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Archive for the ‘Identity’ Category


In Chick Shit, Identity on January 22, 2013 at 1:08 pm

One of the things I love about being femme, and that I sometimes forget, is that, even though I don’t necessarily constantly (or ever) feel sexy and attractive, just my otherness is enough to appeal to the other half of my relationship.

Speaking of feeling sexy…

My job requires a certain level of dress, but the standard is significantly lower than what I am used to. Instead of beautiful heels and tailored slacks, I need to wear much sturdier, and in my mind, more casual, clothing. Dangly jewelry, especially earrings, is not permitted. This makes it really, really difficult for me to feel “dressed-up” enough to be going to work, or like I look “good” by my standards.

It also makes it difficult for me to feel pretty because I’m not “done” at the level that makes this particular high femme happy.

Then, there’s where we live. My geographic location has strange cultural ideals of beauty. We’re halfway between Texas Tammy Faye Baker and college grunge; it makes for a split personality when it comes to being well-dressed. I get sick to death of wearing boots and loafers and practical, closed-toe, closed-heel work shoes every single day. And then don’t let’s forget that it’s the beginning of baseball season, and all of my spare-shoe-time will be spent in tennis shoes.

This also makes it difficult for this particular high femme to adapt her style to the practical functions of everyday life.

To combat this appearance-based malaise, I’m looking for ways to doll myself up without a) adding stupid amounts of time to my get-ready routine, b) falling too badly to either end of the atrocious aforementioned local beauty standards scale, or c) breaking my checkbook. I’m a 20-minutes-out-the-door chick. I can’t stand layers of pancake or looking like I haven’t showered in a week. And I’m broke four days before payday, just like every other household in America.

The simplest approach is probably going to end up being to change my hair again. I’ve had my pixie back for about a year, and while I love, it, ohmygod I am so bored with my look. I may toy with the idea of wearing a different (read: any) lipstick. And it’s possible that I’ll go back to home mani/pedis. Maybe red on my mouth and nails will perk me up.

Because we’re heading into the dreaded days of February, kitties, and I am not looking forward to dragging that around for another year.

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In Chick Shit, Relationships on May 6, 2012 at 6:28 pm

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Untitled Rant

In Chick Shit on April 4, 2012 at 6:33 am

I don’t have a title for this post yet. I’m hoping that, by the end, one comes to me.

It’s been a busy couple of months. Rhett was finally released to go back to work yesterday (he’s still alive, and only needed medication, thank God). Baseball season is upon us. We’re coaches this year – Sharkman is in Minors and it’s a lot more work and more of a time commitment than I anticipated! One hour of practice for the kids means at least two hours for the adults in charge; you can translate what that means for the Saturday two hour practices we run every week! I’m still working in the same place. Mixed blessing, that job. I love what I do, but I hate how I have to do it. If that makes any kind of sense at all.

Construction workers, baseball players, coaches, and truck drivers.

Which leaves me, as usual, as the token girl in a sea of testosterone.

I don’t mind it. I love my boys; I choose to work in male-dominant fields. I pays my money, I takes my choices. I mean, I know how this works.

It means that, when I go to work, if I have a problem with someone, it’s going to be because I’m on the rag. It means that, when I’m having a bad day, it’s because of my boobs before it’s because of something going on in my life. It means that, when I speak up and speak loudly, I’m a bitch, not a person with a concern.

It means that I am taken less seriously, that I have to work harder to prove myself, that I have to prove myself over and over again.

I know all of these things and I accept them. So I have no excuse to whine about them when they start getting on my nerves.

But then there’s the fact that, when I spend this much time in Testosterone Land, I start pulling this kind of crap on myself.

I start dismissing my own feelings. Instead of saying, “I think you’re acting like an ass because,” I say “I’m just acting like a girl.” Instead of talking about how I reacted to x or y or z, I shove it aside and keep going. When someone asks me what’s wrong, I brush it off.

I’m a genius at fitting in with the boys. To the point that I internalize their attitudes towards women and apply all that societal garbage to myself.

When a guy (whatever gender origin or identity they claim) is in a shitty mood, they’re just in a shitty mood. But if a girl is in a shitty mood, it’s because of something to do with her gender/hormones and not really a “real” mood at all.

I fucking hate that.

Never did come up with a title.

I hate that I feel apologetic for being stressed out, or tired, or getting my feelings hurt. I hate that I am always the peacekeeper, the one who reaches out to smooth things over, that I can’t just let it lie and feel validated in my own responses. I hate that I feel like I’m not allowed to be angry or sad or scared on my own. I mean, it’s not like I don’t have reason to feel those things.

But what I really hate is that it is somehow socially acceptable for me to blame myself for my reactions, while my reactions themselves aren’t acceptable at all. Don’t get me wrong; the stereotypes exist for a reason. There are some crazy bitches out there. I deal with them every day. And don’t let’s forget that I dated women, so I know all about that.

But I’m not a crazy bitch. I’m a perfectly sane human being with emotional reactions just like everyone else. Mine don’t manifest as often, maybe, but they’re there. They’re not there because I’m producing extra estrogen that day. It’s not my time of the month. My life, just like everybody else’s, is no fucking joke. It’s hard and it’s scary and there’s a lot going on and a lot to keep track of and juggle.

It drives me nuts that I have to tell myself that so that I don’t apologize for being less than cheerful and optimistic and gung-ho about getting out of bed every fucking day.

I want to be able to have a good, old-fashioned temper tantrum without it being assigned to my gender. By me or anybody else.

Is that so goddamn unreasonable?


In Chick Shit, Identity on February 9, 2012 at 6:52 pm

Every so often, the subject of femme invisibility rears up in the online circles of gender theory and debate and becomes hotly discussed and debated again.

It seems that The Huffington Post has the F.I. argument swirling again in recent days (weeks?), with both Megan Evans and Sasha Lotrian weighing in on the matter. And both of these ladies make valid points, and frame logical questions and challenges to the discussion.

But. Of course, I have a but.

I have to say that my life, my relationship with a transguy, my geographic location, and even, yes, *gasp* my age have had their influence on my attitude toward invisibility. Do I think it’s still an issue? Yeah. Do I think that being invisible sucks? Definitely. Do I think it’s something that every femme lesbian deals with, and even struggles with? Of course I do.

Do I think that visibility is the biggest factor that women like me have to deal with?

No. Not really. Not anymore.

My need for queer visibility seems to have gone hand in hand with my more militant days. I wanted everyone to know I was a dyke. I needed that recognition, that instant belonging that you get when you’re recognized as being part of a community.

Now, I don’t think it’s invisibility that’s my biggest issue. I think it’s inviability. And no, I don’t know if that’s really a word, but whatever. It flows.

My problem at this point in my life is not that I’m femme. It’s that I’m female. Because being a woman in my current job, in any of my previous jobs, and in the career path I’m working myself back into is kind of a disadvantage. I hear it at least once a week – if I’m concentrating on something or trying to finish something and am not immediately bubbly and perky and engaged, then I must be in a bad mood, or PMSing, or not getting laid, or… (fill in the blank).

It’s irritating as fuck, and it’s not something I would ever hear if I had a dick. Because if you’re a guy, and you’re focused on something, you’re just working.

My professional viability, as a woman, is challenged every day. My personal viability as a woman falls under attack frequently, too. I can’t engage in a heated debate because it’s just my hormones getting the better of me. Crying because something is tragic, or beautiful, is because I have boobs. I overanalyze because I’m a girl. I worry and obsess because the estrogen in my system renders me incapable of doing otherwise.

There are some behaviors that are learned as acceptable to each given gender, but not every instance of that behavior is because of gender.

And a lot of the time, we use gender against women (and other women are the worst about it) to invalidate the reality of their experience. We do it to ourselves, too. We add smiley faces to ass-nagging texts even when we’re not joking, because we don’t want to sound like a bitch. We say “I’m sorry, but” before we tell someone they have to do something they don’t want to do. We justify why we need time off during the day to take care of our kids, rather than just saying “I need two hours’ personal time today,” and waiting for a yes or no.

I see it. I hear it. I live it.

Being female is a handicap when you’re trying to be taken seriously.

So do I like being invisible to the larger queer community? Not really. But I’ll live with the invisible, if I could just be taken seriously even around not being seen clearly.

And that’s not something that has anything at all to do with being queer, and everything to do with being a chick.


In Chick Shit, Identity, Mouthy Broad on January 4, 2012 at 9:19 pm

Today is my very own personal New Year, people.

That’s right, bitches, it’s my birthday. No, I’m not going to tell you how old I am. Didn’t your momma raise you better than that? I’ll tell you I’m still a 30something, just like I was when I started blogging almost three years ago, but that’s as good as you get from me.

I’ve spent my entire day doing the one thing I absolutely never, ever do – I’ve completely indulged myself all day long. I watched 842 episodes of my latest guilty pleasure, Gossip Girl. I did absolutely no dishes, laundry, or housework of any kind… even though our poor home front looks more like Normandy the morning after D-Day than it does our family’s refuge from the outside world’s crazy. I went and got a mani-pedi, and read 11,000 blog posts and tweets, and ate dinner at one of my favorite-all-my-life restaurants, and put in my beautiful new sapphire earrings (to go with Santa’s amazing sapphire-and-diamond pendant), and did nothing that had anything to do with real life or responsibility all day.

It. Was. Awesome.

In fact, I’m sitting on the couch in my pjs, wallowing in the end of my day, eating a chocolate orange with my feet propped up on my dog. The awesomeness has not yet abated. I wrote for CCL, I responded to approximately 84,000 emails – it’s been an all-Jolie-all-the-time 24 hours.

I also got an amazing dose of reality today in the form of the wonderful people who took the time and energy to send me birthday blessings, wishes, and even just the little acknowledgements that it was my birthday at all. My hubby called me at 11:01 MST, which happens to be 12:01 CST, to get to be the very first person to wish me a happy birthday last night. My dearest, sweetest FFG called me at the, in her words, ass-crack of dawn this morning to sing me a patented Marilyn “happy motherfuckin’ birthday” this morning. My momma texted me not long after, and then repeatedly throughout the day.

My Facebook page frankly exploded with cheer, well-wishers, and random people with whom I graduated high school (and have not, I might add, spoken to since).

This one day, and last year’s birthday, has gone one hell of a long way toward making up for the other 20+ birthdays of my life that taught me to approach this day with a healthy respect… Not to say dread, of course.

So the biggest thanks ever to my wonderful, sweet, amazing husband, who bought me sapphires (again) and took me to dinner and chauffeured me to the salon and waited the two and a half hours it took to make my fingers and toes beautiful. And who gets stuck with Christmas in December, my birthday in January, and Valentine’s Day in February and so very much deserves your sympathy.

He’s quick to point out that he does get a two month break after that, which gives him more than enough time to prepare for Mother’s Day and our anniversary within two weeks of one another in May.

Anywho, Rhett gets all the credit for making it a special week, not just a special day, with my crowning moment and Black Forest cake to come on Saturday. For taking the kid Momma-shopping again, which involves wrangling a 9 year old in a jewelry store. For bubble baths and footrubs and hours of spousal therapy over birthday jitters.

And the rest of you get the credit that’s leftover for making it an absolutely wonderful day. I can’t tell you how much it means to the heartbroken 15 year old Jolie who was fairly convinced that no birthday would ever be magical again.

I love every single one of you. You’re there no matter the silence, no matter the crazy, no matter the family drama or life pressure that brings me down, leaves me wordless, or sends me spiraling into loops of mania that render me babbling for endless paragraphs (much like these).

Thanks for the birthday magic. Thanks for accompanying me into what will be, at the end of the month, my fourth year of blogging on TSOC.

Happy birthday to me, and happy upcoming birthday to TSOC! Stay tuned!

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In Chick Shit, Identity on October 17, 2011 at 9:16 am

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The Amazing Disappearing Femme

In Chick Shit, Femme Galaxy Writing Prompts, Identity on August 10, 2011 at 6:15 pm

It’s awesome that the August Femme Writing Prompt is on femme invisibility, because that’s a theme that seems to recur in my life for a lot of reasons, and not all of them (strictly) femme.

The prompt goes like this:

What is your experience (or lack thereof) with femme invisibility? What is one thing each of us can do to help end this phenomenon?

Femmes. We’re the girls who blend in. The ones who hear, over and over, “But you don’t look gay,” accompanied by a puzzled facial expression. We’re the girls who have long hair or short hair but “girly” hair. We paint our nails, we wear jewelry, we translate femme to mean a million different things but they all usually trace back to something that at least superficially resembles our straight (if punky) counterparts.

We’re the ones who liked growing up girls, at least in some ways.

We’re the ones that “The Community” (of the gays, that is) ridicule for “wanting to be with a man” or for “trying to pass” or for “not being real lesbians.” We come out, over and over again, because we are… just… invisible.

When I first came out as bi, in high school, I wasn’t taken seriously. The few people who knew – including people my age – told me that I was just experimenting, or that I really didn’t like women, I just didn’t have enough good friends who were women and so my affections were “mistargeted” into romantic leanings. I had a friend, however, who was much more butch-looking than I was. She also came out as bi around the same time. But her appearance made her instantly credible. As opposed to my toe-shoe-wearing ballerina look, which just made me look “arty.”

When I came out as gay, in 2005 when I left Janus, I was at first almost entirely shunned by “real” lesbians. Apparently, real lesbians do not wear makeup, do not curl their eyelashes, disdain to wear high heels, and would never stoop so far as to flirt with, much less actually marry and procreate with, a straight bio-male. Ever.

When I found the butch/femme community, a little later in 2005, I found a home. I found a place where not only was I recognized as queer, I was celebrated for the way I looked, dressed, and interacted with my counterparts – the butches. I found a place where I was visible, where I was seen, for the first time in my adult life. I went from feeling completely alone to completely loved… so long as I stayed in the bar and didn’t step back out on to the street.

When I finally identified my interpretation of the word “femme,” and claimed it as my own (which took me all the way until 2008, but that’s a whole ‘nother set of blogs), my enthusiasm for the word and all its glorious baggage effectively ended the relationship I was in at the time.

I’ve been writing about my experiences with femme invisibility for just about as long as I’ve been blogging. My favorite post on the subject was one I actually wrote just a couple of weeks into TSOC; Cellophane went up on February 9, 2009.

Seems to me that I’ve been through a couple of different levels of transparency since then, and with my marriage to Rhett, I’ll be entering yet another.

I “look” straight – albeit somewhat punky, what with the tattoos and the clothing choices. But I wear makeup, I paint my nails, I play with my hair, I adore my high heels. Hell, my work boots (cowboy style, not high-heeled) are black high-gloss leather with sparkles. I’m the kind of girl who tells the guys she works with that she’s queer, only to be told in turn that all she needs is the right prick and the right fuck. Maybe I don’t hear it directly, word for word, but the message gets delivered nonetheless.

My experiences with femme invisibility occur daily. Sometimes they’re funny; sometimes they hurt like hell. But only very rarely am I seen and acknowledged on my own for who I am and how I love unless I’m standing next to Rhett or another of my butch friends.

I’m high femme – proud to be, fiercely unwilling to change my identifier or my physical presentation to make it work better in someone else’s opinion. But in order for that to matter, to make a difference, I have to come out every single day, all over again. The only way it’s ever going to get better for me, or for anyone like me, is to keep challenging the assumptions of appearance. I have to, we have to, keep asserting our corner of the market on femininity. We have to keep analyzing what it means to be a woman, to be female, to be feminine, and to be femme, and we have to keep forcing other people to recognize that those definitions and representations are as mutable as sand on a beach.

We can end the phenomenon of femme invisibility by choosing to stop treating all women as background, as accessories, as scenery. By looking an individual woman in the eye and asking her who she is, how she wants to be treated, where she lives her life. By recognizing that each woman is, in fact, just another individual – not a set of behaviors and characteristics.

But we’re not going to, at least not in my lifetime or even yours, because the stereotypes and generalities are too easy. Human beings categorize by commonality. We just do. For better or for worse, I’m going to stay invisible except when I refuse to be. Because even invisibility is a choice, as is how we respond to it.

Boy Jobs

In Guy Stuff, Identity on August 6, 2011 at 11:37 am

Being back in construction, however peripherally, has been quite the flashback.

I’ve had a few years off from the constant swirl of male chauvinism, macho posturing, and the rivers of filth that pass for conversation on a job site, much less in a receiving bay. That also means that I’ve had a couple of years to get un-desensitized to the fact that being the girl on the job site means that I get to carry around a very thick skin and that I have to prove myself in a much different way than a new guy does.

At any rate, I’m back and I’m getting used to it all over again.

That also means that there’s a whole new group of guys to break in and train how to interact with a chick at work.

Guys just don’t know how to take me, especially in male-dominant environments like these. I’m clearly very feminine, with the painted fingernails and the sassy red bobbed hair and the sparkly diamonds on my left hand, and yet I’m running power equipment and scheduling jobs and talking to site inspectors like I know what I’m doing. It almost seems like I create a dysphoria in their minds between what I should look like and what I do look like.

Because, let’s face it, the women who take jobs in these industries usually fall toward the butch end of the spectrum in appearance… Even the straight ones. That’s a whole separate conversation; suffice to say, I get it.

Back to the “what I should look like” thing. I was walking out with one of my subcontractors yesterday. Halfway to his vehicle, he blurted out from behind me, “Why are you walking like that?”

Baffled, I stopped and turned toward him. We’ve been working together for close to a month now, and it really was a random fucking thing to say, so I was completely lost. Isaac said, “You’re not a girly-girl. Why are you walking like that?” And then he demonstrated by prancing a few steps down the aisle.

My eyebrow climbed into my hairline, and I steeled myself for the required reset.

“Isaac, you dumb son of a bitch. I walk like everyone else does, one fucking foot at a time. Why don’t you worry about steering that 15′ roll of carpet, and stop looking at my ass? Me being girly or not is not going to get that flooring done any faster.” And I turned back and walked off,

He came after me, stuttering, and apologized.

Here’s the thing. I know what happened. For the last three weeks, I’ve been the subject of all kinds of conversation. I’m the new girl; I’m an unknown quantity. Nobody knows if I know what I’m doing, if I can hack the job I have, if I’m going to be help or hindrance when it comes to getting shit done. Isaac has spent that time quizzing me at every chance about my background, trying to figure out what I know and how I know it. Because I have proven that I do, indeed, know my ass from a framing hammer, he had forgotten for a moment that I look and move and am, in fact, very feminine.

Until he suddenly got an eyeful, and the ensuing short-circuit in his brain just happened to fall out of his mouth.

I’m not angry at him. I wasn’t angry at the time. I just know how this game works. He says something rooted in typical male dumbassery; I slap him back into line. Life goes on. Isaac isn’t sexually harassing me. He’s just trying to make sense of my appearance in his world.

I’ve done this before. The best outcome is that they realize they’re acting like assholes and get over it. Sometimes they don’t; sometimes, the social conditioning and a lifetime in testosterone-soaked environs gets the better of them. Sometimes they just can’t interact with women as equals, regardless of what they look like. But usually, the fact that I know what I’m doing and do it well trumps my physical appearance.

The guys get used to me. Every once in a while, they’ll poke, trying to figure out how such a little princess came to be comfortable mixing Thinset and getting grout under her fingernails. But for the most part, I’m just one of the guys on the job, until one of them short-circuits again.

I think the most amusing part of the whole conversation, to me, was the “not a girly-girl” comment. Yeah, I was standing there in jeans and work boots and a safety vest. But the boots are FatBaby, and are black leather with a glitter overlay. The belt is my trusty black belt, rhinestone studded with a kitty-cat buckle. The pen sticking out of my pocket is pink with white polka-dots.

I really don’t know how much girlier I can be – but people rarely see what’s there before they see what they expect.

The guys will keep butching me up in their minds, and the job will get done.

And I will probably have lots more opportunities to be deeply amused at their asshattery before I move on to something else.



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