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.