November 27, 2012

Dapper Fashion Guide Roundup

Oh hey there gender blenders,

Today I bring you a dapper fashion guide roundup from socks to skivvies.

Part I: There's no place like... your feet.
Love a good oxford? Here's a dress shoe 101: Masculine Shoes in My Size?
Dig fun socks? Ask dapperQ: How to Wear Cool Socks?

Part II: Bottoms 
Curves can be dapper too! Ask dapperQ: Trousers for Curves?
In depth guide to finding jeans that fit. Jeans 101: Tips on Fit, Brands, Color

Part III: Tops
Differentiate your jackets: Blazers, Sport Coats, & Suit Jackets: Same?
The always essential button-down:
Part IV: That suit suits you!
The Style Manual: Suits 101
The Style Manual: Suits 201

Part V: Splish, splash, for when you're not swimming in the bath
Because we can't all be mermaids: The Butch & The Beach
Beyond the pin-up: Vintage Swimwear for Grrls & Bois
Who has short swim shorts? The Hottest Summer Swim Boyshorts for the Hottest Summer Bois and Grrrls

Part VI: Underneath it all
Shh, perhaps we have boobs too... How To: Find A Bra That Fits Your Dapper Bod & The Bra Issue: Queer Fashion Guide For Various Shapes, Sizes and Gender Expressions
Because who wants unsuccessful underpants? Boyshorts 101: Your Complete Guide to Successful Underpants

Part VII: Ties
Eeep! How To Wear Skinny Ties, For Femmes and Bois and Everyone In Between

November 10, 2012

Cha-cha-changes: On election results, identity, and bad ass plans

Oh hey gender blenders,

Election night I was so excited about the results that I slid down half a flight of stairs like I was tobogganing--minus one toboggan. Cute, right? Equality has taken a huge step forward with the re-election of President Obama, two states legalizing same-sex marriage by popular vote for the first time in history, and the election of the first openly lesbian senator. My state even had ways of shutting that whole Todd Akin thing down. With the country moving forward, I feel more secure with my own acceleration.

Lately my gender/s and I have been having some discussions. We've been feeling funny about our propensities for femme-y presentation. We have the significant laydee curves, and it is oh so much simpler just to femme it. But it feels a little like we're putting on gaudy costume jewelry--cheapening our gendered reality. Lace suddenly seems ridiculous on anything but skivvies.

I've realized that the femme part of genderqueer femme has been a transitional identity for me--my history of femme presentation made it hard for me to feel confident enough to let it go even though it no longer felt a part of me. Lately it has been delightfully freeing to wear button downs, sweater vests, and ties. Obviously, gender identity comes down to a lot more than clothes, but feeling comfortable in my skin is greatly affected by what I put on; and what I put on, in turn, affects how I am read. "Put on" is playful here, as gender itself is in many ways "put on" both consciously and unconsciously.

My attraction to queer femmes also had me fumbling to preserve some femme-ness in my own presentation because I admire their gender(s) even if it isn't mine. This effort seemed a requirement of my curvaceousness as well--I thought I was too curvy to pull off anything androgynous. Oh, but I was wrong--I am dapper.

Accordingly, The Androgynous Femme blog is going to go through some changes. I am going to play with both parts of the name and focus on androgynous/gender bending grrrls and an appreciation for queer femmes and visibility.

In other news--I am applying to a gender studies PhD program! I took the GRE last week and am waiting on my official scores that should come next week.

August 28, 2012

Underneath it All: thoughts on the history of women's skivvies

Oh hi there gender blenders,

Over the weekend I went to an exhibit at the Missouri History Museum called, Underneath it All, about the history of women's underclothes. Now, before your eyes bug out too far with excitement--it was not all that sexy. Sure there were lots of frills and lace, but it was all underwritten by heavy echoes of pain. Women's underclothes have been used to force or disguise women's bodies into ever-shifting idealizations. From wasp-waists to bustle-butts to pointy breasts--we have squeezed flattened, crushed, and caged ourselves because society has told us our bodies aren't good enough, our bodies are wildness that must be tamed and punished. We are still doing it, and not just with our underwear.

Canvas stays stiffened with paste, ca. 1775

One of the most unsettling artifacts was a long piece of carved whale bone that was inserted into the front of a corset to flatten the abdomen, and were often given to women as a lover's gift. "Here darling, something to keep your stomach flat." Wouldn't you like your special someone to give you a girdle as a love token--sort of a keep me close but keep your stomach closer? Romantic isn't it?

By no means am I arguing lingerie (and all that jazz) is bad. Why shouldn't we have pretty skivvies?  I'm just saying we shouldn't hurt ourselves and instead work to love our bodies as they are.

July 25, 2012

Queer Space: Feeling home in an Indigo Girls concert

Oh hey there gender blenders,

Sometimes I feel as if my investment in public spaces, my participation in them, is slightly off kilter and uncomfortable. I didn't quite grasp why until I went to an Indigo Girls concert the other night. My relationship to many spaces is complicated by the way I am "othered" by them. Generally, by nature of the city I live in, most public spaces are "straight" by default. In default straight spaces most everyone assumes most everyone else is straight, and it definitely feels like the assumptions are correct. It is more difficult to be out because one usually has to actively "come out" to be recognized as queer.

I have often been in such an environment and slyly looked to see if I could identify any other queers in the room. More than once I've felt a tiny bit betrayed when the people I thought could be queer turn out not to be, not by the people themselves, but by a society that makes me painfully recognize the loneliness of my difference. I don't mind being different, I embrace it, but I don't know anyone that enjoys feeling lonely. The probability of mutual queer recognition shifts because individual presentations of queerness change in straight-dominant spaces. For if we are recognized as queer by the straight people in the room, will they hate us? Will they be indifferent? Are they allies? If we are part of a couple, public displays of affection could out us and we could be targeted for harassment or violence. Fear is lonely.

The "space" of the Indigo Girls concert was pretty obviously queer. I wasn't shoved back in the closet by people's assumptions or fear. I was assumed queer until proven otherwise. I felt at home. There were singled and coupled les-bi-queer women everywhere, and I was elated at the automatic outness and visibility.

June 28, 2012

No, you get off the elevator: gendered body language

Hi there gender blenders,

I hold my arm toward the doors indicating to the man on the elevator with me to exit first. He does the same, no you first. I want to continue the argument, but the doors are threatening to close. I give in, feeling a little ruffled--
  • He was closer to the door.
  • He was carrying more stuff.
Logic follows that he should go first. But I am read as a woman. The social rules of gender therefore make itimperative (at least in U.S. society) that I exit first. (What's the elevator going to do? Eat me if he leaves me on it for a second?)

Now, I'm not someone who feels righteously pissed off about the whole male courtesy thing--not exactly. It's more of a private annoyance. I personally want to break down the binary of gendered behaviors, which sometimes manifests in wanting to invite men to get off the elevator first and women too. Women will accept this from another woman because they are expected to accept it as a general rule. Men, in my experience, will nearly always refuse the offer from a woman. Does it threaten their masculinity? What about my masculinity? Do I not have equal right to mine? Must I defer to the importance of theirs simply because I am a woman?

It's about more than deconstructing gendered behaviors for me--it's also about public recognition of my gender identity. Just because I answer to female pronouns and am socially read as a woman should not mean I always have to get off the elevator first.