Monday, August 01, 2005

Femme Mafia Takes Over Turf in Decatur, GA

(Link) “And if I don’t have to do manual labor, I won’t. Yeah, I can change a tire. But I want to be girly.” And with that, she slammed her empty mint julep glass onto the table and began cleaning her Barbie-pink machine gun.


LNewsEditor said...

JIC Post:
By Dyana Bagby
Southern Voice

IT’S A RECENT HOT, muggy night but things are totally cool at a downtown Decatur spot where nearly a dozen women are gathered around a table, drinking cosmopolitans and noshing on pasta and fried calamari.

It’s the monthly meeting of the Femme Mafia, a social and political group dedicated to honoring “queer feminine identity.” Between bites, they discuss their favorite topic — being a femme.

“A femme is someone who explores the performance of the femme experience that is integral to her personality,” Rachael Smith, 25, founder of the Femme Mafia, says before pointing out the cute pink bows on her new high heels to fellow Mafiosas.

The notion that femme is dead is a complete falsehood, Mafia members say. Many of today’s young femmes don’t like to squeeze into the traditional gender labels used by old-school lesbians who still classify gay women as butch or femme, according to the Femme Mafia philosophy.

“The vast majority of us don’t even use the word lesbian [to describe ourselves],” Smith says. “‘Queer is a more umbrella term for who we are. Femmes don’t need butches to be femme. It’s an independent spirit.”

“You don’t have to biologically female to be a femme,” adds Treah Caldwell, 27, a dancer in the burlesque group Dixie Pistols. “And if I don’t have to do manual labor, I won’t. Yeah, I can change a tire. But I want to be girly.”

THE TRADITIONAL TRAPPINGS of femininity, including makeup, frilly dresses, high-heeled shoes and even pantyhose, can be oppressive if a woman feels forced to abide by the so-called rules of a male-dominated society, Caldwell says.

“But when someone chooses these things, it’s about reclaiming an identity,” she asserts.

Vanessa Faraj, 21, a queer Arab femme who loves to wear glitter, does not take her identity as a femme lightly.

“It’s a consciousness of the pervasive alienating power of invisibility,” Faraj says. “Not only is femme about the fabulous trappings that are seemingly ‘hetero-normative,’ it’s about queering — fucking with the gender norms of femininity.”

SMITH, WHO MOVED TO Atlanta three years ago, founded the Femme Mafia in January. Five proud femmes attended the first meeting.

Since then, membership, which is by invitation only through the group’s Web site, has expanded to about 100 members.

But what exactly is the Femme Mafia?

It’s a progressive, edgy organization of self-identified femmes open to all genders and sexual orientations that seeks to foster connections between femmes, reinforce femme identity and provide members with the “occasion to bask in their own fierce fabulousness and the fabulousness of others,” Smith exclaims.

The word “mafia” was selected intentionally to signify an unapologetic, fierce and organized group, she adds.

Femme Mafia members are “rock stars,” Caldwell says.

THE FEMME MAFIA meets once a month for dinner, drinks and socializing for femme-identifying women only. For non-femmes who want to be part of the group, there’s a “Boys Night Out” with an after-party event that follows every meeting of the Femme Mafia. Bois, partners, girlfriends and allies can gather for dancing and more socializing.

Tentative plans include sponsoring a conference on the meaning of femme as well as group members making their presence known at large-scale events like Atlanta Pride and the March for Women’s Lives.

Dishing gossip, lusting over the newest line of MAC cosmetics or gushing over an outfit from Aphrodite’s Toy Box are important parts of being in the Femme Mafia. But members are quick to point out that by being together and being seen together, they are in fact making a political statement, according to Faraj.

“We are mutually recognizing our shared struggle and consciously working to erase the alienation we have all endured in various queer circles,” she says.

pinkpurlgrrl said...

oh to be a mafia wife...

I wonder if they need someone to serve drinks at their meetings???

WordyGrrl said...

I volunteered ya for serving duty, PinkPurl. All you have to do is look cute, serve foo foo drinks to the grrlies and get some phone numbers for the rest of us. Think you can manage? ;-)

Mafia Donna said...

There IS an afterparty for those interested in meeting the Mafia Femmes... ;)
8/5, 11pm @ Azul in Decatur Square
It shouldn't be hard to spot the femmes.

WordyGrrl said...

Woot! We got an invite, PinkPurl!First we scrape up enough for the shuttle bus from Seattle to Decatur, then we we rent the Playboi bunny suits for our cocktail gig and... can I wear combat boots with fishnet thigh highs? Them pumps just kill mah feet after about 10 minutes.

pinkpurlgrrl said...

Can you do the "bunny dip" in combat boots?

itownjen said...

Can the femme mafia take a road trip to a coffee shop in NY lol...
This is awesome...but I have to say this much (mostly cause I have trouble shutting my mouth):
I find it increasingly difficult to identify today anyhow...I'm not butch, I'm not femme...and I'm certainly not androgynous...jeez even that term makes me cringe...frankly I'm a little bit of both, and too butch to be femme and too femme to be butch, yes I will change the tire, but I will also bitch when it makes me break a nail...

Mafia Donna said...

Is it wrong that the combat boots with the bunny suit are making me a little thirsty?

Anonymous said...

*ROTFL* You people are hilarious!