27 Sep 2011
By Megan and Whitney from 'What Wegan Did Next'
The subject of femme invisibility has been popping up everywhere lately. Well, it seems that way to me. And why I haven't blogged about it before I do not know. It's been blogged about by Femme on a Mission, Effing Dyke, The Fab Femme and The Adventures of Two Girls in Love lately to name a few.
For those of you who don't know, 'femme' refers to feminine looking lesbians e.g. Whitney and I. Also known as 'lipstick lesbians' (we have always loved this phrase, whereas others hate it).
The issue? Femmes not being noticed as gay, compared to girls who look more like the stereotypical image of a lesbian... Looking LIKE a lesbian is fine, we've got nothing against that if that's who you are. Typically, short hair, no make up, baggy jeans and a tshirt, blah blah. You can spot them straight away. Of course there's also those who are a mix of femme and dykey, so they're slightly easier to spot.
But femmes? We mainly slip under the radar, and are invisible to both straights and gays. I used to go out gay clubbing twice a week whilst at University. The majority of my friends were gay males. It was very hard for me to ever find a lady when out because: 1) I was most likely assumed to be straight/ fag hag; 2) I assumed the majority of pretty ladies in the club were straight/ fag hags. Also there tends to be the coupling of femmes with butch lesbians, so its more rare to see femme/femmes. Gah.
Looking femme has its disadvantages, not only in finding a girlfriend (but, hellooo I clearly did, and woot yay for me lol!) However you also get looked at by lesbians as though you shouldn't be there, and then straights don't believe that you are gay (especially guys of course). So you're left wondering, where exactly do I belong and where can I find others like me?
It does also have its advantage of course, you can more easily escape homophobia and any form of hate crime if you can't be singled out as obviously gay.
But the question remains, how do we tackle femme invisibility??
A few months ago, we launched 'Real Life Lesbians' on our blog to try and tackle general lack of visibility and lesbian role models. Because lets face it, there aren't many out there. Femme-wise we have Portia De Rossi and Amber Heard.. but Lindsay Lohan doesn't really count does she? And Megan Fox? Not sure.
The Adventures of Two Girls in Love brought to my attention how there is a lesbian character in the new playboy club series, in which Amber Heard (left) is playing a straight character. She shared her annoyance at how they made the lesbian bunny less feminine. Even though she's meant to be in the closet and married to a gay man.. apparently she still has to look a bit more obviously 'gay'? NO she doesn't!!
We'd like to add to our RLL campaign a 'Femme Visibility' section. For those of you fellow femmes who want to stand up loud and proud, or want to add your voice, write to us and let us know!
So, thoughts people! I want to hear from you, whether you're gay or straight. What image do you associate with the word 'lesbian'? How did you feel discovering two femme lesbian bloggers like us? What do you think can be done to increase femme visibility?
Also thanks to Femme on a Mission for posting this rather funny & relevant song:
About the writers: This is a blog to detail the life of Wegan. Who is Wegan, I hear you ask? Wegan are Whitney & Megan, a lipstick lesbian couple. One of us lives in Hawaii, and the other in the UK. We started our blog at the end of 2009 in order to document our lives and have memories to look back on. We want to show that yes, long distance relationships can and do work; and yes, lipstick lesbians do exist! We recently got engaged in Hawaii. Whitney's application for a visa to the UK was recently rejected, so are plans to live together are currently on hold, but hopefully not for much longer.
We blog about life, love, fashion, gay rights, and throw in the occassional vlog. We also run the campaign Real Life lesbians to help fill the lack of lesbian role models and increase lesbian visibility. We hope to launch a Femme Visibility section to this campaign soon. Visit our blog at www.whatwegandidnext.com. Follow us on twitter @whatwegandid or 'like' us on Facebook www.facebook.com/whatwegandidnext.