, 19 tweets, 7 min read Read on Twitter
Good morning Twitter friends. I’m still in bed sick, but possibly on the mend at last after 4 days. Last night @tropigalia & @laura_luna asked me to do a #thread on the devaluing & misrecognition of #femme relationships so here we go.
First, if you don’t know what femme is, read this, this thread will still be here: bustle.com/articles/16608…
So to be clear, femme is a queer gender expression not tied to sex or gender identity. Femme is also not exclusively about appearance, but this thread will emphasize appearance bc I’m going to talk about the way femme relationships are read, thus based on visual cues.
Some folks may be familiar with the gay men’s dating/hookup culture saying “No fats, No femmes.” This is reflective of a general distain for femininity in our culture that is exacerbated in some gay male subcultures. It is, even when directed at men, a form of misogyny.
I’m not sure how long this thread will get but my basic argument is that the devaluing & misrecognition of femme to femme relationships in queer culture is reflective of misogyny & heteropatriarchy. My statements may also apply to non-queer relationships but that’s not my focus.
In my experience as a queer black femme who dates masc & femme folks, when I am in public with another femme, we are rarely considered to be potentially dating or sexual. Masculine folks are more likely to approach me & flirt when I am with a femme. Why?
I think in queer culture we still sometimes replicate problematic assumptions from heteropartiarchal culture: that femme folks should be attracted to masc ones. “opposites attract” and the like.
Also, femme folks are often praised as beautiful yet materially devalued in our care/relationship labor & talked over, dismissed, etc. Femmes often have to fight for space, particular with each other.
So when two femmes are together often masc folks will interrupt or insert themselves, as if femmes could not possibly be together as a romantic or sexual couple OR as if we always welcome masc folks into our conversations & space.
Masculinity is highly valued in the larger culture & that continues in queer culture. So femme-femme relationships are often seen as less real, less solid, as missing something. Even within queer culture there tends to be an assumption that femmes, in the end, desire masc folks.
I personally AM attracted to masc & femme folks, but it seems like I am only interrupted in my time with femmes. If I’m with my masc partner, masc folks don’t approach me. This reflects a very heteropartiarchal assumption that femmes belong to masc folks in some way.
I want folks to value femmes more & recognize how much femmes need each other, even if not in sexual ways. Femme-femme relationships matter. They are not frivolous or minor, but central to many of our lives. The devaluing of femme relationships is a devaluing of femmes.
If you haven’t already read Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha’s book Care Work, I HIGHLY recommend it. She deals a lot with the way femme labor is treated in queer spaces & provides gentle nudges to masc folks to do better.

She also reminds us femmes that we are still femme & valuable on days when we can’t put on our full femme armor; when we are sick in bed for days (hiiii, me right now) or just exhausted from the care work we’re doing.
Anyway, I’m still sick & highly medicated, but these are my rough thoughts on how femme-femme relationships are devalued & misrecognized. In the end, it comes down to how we continue to perpetuate heteropartiarchal norms even among queer folks & how we can/must do better.
Things to ask one’s self to do better:
-When I ask a favor of a femme, do I ask if this person has the time/energy to help? Do I reciprocate?
-When I approach femmes do I ask if they want to speak to me? Do I interrupt them?
-What assumptions do I make when I see femmes together?
-Do I assume all femmes are sexually & romantically attracted to masc folks?
-Do I assume femmes “belong” to the masc folks around them?
-How do I treat masc friends differently than femmes? Why?
-How can I further divest from heteropatriarchal norms?
As always, I’m sure folks will have lots to say about what I missed here. I’m sure I pissed someone off. I’m not here to debate, rather to name & analyze my experiences. If this resonates with you, awesome. If not, your experience is still valid. Take care, friends.
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