see you at the UKFC! It's always so good to spend time with you and I really enjoyed our workshops - I hope to post something on them here shortly xx

Tina-cious - Thanks and me too!

Femaleofthespecies - Thanks and yes, it seems that language is an issue for many. Enjoying your blog by the way

Alexandra - Of course words describe! And that is what I was doing - attempting to describe myself. Language is very often an issue in terms of sexuality / gender and something that personally I enjoy considering / discussing. I can assure you that engaging in this doesn't mean I'm missing the point of my life! Thanks for your two cents and pop by again