Wednesday 20 April 2011

femme guy!

Reading a new post in one of my favourite blogs (The Femme's Guide) a couple of days ago, I noticed a link to another blog: femme guy!. Awesome! Another male femme blog. I went there straight away.

It turns out that this one started over a year ago, with the following introduction:

Welcome to my fabulous new blog about femme guys! (Because, like everyone else, I desperately needed more reasons to spend time on the computer.)

I have noticed over the last little while (by which I mean, like, ten years) a distinct lack of internet resources targeting the community of femme guys. Believe me, I’ve looked. The most I’ve ever managed to find is one or two laudatory mentions in a few blogs, one or two Facebook and Livejournal communities, and a whole lot of hate.

And yet it’s not like there’s any lack of us. You can’t turn around in queer men’s spaces without walking right into a profusion of non-traditionally-masculine-presenting fellows. But you’d never notice it – our whole existence is silenced, denied, and (paradoxically) vigorously shouted down. A galaxy of kinks, fetishes, and types of every kind are catered to (so much the better!), but femme boys are nowhere to be found among them. (And yet
someone must be having sex with us, considering how much of it we have.)

So this is a blog about men, boys, and other male-identified folks of all varieties, embodiments, karyotypes, and histories who are femme, feminine, effeminate, non-masculine, faggy, nancy, sissy, faerie, limp-wristed, limp-fisted, genderqueer, gender enhanced, and gender euphoric – anything but gender-normative.

As you'll swiftly gather, femme guy is coming at this from a different direction to me: from queer men's space. Whereas my blog is coming from straight men's space. Or, perhaps more accurately, femme guy is coming from queer gay men's space and I'm coming from queer straight men's space. But anyway...

What I like most about femme guy is how he, as a gay man, is taking in a lot of ideas from trans writing (Julia Serano is a particular favourite of his). Because that's almost a mirror to my own journey: from a trans perspective (initially) and absorbing ideas from queer/gay writing (albeit more lesbian than gay male, but never mind). The result is that aspects of two men's very different identities – gay, straight, queer, trans – are all connecting at femme.

I just have to say: that pleases me immensely :)

Sunday 17 April 2011

It's not about sex; it's about gender.

How many cross-dressers have said those words? I've said them myself – and meant them. Meanwhile, significant others and the rest of the world look on, see us getting off, and think "yeah, right". But cross-dressers are not wrong and are not lying. It's just that the language we're all (CDs, SOs, everyone) using is inadequate.

Rather than "sex" and "gender", the crucial (and missing) word, I think, is sexuality. By sexuality I don't mean who you're attracted to (whether you're straight, gay, bi, or whatever); nor what turns you on as part of a sexual encounter (morphology, nakedness, latex, whipped cream, baked beans). These may be part of someone's sexuality, but they don't encompass it. Instead, I'm talking about another aspect: how you feel about yourself, your body, your desire; how you see yourself as a sexual being; and how you express it all.

For male cross-dressers that aspect might be exemplified along these lines: wanting to be the pretty woman in the room, the confident and sexy woman, the one that turns heads, the revamped Olivia Newton-John in Grease (never mind how implausible that thought); to feel that particular female sexual energy, not in a sexual act, but within oneself, as bliss.

To a certain extent a male cross-dresser can do that on his own. He can get dressed up, stand in front of a mirror, give himself the thumbs up (in female Fonz style), turn his own head (a good dose of self-deception is quite helpful there). Hence also, I'd guess, the practice by some CDs (not me in this case) of posting provocative photos online: so as to be the sexy woman in the virtual room, turning the virtual heads, responding flirtatiously to salacious (but anonymous) comments.

Of course, when a man's sexual feelings are heightened he may want to do something about it – and for a man by himself (with or without computer interaction) there is an obvious solution. But that, I think, is a consequence of his feelings, not the impetus for them. To put it more bluntly: he's not dressing in order to jerk off; he jerks off because his sexual feelings have been so amplified that he wants or needs to, and because he can. At the start he very likely had no such intentions at all; he just wanted to get dressed up.

So why wear women's clothes? After all, any man can dress to feel good about himself: perhaps powerfully masculine in a smart suit or uniform; cool and confident in t-shirt, jeans and a leather jacket (the Fonz proper); even sexy and gorgeous (handsome) for a night out. Yes, but those feelings are rather different from the ones we're after. I'd also suggest that they're not even male as such, but butch – the adjunct of femme – which brings me back to my blog theme.

Notice my use of the words "female" and "woman" in the third and fourth paragraphs above. That was deliberate; I wanted to put things in more familiar (for cross-dressers) and universal terms. But I'll say again now that "female" and "woman" seem inappropriate; that these are femme (not female) feelings; this particular sexual energy belongs to femmes (not women in general); that it's the femme who turns heads in this particular way.

In the end, for me, it probably is about sex after all, because it's about sexuality. But it's about gender too, because this facet of sexuality is inseparable from gender expression. And the taxonomy that connects these aspects of sex and gender in the most apposite way in this precise context is — wait for it — femme.

(This stuff becomes so much easier when you think about it in femme/butch terms and put woman/man to one side.)

Sunday 3 April 2011

Male femme, sexual fantasy and desire.

It is very common for male transvestites, irrespective of their (our) sexual orientation, to fantasize about sex with men. Indeed, most of my sexual fantasies are about men. But..... I'm not really attracted to men. (And that's not some lame sort of denial: I have had sex with men, but it doesn't do it for me where it counts.) So what are these fantasies about?

Looking at the lesbian paradigm once again: butch/femme is a significant erotic pairing, two women's mutual desire for each other's differing forms of gender expression as women. That's not to say that all lesbians follow this paradigm. They don't. Even within butch and femme, the pairings femme/femme and butch/butch are perfectly valid. And very many (most?) lesbian relationships do not involve butch or femme at all.

But in this instance I'm thinking, as a femme man, specifically about butch/femme as the focus of desire. And given that I fantasize about men but don't actually desire men, perhaps what I really desire is butch women and just use men as butches by default (which, given everything I've said and think about gender, is a bit crass of me, but there you go; sexual fantasies don't have much to do with well-considered gender analysis).

The question is: do I really desire butch women? I've always thought it was androgynous women I liked, but, hmmm..., maybe it's butch women. For instance, listing some of the women on film that do it for me: Sarah Connor in Terminator 2; Ripley in (especially) Alien 3; Vasquez in Aliens; Jordan O'Neil in GI Jane (after she's shaved her head of course); Maggie Fitzgerald in Million Dollar Baby; Kara Thrace (Starbuck) in Battlestar Galactica; Kathryn Janeway in Star Trek: Voyager (if only for one particular scene in a turboshaft); Jean Seberg as Saint Joan (okay, that's quite soft butch there).

And then there's tomboys. How many films are there where the really cute tomboy (e.g. Doris Day in Calamity Jane) gets a makeover – a girly haircut, a pretty dress, make-up. And there! So she was pretty after all! She looks so much better now! No, she doesn't. She looked great before, you morons.

Is it possible to go further than the personal and suggest that a lot of straight male cross-dressers – male femmes – who fantasize about men, might in fact be attracted to female butches? I don't know. But perhaps it's something worth considering at least.