I was in denial - it's occurred to me that, despite my self-identification, those living in butch/femme or gay worlds would define me as they chose. I came to realize this in some recent or recently understood displays of sexism.
I continually end up in a space where, because I am deemed "femme", I must contend with butches who sexualize me or ignore me - neither allowing for me to appear within their mind as a complete person.
Worse, dealing with femmes who will only communicate with butches, in that coy/head tilted way, which diminishes both them and the butch.
Yes, butch/femme is a way of life, is a natural expression of our characters, a way to connect with others but the inherent sexism and machismo that takes root in these expressions is hard to slice away from the natural expression.
I've seen femmes dismiss other femmes because they aren't femme enough, or classify someone without truly asking how they might identify. I worked with a woman recently who, in discussing a potential volunteer, stated she "was cute but, oh, she's femme so never mind". What does it mean to be woman-identified? How many queer women do you know who fuck their own gender but aren't woman-identified? Imagine how revolutionary we would be if truly working to empower and enable other women.
Why have we learned, albeit slowly, to ask those who are queer or trans what pronoun they prefer, but cannot ask another what identifying label they prefer - if any? Is it the sexism, that old friend, which seems so hard to dismantle? Is it that which allows us to accept trans because they either originally carried or now newly carry male privilege? And who the fuck decided (and continues to decide) that male-identifiers were strictly male gender expressions? Or that these expressions hold more power than any other expressions?