Some of us cringe when we use qualifiers to explain our femme identity, or cringe when we try to drop the qualifier, knowing how it sounds to most other people. I know saying “I’m femme, but…” or using labels like “hard femme” or “aggressive femme” feels good for some femmes, but for me it always just sounds like placating to the standard definition of femininity that tells us to be feminine means to be weak and to be passive, and that these are necessarily bad things. I’ve seen some femmes resist the term “hard femme” because they insist that all femmes are hard femmes.
Urban Dictionary tells us a “hard femme” is not like your typical femme: she’s queer, she’s political, and she can kick some ass when prompted. But, any time we take on a femme identity, we are queer, we are political and we are kicking ass. It is inherently political to choose, embrace, and celebrate femininity in a misogynist world; it is undeniably radical to choose to be ourselves, to love ourselves, and to find sexual pleasure in a sexist, racist, and queerphobic world; it is unequivocally powerful to make choices about our own lives, including how we look, who (and how) we fuck, and what we believe in. All femmes are hard femmes, in the sense that it is difficult and in the sense that we are badass.
But, I’m only a hard femme ’cause I gotta be.
I wish I didn’t have to be brave and aggressive enough to give you the finger, but until you stop shouting HEY SNOW WHITE and VERY NICE and CAN I GET A SMILE from your car, I gotta.
I wish I didn’t have to be bold and assertive enough to call you out and argue with you, but until you stop trying to butchsplain gender to me (ooh, you’re so much more radical than me), or until you stop saying I look “so gay” when you really mean I look butch/masculine/androgynous, I gotta.
I wish I didn’t have to defend myself and my femininity from sexism, misogyny, and femmephobia, but I gotta. I wish I could be gentle and quiet, but I can’t. I wish I never had to worry about my voice shaking or being too afraid to speak up, but I can’t.
It’s hard out here for a femme, so you gotta be hard if you wanna be a femme.