Rome, June 2013
International Festival Hosted by Eyes Wild Drag
Call for Abstracts
Femme is a term used by many in the queer community who identify as "feminine." Defining unequivocally who is femme (or fem in Italian usage) or what it means exactly is not an easy matter, given that it can be – and is – always interpreted differently. More importantly, femme is perceived, expressed and used in a wide variety of ways, both by people who identify as femme and in literature across the globe.
The meanings and interpretations of femme also morph with respect to the intersections of other identities, such as the "class," "race" and "size" of the femme body. For this reason, every community and every individual, every lesbian, trans or genderqueer person, can be a vehicle for new and subjective redefinitions of a femme identity, that in their fluid and heterogeneous ways remain strongly connected to a queer identity while presenting themselves as distinctly "feminine."
But if femininity and the values associated with femininity – how a feminine woman "should be" and what she should represent – are social constructs that depend on the power of the male gaze, femmes also upset the stereotypes by masterfully playing with them, subverting categories and definitions by using them outside of their socially accepted norms in the dominant culture.
Femme is also a concept with a strong political imperative. It is manifested all around the world through art, political organizing, academic disciplines, fashion and media in order to counter its invisibility and the negative connotations often assigned to it (tied to mainstream culture’s view of femininity). From Germany to the U.S., from Canada to Australia, movements are born, festivals, events and conferences that create a strong activist community to resist the marginalization that femmes often experience, even within LGBTQI communities.
Given these assumptions, the first Italian Femme Conference aims to develop deeper reflections on the femme identity, its relationship to queer theory, its many modes of expression, its battles and resistances to heteronormativity and normative femininity, which are, to say the least, restrictive and confining. Although artists and performers all over the world are actively spreading and developing subversive femme culture, here in Italy the phenomenon is still relatively new. Joining the traditions of international Femme conferences (www.femme2012.com and www.femmeguild.com), the first femme conference in Italy hopes to promote the interactions, testimonies and dissemination of diverse and intergenerational points of view on a subject that has yet to be deepened and expanded upon in Italy. In this way, we hope to contribute to increased visibility of femme identities in the overall struggle to resist categories, dichotomies and assigned genders.