I actually don’t mind “femme” being applied to feminine-presenting gay men and non-binary folks, but it’s pretty fucking important to remember that A) it was a lesbian term first, and B) modern queer culture has a tendency to appropriate all feminine-centered terms and ways of being and turn them into a free-for-all for any motherfucker who wants to feel special. I’ve seen femme used for straight women, effectively erasing its roots of queer resistance; I’ve seen it used as a catch-all for anyone with boobs and a vagina; I’ve seen it applied to men solely because they’re skinny and wear nail polish. This is all bullshit. Femme has a history, it was once a way of life; that doesn’t it mean it can’t evolve, but if we are not conscious and protective of that history, it’s going to be utterly lost to homophobia and patriarchy.
P.S. Where’s the love for butch women? Studs? Bois? I’ve seen femme applied to butch women who happen to look more traditionally feminine in facial features and build, regardless of how they dress and present. Butch women who look masculine and don’t in any way entertain the male gaze are utterly ignored. If we can’t celebrate queer women unless they wear hot pink lipstick, low-cut dresses and spike-covered heels, something has gone terribly wrong.
Labeled “Mae Snyder.”
This could be two women just standing close for the camera, but take a look at the backward tilt of the one woman’s hand, reaching back affectionately to touch the other woman. Intimate. I don’t know which one is Mae.
This photo is from John Lampert’s collection of gay and lesbian vintage photos.