On embracing femmeness

After a while of wanting absolutely zero straight men looking at me, of hiding any signs of femininity in the hopes that I’ll be perceived as neutral… after all that, I’ve been dating someone who presents butch but celebrates femininity. She makes me feel good and strong and hot, like of COURSE I should be myself! Duh!

There are so many types of queer femmeness I’ve seen people define themselves: high femme, low femme, hard femme, soft femme, fat femme, vintage femme, witch femme, tomboy femme, genderqueer femme.

Here’s what I feel I most identify with:

  • Lazy femme
  • Woke-up-like-this femme
  • Basic femme
  • Academic femme
  • Outdoorsy femme
  • Shy femme
  • Good girl femme
  • Not-particularly-alternative femme
  • Apathetic femme
  • Owns-a-knee-length-tulle-skirt-and-is-still-looking-for-an-occasion-to-wear-it femme
  • High-strung femme

 

Using that minimalism mumbo jumbo to streamline your gender expression

When I graduated college, suddenly painfully aware of how clothing and debt could accumulate so quickly, I decided I was a minimalist. That lasted all of a few weeks, but for a month or so I was throwing out more than I was buying. But shockingly enough, downsizing was wasteful. Because I was throwing out a lot. But nevermind that, I was streamlining my life and this is what it took!

Then I started exploring gender, and I bought a sizeable amount of masculine clothing. I wore it probably more than most people wear fast fashion, but I’m aware I was part of the fast-fashion problem. Ugh! I hate myself a little. I mean I can’t have been the only person to have ever gone through a phase, but I hold myself to pretty high standards (even if I break them all the time), and that “but other people do it all the time!” excuse doesn’t feel good. ANYWAYS. I had a lot of stuff, is my point. (I am a self-indulgent waste of space, is my other secondary point. Kidding. Ish.)

So I decided I had to find more organized ways to think about my wardrobe, just as with the rest of my life. Because as much as I hate organization (I’m in fact a very disorganized person), organization is an absolute lifesaver. And when my identity is a mess, having a system for where to start rather than catering to my every morning whim, really really helped stabilize me mentally.

So this is a story about getting one’s gender-scattered wardrobe organized.

The first thing i did was look up ALL the ways in which people pare down their wardrobes. There are a lot. But they all come down to a common first step of putting things into three piles based on frequency of wear and/or how much you love the garment:

  • Pile 1: the best things of your wardrobe. Either you wear them a lot or you just love them.
  • Pile 2: the “meh” things. Things that are necessary but that you don’t totally love, or maybe you just never find time to wear them because they’re never quite right for an occasion.
  • Pile 3: are things you never wear or never enjoy wearing (anything that is too small, that causes dysphoria, etc.) Some of these items might be necessary evils (if you’re closeted, if you don’t have anything to replace said item, if you hate non-black clothing but have a dress code for work) but generally these items should be considered dead to you.

This is all well and good, but what about if you’re experiencing hints of gender fluidity? In that case, what causes you dysphoria or what makes you feel joyful may change with the day. Or your ideas about how much discomfort you’ll put up with in an item of clothing will irreversibly shift, and that high-waisted skirt you used to wear now digs uncomfortably into your ribcage. Sometimes I’ll find that suddenly something I thought I liked was not true to me, was a costume all along. Or some days I just feel less feminine than others.

It can be hard to tell what you love and what you don’t. So here’s a modified version of the 3 piles thing: divide it (roughly) by gender. (Note, this assumes clothing falls into binary genders, or that there is a binariness to your wardrobe.)

  • Make a pile of menswear and a pile of womenswear. If something might fit in both piles, put it in whichever pile you usually wear it.
  • I fold my shirts narrow so that this works out, but I divide my dresser drawer into 3 sections and “file” my t-shirts so that I have one column of men’s and one of women’s. Then whenever I do laundry I put the shirts in the blank 3rd column.
  • For hanging clothing, I use the “stack” algorithm (Last In First Out): in computer science, this is a way of cache-ing data: after you access a piece of memory it goes to the top of the pile, and because piles get searched from the top down it just so happens that the data get sorted in order of how often you access them, and that the ones accessed more frequently are faster to access again. This assumes that past behavior informs future behavior… which is how our wardrobes work: typically whatever you wore most recently is also the thing you will be most likely to wear again. Here I put masculine clothing on one side of the closet and feminine on the other; but whenever I’d wear something I’d put it in the rightmost position of my closet and slide everything down by 1. This way I was categorizing my clothing into 3 sections: masculine-only, feminine-only, and any/all-gender-expression-clothing that I wear often work together.
  • Workout clothes are a jumble. I’ll deal with those later.

So there it was, my pseudo sorted wardrobe. On more masculine days, i could easily find what I wanted; on more feminine days, I could easily find something that went with those skinny jeans. The best part of this was that if I pulled something out of my wardrobe and wasn’t happy with it, often switching to the other gender pile resolved the issue. It was a good way of boxing things into gendered piles without limiting myself to wearing only say, men’s t-shirts with men’s shorts.

If you want even MORE structure, you can do a modified-for-gender-fluidity Project 333. The original Project333 involves paring down your *active* wardrobe to 33 items for 3 months; after 3 months, another 33 items. Now if you want to organize by gender, or if your gender is fluid or switches or androgynous, then it might help to do a double-Project333: 33 items of menswear (enough for multiple menswear outfits) and 33 items of womenswear. (This includes clothing and accessories and outerwear.) Use the stack algorithm to see what rises to the top of the pile. And then maybe the next round around, you reduce those 66 items to maybe 50, and then 40, and then 33 combined menswear and womens’ clothing, until you achieve genderfluid nirvana-in-a-capsule-wardrobe a la Queer Household.

janinas-capsule-e1428332778108

Last but not least, Lost In a Spotless Mind’s “Defining Style” series covers how to incorporate multiple styles: if you apply this to masculine and feminine as styles (what elements of masculinity feel right? What elements of femininity?), it might help strategize on how to make sense of your wardrobe. So for me, here are my things:

Dislikes:

  • I don’t like high-necked masculine styles: I prefer open collars and v-necks.
  • I don’t like tight-waisted feminine styles: my waist is high and not very defined which makes non-stretchy waistlines stupidly uncomfortable, and lack room for cookies.
  • I don’t like overly dainty feminine footwear: my wide flat feet need more structure.
  • I don’t like overly saggy men’s pants; I have a butt and I’d like to show it off.

Likes:

  • I like clothing that accentuates my hips and butt; even the mens pants/shorts I have hug the hips and derriere area.
  • I like structure in the upper body area: either through layering or a tailored fit, which can happen in mens clothing or womens clothing, to balance out my slopey shoulders and ample yet not overly perky boobs (anything that makes them look saggy is a nono).
  • I like flattering colors, which I sometimes can find only in the men’s and sometimes only in the women’s. (no pale pink, yellow, blue, or overly delicate hues; but no overabundance of neutrals either)
  • I like flat shoes with structure: sneakers, androgynous/unisex boots, something with some weight to it.
  • But overall, I stick to jeans and t-shirts; knowing this, 90% of my wardrobe (regardless of its gendered characteristics) should be casual.

Given this, I can definitely incorporate both masculine and feminine elements into my wardrobe without going full-on menswear or super dainty. These exercises help maybe not understand myself and my internal gender, but where exactly my gripes are with current trends and how to dress that feels *me* and cohesive. And if certain “feminine” things don’t feel right, that doesn’t mean that *all* “feminine” things will feel wrong. That maybe I can embrace my femininity rather than push it away, that I can incorporate all parts of myself and not just what I think the world expects of me.

That’s it, I hope that helps!If you’ve ever suffered from chaotic wardrobe-related feelings, start breaking it down. It’s not really about the clothes but about getting in tune with how you feel in your body, which can be complicated and difficult and incredibly confusing. So get some structure in your wardrobe, embrace your gender or lack thereof, and be free you beautiful handsome butterflies!

Nerdiness

I outdid myself.

I’ve been obsessed with trying to get to the bottom of why I feel like such an outsider. As I thought and talked about it, I started realizing something: most of my closest friends nowadays were to some extent nerdy kids. Maybe we had friends and maybe we found ways to fit in, and maybe we’ve outgrown the bulk of it by now, but our brains all operate at a slightly different wavelength from the rest of society. There’s always that piece of us that wants to get into debates and analyze and get all wrapped up in ideas.

So of course, the next thing I did was google “nerd personality type” and came across this article (for all its shortcomings, it was useful) which starts off with this anedcote:

One day when Erik Charles Nielsen was in seventh grade, his teacher taught a lesson on time zones. The first thing you needed to know, said the teacher, was that the International Date Line was at 180 degrees longitude. “Not exactly,” said Nielsen, piping up to interrupt the lesson. “It actually moves to avoid islands.” After a 15-minute argument, Nielsen was escorted from the room—despite being correct.

Reminds me almost EXACTLY of a time in 5th grade when we were learning bike safety and the gym teacher told us to stay 3 feet from the curb and other obstacles on the side of the road: about the distance from the line around the basketball court to the wall. I did what any well-adjusted 10 year old would do: I raised my hand. “I don’t think that’s three feet.” He looked at me in disbelief, then demonstated how the distance he’d indicated was exactly 3 of his foot lengths. “But is your foot really a ‘foot’?” I asked, regretting it almost immediately. After an awkward pause, during which the whole class looked over at me as I realized I’d messed up, he finally said: “It’s close enough to three feet.” I never did that again, but as we rode around town practicing turn signals and safe riding, I made sure to stick as close to the three feet rule as I could.

And that’s the thing. My brain was ALWAYS trying to figure out rules while my classmates were focusing elsewhere. For me, rules were important. They were foundational.

I was most. definitely. a nerd.

I also had to laugh because only a nerd would go through this amount of research to figure out whether they were in fact a nerd. Because I always knew I was an outsider, but I didn’t know why. There are a million reasons I was different. I’ve gone through them all. But ultimately, social interactions were so hard for me that only in adulthood am I really able to figure this shit out. Most sources (YES OKAY I RESEARCH WAY TOO MUCH) say that the nerdy personality is a mild form of Aspergers, which is a mild form of Autism. It’s not on the spectrum because it doesn’t interfere with daily functioning, but it shares a lot of characteristics of ASD.

Sometimes it BOGGLES my mind that I could be so different from someone else, that they don’t care about my amazing fact about blue pigmentation being COMPLETELY absent from the animal kingdom. That shit’s amazing to me.

But the thing is I’m a total extrovert. I don’t have particularly nerdy hobbies and I don’t like being alone for long periods of time. Academia is really hard for me in that sense. But it’s taken me years to learn how to socialize normally, and a LOT of trial and error. Nobody cares that it’s not exactly three feet but me. Maybe some other kid in the back of the class also wondered the same thing and had the good sense not to open their big mouth, but not me at the time.

It’s been causing a lot of growing pains. It’s been something I’ve denied for a really long time, thinking maybe I felt different because I was queer… or because I was bad at all sports… or because my parents were older… or because my brothers shamed me… or because I was a sensitive kid so I was picked on and/or ignored by my peers… or because I was brainy… or because I was first-generation…

Why do I want to crack this code? A dozen reasons. But mostly because I think that, for all its benefits, nerdiness means getting stuck in my own head and thought processes, which prevents me from really being there for others as a friend and daughter and sister and aunt and girlfriend. And cracking the code means being able to hack having community and a sense of belonging, and participating in this whole human race thing.

So yeah, I’m gonna research the shit out of this, keep analyzing. This is just how my brain operates. Don’t tell anyone, because being cool (or at least functional) is supposed to come easy.

But yeah. I outdid myself in nerdiness by researching nerdiness.

Book review: “Butch is a Noun” by S. Bear Bergman

Upon recommendation from fellow blogger The Butch (thanks man!) I found another lovely queer book to read: Butch is a Noun (BiaN). The author, Bear, goes into all the ways ze does gender, and I can’t help but hear echoes of Stone Butch Blues, if only because both butches are products of similar societies: both are from New England Jewish roots, and both resist femininity with all their strength. Not only that, but (though SBB does this only tangentially) both books address variety within the butch community: butches who are women, butches who are transmasculine, butches who are men, butches who love other butches, and the oppression they face from within the community.

Now I feel like these books were a product of a much more heteronormative era than we are living in right now, so I don’t relate to much of it. The chivalry. The glorification of performing gender to the point of impracticality. But both books also address the need for such posturing, stemming from the the external pressures to be a certain way all the time, to be consistent in one’s gender, to be always reinforcing gender roles even while defying them.

SBB talks mostly about being one kind of butch, about the pain of existing in an era where norms were violently enforced by the police, about fighting for civil rights and workers’ rights and the struggles of the working class. It was about how civil rights, for workers and for LGBT people, were sometimes one and the same. It was about all these things, and Leslie’s personal identity underwent very little questioning or change. Ze was a butch through and through, refusing dresses, dating femmes, working manual labor jobs. And ze was repeatedly forced to fight for and justify zir existence.

BiaN is about a slightly different life. Bear alludes to rough and even violent experiences, but with the help of hir family and butch brotherhood, she is fortunate enough to write a book that focuses more on the positive aspects of butchness. Absent are the bar raids and police rapes in SBB. Butchness has evolved. Ze alludes to ever-present violence, to butches hardening up as they get older, to the stress of daily interactions; but by and large ze focuses hir writing on the glorification of masculinity, of femininity, of butch/femme dynamics, of a romantic dynamic so often underrepresented in the media.

I will say I still don’t identify with the book’s old-school gender dynamics. Back when I was dating men, wearing dresses and wearing my hair long, I still didn’t find it necessary for people to open car doors for me, to protect me from mud, to carry my groceries, pay for dinner. It made me angry. I learned later to be grateful, to not assume the worst of the male/butch party in these situations, and to just say thank you and slip into the car seat with a smile. But my dad never did any of that stuff for my mom, she didn’t seek it, and we never discussed it: those gender dynamics feel stilted and uncomfortable. So to find a whole queer subculture glorifying these gender dynamics felt surprising to me. And that’s when I realized some people LIKE being treated this way.

Maybe I’m too much a product of my upbringing. My parents are about the same height; my dad is marginally stronger than my mom; they both worked for comparable salaries their whole lives. There was no butch/femme at home. My mom is capable and active and doesn’t wear makeup; my dad does not peacock his masculinity. So for me, the model for masculinity and the model for femininity are hardly different. Maybe I’d have felt differently in a more gender-divergent household. But then I look at my brothers, so comfortable in their masculinity, and I realize we all have multiple influences shaping our gender experiences. But I was always closer to my parents than my brothers were; it’s inevitable that their gender dynamic would play a role in shaping my own experience.

Or maybe it’s because I generally fit into femininity when I want to, and as a result never had to assert my identity as otherwise; Feinberg and Bergman certainly faced much more othering as children, and as a result, discovering who they were rather than who they weren’t created in their butch identity a sense of pride that is freshly asserted every time they interact with the world as a masculine creature. In their time, I would have been a “femme”.

But as far as masculine-feminine goes, and this is something I just never ever related to, both books portray romance between masculine and feminine as this electric dynamic, that being your partner’s opposite was very much a desirable thing, whereas I always struggled with that in romance. The thing about this is that Bear is in fact married to a man. Ze alludes to being a butch who likes other butches, boys, men, masculine humans of various identities, at the beginning… and then waxes poetic about femmes for page upon page, and then squeezing in a few pages about butch-on-butch. To have a feminist masculine writer talk about femmes with such admiration and respect is wonderful and enjoyable to read, for sure; but the balance of butch/femme and butch/butch was skewed heavily toward the former. I’d been looking forward to some more discussion about butch/butch as a complementary presence to the butch/femme, but there was little besides the chapter calling Bear out on the unequal attention to the two dynamics. I eventually started skimming over the parts that were painting flowery word-pictures about butch masculinity and femme femininity because there was so much of it there; almost as if the book itself was conforming. Nevertheless, this is a personal gripe, and it was all very well-done.

Aside from not identifying with their perception of gender dynamics, both Feinberg and Bergman are from New England Jewish upbringings. I didn’t completely identify with Feinberg though because of her working class roots; I was unquestioningly going to college and they forbade me from doing menial summer jobs because we didn’t need the money (though I wanted to because I wanted to feel needed and I was ashamed that I had privilege). Feinberg’s descriptions of factory work and the need for unions and union politics was completely new and eye opening for me. But I thought I’d have more in common with Bergman, because Boston-area judaism has a kind of commonality. It turns out that her family’s synagogue-going habits (vs. my family’s lack thereof) and her family’s gender dynamics and her mother’s pressure on her to perm her hair and wear makeup… these are not things I can relate to at all. Her family sounded wealthier than mine, and indeed in my hometown there was a great divide between us first-generation Israeli kids and the rest of the jewish kids, as well as a divide between the upper-class jewish kids and the middle-class jewish kids. There were many differences that came up yet again in BiaN.

I think more than anything BiaN made me realize how much heterogeneity there is even within that community; my identity as a Boston-area jew intersects with my first-generational status and my middle-class suburban status and, of course, my femme-ish status.

Tl;dr: Reading books about experiences other than one’s own is incredibly eye opening. I found Butch is a Noun to be a wonderful read to follow Stone Butch Blues. The two books are complementary pictures of female-assigned masculinity. I’d love to pick up a book about femme-ness next, or some other female-assigned masculinity besides butchness, to see the queer world through a fresh set of eyes that have seen their own unique challenges. Right now, I give this book a solid thumbs up.

Gender-flexible underthings

I’m very excited about this post. I love talking about underthings! Because I believe in the power of underthings. The articles of clothing that people don’t see have the power to transform us into secret super heroes. And we all know how fond superheroes are of showing off their underwear by wearing it over their outfits (here’s why, by the way; and here’s a better why).

Not everyone cares about underthings; some just want them to disappear on their bodies, and some opt out of them altogether. Whether underthings really matter to a person, either as functional/foundational elements or aesthetically pleasing outfits in and of themselves, is a matter of personal preference. But for me personally, I see underwear as a piece of personal expression that nobody else (or a very select audience!) will witness. I mean, the first masculine clothing I bought was boxer briefs. My first racy bra was something nobody else saw because I was a virgin at the time, but I felt so awesome in it! My fraught relationship with my body is sometimes at its best when I’m wearing nothing but underwear; there’s no “work-appropriate” or “flattering”, there’s just me and my body. And lately, I’ve been experiencing a need to shake stuff up, and not just to bind my chest flat but to wear it proudly.

I’m all over the gender spectrum, but when it comes to undergarments, there is something super awesome about lingerie shopping. For one, many lingerie websites (especially gender-inclusive ones) are starting to include larger models, making for a more accurate (and empowering) shopping experience. When curvy models appear for a special line of “curvy” clothing for some website or another, it’s like they’re throwing women a bone… a curvy bone… wrapped in drapey, ill-fitting smocks. With lingerie, there is no hiding the body behind a black frumpy t-shit–which I mean, how long did it take them to design that?! 3 minutes? Some designer deserves the “biggest slacker” prize for that one. (This used to be my beef with ASOS, but it looks like they have a decent selection. More on ASOS in a sec.)

For another, if you are a sexual person (which not everyone is), there’s something about privately sexualizing one’s own body that is really empowering. Whether that means binders/tanks + men’s briefs, or racy bras + boxers, or all out femme-lacy-glamour, displaying one’s body for the benefit of a select audience (oneself, a partner, many partners) can feel awesome. Or even if you’re not a sexual person, maybe knowing that you can choose your own undergarments–regardless of the pressures you feel to present a certain way when clothed, in a world that wants to sexualize you–can also feel empowering. I can’t speak to the asexual experience, so I’ll spend the rest of the time speaking personally about assuming a sexual experience.

Sometimes when my relationship with my body is at its worst, there is one force that can overpower my body shame: my sexuality. Engaging with said sexuality is a very empowering experience in my own body, whether alone or with a partner. For me to not just be okay getting naked, but to WANT to show off my body in undergarments I choose, which reflect my own personal beauty standards, is a pretty awesome experience.


Since I’m all over the gender maps (some days I bind, some days I go all lace and frills), I wind up doing gender very differently through my undergarments depending on the day. But while my external clothing is usually on the tomboy-femme region of the spectrum, my true feelings about my gender on a particular day are reflected by what I’m wearing underneath.

As far as my current selection: I own zero thongs (they are the makings of the devil), a couple plain bikini briefs, several lace-y but casual boyshorts, some boxer-briefs, and a few boxers (mostly for sleeping). The distribution is about 50/50 men’s and women’s underwear. I also own an even distribution of binders, sports bras, and underwire bras.

I’m typically for practicality, but lately I’ve gone in the pursuit of fun. I wrote once about how I love boxer-briefs, which are predominantly for men but I always pick femme-y patterns for them. Now I’ve gone in search of funderwear for women that also captures the level of androgyny I’m interested in exuding. But a lot of lingerie (especially sustainable eco-friendly brands, and especially androgynous brands) caters to A-C cups, is only available abroad, is perpetually out of stock, or is uber expensive. Maybe, if they’re perpetually out of stock, there’s a sizable market there that someone should take advantage of! Ever think of that?! And ALSO maybe more bigger-chested women want the option of not having pastel-colored lacy padded craziness?! Anyways.

I like masculinity some days, but other days I don’t. But if I force myself to embody masculinity as my way of expressing androgyny, I’m not really being myself. So I’m looking for a better balance to express my gender in an androgynous manner.

So what does androgyny in lingerie even entail?? Best to defer to an expert on this one. The Lingerie Addict says this:

Much of the time, androgyny ends up being defined by absences. The “androgynous model” is often someone with no facial hair, minimal curves, no heavy musculature. To a degree, we “read” people’s genders by running down a checklist of traits like these. Breasts? Probably female. Beard? Probably male. Both? Takes a little more figuring out. When we look at clothing, the ideas are more abstract. We look at fit, color, and design elements to get a sense of what gender the piece of clothing is oriented towards.

Lingerie that doesn’t do the traditional girly moves, or lingerie that downplays feminine-coded parts of the body, definitely is part of my definition of androgyny. But there’s another way for lingerie to be androgynous, and that’s by not just minimizing gender, but by counterbalancing it.

Brands often create androgyny in their lingerie by adding masculine elements to a garment intended for women (or more rarely, the opposite: some feminine detailing on a garment intended for men.) Play Out includes a thick, labeled waistband on their underwear (a typically masculine feature), which they pair with tropical florals and abstract prints which are less gendered. Other companies use contrast piping and Y-fronts on underwear cut for women in order to give it a more androgynous feel.

But masculinity and androgyny are not the same thing. Some people will assume that if you’re wearing all masculine underwear and happen to have two X chromosomes, that means that your lingerie look is androgynous. I don’t think this is always true. Some masculine-of-center folks don’t convey much androgyny in their looks at all: they look masculine, full stop. I think that the exact tipping point between androgynous and masculine (or androgynous and feminine) is a matter of taste and consensus, but often for a look to be androgynous, the wearer has to be balancing elements.

So either you can create androgyny by subtracting feminine qualities or by adding masculine qualities.

In the category of subtracting femininity, the stuff I tend to prefer includes:

  • Wider straps over thin straps.
  • Racerback/T-back over normal straps.
  • No bows, no frills, absolutely NO rhinestones.
  • Minimal lace; mesh is a nonoffensive alternative. Big cutouts and strappy details are awesome as well.
  • Color alternatives to black/white/red/pink, including more masculine/sporty colors like blues, greens, oranges, grays, and browns.
  • Anything but a push-up. PLEASE. DEAR GOD SAVE US FROM THE UBIQUITOUS PUSHUP. This can be surprisingly annoying, but there do seem to be more options these days.

And in the category of balancing:

  • Wearing something masculine on the bottom and feminine on top, or neutral on top and feminine on the bottom, or neutral and neutral. Eg boxer-briefs with a girly bra, or a sports bra with lacy underwear.
  • Wide thick straps and structure coupled with lace
  • Wide waistbands on feminine briefs
  • Lace in blue/green/orange/gray
  • Guy’s shorts and a baggy hoodie with really girly underthings

The Lingerie Lesbian has some examples that I can get on board with. As does Autostraddle.

If you’re curious, I’ve found a few affordable (ish) options to buy stuff, including a lot of Etsy shops. Encompassing a wide range of gender identities and expressions, here they are:

  • OrigamiCustoms on Etsy. My favorite on this list. They are great because they’re eco-friendly, very androgynous in their styling, and also super queer friendly, with several non-boring unisex and genderqueer/trans* listings, for transmasculine or transfeminine folk. Also, they carry a binder in like a million colors!

  • Majorey on Etsy, which have things like this blue/mesh sports bra. About as sexy-tomboy as you can get. They have some really sexy stuff period.

  • IHeartNorwegianWood on Etsy. I know, a lot of Etsy… it’s where it’s at! They carry lots of mesh, leather, strappy stuff, and even some non-black non-leather harnesses which is cool cuz you can wear it with any bra that suits your gender expression or even over clothing. Kindof a cool concept. Skews feminine, though with minimal frills or lace or pink. A really cool tomboy-femme aesthetic.

  • Other Etsy shops:
  • Foxers, a somewhat new shop that has everything from thongs to all-over lace boxers to boyshorts to boxerbriefs to men’s boxers; and just like with Stonemen, the styling doesn’t deviate too much between the “men’s” and the “women’s”, just the cut. They also carry lace bras and sports bras and tanks. They’re not my favorite aesthetic for some reason, but they’re otherwise great and you should check em out.

  • If we’re talking affordable, ASOS is the way to go, for masculine or feminine lingerie.
    • Starting on the masculine side, they have all these fun colorful boxers and boxer-briefs. I love when there are really sexy masculine options (like these) because honestly, are cis heterosexual men the only ones turned on by sexy underwear? Maybe if I hadn’t hooked up with so many guys wearing stretched out, worn out boxers I would still be straight! (kidding!!) They also have non-sexy fun options like this polkadotted awesomeness. My favorite place for affordable masculine underwear.
      • Sidenote: there are other places to buy stuff along same vein as the first pair of “sexy masculine” boxer-briefs, see here and here.
    • As for tomboy stuff/masculine-styled undethings, they definitely deliver, with this and this. It’s pretty great. They even carry some nice Nike sports bras (which I think are pretty ineffective for my rack of lamb, but hot/masculine-of-center and aesthetically pleasing nonetheless.
    • They also have a lot of kink-inspired but not full-on bondage-y stuff that is really hot. Call me a wimp but I don’t feel like I gel with an all-leather harness or explicit bondage-wear; I do however love the straps and the risque styling of some of these pieces, which leave off lace and bows (I seriously think I’m allergic). See here and here and also here. Oh yeah, and they have some great fuller-bust options as well, and their sizes go up to a 40FF.
  • A practical but more femme option for bigger busts, Freya are awesome. So this one time when I had gone up a cup size yet again I went shopping with my mom for bras, and I bought a few of these, plus a couple cheaper DKNY/etc options. And of course, I hardly ever wore the cheap ones and stuck to the two Freya ones I bought. For underwire bras, they are tied with Calvin Klein in my book; yes they’re pretty feminine but they have some inoffensive, fuller-coverage, basic, and sports-bra styles. They’re kindof on the more expensive side, but they sometimes go on sale. Either way they don’t really break the bank.
  • Last but not least, Bluestockings Boutique is a super inclusive online shop, where there’s no such thing as “nude” colored bras because i mean, since when does everyone look like a bandaid? They also have binders and packing briefs as well as femme options. Check ’em out.

For other resources, check out The Lingerie Addict and The Lingerie Lesbian for amazing queer-inclusive body-positive feminist smart discussions of something that traditionally caters to the male gaze and to femme-of center women. It’s pretty awesome.

Also, HerRoom has a (women’s) lingerie guide for men! It looks like it caters more to cross-dressers in their language, but nevertheless it’s very comprehensive for MAAB-bodied people, I think; correct me if I’m wrong. And they have reviews by male customers.

What are your opinions on underthings?

Lea Delaria, OITNB season 3, queer masculinity

A rambly post about a couple things.


I don’t know if I mentioned a few weeks ago that at a social-justice-y burlesque show I saw with GF, Lea Delaria performed a powerful rendition of this song, and it was effing amazing. Also she’s basically my height!!! I got really excited about that. But more importantly she’s an incredibly talented singer! Ayways, she recently appeared on Conan to sing a snippet of Bowie:

Big Boo + Bowie… amazing. I just wanted to share.


Speaking of OITNB, I’m not a huge fan of this season. I’m only halfway, but I’m having a hard time finishing; I really wish there was a little more. I hate what happened to Daya and to Nichols, but I feel like those were good plots; they moved forward, they had purpose. Red’s plot line was great as well. Other plot lines, I really don’t get:

  • I know that Piper wasn’t the main character, but I wish she’d shown some development. She’s bratty and snooty as ever.
  • Chang’s plot gives me a lot of feels, but I don’t totally understand it. She seems to have been totally abandoned in prison; does she not have any money in commissary? She doesn’t even have toothpaste. But where did she get the phone? I also wish her character was more empowered; she says snarky comments in response to racist/judgmental comments, to show that she is a person (calling people “lesbian”… maybe in response to being called Chang; letting people know she can hear them: “eyes squinty but ears work fine”). But she seems to have no relationships within the prison or without. And also the final flashback scene when she was in the warehouse and the man who refused to marry her because she was ugly called her undesirable one last time; instead of devaluing his opinion, she continues to take the comment to heart, crying as she orders the men to… well. I guess that’s more realistic than her rising above beauty standards.
  • Poussey was drinking because she didn’t have a girlfriend? really?!
  • Will I ever get through an Alex/Piper scene without gagging?
  • Why does Alex like Piper?
  • Why does Stella like Piper?
  • Why was the reveal of Ruby Roses’s character so awkward? Like she’s suddenly there smirking across the warehouse? Why?

This season is interesting, but a little bit weird.


Also, on the topic of queer masculinity, Buzzfeed had this interesting discussion on the topic. There are things that I do very girly and things that I do very boyish, but if I measure my success at being either one, I fail. The people in this roundtable have an interesting take on gender, moving the discussion beyond “masculine vs feminine”, and why people are afraid of deconstructing gender. There are many good excerpts, such as this:

Thomas: I’ve written about gender and masculinity specifically for a lot of different audiences for many years, and I’ve never sugarcoated my truth nor have I presumed that readers won’t understand it. I’ve approached people with the expectation that they can do better than “born in the wrong body” and I’ve challenged everyone I’ve interacted with to think of their own gender, and its intentional construction, as a spiritual and potentially revolutionary act. I don’t know why I’m trans. Gender is not a performance for me, in the simplistic way I viewed identity as a young person. It’s also not the construction projected on me. It’s something messy and beyond. There’s a freedom in that, and also a kind of terror for most people. Because if we can’t signify with our bodies in legible ways that are easily and entirely translated, in what other ways is our universe not what it seems?

Van: I think the more we understand gender and its connections to other identities, the more we can generate love and empathy in the world. We would place more value on the lives in the margins and do what we can to ensure their survival. I say, let’s continue to expand these conversations, let’s discuss ways to create healthy masculinity that upholds accountability and uplifts femme-of-center folks and trans women of color, but also illuminates and recenters self-love for masculine-of-center folks.

Gabby: The closer any of us get to the ideal standard of beauty for men or women, the more praise we receive from the public at large. If you’re a dyke, be a dyke, but don’t be a “manly one.” If you’re a trans woman, they want you to look as much like what’s considered a “real woman” as possible. Universe save you if you fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum and don’t rush to make a choice they consider appropriate — they don’t want us. And as a brown person of color without considerable means, reaching those standards in either direction is challenging.

Ari: That’s the important piece here. The range is wide and far. There are many of us who do not pass — and frankly don’t want to! — and those are the narratives we don’t see. I present masculine on a Tuesday and sometimes might present feminine on a Thursday. This freaks both queer and larger communities out. The world loves to be “progressive” and stand by you, as long as they understand where you fit.

Read the whole transcript on Buzzfeed.

Movie review: “Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same”

You may not have heard of it, but it’s the most baller for its dollar:

This one is actually really super entertaining. I watched it with the person I’m sorta dating (because labels, man) and if we ever last I credit this movie.

I thought it’d be either way too weird and artsy for me or really boring and terribly done. It could have been stupid or cheesy. But I was pleasantly surprised! And given the budget and the limited cast, it was wonderfully rich and full of surprises.

So this is not your typical lesbian movie. It looks like a 1950s hokey scifi movie but it was made in 2011. There were few femmes and no glamorous sex, although there was some pretty steamy nose-rubbing and heartbreaking cheesecake. It’s in black and white.  It was produced for less than $8000 on kickstarter: it was truly a labor of love.

Aliens from a far away planet fear damage to their ozone layer is caused by big emotions, i.e. love– BEAR WITH ME HERE GUYS. If any alien is found guilty of big feelings, they get sent to Earth to break their hearts because human interactions are known to cause heartbreak. So they get to Earth on a mission to find love so they can experience true heartbreak. A lonely middle-aged lesbian who works at a stationary store waits for the day someone special comes along; lo and behold, someone comes along who is out of this world. Zoinks, an alien, gives her a love card and big emotions ensue. They are stalked by the CIA. Two other aliens, Zylar and Barr, are on the same quest, but after a passionate cheesecake-fueled afternoon one of Barr falls in love with Zylar while Zylar goes out to lesbian bars and parties her butt off and picks up more girls than Shane.

Zylar’s my faves. She goes on awkward dates trying to blend in with earthlings, tries her hand at online dating, and even puts out a youtube video to attract potential female suitors.

So real life.

There’s a lot of cute. This is cute:

And this:

And this:

This film about adorably sensitive space aliens will make you feel more human than ever.

Oh and P.S. Madeline Olnek has some really smart things to say about the film.