The Amaranthine Sacrarium Journal

ecofeminist. metacostal. unapologetically queer femme.

Why I coined the word 'femmeling'

May 11, 2018 | Cultural critique of "women's spirituality" and general woo-woo

After last year's "red tent" debacle (I sincerely regret this, especially since I instigated it), I have made a conscious and intentional decision to interact with more non-binary folks, including many non-binary femmes. 

I did not, with all honesty, know that non-binary femmes even existed -- due to my ignorance and stereotypes propagated through the media, I thought non-binary = androgynous or non-binary = in-your-face-gender-bending. In reality, that's not always the case.

Non-binary femmes, as it turns out, are often invisible and deeply misunderstood. They are often conflated with "women," and along with it comes the cultural assumptions that are associated with the notion of womanhood and womanliness, even though their lived experiences tend to have little in common with those of women as understood by the predominant heteronormative, cissexist, white middle-class cultural narratives.

In this context, the words "sisterhood" and "sisters" can be problematic. These words carry too much cultural baggage, not least to mention the problems of the white lady woo-woo sisterhood. Too often, the romanticized notion of "sisterhood" or "global sisterhood" is sold (literally commodified and marketed as a lifestyle brand) centering the idealized "womanhood" that is solely based on the experiences of heterosexual, middle-class, cisgender, white women -- and ironically, rooted in a highly sexist idea of "femininity" that values women primarily for their reproductive capacities (this phenomenon is called "essentialism," and has been criticized by many). 

This requires a reimagining of what a "sisterhood" actually might look if it is for, by, and of queer femmes.

It certainly would not be the same as some kind of "red tent sisterhood."

Hence I coined the word "femmeling," a portmanteau of femme and sibling, with a hope that it will be sufficiently inclusive of non-binary femmes as well as other queer femmes whose embodied experiences do not revolve around monogamy, childbirth, and the nuclear family.

 

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