I’m Not That Kind of Girl

Posted: October 13, 2010 in bootblacking, Titleholding

I’ve been thinking a lot about identity, specifically women within the Leather community.  Even more specifically, femmes.  This is a group I have been told I am a part of.  I have been told that because I dress a certain way, have long hair, and wear makeup when I dress up, that I am a femme.  Still, it is a label I have trouble reconciling.

The fact is…I”m not a “girly girl.”  I can’t even stand the color pink.

As I’ve thought about femininity and feminine sexuality, I’ve started to think that part of the problem might be that there seems to be a very narrow definition of femme out there.  As a woman in Leather, I am given two very distinct choices of identity, butch or femme, both coming in some part from the vanilla lesbian community.  On one hand, I have my butch sisters, whom I really do feel like I share a lot in common with.  I admire their strength, their grittiness, their courage.  I myself work in a male-dominated profession and spend a good deal of time in steel toed boots, carrying 6 foot ladders, covered in plaster dust, and ordering around electricians.  So, yes, I feel a kinship with my butch sisters.

But I don’t look like them.

I do all that with long hair and when I come home, I clean up and will put on makeup and high heels to go out for dinner.  So, I don’t fit as a butch, as much as I love them.  In this binary world, that leaves me with femme.

Within the Leather community, there often seems to be a misconception that femmes are all identical.  There is an idea that femmes wear pink, giggle, and are girly.  They are afraid to get their hands dirty or break a nail.  They are dainty and delicate and can’t play hard.  In some cases, exceptions are made for a badass female Dominant who is every bit the fantasy Dominatrix, whip and all, but for the most part, there is an idea that femme = pink and frilly.

Anyone who knows me knows I am hardly pink and frilly…I’m not that type of girl.

I am a girl who growls and bites, who has a ferocious feminine sexuality and is unafraid to show it.  I am a bootblack who could care less if I break a nail or mess up my hair as I lavish attention on boots, but I will start my night of bootblacking in a corset and makeup, with my hair carefully straightened.  I love to play hard and I will not whimper, but rather moan and scream and if you are tough enough to make me cry, my mascara will run down my face.  I like to start out a goth dress up doll and end a torn mess.  My Master only dresses me in pink as a punishment and I own very little ruffles or lace.  I’m a Leather girl and a Leathergirl.

Which brings me to my conclusion about all this “femme” business.  What if it’s not me that doesn’t fit the mold, but that the mold has been shrank too small?

I actually know very few people who would be called femme who fit the “pink and fabulous” mold that has been put out there.  Most are somewhere between and even those I know who are crazy about pink are also down in the trenches with black polish under their fingernails.   There is wonderful diversity within the femme portion of our Leather community, just as there is any other group within our community.  I don’t see anything wrong with my pink, giggling, ruffled sisters, but the fact is that I am not one of them and I am happy with what I am.  If we are determined to keep these labels, then I think it’s important to note that there is not a set identity that goes with them that must be adhered to and that the stereotypes that go with them are often just as artificial as that identity.

Or are those labels now holding us back from a broader view of what it means to be a woman in Leather?

These labels, essentially, mark a distinction between the way a woman presents herself and the way she expresses her sexuality.  When you think about it deeper, though, don’t we each have our own particular style and our own unique way of expressing our sexuality?  Is there a need to categorize these expressions and if so, does that categorization work for us as women or against us?  For a long time, the perception has been that butch women are more accepted in Leather space and that femmes are somehow intruding, bringing in a more feminine energy that is not welcomed.  Does emphasizing our differences, though, rather than stressing our similarities work towards greater acceptance of women, regardless of looks, or against that acceptance?

These are questions I will continue to ponder as a woman in Leather.

What I do know, though, for those who try to paint me with the same pink brush as others and say that all femmes are a certain way…

I’m not that kind of girl.

  1. Kassie says:

    Bob, you had me at Hello.

    This is exactly what I was trying to express when I expressed concern about the “femme” bootblack movement. Unfortunately, I did it badly and didn’t have the wherewithall to sit down and really collect my thoughts on the matter; hindsight and all, is 20/20.

    I’m not butch. I have long hair, wear makeup, own corsets and very much present as woman. But, I would only catagorize myself as femme by default, because of the ‘either or’ options we appear to have in what you succinctly described as an issue of a binary nature. I have a few pink things, that are in the right shade for my olive coloring, that I wear on occasion because they look good on me.

    They do not define me. You’ve given me pause to think about what does define me and I always hold those who make me think in higher regard.

    I would have loved to get together with female bootblacks for a weekend, and get to know other women who bootblack. That would have been awesome! But, a ‘Femme” bootblack weekend just didn’t resonate with me, in the ways that you described above.

    I try very hard to see past gender, orientation, appearance, color and connect with people on a more intellectual level. My hardships in and around my leather existence have very little to do with what clothes I wear.

    It has much, much more to do with what thoughts I have, the desire to connect with others who have honor and integrity and who are not afraid to tell their truth while accepting that my truth may differ, while we try to find the commonality in those truths.

    Many of us, and of course I can’t speak for all, live duel lives. I do not have the luxury of being Leather Out and Proud every where I go. But, I do my best to conduct myself with the honor, integrity and service mind that Leather has instilled in me everywhere I go.

    And that has absolutely nothing to do with how I decorate myself. Frosting can be scraped off, but if the cake tastes like yucky, the frosting is only covering that up. If the cake is awesome, the frosting’s just covering that up.

    I don’t want to shroud myself in frosting of any kind. I want to be a decadent, luscious, to die for cake that people want to have a taste of.

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