by Verena Spilker
Femme Hive: Femme Hive came out of a facebook rant by Elliat which Angie joined in on about frustration of the huge lack of complexity and freaky aspects of femme gender identity and frustrations of not only feeling erased from queer visual culture in Berlin but also having the constant feeling of being read as hetero-normative, which is extremely frustrating for queer femmes whose gender is just as complex as that of all other queers. Angie bugged Elliat to work together and after finally meeting, the idea of a symposium discussion turned into ‘it would be great to add a party/show’ and then before too soon it was a full weekend and conference! The concept came together from May-July 2014 and the organizing has taken place July-Oct, so a very quick turn around with mostly two ladies makin’ it happen, but seems to be going really well, and thanks to really important input and support from key contributors, the conference is making femme magic real in Berlin!
Femme Hive: As Femme Hive has been organized in a very short period of time, and also has a smaller and focused organizational team, it has been very much focused on how to get from point A to B in regards to logistics, but doing an Open Call has garnered really wonderful workshops, performances and films both locally and internationally. Great femme allies have stepped up to help with organizing, designing posters, giving workshops, and we’ve had a lot of really important contributions and conversations with femmes (for example femmes of color) about how we can make Femme Hive the best version of itself with the limited resources and time allotted. There has definitely been a lot of interest, but some aspects of volunteer support could be stronger, but maybe you could say that about any event 🙂 Generally we do feel supported in that at least other femmes are looking forward to the conference weekend and allies are also wanting to support us – so we’ll see how it all unfolds and how the change and awareness from Femme Hive manifests within the queer scene in Berlin!
Femme Hive: Most people who have registered are from Berlin, which is great. We really wanted to keep as much of a local focus as possible, since when you only have an event with mostly ‘imported’ fabulousness it can be hard to move the ideas, inspirations and conversations forwards, so hopefully lots of the femme power and glitter generated from Femme Hive will leave its mark and scent on Berlin 😉 We also have had lots of fabulous people from outside of Berlin (throughout Germany) and from other countries (Denmark, UK, Belgium, Austria) who have signed up to attend. We can say for sure that more people have signed up than we expected (currently over 150!) which pushes our capacity – its exciting and shows that we are making something that there is a need for!
Femme Hive: Oh, that questions isn’t fair! 😉 We are excited about literally all aspects of the conference! Seriously! We had lots of amazing submissions and people who agreed to contribute and its a really strong program with its own specific flavor. We wanted to make sure that there was space for important identity based conversations, but there there was also plenty of space for creating and being together, because this is also a radical aspect of building relationships and just having positive space to ‘be femme’ – that was important to us. But, if we have to choose, the FEMME SHOW on Friday Night (which is open to everyone, no registration required) should be pretty outstanding – we’re really happy about having gotten to partner with Partysane+SchwuZ. It’s a huge space, a radically awesome show of femme power, and we want to see everyone there!! 🙂 The film program is also very strong, but again, the whole program is really special and worth checking out! <3
Femme Hive: Hahah… just a little closing question? 😉 We were also asked in another interview how we would define femme as subversive and queer – its just so hard to really express the complexity of this because it changes and also is different for so many people. Femme (like all gender and identity) is shaped by cultural background, class, race/ethnicity, ability, size, age and so on. We both generally agree that femme is a subversive, intentional, gender-bending and very queer identity. It is chosen, it is freaky and non-normative, even if it maybe seems so on the surface and there are aspects of passing, femme is often double drag, a way of reclaiming your body, and (re)claiming the radical and potent power of the feminine. Femme feminism is a very important part of what we are working towards, which challenges the idea that feminism is about masculinizing and de-feminizing one’s self (or others) in order to gain power/empowerment. This in fact can be very oppressive and sexist. We don’t preach that everyone should now become femme or that masculinity/masculinization should not also have value or power! It’s more the fact that the lack of value, appreciation and awareness, and thus power, directed towards femmes/queer feminine is a problem – we think femme and queer femininity is a hot, fabulous, magical aspect of queerness and we just want more space to celebrate this aspect of ourselves, to celebrate the smarts, beauty and power of other femmes, and as femmes ourselves to feel in good company and celebrated as well <3