Monday, 28 September 2020

Femboy.

Regularly, intermittently, once a month perhaps, I do an online search for numerous (currently 42) terms and topics related to femme and butch. It's time consuming, and Google protests:

Clicking that box once in a while is not too irksome. I grumble when Google goes further and makes you click more boxes, containing: a car, a traffic light, a fire hydrant. And the pictures are never very clear. Grumble.

One term I've generally omitted is “femboy” because it always linked to a lot of porn. But it seems I've thereby missed something, since a search last Sunday for “femme men” brought up this:

Femme men have held space online for years now (Reddit’s /r/feminineboys forum has nearly 70k members since starting in 2012). However, they’ve become more visible than ever on TikTok. #FemboyFriday has become a popular weekly theme with over 158.3m views on the platform”.

That extracts from an article in the Evening Standard no less, which shows I'm really behind the curve here.

One of the biggest unifiers among femme boys is that they proudly incorporate feminine clothing into their wardrobes with strong ties to the LGBT community. Beyond that, they’re a diverse group, made up of people with different gender identities, sexualities and more.

Ooo, I'd like to be part of that — if I was forty years younger. It's a bit late in the day for me to be a femboy now. Another salutary lesson on not letting your youth go to waste.

But I note the headline: “Why #FemboyFriday is more than just a trend”. Initially a queer thing, the #femboyfriday hashtag has since been taken on by young straight cis guys, for whom clothes are just something to wear, referencing Kurt Cobain and Harry Styles.

Seth Williams says: “I don’t think that there is anything wrong with cishet men experimenting with their self expression. However, people need to be cognizant of the fact that our identities aren’t a ‘trend’ and that this is who we are. Amongst my circle, I’ve noticed that more discernibly or openly queer men receive much more hate. Our community has been fighting gender norms for years, so we should get the same appreciation as our cishet counterparts.”

He's being generous there, I think, given that this seems like yet another instance of queer culture being colonized by come-lately straight people, who neither understand nor care about its roots and history. Queer Black culture being colonized by straight white people.

In quiet protest Seth also uses the hashtag #FemboyEveryday. On video, Marc Sebastian stares you in the eye and says: “I'm just here to let you know that femboy style isn't really a trend. You just think it is because straight white boys are doing it now.

Quite. Well, not quite quite. Some straight white boys have been doing it for years too.

As Judd Anderson says: “People have been presenting themselves more femme for a long time but were constantly hated on and bullied. (...) The more people see it and see positivity coming from everyone it’ll make more people who’ve wanted to express themself in a more femme manner finally do it and not have to be worried about getting hate for the clothes they wear or how they want to present themself.

Okay, I'm itching to query Judd's use of “femme” there. Does he mean femme or just “feminine”? They're not the same thing. Mumble - straight - mumble - ignorance - mumble - queer culture - mumble - mumble. Except who am I to question what Judd knows or doesn't know? Certainly a lot more than I did at that age. Or even twenty years past that age. He's even using a “themself” pronoun formulation. Respect.

Respect to everyone on the #femboy hashtag. If still more to those who are actually femme. And more still to Kevin Ninh for sheer flawlessness.

Monday, 1 June 2020

Lockdown.

So how's it been for you?

Me, my life has hardly changed at all. Before lockdown I sat at home at the computer all day. During lockdown I've sat at home at the computer all day. After lockdown, I'll be sitting... where I'm sitting right now.

And I've been feeling as femme as ever. Shopping-wise that has manifested in a few eBay purchases, including another furry coat (ex Dorothy Perkins) and a pair of rainbow trainers (designed by Miley Cyrus no less). Sweet.

I've also been writing a book. And going for early morning walks to see the bunnies. And practising the recorder.

But the main event of lockdown has been watching my pageviews go up.
The current total is down right somewhere. Here's an up here posterity screenshot:



As you'll notice, they're approaching the 200,000 mark. What I'd really like is to see them clock round from 199,999. Watch as all the 9s turn into 0s, as we used to do with the old mechanical mileometers in cars. Small childhood pleasures. Digital technology is no fun.

Grumble.

Oh, and fuck the Tories.

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Being ourselves.

It's TDOV today – apparently – the International Trans Day of Visibility. That's nice; although being visible when we're all in coronavirus lockdown does pose a challenge or two. I could perhaps stand at the front door and shout at the sporadic passers-by. Or perhaps not.

Instead, I'll flag a post from last month by C.J., the hero of Lori Duron's blog Raising My Rainbow (and who I mentioned back in 2016).

C.J. is now thirteen, very visible, and absolutely knows what's what:

For as long as I can remember, I’ve liked all the stuff in the “pink aisles.” I’ve always known I’m different. I’ve always known that I’m not a “typical boy.” And, I’ve never really cared that I’m different. There is no part of me – not even a single part – that wants to be a “typical boy.” The thought of having to play baseball or wear boys’ clothes makes me cringe with sadness. It makes me feel like I’d be forced to do something I don’t want to do. Kids shouldn’t be forced to be something or someone who they aren’t. Kids should be able to be themselves.

Yes, indeed. A hundred times indeed.

My own blog has, to a large degree, been about me working things through. Now I look back at older posts and they make me smile, wryly or wistfully as appropriate, seeing myself struggling with myself, with problematic issues of identity, theory and language. And yet, take away the need for justification and there's nothing very difficult about any of this.

People should be able to be themselves.

Quite so. And when – if – you've made it as far as that, C.J. has further straightforward wisdom for you:

If I can see a way to make life better and easier for gender creative people, I always try to do it. Being kind, sticking up for others and not being a jerk. That’s what life is all about.

And yes, I could certainly work on all those too.

Friday, 7 February 2020

Sissy.

“male femme” — my blog title says.
“genderqueer femme” — my profile says.
“non-binary femme” — Jam Rostron says.
“sissy femme” — Jacob Tobia says.

Actually: sissy comma femme. That is: “sissy, femme, queer, and proud”, the title of a chapter in Jacob's book: ‘Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story’. I've reduced it to “sissy femme” because... well, just because I wanted to add it to that list. I like lists.

But the key word this time isn't “femme”, it's sissy, which is a label I've been trying on for size lately. I've even got the t-shirt:



As with all reclaimed words, there's a proper fuck off quality to it.
Sissy as in fuck off – channelling “femme as in fuck you” (if you know that expression?)

It also has multiple connotations, something Jacob alludes to in their book:

I used to think that my gender was a voyage that needed a destination, but as I've gotten older, I've come to embrace that my gender is more like an onion. It doesn't have a center, a core, a discernable middle. It's layer upon layer upon layer, veiled beneath a thin skin. Sometimes the act of peeling apart the layers (...) can make your eyes sting. (...) But each layer is meaningful, and with enough time and proper preparation, each layer is delicious.

In other words, our genders are often plural, revealed slowly and delicately, rather than being fixed and singular.

And I like another of Jacob's metaphors:

When a person hides in The Closet, we act as if it is their responsibility to come out. But when a snail hides in its shell, we don't delegate responsibility the same way. A snail only hides in its shell because the world outside feels hostile. If a snail recoils at the sight of you, it's not because the snail is cowardly or lying or deviant or withholding, it's because you've scared it.

That instead of a closet we're obliged to escape, we have ornate shells for our required protection, usually ones we've grown from childhood. Yes, a snail may well be happier shuffling along with its head out. That doesn't mean it wants to discard the shell entirely and be a slug. So I'll keep my shell too, thanks.

Btw, it's my ninth blog anniversary today. Hello. I'm Jonathan. I'm a sissy :)

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Floating in femme.

I've blogged before about femme tides. The notion that femme feelings tend to ebb and flow. Sometimes they sit there quietly in the background; at other times they're full on, screaming, front and centre. At the moment mine are very much full on, having been building since last September. Rather than a mere tide, even a high or spring tide, this is a flood.

“The same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. ... And the waters prevailed upon the earth an hundred and fifty days. ... [Then] the rain from heaven was restrained. And the waters returned from off the earth continually ... And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month ... And in the second month [thereafter] ... was the earth dried.”

Adding that up: 150 days is five months; then the rain abated and the flood retreated for five more months, with a further two months for everything to return to normal. In total, a whole goddamn year. So if this biblical analogy holds any water (:p), my own femme deluge will keep on rising well into February, and then take to next September to dissipate.

I don't think it's possible for me to swim for that long. I'm going to have to find some way of floating in femme in 2020. Or risk drowning in it.

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Compliments and whatnot.

Surprising as it may seem, I do occasionally get people criticizing my clothing choices. They tend to use helpful and insightful terms like “wanker” or make the equivalent hand gesture out of a car window. Those people are always cis men. But far more often I receive compliments – mostly from cis women – and randomly. In the street, in shops, in the pub, on the bus, ...

My pink trainers (seen here) prompt a fair few comments. Once, a rather inebriated woman came up to me at the bus stop to tell me, for some considerable time, how great they were, how great I was for wearing them, and how much she missed her gay male friend in her home town of Kettering. My painted boots, decorated with humming birds, are much admired too – if, again, not by cis men, who prefer pointedly not to say anything about my footwear. I just watch their eyes go down to my feet and then come back up. Perhaps heels would excite them more.

My variously furred and furry coats I've mentioned before – and with photos, some with me in, some not: long denim, long afghan, short purple, shaggy dog. That's only half my collection, by the way. All thanks to eBay and charity shops.

But it's my jumpers that seem to garner the most approval. These include:
a multi-coloured (orange/brown/black) mohair polo neck; a green mohair crew neck with a sequined butterfly (my eldest niece likes this especially); and three I bought from icecoolfashion. I have the red one pictured there, plus the same in blue (visible here) and black. They are really quite nice. A friendly checkout assistant in the local Co-op said she'd tracked down a similar one for herself after seeing me in one of mine.

And now I've ordered this:



It probably won't look as good on me as on the mannequin, but it's still gorgeous. I'm looking forward to parading it in public and anticipate further compliments and whatnot to follow.

Monday, 26 August 2019

Two flags.

As a sequel to the non-binary umbrella, featured in my previous post, here now is the genderqueer flag:



As with the chronological equidistance of non-binary day, the genderqueer flag too has a pleasing mathematical derivation, based on hexadecimal inverses, as explained at genderqueerid.com:

The design [by Marilyn Roxie] is aesthetically similar to the gay and lesbian, bisexual, transgender, asexual, and pansexual flags; that is, horizontal bars of color with special meaning. The meaning of the colors in the genderqueer and non-binary flag design are as follows:

Lavender (#b57edc): The mixture of blue and pink (traditional colors associated with men and women, present on the transgender pride flag) as lavender is meant to represent androgynes and androgyny. Also represents the “queer” in genderqueer, as lavender is a color that has long been associated with “queerness” , including gay, lesbian, and bisexual communities.

White (#ffffff): Meant to represent agender identity, congruent with the gender neutral white on the transgender pride flag.

Dark chartreuse green (#4A8123): The inverse of lavender; meant to represent those whose identities which are defined outside of and without reference to the binary. The color is the true inverse of lavender.


As it happens I have a new t-shirt with the wording “THEY THEM THEIRS” in those specific colours. I wore it, along with my humming bird boots, at Nottingham Pride last month. At which there was another flag:



That flag took three days to make and is – or at least was – the largest transgender flag in existence. Isn't it awesome! :)

Monday, 22 July 2019

The non-binary umbrella.

July 14th last was – as well as the 230th Bastille Day (or 231st, if the first one counts) – the eighth Non-Binary People’s Day. The date was chosen due to its equidistance (128 days either way) from International Women's Day (March 8th) and International Men's Day (November 19th).

To celebrate NBPD, Sue Kerr, at the Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents blog, posted (as many other people doubtless did) a picture of Srinidhi Seshadri's NonBinary Umbrella.

Right click, Save Image As...



Okay, you might consider the “gender non-conforming” bubble to be pushing at the boundaries of non-binary somewhat. Pretty much everyone is gender non-conforming to some degree, and that gender non-conformity doesn't mean they're all non-binary. They're not.

But that's the thing about metaphorical umbrellas. You're not compelled to stand under them, yet they shelter whomsoever chooses to do so, without fear or favour. So if a gender non-conforming person wants to stand under this particular umbrella, the open-ended inclusivity of its description indicates that they can.

As for me, looking at once to the genderqueer bubble – the definition there isn't one I'd use. I prefer it looser, as in my post from 2015: someone whose gender is "queer" in some way, without specifying how. Then I read the non-binary headline and its “neither entirely male nor entirely female”.

Hitherto, I've ummed and ahed about claiming a non-binary identity, seeing it as a not-at-all-binary type thing. So the words “not entirely” are like a gift. So yes, still a bit binary, still male, partially, sort of, but no, not entirely.

That suits me just fine :)