Safety in Femininity

In one of the many discussions I had with my parents before leaving for college, my mom voiced her concerns about people being hateful towards me due to my sexuality. Without even thinking I responded back, “well when you look like I do, people assume you’re straight.”

I found myself contemplating the dynamics of being a queer woman and femme presenting versus being a queer woman and masculine presenting, as well as why I personally choose to present femininely. The immediate thought that came to mind was presenting femininely is safer. I live in this weird dichotomy of desperately wanting to be seen as queer in order to meet more queer people, but also presenting femininely in a way that is most often read as straight because it’s safer. Of course the aspect of personal preference comes into play, but I also find myself wondering exactly how I would present if there wasn’t all of this societal bullshit tied to dressing a specific way. That is a question I personally still do not know the answer to.

I don’t feel uncomfortable in feminine clothing. In situations where I am even more femme than normal it can feel like I’m playing a character, but that’s not always a negative feeling, and usually that has more to do with the situations I’m in, than the actual clothes themselves. I do feel more powerful on the days I dress a little more masculine or androgynous, and I like the way I look in those clothes. In the past year or so I’ve started to dress in a way that’s more visibly queer, every once in a while. While I like the possibility of being read as gay when I dress like this, (although let’s be honest most people still think I’m straight) I find myself wondering if and when, it’s “too much.”

Internalized homophobia is a bitch. There’s no such thing as dressing “too gay” or being “too much” because of it. Also, my personal version of dressing more androgynously is still pretty femme and often continues to be read as straight. I would say internalized homophobia is the main influence that keeps me from dressing  more androgynous-leaning regularly. On the other hand, I do like feminine clothes, I enjoy wearing makeup and having longer hair. I think overall I just wish on the days I want to switch things up and dress more androgynously that I would feel comfortable to, without thinking “is this going too far?” or “is this too much?” I don’t think I have all the answers to these questions or this situation myself yet, but the process of figuring it out has been quite interesting. I’d love to hear anyone else’s story of how they came to find the way they like to present, and how that relates to their queer identity!

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6 thoughts on “Safety in Femininity

  1. Wow, I feel this so strongly!! I used to be a lot more masculine presenting (and for a long time had strangers question my gender and disbelieve me when I said I was a girl) and edged really hard into femme over the years. While I do love dressing in a feminine manner, I agree that I think this developed as a sort of safety thing for me. Plus the fact that women are typically “rewarded” in various ways for dressing femininely. I also don’t really know how I would look without all those societal norms, etc. Ideally, I’d like a lot more flexibility because how I want to look changes frequently, but I feel weird switching so drastically between feminine and masculine, mostly because I’m nervous about how other people would react to my style changing so much day by day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think flexibility is something I want too. I relate to “feeling weird” when switching from super femme one day to more masculine the next, but I also often flip between feeling very feminine and masculine. It’s much more complicated than most people would think it is!

      Liked by 1 person

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