My fellow Missouri Feminist Mafia™ member, the incomparable Katie Spencer, gave me a heads up about this awesome conference. More info below from the organizers… –Ann
What: Femme2008 Conference: The Architecture of Femme!
Who: Femme Collective, along with speakers Dorothy Allison, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha and Julia Serano
When: August 15-17, 2008
Where: Chicago Wyndham O’Hare
How: Register online! Registration is still open, and is $95. You can get all the conference details at www.femmecollective.org.
Guest post by Charlotte Albrecht, Femme Mafia Twin Cities
For months now, I have been looking forward to attending Femme2008: The Architecture of Femme this August in Chicago. It has been just a few years since I started to claim a femme identity and only in the last year that I began to find community and connect with other femme-identified and femme-supportive people. As a mixed race light-skinned femme who grew up steeped in middle class white American culture, my models for femininity were clear and, like many other girls, I learned to examine all the ways that I deviated from this norm. When I started to acknowledge my desire for female-bodied people to myself and to those around me, I found myself wanting to be visible to those I desired. This desire coupled with my longstanding understanding of myself as “not feminine enough” added up to a gender presentation that was not true to myself. It wasn’t until a few years later when I met femmes of my age who encouraged me to embrace whatever feminine parts of me there were, that I ceased apologizing for dressing up and accessorizing, and, more importantly, started to think critically about the relationship between my own femininity and my sexual desire.
I see the Femme Conference as a unique opportunity to push myself further to think about the numerous forms ‘femme’ can take – shaped endlessly by each of our cultural and social locations, sexual desires, gendered selves, and outward appearances – and how I can support other people in their own journeys. I am particularly looking forward to meeting others from across the country who are organizing for femme visibility in their communities and actively connecting this work to radical liberatory politics.
You might be asking, but what is femme? Femme can mean many things, and if you ask a hundred femmes what it means to be a femme, chances are, you’ll hear a hundred different responses. Since femme is a complex, varied identity, it is frequently misunderstood. However, we can say that femme is based in a queer subculture of radical femininity. It can be both a sexual and gender identity. Femme is a queered, transgressive, stand-alone version of femininity that can be constructed independent of and/or intimately connected to biological sex.
Femmes have been both underrepresented and misunderstood within and outside of queer communities. The Femme Conference is an important and exciting time for femmes and allies of all walks of life to increase visibility and create radical queer femme community. It will be full of amazing performances and workshops, as well as a powerhouse keynote lineup: Dorothy Allison, Julia Serano, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, and Veronica Combs a.k.a. Vixen Noir.
So join me, and let’s create some radically affirming community together. It’ll be fierce!
–Charlotte Albrecht, Femme Mafia Twin Cities
For more on femme identities, check out FemmeCast and Femme Mafia.