Femmethology Author Lisa Papez

Femmethology Author Lisa R. Papez

I find it’s all too easy to fall into the stereotypical expectations of what makes a femme a femme.

How do you define your femme identity?

I find it’s all too easy to fall into the stereotypical expectations of what makes a femme a femme.  Nobody can take away my identity, and so I do my best to define my femme identity by simply being myself.  I don’t wear skirts and heels very often, but I love to feel pretty.  I prefer headbands to a perfectly hair sprayed ‘do and tinted lip balm to lipstick.  My femme identity is wrapped up in little girl idealism and all things pink and cuddly.

How do other identities you have not only intersect with femme but also contradict it?

Rather than intersecting and contradicting, all those things that make up my identity are interwoven and interconnected.  Being a femme and yet not being terribly interested in makeup, hair, and the latest fashion trend like so many of my counterparts is contradictory.  The sense of personal power and self-confidence that my femme identity elicits is not exactly congruent with the softer, submissive, little girl side of that identity and yet the two balance and enhance each other.  I like to describe myself as an eclectic, pagan, naive, wise, young, old, confident, shy, grounded, flighty, fluffy, dark, serious, silly, calm, excitable, flirty, loyal, romantic, innocent, naughty, queer, passionate femme.  I am available as-is with no warranty implied or otherwise.  Take me as I am or not at all.

What are some joys of being femme?

For this femme, there is absolutely no greater joy than embracing my softness in the arms of a butch who is simultaneously soft, strong, hard, and safe.  There are other joys, such as the amazing sense of fellowship (or perhaps femme-ship) in a gathering of femmes over tea (or cocktails), sharing our joys and our sorrows with each other.  It is uplifting to feel comfortable enough to be courageous about being myself, to be among others who cherish me for who I am without trying to place me in any stereotypical box – and I am grateful for that joy every day.

What role does writing play in community-building for you?

Selfish as it may be, I write for myself first.  When I was new to the butch/femme community, the first thing I did was reach out and ask questions.  It seemed everyone was being cautious at the time.  Perhaps it was just that the community was taking it for granted that the moment we identify as butch or femme that we all immediately understand what that means and how it works for others, even as we struggle to understand how it works for ourselves.  And so, I asked.  I asked my new butch friends what their c*** meant to them, how it impacted their identity.  I asked them about their relationship to being touched.  I asked about their relationship with their female bodies.  I asked transmen what brought them to that place, even as I gave them my support and love.  I asked femmes about the roles they took on, and why they were so important to them.  I challenged the stereotypes of “high femmes”, “stone femmes”, and “I’m more femme than you are” femmes.  I challenged the stereotypes of butches, too.  But even in challenging, my main goal was merely to ask – with reverence and respect – and demystify what I could.

And in doing this simple thing for myself, I found a growing circle of other femmes, butches, and transmen expressing their gratitude that I voiced what others weren’t sure was appropriate to voice.  It’s hard to imagine, since I often have the tendency to be both timid and cautious.  But something about embracing my femme identity made me brave, and I’ll never forget everything I learned as a result.

So I always write for myself first – but my hope always is that something I write, or ask, or share may find a connection with someone who doesn’t have the words, themselves.

How does it feel to be part of the Femmethologies?

Indescribable.  I’ve never been published before, and the piece that I submitted has more personal meaning to me than anything else I’ve ever written.  The purpose behind the writing of it was primarily to process and release my past and fully embrace my future.  The day after I submitted the piece to the editor for consideration, Femme was permanently inked onto my skin in a tattoo symbolizing love, trust, and transformation.  Knowing that my piece will be published feels like the Universe’s way to say “good job, kid”.

Femme is _____ (one word only, please).

Transformative.