#WhatFemmeLooksLike is Empowering Queer Femme People to Be Noticed and Heard

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The Huffington Post recently started #WhatFemmeLooksLike, a Twitter campaign aiming to give queer femme people the opportunity to create, define, and reclaim their identity — especially in a cultural space where femme-identified queer women are often not taken seriously, both within the queer community and outside it, as having control of their sexuality, .

There is an unofficial name for this reductive phenomena experienced by femme, queer women: femmeinvisibility. Sinclair Sexmith, writer for and creator of the blog sugarbutch.net, which discusses issues about sexualities, genders, and relationships, discusses femmeinvisibility like this:

Femme invisibility is a real thing. It happens all the time. Queer women who are feminine get seen as straight — by straight folks, other queer folks, and sometimes even queer femmes themselves — because this culture expects dykes to reject gender roles automatically when rejecting a heterosexual orientation. As if those two things go together inseparably.

On top of general ignorance about the relationship between sexual orientation, gender roles, and gender presentation, femmeinvisibility comes with a lot of micro-aggression that feminine queer women face upon coming out. Just a few offensive things straight people have said to me include:

  • "But you're too pretty to be gay!"
  • "Are you sure you're not bisexual?"
  • "Are you sure you're not into men?"
  • "How do you KNOW you're not into men"
  • "Want to try it with a man?"
  • "Your girlfriend must be the man in the relationship, since you're so feminine"
  • "I thought gay girls had short hair!"
  • "I would have never guessed you're gay, you totally look straight!" (as though this is a compliment)
  • "But are you REALLY sure you're not bisexual?"
  • "What made you decide to be gay? And if it wasn't a decision why do you think you are this way?"
  • "But don't you want children? Don't you want to give birth? Don't you want marriage?"

And a few that I've encountered from fellow queer ladies have included:

  • "OK but you're not as dykey as I am."
  • "I couldn't tell if you were gay or just really hipster and annoying."
  • "Oh, you're not a gold star lesbian? That's kind of gross."
  • "Why would you make yourself appeal to the male gaze when you don't care about it?" (my all-time favorite "Most Offensive Things Anyone had Said to You")

So now, thanks to this hashtag, queer femme-identified women are participating in this discussion all over Twitter. Here are just some awesome examples:

Images: Twitter