Friday, September 17, 2010

Queering Femininity

In the deep rooted debate considering sameness versus difference between genders, feminists often question whether an ethic of care can be chosen by women under the constraints of decision making in a patriarchal society. Can women choose to be nurturers? Are they structurally capable as an oppressed class of people to make an empowered decision to embrace what would otherwise be considered socially imposed feminine gender roles?

In modern queer culture, there is an active gender identity movement gaining visibility and solidarity for femme identified people. As it is with all genders, it can be difficult to define what "femme" is. Femme is however, in the least, an intentional reclamation of the feminine gender role, or of gender stereotyped behaviors assigned to female bodied people.

For nearly ten years now a regular national conference has been held to bring femme identified people together for networking, validation and community building. The Femme Collective's mission for the conference, ,offers a basic impression of how self identified femmes identify themselves to the world at large-

We understand that being femme is more complex than just being a queer person who is feminine; it is part of our how we interact with and shape our world as queer academics,activists, artists, homemakers, parents, professionals, students, teachers, etc. Our conferences seek to explore, discuss, dissect and support Queer Femme as a transgressive, gender queer, stand-alone and empowered identity..

In 2006, the SF Bay Times talked with film maker Elizabeth Stark about her film FtF:Female to Femme In the article, Stark draws particular attention to the fact that people who choose to embrace femme identities do so at a strong social cost, further emphasizing that these people are actively choosing their genders in spite of their oppression.
[the concept of] 'women' is a ghetto whose boundaries are policed..You can be killed for attempting to move in and out of that ghetto-and you can be killed for staying put. I'd like to build a coalition whose goal was to tear down the walls of that ghetto.

I think many of the feminists like Catherine MacKinnon who have long argued that women can not reclaim femininity from a place of empowerment may be refreshed to see this new generation of a subversive feminine gender that is seeking to deconstruct female gender roles and rebuild them as something self created.

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