GURLS TALK: Queer, Femme and (Bewitchingly) Bisexual
Words by Judy McNicol
Queer, femme and (bewitchingly) bisexual. These words – that are often used, or seen as derogatory or marginalising labels – make me feel empowered. Each one makes me feel confident in who I am and sexy from the surface of my skin to the core of my being. So, how do these three words, which make me feel so strong, also carry the weight of sexism? Or, more accurately, why do sexists believe these words are negative and use them in hateful speech?
Much of the power I have found within these labels is reclaimed. Words that are used to humiliate, degrade or make others feel or appear ‘weak’ lose their negative power once reclaimed by those who were targeted by them. Terms that were meant to put me in a box are burst open from the inside out, spraying positive and empowered (biodegradable) confetti everywhere. Their power is taken from them and transformed into something beautiful, courageous, and let’s be honest with a hella sexy energy.
Being bisexual, queer, and femme can be kind of ‘confusing’ to your average sexist. I place the word ‘confusing’ into quotation marks because it’s hella not — at least once the lens of bigotry is removed.
The lens of bigotry includes but is not limited to:
Finding queer people a threat, because it forces you to consciously think about their chosen normative role in society and their perpetuation of what ‘should’ be the ‘norm’.
Thinking femmes exist for their perverse consumption, rather than acknowledging and accepting that femmes are sexy for their damn selves, and for the pleasures of other women, with absolutely no desire to be gawked at by sleazy men — let it be known that Divine Femme Energy is a force of nature.
Seeing bisexual women as going through a kink-based “experimental phase” whilst waiting for their knight in shining armour to rescue them, rather than grasping that bisexuality is a constant state of being, not a phase and that regardless of how many bisexual women are with men, their relationship will never be heterosexual as her bisexuality never ceases to exist.
To openly challenge sexism is to also question the superiority of men within a society built to highlight reign.
Just like any other intersectional feminist, I’m pretty damn sexy and utterly hellbent on fighting against sexism. Therefore I believe in calling out this sort out bigotry when the circumstance presents itself where I actually feel safe enough to be able to do so. Challenging sexism can be not only uncomfortable but also extremely unsafe for women. Before tackling sexism, I first consider my safety and whether I could be subjected to violence for merely standing up for myself and others. To openly challenge sexism is to also question the superiority of men within a society built to highlight reign. Calling out and trying to dismantle that patriarchy can be terrifying to men who heavily benefit from the privileges they have been handed, and which they perpetuate.
I often talk to other women about the frustrations that come with being a woman. These frustrations are infrequently rooted in from our physical being, but rather come from what it is to be a woman in society. A society which sexualises us with the male gaze while simultaneously shaming us for having a sexuality of our own. We are allowed to be sexual objects, but not allowed to FEEL sexy. We are told that our worth is calculated from how attractive we are to men, but that any sign of self-love is a vain and unadmirable flaw. Self-love comes from within. Self-love is what makes you feel sexy from the inside, and what makes you radiate on the outside. Self-love is contagious as it passes from woman to woman and empowers us all. This is what the sexists fear, and what they really want to smother.
The structure of sexism is built on oppressing women to the point where our sense of self-worth is based entirely on whether we make men happy; where we seek our own perceived sense of happiness through the validation of men. When we break it all down and strip it back, we realise that true happiness lies in our own sense of self-worth and finding self-love after a lifetime of being told how undesirable a quality it is. Self-love and love (platonic or otherwise) between women is truly enlightening. It lifts the veil of smoke created to blind us from seeing our true power and allows us to cultivate and foster that power. This newfound power allows us to radiate through the smog, attracting other women to our light.
Our collective light grows stronger and stronger as we share our knowledge of self-love, and enable ourselves to grow individually and as a whole. When the veil of smog lifts we can see the role that sexism has played in our lives, and how it has never served us. We can understand and visualise the structure that sexism is built upon, and have the knowledge and power to begin dismantling what has been built to oppress us and start reclaiming our power. Together we can see how powerful, radiant, and downright sexy, us women truly are.