zena sharman

For a butch, the experience is almost the polar opposite. Where femmes seem to be incognito, butches are a lightning rod. I can walk down the street with as many femmes as I can find and rarely a single bigot notices. But put me on the arm of an identifiable (i.e., not soft or ambiguous) butch and we’re immediately targets. ‘Femme with butch’ is a potent combination that makes the fearful and insecure take notice. Just as potent is a butch woman alone; her presence speaks before she even opens her mouth to say: ‘I don’t follow your “women rules,”’ and ‘My life is my own.’ That’s an immediately dangerous space to occupy.
—  Jewelle Gomez, “Femme Butch Feminist,” Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme (Eds. Ivan E. Coyote & Zena Sharman)

fresh---water  asked:

Hey! Thank you for your most excellent tumblr, I've just discovered it and I love it. I wondered if you could help... I'm looking for some non fiction writing on queer femme identities, do you know of any books I could look up around this? Thanks so much x

The only non-fiction book with writing on femme identity that I’ve read myself is How Poetry Saved My Life by Amber Dawn, which I highly, highly recommend. I’m also looking forward to reading Dirty River: A Queer Femme of Color Dreaming Her Way Home by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha when it comes out later this year - she’s wonderful!

Here are some other titles that may be of interest:

Happy reading!

I wrapped my arms around her. I ceased being frightened myself because I could only think about how proud I felt to protect her. It didn’t matter if I was cold, or if the rock that I was sitting on was hard and uncomfortable. Everything, for an instant and for the first time in my life, felt right. I was a little knight beside the campfire.

I have to admit that there is actually little, in my twenty-first-century North American life, that calls for mortal risk. The scary stories, after all, weren’t real. My every-day gallantry probably has more to do with enduring minor physical discomfort for the benefit of the person beside me, especially a femme (but only if she wants it). Offering a chair, offering to do an errand or a chore, offering to share my food. Little tokens. That’s all. Gifts that make me feel strong, generous, and loving.
—  Karleen Pendleton Jiménez, “A Beautiful Creature,” Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme (Eds. Ivan E. Coyote & Zena Sharman)
Butch was a site of resistance to the heteronormative limitations on women. It was a place to embrace one’s identity in a public way that allowed for alignment between the public and private self, a way of claiming space with your very presence.
—  B. Cole, “Masculine of Center, Seeks Her Refined Femme,” Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme (Eds. Ivan E. Coyote & Zena Sharman)
I will never say to anyone, especially a friend or a lover, that what they are doing is ‘not butch’ or ‘not femme.’ I don’t believe it is possible for a butch to do something not butch or a femme to do something not femme. For most of us who claim these words, we do become them, and they become us, and thus everything we do is inside of them…. There is no singular standard of conduct for all butches everywhere. We all pick and choose different parts of masculinity, different parts of humanity, to make up our individual characters. Some of us may align with more traditional, stereotypical masculinity than others. Some of us embody a great many supposed contradictions–and like it that way.
—  Sinclair Sexsmith, “With Both Fists: Conscious Gender Building through the Butch and Femme Identities,” Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme (Eds. Ivan E. Coyote & Zena Sharman)
When I was twenty-four, I read The Persistent Desire. In its pages, I found a kind of home. I found ways of articulating what I already knew: that the butch-femme couple at my mom’s church wasn’t aping anything–they were taking something, transforming it, and making something new that was their own. That butch is not a faked or pretended masculinity but a distinct masculinity, with its own fluidity and give, depending on who’s inhabiting it.
—  Anne Fleming, “A Dad Called Mum,” Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme (Eds. Ivan E. Coyote & Zena Sharman)