Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Hard Femme


Here's how Urban Dictionary defines a "Hard Femme": "Not to be mistaken with the typical femme, the "hard femme" describes herself as "queer", is political, looks more feminine than masculine, and if prompted, can kick some serious ass. She doesn't need to "wear the pants" in a relationship- the hard femme rules with a dress. She not only despises the gender binary, she works to dismantle it."

Navigating the queer world can be difficult. As a whole we strive to eliminate labels and break stereotypes, but along the way we have only added to them. In the binary system of (cis)man and (cis)woman, there are also several subcategories, meant to only further define who we are as individuals.

bette porter hard femme image
"The L Word" character Bette Porter
(Jennifer Beals) a true Hard Femme
For example, I could be considered many things: hard femme, stem(stud &femme), or a feminine aggressive. None of these things define who I am as a person but within the community these labels help others to understand why I prefer a mohawk to long flowing locks. They help others categorize me because I may wear a dress, while still taking the initiative to approach a woman instead of waiting to be approached. Of course these are only small instances.

Of all the many "groups" within the queer world, I believe the hard femme was dealt the worst deck of cards because even within a community that seeks to live outside the norm, binary systems exist and she cannot be defined by those. Hard femme's have a blended gender configuration that includes both feminine and masculine qualities.Within the queer world, a blend of these two characteristics isn't always embraced.

There have been countless occasions where I have been asked ridiculous questions that don't fall on a lesbian with clearly defined gender roles.
"So, why are you carrying that purse?"
"Wow! Are you really wearing a dress?"
"So who wears the strap in your relationship?"
"Do you only date femmes?
Each of these questions were met with a rolling of the eyes, and  a sigh. As a hard femme, it's difficult to get people to look past your exterior. I could walk into a club wearing a freak-um dress and high heels, or I could opt for wedge sneakers and a v-neck. Neither of these outfits should define who I am or what I like in bed, yet the hard femme will always be judged by the way she talks, what she's wearing in that exact moment, and  even what kind of drink she orders. In my opinion, an idealized standard of femininity does not exist. Women are fluid and changing, sometimes maneuvering their femininity to suit the time and place they are in.

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