What it means to be femme

Femme is queer.
Femme does not equal feminine lesbian attracted to masculine lesbian.
Femme is autonomous and has nothing to do with who you bone.
Femme is queer.
Femme is not attached to lesbianism.
Femme is not attached to sexual expression.
Femme is it’s own queer gender expression.
Femme is a queer gender expression.
Femme is not attached to a binary.
Femme is not an accessory.
Femme does not live in the shadow or along the contingencies of someone else’s gender roles.
Femme is intentional.
Femme is not monolithic.
Femme is authentic.
Femme is queer.
Femme is queer.
Femme is does not have a prepackaged look.
Femme can be inclusive of multiple gendered identities.
Femme is not controlled by white expressions of gender OR white queer activism.
Femme is not the same as feminine.
Femme is not heteronormative. AT ALL.
Femme is queer.
Femme is radical.
Femme is political.
Femme is it’s own being.
Femme does not live in someone else’s projection.
Femme is not shaped or sculpted by someone else’s need or desire.
Femme takes up it’s own space and lives in it’s own shape.
Femme is queer.
Femme is not stagnant.
Femme moves around.
Femme can be as loud as it wants.
Femme is queer.
Femme is not some binaried gender that non-femmes have ascended out of.
Femme is not stuck in some archaic construct of gender.
When you say you grew out of femme – thats condescending as fuck.
Stop saying that shit.
Femme is not some starting place.
Femme is not arbitrary.
Femme is complex.
I can write books and books and books about femme.
All hail femme.
Some people know they are femme from the beginning.
Some people grow into their femme.
Femme is not a destination.
Femme is an existence.
Femme is growth.
Femme is healing.
Femme is reclaiming.
Femme is queering.
Femme is queer.
Femme is dynamic.
Femme is art and performance.
Femme is intrinsic.
Femme is SO FULL.
Femme is a galaxy full of diverse expressions of gendered being.
Femme is queer.
Femme is queer queering queer.
Recognize the brilliance and divinity of femme and pay respect.
You’re welcome for our magical existence.

-Vanessa Rochelle Lewis of jezebeldelilahx.com


Creating & maintaining safe space to house the emotions of those they love. Exuding & celebrating softness. Carrying burdens & grief without expectation of reward. Feeling. Loving. Surviving.

-Red Maienza


It means  partaking in  the righteous act of expressing one self fully and truly. No filter, unapologetic, eccentric and vulnerable to emotions.

-Johan Calderon


CW for mention of predators, silencing, allusion to death

being feminine is
shelling out yr heart to a mass of brains.
heads that say yr heart is not a thing to write home about, because yr heart
is cheap and trite and there are real poems to be written
from all the big words that yr body
is too mindless to reach.
it’s shelling out yr heart again anyway.
it’s watching people repeatedly bury corpses and secrets and “shh don’t tells” in the flesh of it.
it’s watching them make a closet out of you,
stuff you with old dirty shirts they’ll soon forget about and it’s making those shirts
into crop tops. standing belly out in the middle of a splintered floor.
asking “how’s my hair look”
saying “yr hair looks great, I’m so jealous”
it’s protecting
and protecting
and falling apart as frequently,
as learnedly, as walking.
it’s finding a thousand names to call the breaking
so you don’t admit defeat.
it’s entering and re entering
every place you’ve been wounded, even your homes
or what is left of them.
it’s knowing you can’t speak of what happened to you here
because to speak might mean your end.
might mean never being able to come back here again.
so it’s standing there silent.
a vault of secrets that will not be moved.
a vault of secrets that will stare predators down.
will churn this quiet into storm.
into anything
but quiet.
into a rift that takes up space
yr body is still learning how to,
leaving predators thrashing
emptily against the haunt
while flower petals drip from yr finger tips one
by one
until they amass
a swirling moat at the predator’s feet
and he looks down
in horror
at the flood

-Hannah Brown


For me, it means being myself and taking pride in that. It means that I know I’m beautiful and want to show it. I like being able to prove on a daily basis that I can do anything and be beautiful and delicate at the same time.


-Sara Wexler


My femme looks like David Bowie’s older sister
Always glitter and platforms and doing the most
My femme sings along to Kesha in the bathroom mirror
While her eyebrows go from zero to chola faster than the beat drops
My femme knows how to make an entrance
Coordinates her outfits with the phases of the moon
My femme is all hips and tits and ass, on her terms
My femme is Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez in a heart-shaped frame
on the other side of a metal locker door
Wears a ballgown because it’s Thursday
Pajamas and pearls to bed every night
My femme calls herself Chingona Bradshaw
Lives her best Sex in the City life
Drinks cheap bottles of wine like makeshift Manhattans
And wears thrift store sneakers like Manolos
My femme beats her face to do the laundry
My femme is wearing spanx until her ass is shaped like Selena’s
My femme third generation
Descendant of a 60’s beehive bruja
Santeria in her bitch smile
Every time she called Mary Kay a pendeja
They named a new shade of lipstick after her
Played Stevie Nicks in the background of her tv spot
Underneath a woman whispering the word “temptress”
My femme walks home with her keys clutched between her fingers
Like running with scissors
My femme watches her mascara run
When everyone decides she’s extra, she’s too much
She’s the woman they’ve all been longing to leave behind

-Gigi Bella G


To me, being femme is using the things that have been used to socialize me negatively in a way that fits me and my fellow femmes. I love being femme because it allows me to be exactly who I am sometimes without apology. Femmeness and femmes will always be there for me. Femmeness means I can be who I know I can be without it suffocating me too much. And the space that femmes hold for one another is beyond compare.

-Alyssa St Franc


To me, being femme means forging my own armor, reclaiming what strength looks like, feeling my best so i can be my best, being tender but never nice, loving people into the root of themselves, recommending personalized skincare and makeup for the people i love, being brown, being latina, being a daughter, being a sister, redefining sisterhood, redefining myself again and again and again.

-Larissa Melo


Being femme is being apart of a family, an entity, an aura, a power more boundless than I anything I can comprehend as one individual. Being femme is being home, it is being at peace with the paradox of existence, it is always creating for yourself and one other this space, making room when people say there is no room.

-Athena Chu


To be femme means to keep alive an ancestry I was never allowed to know. It means being told War kept my people alive against colonization even though I know lullabies, warm hands, and tears survived  every generation. It means even when fluidity was erased, I still have an inherited softness that I can choose whether or not I use as artillery.

-Deno Amaro


In my experience, being femme is harnessing the power of feminine energy while not denying myself the multitudes of gender exploration I have only begun to dip my toes in.

-Mila Cuda


Being a femme is about solidarity in softness. it’s about holding each other up & holding each other accountable. my femme can be a tube of lipstick or it can be a knife.

-Cassandra de Alba


My femme is the most powerful part of who I am. Being beautiful has become less about fragility and more about capability. Being femme is not only a middle finger to misogyny but also a reclamation of identity and a message to the world that I place importance on who and what I love, not what others think of me.

-Kimberly Jarchow


Wow yes. Honestly I feel like being femme is in the support and softness we share with each other, and how kindness comes so damn easily to us. That gets taken advantage of though and I think that’s the other side of being femme, learning to weaponize our softness against those who would use it against us. Our willingness to unite and hold space is so so cool. Femmes are God.

-Sara Dager

Being femme for me means drawing strength from my infinite love for people, my softness, my care, my emotions, many of the things usually devalued by patriarchal structures are the things I value and gain strength and resilience from the most.

-E.J. Schoenborn


Being femme for me is about reclaiming my body in that I feel I am constantly fighting to accept myself in this body in spite of a society that constantly tells us we’re not good enough for its vapid, superficial standards. Femme is appreciating my softness and knowing that it does not mean “weakness.”

-Gabbi Jue


Being femme means going out of your way to help others while know how underappreciated you will be. It means being invisible to people who will never consider your identity valid. It means being resilient through all of that. Being femme means having to learn how to heal yourself because society won’t take you seriously, yet still giving out your love to others in need. Being femmes means being an integral part of society because without us, I don’t think society would even know how to function.

-Sumaat Khan


To me, presenting as femme is radical as hell. Is enduring the world’s harshness and still giving it a shoulder to cry on. Is being patronized and dismissed before you open your mouth. But I love the power of femininity. I love being a dangerously soft thing. I love painting my lips to bite back.

-Angelica Maria Aguilera


I think being femme means being resilient. For me, being femme was a long journey to finally granting myself permission to look how I want, to express my myself honestly and openly and not care about seeming “silly” or “too emotional”, despite everything I’d been taught. More than anything being femme means being there for all femmes. Especially femme POC, and gender-nonconforming/trans femmes. It’s checking in. Making sure your femme friends get home safe. Now more than ever, we really need to be here for each other.

-Victoria Rose


My definition of femme is not linked to any particular gender or sexual identity. It’s more than aesthetics, it’s a connection to strength and healing that forms bonds and community. Its different to everyone and that’s what makes it empowering. Deciding how we are instead of being told how to be. My personal view of myself as a femme is like a bad ass pokèmon who evolved from femininity. Leaving behind the societal expectations and gaining power and strength, still knowing there’s always a better version of myself that I need to work towards.

-Chandi Rae


To me femme means feeling comfortable and resilient in your delicacy. femme means being soft until you have to bring your teeth. femme is a fight that doesn’t have to look good!!!!! it’s feeling safe and warm while putting makeup on someone you have a crush on. it’s understanding that soft isn’t weak

-Veronica Nocella


Is. An ode to every ‘fuck you’ that curved itself around its tongue dressed with pearls and a skirt made of razors…or converse and overalls…ready to shield its heart
Is the salt bath that cleans the wound it sliced open with no promise of returned affection
Is a medium to the spirit world
Is soft touch and hard boundaries
Is I love you. Which is why I’m letting you go
Is don’t fuck with my energy my spirit Is too open for this bullshit
Is burn out. Use up. Take from.
Is shocking when it throws a fist first against a masculine face and does not wince
Until femme is picked up by the hair and slammed into the ground, picking itself up begging to be forgiven.
And again
Begging to be forgiven
And again
Until femme lights a candle
Burns sage
And says
‘Bitch. I forgive myself’

-Ashley Davis


To me it feels like its own body of water inside me and sometimes i feel the ocean in there and sometimes it’s a mist and other times a container half full and ready for flowers or stones or a dirty paintbrush. it’s a storm but also it’s a quiet dew. i love the complex fluidity of femmeness and how it still waits for me even when i stray from the water.

-Jess Riz


I think it takes multiple forms for me, y’know? Both inward and outward forms of self-expression. I feel most myself when I’m dressed feminine and love playing with makeup. As a teaching artist, being able to let my students know that it is powerful and strong to be open and vulnerable with their truths and to provide that space for them is important to me. It’s also super interesting acknowledging being femme and being an educator–especially with teaching being a career path often associated with femininity, primarily with elementary or preschool education. Also as someone who loves being a total nerd   and have been in situations where cishet men have been surprised at a woman who likes comics and Dungeons & Dragons, being femme for me in those spaces oftentimes means using my softness as a weapon. If that makes any sense?

-Addy Renee


To me being femme means comfort, even when everything else is uncomfortable or even painful. Sometimes things are just a fucking mess, but turning to my femme-ness always consoles me in a way that’s different from anything else.

-Lydia Havens


The conscious choice to stay soft and practice aesthetic as a way to celebrate and weaponize softness. It means venus fly trap, means Calypso. Sing softly enough, move gently enough, and there is your power. In the ability to hold as both healer and vise. It means refusing to apologize for any of it. It means being hard just enough to protect this sacred gentle. It means being the whole damn galaxy  – all light but still making space for others. It means rage. And tears. And bitten lips and choosing to be silent and choosing to speak. It means my nails, almond-shaped, painted, and capable of drawing blood. It is accepting that just because something is performed that doesn’t mean it isn’t authentic.

Anna Binkovitz