femme fashion

The Trope of the Trophy Wife

When I was dating someone who read as butch, I was routinely called their ‘trophy wife’. This always bothered me for a few reasons, in spite of my initial inclination to accept the comment as a compliment about my appearance and my partner’s charm or romantic allure. Of course I wanted to ignore the implication that my partner was somehow less attractive than me because of their gender presentation. I wanted to keep the peace and avoid provoking fragile masculinities. But it always bothered me that my attraction to queer masculinity was not acknowledged.

To call someone a trophy wife is to dismiss them as a subject of desire.

To the hetero mainstream eye, cisgender queer femininity is perceived as a prize that has been won by a subject whose gendered aesthetic is not only considered unattractive or undesirable, but even villainous or immoral. This further promotes the binary of light/dark, femme/masc, good/evil, pure/perverse that is so popular in  mainstream media, and which is often employed toward the end of objectifying femininity.

What I found interesting when researching other uses of the term ‘trophy wife’, is that most commonly, a trophy wife is synonymous with ‘gold digger’, a woman who pairs with a man for his money. Money is traded for arm candy in a relationship with a trophy wife. When an ignorant bystander sees a butch femme queer couple, they can only make sense of half this equation. The economic status of queer women is nowhere near to that of straight men, and so bystanders are left with the task of understanding just why this pretty feminine woman is standing so close to that lesbian who looks like Justin Bieber.

Incredibly, there have been moments when someone will assume I have a history of domestic violence before they recognize that I might in fact be sexually attracted to a butch woman.

Using queer femme fashion as a framework through which to empower the expression of femme-ininities, I am working on my ‘trophy wife’ aesthetic. This look will utilize hyperbolic accessory, award symbolism (military medal brooches!), and lots of GOLD. I am envisioning a strong lapel, various metal hardware and some elaborately flamboyant head piece. My aim is to take back the trophy wife trope and channel it into an outfit that serves to mock hetero-normativity while subverting the notion that cis femmes lack queer desire or sexual agency.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Femme : Sexuality + Fashion + Politics

I have been thinking about the relationship between femininity and sexual objectification as expressed through dress. I’m working out ways to explain my Femme Fashion Politics.

The symbolism of traditional feminine garb denounces subjectivity. Its purpose is to please the eye, decorate the space, titillate the traditionally masculine subject. Femininity is profoundly connected to sexual objectification, historically, culturally, socially, politically and economically.

The process of adorning oneself in sartorial items laden with cultural meanings reflective of dominant/submissive heterosexual tropes is an act that is either engaged with at a conscious level or treated as a natural whim. When consciously engaging in the submissive costume, one can be said to have objectified themselves as they have actively taken the role of the object in the subject/object binary represented in traditional heterosexual dynamics/aesthetics. In this conscious effort, one is both subject and object, subject of their own objectivity, thus dismantling the historically embedded hierarchical binary that assumes masculine = subject while feminine = object.

Further, when photographing and disseminating images of the self as object, one situates themselves as voyeur as well as spectacle. I believe this is the critical bit about being femme(inist) online. We can be objects ourselves and also actively see ourselves in the images we share portraying personal and political sartorialism. In this act of image dissemination, we consume ourselves in a way that might be metaphorically likened to auto-eroticism in the sense that we both give and receive the pleasure. We blog about sexuality and fashion and feminism in our efforts to extend ourselves to our communities, and perhaps more importantly to further discover/define/articulate/express ourselves for the sake of our own pleasure.