We Need To Address Femmephobia In The Queer Community

Dominant and toxic forms of masculinity perpetuate femme erasure.
03/28/2017 05:24 pm ET Updated Mar 29, 2017

Common in the queer community are the politics of masculinity, which seem to perpetuate what I call the logic of dominance in expressions of toxic masculinity. There is also a culture of white masculinity that diminishes the importance of women’s agency and their power that affects today’s notion of masculinity. Often, this surfaces in internalized misogyny and the outright erasure of any sort of femme identity. The logic of white supremacy and our poor politics of race and the ways in which we prioritize dominant gender politics contribute to ongoing practices of femme erasure and practices that are deeply embedded in what I call femmephobia.

Recently, my colleagues over at DapperQ launched their Hi, Femme! campaign, an intentional effort to speak to the importance of femme visibility in a world that not only erases femmes, but reduces femmes to sex objects that only serve the pleasure of masculine-identified folks. Yet! Because DapperQ is perceived to be for masculine and masculine of center identified folks, there was a considerable amount of pushback to this campaign. What’s interesting is that this pushback, however subtle or explicit, is part of the problem that is wrapped up in what I call the logic of dominance and illustrates a collective internalized misogyny. We really do enflesh femmephobia that perpetuates femme erasure.

Because of the ways in which gender has been stabilized (in the binary of male and female and masculinity and femininity), heteropatriarchy has persisted in making certain that there is a constant erasure of women and women-identified folks, including any notion of femme. We are all victims of the logic of dominance that is expressed in heteropatriarchal and hyper-masculinized practices, and we all participate in misogynistic practices. Just look at the policies and politics happening now in this country that actively are working against the flourishing of anyone who is woman-identified.

Because DapperQ has historically used their platform to transgress men’s fashion and has (as far as i have known about them) worked to increase the visibility of the variety of women and masculine of center folks, whether Trans or not, it only makes sense for them to have a campaign that would address the need for femme visibility. After all, their work in queer fashion is all about visibility!

I remember there was an uproar when the community found out that a Transman was included in one of the list of 100 DapperQs. As someone who has been profiled by DapperQ and certainly one who embraces a Latinx masculinity of center and a transgressive non binary orientation, I don’t see this new campaign of Hi, Femme! as a deviation from the DapperQ vision. I see it rooted in the politics of queer visibility, which doesn’t seem mission adrift, but rather faithful to what DapperQ has always been trying to pursue! Visibility on all fronts!

DapperQ seeks to transgress fashion and has historically transgressed men’s fashion, and if we think about how masculinity and femininity are part of a dialectic, then there is a sense where masculinity needs feminitity, but not in a fetishizing manner—in a manner where both masculinity and femininity are seen in their fullness and in a dialogical manner. And! The Hi, Femme! campaign is deeply intersectional! Something that dominant forms of masculinity seem to struggle living into!

Some of my work on gender and performance is rooted in the politics of recognition. And! As a Latinx Transqueer masculine of center person, who dons DapperQ attire all the time, I find the need to work hard for the deep, earnest, and intentional recognition of the femme. Part of this dialectic is a notion of vulnerability ― when masculinity is able to embrace the vulnerability in the radical act of recognizing femmes, then we begin to shift our politics and practices that not only disrupt the logic of dominance but destabilize practices of femme phobia that contribute to femme erasure.

My own works is committed to a Dapper religiosity that is committed to a Dapper aesthetic initiating a new contour of politics and practices that fundamentally disrupts normative expressions of masculinity, formulates a dialogical relationality with femmes, & reimagines our moral imagination with an ethics rooted in visibility & recognition. If we don’t pay attention to the need for the dialogical relationship embedded in gender and performance, then we will continue to succumb to the logic of dominance and a toxicity that informs dominant narratives of masculinity.

I hope more folks will pay attention to what DapperQ is doing and the ways that they are earnestly transgressing dominant forms of gender and dismantling the logic of dominance. Here’s to greater femme visibility and the effort in dismantling dominant and toxic forms of masculinity that perpetuates femme erasure.

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