ThreeWay: Femme Battle Tactics

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ThreeWay: Femme Battle Tactics

Julia: So last week's ThreeWay was about how butches use chivalry to show their appreciation for their significant others. This week I thought we could talk about some of the ways we, as femmes, show our appreciation for the person we're dating/loving/boning.

Amy: Sounds fair enough. Although, this might get me in trouble, considering I think I come up short in my relationship.

Julia: I am going to suck on a mini-tootsie pop while we chat to show my appreciation for having a sugar high.

Amy: JEAL. Wish I had one. You know you just want readers to have a sexual image of you while they read this. Sucking.

Julia: Shut up. I'm VERY appreciative! (Of readers having a sexual image of me while they read this.)

Amy: Haha. Ok, so what kinds of things do you do for your partner?

Julia: I fall into the domestic goddess femme category. I show my appreciation by homemaking and, in large part, by feeding T delectable, healthful foods that I usually cook myself.

Amy: Crap, I can't let my partner read this.

Hmmpf. I knew I should have just stuck with Little

Suzie Homomaker as my drag queen name...

Julia: LoL

Amy: That's nice. Do you wear anything special while you do these things?

Julia: If it makes you feel better, I would kill for your fashion sense!

Amy: Thanks.  :)

Julia: Sometimes, but I've gotten lazy about that these days since we're both so busy. Plus, you don't really want to cook wearing a nice outfit. At least, not when you're as messy in the kitchen as I am. Ha.

Amy: Do you wear an apron?

Julia: No, I need to find a cute one!

Amy: I told A that I'd do more chores if she bought me a really cute apron.

Julia: Awww.

Amy: And pink dishwashing gloves.

Julia: Ha!

Amy: It makes a HUGE difference to me. I need some sort of motivation. And fashion is motivating to me.

Never doubt the power of the perfect accessory.

Julia: It makes it kind of fun role-play-ey.

Amy: Yes. For sure. Like, when I have a big cleaning day, I have to wear something fun.

Julia: Like what? Describe a typical Miller housecleaning ensemble.

Amy: Last time that was a leotard and leg warmers.

Comments [19]

Professor C's picture

way to rein it in, ladies

This really cracked me up: "Also, I let her do this or that." How do you manage making us feel like we're getting away with something all the time, when we really aren't? (rhetorical) i feel like for some reason this statement really sums up a lot about this dynamic that vaguely perplexes/troubles me and delights me at the same time. it seems like you both underestimated yourselves here but i suppose leotards and aprons can go a long way...

also, i'm way into t's new career as football coach!! GO TEAM.

Julia Watson's picture

"How do you manage making us

"How do you manage making us feel like we're getting away with something all the time, when we really aren't? (rhetorical)"

Rhetorical or not, that is one of those things I think femmes are just born knowing how to do. Thank Jesus I got that femme gene. I'm such a late-bloomer on some of this stuff.

Conlite's picture

This may well not be

This may well not be universal, but the femmes I have known have a marvellous decorating ability with ornamental do-dads that makes a living space feel home-y.

My apartment looks like the batchelor pad that it is.  I can paint, carpet, and get cool furniture, but its the trimmings that elude me.  The times I have tried to arrange ornaments it ends up looking like a ten-cent garage sale.  I compare my efforts to those of a femme college friend who with a couple of posters and drapey scarves was able to transform her dorm into a stylish boudoir.

Is this ability considered a part of the standard femme domestic goddess gene pool?

Professor C's picture

totally agree

I don't think i'm necessarily awful at "decorating" but my apartments always look severe and oddly ascetic. This I find as one of my shortcomings. i am in awe of anyone who instinctually knows where furniture belongs and who has the wherewithal to pick out plants.

Tex's picture

Only have one rule for the kitchen....

if you cook, you don't clean

Twitter Time @kdhales

minniesota's picture

The way to my heart is through my stomach...

I know you are asking femmes what they do but since I'm not a femme, I'll just answer this way:

If she cooks for me, I'll find a way to show my appreciation to her and I don't mean just doing the dishes. Laughing out loud

Still searching for the right brainy quote.

geek4grammar's picture

does femme always have to relate back to butch?

This is a tough topic for me; still haven't wrapped my brain around it 100%. but here is my basic dilemma. I feel most comfortable when I'm being girly in some very basic, traditional ways-- I like makeup, I like shaving my legs, and like you, jules, I am the goddess of my kitchen (and I have a whole selection of cute aprons, including a purple one w/ my name on it and rainbow ribbon ties in back that my mom made for me when I ran the kosher kitchen @ smith). so that's all fabulous.

BUT, I still have a hard time w/ the word "femme" (as a label for me, I mean-- I don't have a problem w/ other people using it if they like it) because I feel like it implies that I'm looking for someone butch, and I'm really, really not. I like girls who are basically girly in the same way I am, in a general, gender-normative but not necessarily all-encompassing way (like, if you get dressed up for a wedding or a bar mitzvah or something, you're definitely gonna wear a dress and not a suit; but it doesn't necessarily mean that you have to dress as femmy as possible every single day). and, you know, I am also pretty good at opening jars. and when I'm being flirty w/ someone new, I usually tend more toward the chivalrous side (though I have noticed that when you're girly and you do something that would be called "chivalrous" if you were more boyish, you're usually called "sweet" instead, which is fine w/ me). So I think the reason I shy away from the label "femme" is because it feels like false advertising. Though most people would make that assumption when they look at me (unless they're just assuming I'm straight, of course).

not sure where any of this leaves me...thoughts, fellow domestic goddesses?

We're all born naked. The rest is drag.
--RuPaul (appropriating Judith Butler for the masses...)

Not2Taem's picture

If its you,

its all good. I love folks who don't get overly involved in the binary.

Julia Watson's picture

Butch/femme is a continuum,

Butch/femme is a continuum, not a binary!

geek4grammar's picture

yeah, but...

...I sort of agree w/ that, but whenever I hear anyone who actively identifies w/ the word "femme" talking about their gender expression, it always seems to relate back to the idea of a complementary interaction w/ a butch person/scene. like, you let them open jars for you because they're the strong one; because being physically strong and femme don't go together. I'm not saying that there's anything wrong w/ that role-play, either; I know that all y'all are strong empowered women, and any role-play you get into w/ your partners is for recreational purposes only. I think that gender expression is absolutely a continuum, but butch/femme does feel a lot more binary to me. I dunno. maybe I do need to spend more time in LA...I'm planning a visit for the end of summer, actually! Helping my friend get settled in for starting her MFA @ UCLA. Y'all can show me the glory of the SoCal queer scene Wink

We're all born naked. The rest is drag.
--RuPaul (appropriating Judith Butler for the masses...)

Julia Watson's picture

Yay you, my geeky friend. So

Yay you, my geeky friend. So far this is the kind of convo I always wish we could have about this stuff on this site without it devolving into a flame war. (So let's try really hard not to let that happen, as per the usual. Ha.)

First, when I ask my butch girlfriend to do stuff for me like open a jar, it's not because I think being femme and being physically strong don't go together. Sometimes even when I can do a task like that, I'll ask my gf to do it if she's around and if I'm feeling flirty, because I know it will make her feel good, and that, in turn, makes me feel good. Nine times out of then, it's just a sexy gender-play thing. Other times, there are things I don't like to do or can't do all that well, which she likes to do/is good at (like fixing stuff around the house, for instance), in which the same principle applies. Sure, I could figure out how to apply weather stripping to our front door if I needed to. But 1) she already knows how, and 2) I know that taking care of things like that in our home makes her feel good in a way that's kind of sexy for both of us. Just like she is perfectly capable of cooking dinner for herself or both of us, but she knows that most nights, letting me do that will make me feel good. I don't think either of us sit around thinking about the deeper implications of gender roles, privilege and power before we do that kind of stuff for each other. It just comes naturally, given our identities and personalities, that we compliment each other in a lot of little ways like that, and that works for us. 

Secondly, I don't experience butch-femme as a binary at all. To me that implies a really rigid set of only two possible "opposite" identities to which my partner I would have to restrict ourselves. In my experience, butch and femme identities are far more malleable than a binary would allow for. Every butch lover/partner I've had has embodied that identity in a different way. And I embody femme in a different way than my femme friends. For instance, part of the way I identify as femme includes pronounced physical attraction to other femmes (a rarity in my group of friends), even though I am also intensely attracted to butch women and tend to prefer to be in relationships with them. For me, there is absolutely room for that under the umbrella of "femme."

I will say though that the way I feel about butch women strongly informs my identity as a femme, and that I'm not sure I would feel such a strong attachment to "femme" if I didn't feel such an equally strong affinity to the butch-femme dynamic. I def think that as part of a queer subculture, butch-femme folks tend to be more strongly invested in those gendered identities. So I kind of get what you're saying at least in terms of how you identify, and feeling reluctant or like it's false-advertizing or something to call yourself a femme. I might feel the same way in your shoes.

I don't get why/how you think of b-f as a binary, though. That said, it seems like people (gay, straight, whatevs) who don't identify within butch-femme often do tend to think of b-f as a restrictive kind of binary system. Maybe it just looks that way from the outside?



Rusty's picture

Great explanation, Julia

Great explanation, Julia. (And you managed to do it without any backhanded slams at those who don't id butch-femme.)

"When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will." ~ Pollyanna

Not2Taem's picture

Just to clarify

I did not mean to imply that butch-femme is a binary. I was saying that I am all for encouraging and cherishing all that is outside of the typically accepted binary. For me that means the whole Queer spectrum, including butch-femme, is a pleasure. I think we should leave room for individuality within any definition.

Julia Watson's picture

And yes! I will echo what my

And yes! I will echo what my buddy Mel said. SoCal is so the land of femme-on-femme! You would fit right in.  Smile

geek4grammar's picture

points for LA!

well that's something I actually did not know-- now I'm really looking forward to my august trip! 

Thanks for your thoughtful response, jules, and let me assure you that I have no intention of flaming you-- I graduated from smith college, so I am well-versed in the art of respectful-argument-in-the-context-of-academic-debate. how else can we learn and grow other than discussing out ideas w/ others who have different ideas??? otherwise, we'd all just be sitting around agreeing w/ each other, which is ultimately not very stimulating. 

anyway. I guess my queer identity was forged in a time & place (high school, rhode island, circa 1994-95ish) when these more specific subcultures weren't really visible in my daily life...I knew that things like butch/femme existed, but I never saw any real-life examples; it was just what I gleaned from reading rubyfruit jungle and shit. then in college, it was a massive free-for-all-- that's just what it's like at smith, everbody's doing their own thing, and I never really felt any pressure to articulate a specific gender expression/identity within my overall queerness. and now, in brooklyn...I'm definitely more aware of this dyad. and maybe you're right, and it's really just in my head that the dyad exists (that would be awesome), but I've noticed over the last 4 years that I've been here that most of the people who are interested in me are somewhere on the butch/transman spectrum (that's not counting the straight dudes in my neighborhood, of course, who seem to think that "can I carry your groceries" is a super-sexy pickup line). maybe I'm just in a rut and cutting myself off w/ internalized assumptions. I mean, I know that you can open your own jars, and T can make dinner for you, but you both have things that you like to do for each other, and that you know the other person likes to do for you, and that's completely awesome! but what happens when you're with someone who likes/is good at the same things you are? then your ways of flirting, showing affection, etc, aren't tied in so directly w/ your gender expression; or at least that's how it seems to me. i.e., it's not that I'm gonna make dinner because I'm the girly one; I'm gonna make dinner because I like to cook. you see what I mean? if we both have the same gender expression, then the gender-based meaning behind our choices kind of dissolves. I'm trying to think of a good text reference here, and all I can come up with is riki anne wilchins' "read my lips: sexual subversion and the end of gender," which I read a really long time ago, but which basically says that when you really dig into it, most of the bullcrap in our society around gender stems from assigning immutable meanings to our physical attributes (she relates a story of how a friend once told her she should be proud of her wide hips because they are powerful and childbearing; but as an MTF woman, her hips were not in fact childbearing, and she doesn't like kids anyway and doesn't want to have to think about her hips in that context). 


not sure what my final point is, if I have one...but I have to go do some actual work now, so I'll sign off here Wink

We're all born naked. The rest is drag.
--RuPaul (appropriating Judith Butler for the masses...)

Robin Rigby's picture

I really enjoyed the clear

I really enjoyed the clear way you expressed this.  And I second it, particularly:

 it's not that I'm gonna make dinner because I'm the girly one; I'm gonna make dinner because I like to cook. you see what I mean? if we both have the same gender expression, then the gender-based meaning behind our choices kind of dissolves

My first girlfriend was very girly, makeup, dresses, purses, taking 3 hours to get ready, etc. but we used to cook together and work on the house together, etc.  I've recently (this past Friday, actually) found out that a woman I've been attracted to is interested in me and we're embarking on dating with a pasta cookoff this weekend.  She'll cook her best recipe, I'll cook mine and then our friends will vote on the best.  I am looking forward to working together in my small kitchen.  

Anyhow, my point being that I'm with you on doing something because you're good at it/enjoy it.  I actually find the idea of gender based roles kind of offensive.  If I was straight I'd be pissed if my boyfriend/husband wanted me to do the cooking & cleaning while he worked on stuff around the house.  So it's not a butch/femme thing or a lesbian thing, it's a societal expectations thing that I rebel against. 

geek4grammar's picture

well thanx dude

well thanx dude Wink

We're all born naked. The rest is drag.
--RuPaul (appropriating Judith Butler for the masses...)

Mel Shaw's picture

it's ok

Plenty of femmes, prefer other femmes.  Being femme does not at all mean you are into butches.  Goodness, come to California and just bask in the femme on femme sometime.  It can suck b/c I'm butch and like femmes, but thank the goodness in the world I am not single and looking.

chelilektra's picture


I really can't answer this question. I'm always alone. I guess that I allow my faux-wives to come over and make me soup, or fetch things for me, and on occasion, when they are sad, I take a break from berating them to just laugh in their faces. 

Also, two words: faux meat. 


"Bitch, what you don't know about me is that I can just about fit in the Grand fucking Canyon. Did you know that I always wanted to be a dancer in Vegas?" Silent Bob