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Strength in the face of fire

Reader, your femme on a mission slipped up last night. In spite of how hard I work to fight it, I let some unwanted male attention derail me from my goal of living fearlessly in my femininity.

So here’s what happened. Last night Ash and I decided to go out on the town with a friend of ours who was visiting for the week. We went to a bar near our old house that we used to frequent quite regularly.

Since lately we have been living a sort of homebody lifestyle (which I love, but who doesn’t need a little adventure sometimes?), I was excited to get dolled up for an evening out. I slipped into some sexy black stockings, a kelly-green hip-hugging skirt, and a scoop back black blouse. I even busted out those heels I was telling you about!

click for a close-up!

We got to the bar pretty late, which is why it was so surprising that the pool table in the back room was empty. Aside from a few girls sitting on the couch, there was no one in the room, so we took the opportunity to start a friendly game of billiards.

Then, the second our friend racked up and broke, it was as though a siren had called for every creepy man in the state to swarm the poolroom. Our game had barely begun before we found ourselves encircled by a crowd of rowdy and drunken testosterone-laden types who were just waiting for us to clear the table.

I wouldn’t say that I am easily intimidated, and as the crowd first began to form, I widened my stance and sharpened my focus to convey a sense of calm assertiveness. However, as we continued to be surrounded – I would say by about ten to twelve men at this point – I started to get a bad feeling in my chest. My intuition was kicking in, and I was visibly uncomfortable.

Every time I leaned over to take a shot, I could feel twenty-four drunken eyes on me, and I wished I was wearing anything but the backless top. Every move I made suddenly felt too overtly sexy; I couldn’t find a way to hold my body that didn’t make me feel like I was on display. Additionally, we were gathering more attention for being a lesbian couple in a straight bar. In this male-dominated company, a spotlight of stares followed us wherever we went, and there was nowhere to hide.

This was me

“I don’t want to play anymore,” I whispered to Ashley. “Can we just stop?” I pleaded, near tears.

She put her arm around me. “Let’s just take one more shot, okay babe?” she encouraged. I’m so grateful that she did, because I think I would feel even worse now had I quit out of my discomfort. I took her offer and ended up finishing the game.

********

I’m disappointed in myself for letting the crowd get to me, for losing my grip on the powerful femininity I strive to exude. Intellectually, I knew I was safe; Ash and I were in a public space and accompanied by a male friend. Yet I couldn’t shake the feeling of exposure, the sense that my body was splayed out as a thing to be analyzed, consumed, or rejected. In that moment, I lost my sense of agency.

Fortunately, the incident didn’t ruin the rest of our night, and we were able to enjoy ourselves once we had ceded the pool table and slipped into the background. But even this felt like some sort of retreat.

In the future, I’m going to work harder to maintain my calm and confidence in the face of the male gaze. I am in control of my body, and I won’t back down in the face of those who seek to belittle me through objectification.

Dita, Im channeling you!

Do you have any tips or similar experiences you could share? How do you respond when you are the object of unwanted male attention?

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Categories: Femme Theory, The Archives

5 Comments on “Strength in the face of fire”

  1. April 17, 2011 at 11:11 pm #

    Me and Jess just tend not to frequent places like that by ourselves. If we do we’ll go with a group of friends. When they leave so do we. If we do get bothered Jess does have a mouth on her. She just tell them to “F**K off.” I think your safer staying with a group of friends. Otherwise if it’s just the two of you go some where that it more gay/lesbian friendly.
    Unfortunately being Femmes the guys aren’t going to leave us alone. We’re just their hot fantasy it seems :S
    Kara XOXO

    PS LOVE your outfit and those are some HOT heels!!!!!!!

    • April 17, 2011 at 11:24 pm #

      I agree – going in a group is always helpful. And you are so right, we could avoid the situation by not frequenting these types of places, but part of me just doesn’t want to allow stupid people to keep me from going where I want to go, you know?

      Ps – THANK YOU!! :)

      • April 17, 2011 at 11:51 pm #

        I understand what you’re saying. I guess when I’m with Jess we just have no desire to go to places like that alone. Maybe we’re getting old (Me-22-her-25) LOL but we often prefer just going out to dinner/a movie and a quiet night at home. Friday’s is the only night I really go out with friends. Often I just invite a bunch of friends over to my townhouse and we party here. No one uninvited to bother us :)
        Kara XOXO

  2. April 17, 2011 at 11:55 pm #

    Ugh. I’m so sorry. I will admit to having felt like that in public situations too. In my old neighborhood in the summer, street harassment was particularly bad. It used to make me so angry that I had to think about altering my outifts just to avoid harassment. Ultimately, I didn’t usually alter anything. I put on my don’t-fuck-with-me face and walked with a bit of a stomp. That’s my patented survival method.

  3. emmamulligan
    April 11, 2012 at 7:16 pm #

    That’s pretty awful. Although it’s true that it’s because of your femininity that you became a target, it’s not because of your femme-ininity, get it? All feminine women, gay, straight or whatever, find themselves in a similar position at some point. In high school, before I had even accepted that I was gay, I learned how to ignore pretty much all that kind of attention. I’m not really sure how I did it, but I find when it fails or when the men involved are too forward, I use decidedly “unfeminine” humor (that is, self-confident and transgressive humor) to make myself feel more comfortable an diffuse the sexual overtones, or if the guy starts coming on to me, I just say “I’m a dyke” and repeat it without wavering until he talks to me like a real person.

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