How can you tell who is a femme? Their shoes? Their outfits? Make-up? A combination of the three?
Most days that I am out in the world I will be wearing sweatpants, a crappy t-shirt with no bra and no makeup, yet I am a femme. Like a lot of us, I have chronic illnesses that prevent me from wearing bras, and clothes other than pajamas (both because of the physical discomfort, and the energy needed). I am also fat, and have little time or money to shop (let alone time or money for altering or making clothes), and have trouble finding clothes that don’t hurt, are affordable and fit, yet alone cute clothes that meet all these requirements. My feet deformities mean that all I can wear are ugly hippie shoes, sneakers or Doc Martins, and nothing that could be properly described as “cute”.
There are all sorts of reasons, yet at the same time no reason is necessary, why many of us are pajama femmes. As a femme, my sexual orientation (what a ridiculous word!) feels invisible in a lot of queer spaces (and almost always in non queer specific places). As a pajama femme, my femmeness feels invisible everywhere. My gender identity is Dolly Parton, but my gender presentation is more Roseanne Connor* (who I adore and I think is amazing, but doesn’t typify what we usually think of when we think of “femme”). And I know there are a lot of barriers for all of us in terms of looking how we feel and doing gender, but this is my experience, and I don’t think it is an uncommon one.
I propose a different kind of femme, and we are fabulous. And here is our manifesto.
WHEREAS, Femmes of all kinds are often invisible in queer culture, and the traits that society deems feminine in all of us is devalued in queer and “mainstream culture”,
WHEREAS, many of us are also sick, poor, busy, tired, allergic, fat, incarcerated, lazy, etc., we may not have the resources (financially, energetically, materially etc.) to present ourselves and our gender to society the way we want to,
WHEREAS, we are the ONLY ones who can define our gender identity and sexual orientation and NO ONE, can tell us we are something that we are not, but we do want to be visible to each other and the world
WE DECLARE: AS pajama femmes we understand all that and call for a new kind of femme visibility, one that is rooted in an analysis that centers the experience of those of us too fat to fat cute clothes in our size, or too allergic to products to wear makeup, or too tired to deal with our hair (which affects many of those of us of color in very intense and resource heavy ways), or those of us that are incarcerated and have very little say in our physical appearance.
Pajama femme doesn’t rely on outward appearances for identification. Pajama femme challenges the idea that ANYONE’S gender can be summed up by their appearance.
Pajama femme understands that our gender and sexual orientation are just two of the jillions of identities that we are trying to navigate in this world,
Pajama femme knows that being marginalized is hard work and we should at least be comfortable.
So join the pajama femme revolution! We will be the ones at the gay bar in our sweatpants.
*This was edited to Roseanne “Connor” to make clear it refers to the fictional character, not the transphobic comic herself.