Start at the beginning.

I was born bald, and I stayed that way for the first year of my life. After six months of strangers cooing, “What an adorable little boy!”, my parents pierced my ears. I imagine that cool needle gun cuddling up to my soft skull was my first direct encounter with the cultural constellation of behaviors, attitudes, and feelings commonly referred to as femininity.

After such a painful and confusing start (Ouch, mom! Why do you hate me?), you’d think I would have been turned off to the whole venture. Yet a review of the photographic evidence reveals that toddler me had quite a penchant for mixing my big brother’s hand-me-down striped tees with strands of pearls; tree climbing in various improvisations of princess garb; and, rather alarmingly, blowing out birthday candles while wearing a lace veiled ’40s hat (Thanks, mom: guess you don’t hate me, after all! Or do you…).

I spent all my free time ages 2.5 to 12 drawing, and the majority of my subjects were women — imaginary and real, tall and petite, thin and voluptuous — but always elaborately adorned. Ladies in saucy strapless dresses and earrings that dangled down past their shoulders. Girls with elbow gloves and prim purses wearing evening gowns with slits up the thigh. High heels. Red lips. And every shade of eye shadow imaginable.

My life since then has been a slow process of applying that same artistic instinct to my own clothes, face, and body — and daily presenting my work to the world. I dare you to assume I can’t change a tire, talk theory, or stoke the fires of the revolution just because I’m wearing jeweled fake eyelashes. Go ahead: try me. The fact that my fascination with and deep investment in femininity is misunderstood and maligned in mainstream culture and queer culture alike is beside the point. No, I take that back. I don’t want other people’s views to be a part of my feelings about femininity, but they are.

You can’t take the audience out of the performance, can you?

I use femininity to challenge assumptions and defy stereotypes. I perform femininity with an ear to farce. I narrate femininity in the first person, but experience it within the context of history, culture, and community. I stick with femininity because it is what holds my attention, keeps me guessing, keeps me real. It’s my hobby and my home.

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3 Responses to “Start at the beginning.”

  1. Erin Says:

    It’s funny that in childhood you spent all your time drawing women. I drew horses and dolphins, exclusively and obsessively. What does that say about our respective gender identities?

  2. highfemme Says:

    I was just talking with someone the other day about the possible metaphorical/psychoanalytic underpinnings of young girls’ obsession with horses. I was wondering whether it might be a compelling top/bottom allegory — here’s this powerful creature that you can sort of direct, but not reliably, and s/he could really hurt you if s/he wanted to. Yet, if you have enough grace and gumption, you can tame the creature and be together forever. One might dream of occupying the equine role instead, of course.

    P.S. Speaking of psychoanalytic underpinnings, I should check with some friends to see if they drew unicorns and narwhals…

  3. undercoverpunk Says:

    Starting at the beginning. I cannot wait to read your whole blog, new friend!! 🙂 Radical Lesbian Femme-inists UNITE!! Thank you for finding me.

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