Everything I learned about femme I learned from drag queens

I reflect a lot on femme, vs femininity and in its own right. What is femme, how is femme reflected, where do I pick up my femme cues, etc.

Drag queens and trans* sex workers are my femme role models. Whether their hair is perfectly coiffed, makeup exquisite, or they look like something the alley cats dragged in after a rainy night, they are always over-the-top femme. The best thing I ever heard a drag queen say is sniff haughtily, "Pass? Honey, I STEAMROLL." They're unapologetic about their sexuality, their crudeness, or their love of glitter and glam. They will bat their eyelashes and play nice or fight dirty with equal gusto. They stomp all over grassy lawns in stiletto heels. And they don't take shit from anybody- the cops, the straights, johns, lovers, ANYBODY.

I fucking love that.

In a world where being feminine is supposedly about seeming sweet and passive while being secretively manipulative, drag queens and trans* sex workers buck the trend. They pick and choose what they like about femininity and discard what they have no use for. They're loud, and brash, and they'll call you on your shit.

I think I end up empathizing with trans* people because, as a fat girl, I had my own body dysmorphia. I felt, and still feel, like I have this wistful longing to have the style of a skinnier girl. I used to cut my breasts and thighs, which seemed too large, too meaty to be sexy. I fluctuated between starving myself and binging. I felt like I was born into the wrong body, that I would be happy with myself had I only been a little less curvy and a lot less fat. My inner picture of myself was vastly different from the reality, and looking into the mirror tended towards being an unpleasant shock. The trans* people I've known felt much the same.

Now, I know drag queens aren't generally trans*. It's about costume, about a show. For me, that's what femme is like- this performance I put on. My style tends to be a little bit overboard- my makeup too obvious (I don't even know how to do natural looking makeup), my patterns loud and often clashing, my cleavage proudly on display. While with drag queens and most trans* sex workers, their otherness is part of the appeal, generally as a fat woman, your fat is something to feel ashamed of, to apologize for, not something to flaunt. Being a fat femme, you have to mimic that unapologetic attitude, demand respect, not put up with other people's shit. You have to take that otherness and make it into a feature.

E (who, btw, is mostly out of the doghouse) was the first person I met randomly who immediately recognized my nature and responded to it. For the first time I felt like someone saw me as I wanted to be seen- as a queer femme, not just a female.

At some point, I'm going to write about forced feminization as it pertains to my work, and myself in the workplace. And also, I want to reflect on the experience of femme sexual agency and queer femme sex workers. Yay!

Be the first to comment

Post a comment