by shay(den) n. gonzalez
Preface: A collective femme love letter had been in the works as a response piece to: http://elixher.com/a-love-letter-to-studs-and-bois/. But, since I benefit from privilege as a “dude” presenting person or people assume that bc I’m a dude presenting person they can say whack shit around me it didn’t feel appropriate to take up space there.
Dear studs, butches, bois, AGs, MOC ppl, transdudes, and…
I love you and not only do I love you but I like you. I like the way your smirk catches my eye, the way your tie matches your outfit, and the effortless nerdiness/compassion/swag/hustle/etc (that you and I both know you put so much energy into maintaining). But since I like you, can I be real? This might be one of those, “do I want to do you or be you moments” because I too am one these boys, but I’m also femme.
In our community that changes some things but it also means that we share some of the same privileges. But this letter is about more than privilege, liking, and loving. I also respect you and because I respect you, I wanna level with you, and hold you/us accountable.
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I’ma start by quoting a dope femme I know, “I like my love honest and I like it complex”. This rings true of me and anyone I’ve ever loved can testify to this. So, lets dive into some of the complexities of it all.
First, can we stop calling womyn/woman identified or perceived folks “females”. Female is how something is sexed, it literally boils a person down to their biological parts. And if you want your boo, your shorty, your whatever the consensual name you use for your partner(s) to respect the complexities of your dudeness/studness/masculinity then stop referring to them as female and start referring to them as women. Before we fall into the dangerous “you can’t word police me” place; better yet, stop referring to them as women and ask what their identity is. Because guess what? Not everyone who dresses in skirts/dresses/tights/headwraps is a woman or a girl.
While we’re at, stop hollerin’ at sexy femmes when they’re moving down the street. You wanna talk? Ask to talk. Cat calling somebody you don’t know, out of their name, because YOU WANT THEIR ATTENTION actually just perpetuates the misogyny that happens in masculine spaces. Guess what, their movement is not about you. Also, being someone who currently identifies as a woman or who has been a woman doesn’t make it okay to do this.
Moreover, respect femmes and femmespace. When two femmes are going down the street side by side don’t assume that they’re not together. If they’re not, cool. And if they are remember that it’s not for your pleasure. Even better, remember that when femmes are together they’re holding it down. Femmes are cooking healing meals, telling life changing tarot, breaking the heart you hide wide open in yoga poses, organizing marches that you wanna show up to, scooping up baby queers for that good ol’ political education. And maybe they’re doing that while wrapping their hair, painting nails, or sitting in a prayer circle. But then again looking fly in a group has never negated mental agility, strength, or dedication to the cause (whatever yr cause is).
Finally, stop assuming you know what femme looks like. That person with a cane? Yep, femme. That person allergic to perfume, yep femme. That boi/boy you thought was…whatever, yep, they might be femme too. Assuming you know exactly what femme looks like makes it easy to perpetuate: colorism, abelism, fatphobia, internalized homophobia/transphobia, and patriarchy. Why? Because you’re missing all those people whose shade of brown, body shapes, or outfits you don’t read as femme. Femme is massive. Femme is hood. Femme is prissy. Femme is magical. And you don’t get to name it.
Know I write this not to shame you or put our work on blast; rather to say because I love you I don’t want to loose you.
Let’s talk about how we hold and question each other when our people don’t feel safe going to MOC parties? Let’s talk about how we hold each other when we know there’s abuse in our homie’s relationships? How we effectively respond to that sexist/abelist/etc Facebook status we saw the person we respect post? How do we have those conversations, and not just say we’re going to have those conversations or talk on panels about the possibility of those conversations? How do we talk and then take action? Can we have those conversations and put our masculinity and/or egos aside enough to know this isn’t about the individual but about being in community? Can we do those things and know that it’s about gettin’ shit done and being brown about it?
That femme with a cocked fitted and glossed lips
P.S. When your homie starts dating another boi, check your face; it’s not that deep. And if it is, check yr homophobia.
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shay(den) n. gonzalez is a bi-racial ftfemme aggress trans* dude who is all underbeard, eyelashes, sass, and snacks. He currently the Director of Program Development for a national non-profit, an RJ organizer, and Brown Boi. Really though, he’s a critically minded nerdy introvert and budding healer.
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