Monday 7 February 2011

Why this blog?

Because there doesn't seem to be another one on this topic (at least not since Jasper gave up his wardrobe last year), and I have a lot of related thoughts that I want to put down and see if they make sense to anyone (supposing anyone else ever reads this), including me.

And that topic is: cross-dressing – from a male perspective; i.e. men wearing women's clothing; why we do it – or at least why I do it (I'm not speaking for anyone else here, though I'll assuredly try); what it all means, culturally, socially, personally, politically; trivial stuff like that. And while people have written about all this before – at length – there doesn't seem to be anything much from the precise angle that interests me: male femme.

Other cross-dressers' explanations often feature gender-specific words such as "woman", "female", "feminine" – in contexts such as "feeling like a woman", "expressing my feminine side", etc. That's all perfectly fine. Everyone has their own understanding of these extremely personal issues. But for me such words and contexts are problematic.

Such words relate to "woman" and I'm not a woman. I don't feel like a woman in any particular sense (even supposing such feelings could be satisfactorily defined). I'm not female. And I don't know what "feminine" really means, except that it comes with a lot of suspect cultural baggage.

But "femme", on the other hand, is not tied down to "woman". Femme comes from the alternative binary butch/femme, which depicts differing gender expressions within a single sex. Traditionally that single sex has been female: the butch/femme paradigm is traditionally a facet of lesbian sexuality, with women expressing different gender roles within a lesbian sexual dynamic. But the paradigm can be (and has been) expanded.

For example: it is significant to note that a lesbian butch is not a man and is not trying to be a man. She is what she says she is: a butch woman – though she may (or may not) use male clothing to express her butch nature. Extrapolating from this, we can say that a femme man (irrespective of his sexuality) may use – does use – women's clothing to express his femme nature. As a cross-dressing man I would say that is exactly what I'm doing: not a woman, not trying to be a woman – just expressing femme as valid facet of male gender.

That is, male femme – which is where I started, and from where I'll go on – in future posts.