Many people have asked me, “What is Femme? And for lack of a perfect, multi-layered, super insightful answer, I will simply say that with Femme, you will know it when you are it.
At least that is what I feel has been the overarching theme of this Year’s Femme Conference, the idea that “Femme is various, intangible, multifarious and specific to the individual who is identifying. When I first applied to the conference, I was concerned that I might be getting myself into what would turn out to be one big argument over what constitutes “Femme. Instead, I have been surrounded during the last 36 hours by people who are as proud to be ambiguous as they are to be specific and no one forcing anyone to define anything, let alone their sense of self.
The conference this year has been held at The Marriott in Oakland, which seems to be the top venue for such things in the East Bay, this being my 6th conference I have attended at this location. The space is filled with beautiful people and, might I add, beautiful shoes. Femmes, they know how to do shoes. There are all manner of bright and happy faces, snappy dressers, welcoming looks and genuine hugs and hellos. I have been completely enthralled by the diverse mixture of backgrounds, points of view and lives, not to mention the intelligence and thought-provocation of the panels and workshops I have attended.
Though I was only able to arrive on day two of the conference, I have managed to attend quite a few panels and have learned more than I thought I would. For someone such as myself, with a background in sex education and years of experience with gender, identity and sexuality studies, I naively thought I couldn’t be dazzled by new knowledge in those fields. Femme Con 2010 has proven me delightedly incorrect.
From an awesome panel put on by femme identified drag king performers to a workshop on Community Accountability and Approaches to Violence Against Femmes, I have been blown away by the depth of processing and presentation that has been provided in each session. As I sit, writing this on a couch in the main lobby, the perfect island in the center of the main flow of attendees, I feel my mind humming with all the new information I have accumulated these past few days. Identity, influence, privilege, empowerment, support, embodiment, privacy, public space, queerness, femme butches, butch femmes, femme trans people, boy femmes, femme androgyny, femmes fucking, fucking femmes, performance, presentation, power, intimacy, accessibility¦ I could go on for hours and still not cover the vast range of topics and discussions that have been had so far.
As a person who feels that her identity is fairly fluid, it is always interesting to be in the company of people who want to talk about why that is and why they are the way they are. I find it all so recharging to my big, occasionally jaded human batteries, the same batteries that lose their juice living on the margins of normal society. And I think that getting our juice back, getting the energy flowing again has been the whole point of this conference for so many of us. Inhabiting a safe space that reminds of us of the community we share and reminds us of the very special spaces we each inhabit in making our own choices in this world. Being surrounded by those who are going their own way makes me feel less alone in going mine and in that, in the communion of people this weekend, I feel most fully, Femme.