For those of us who live at the shoreline standing upon the constant edges of decision crucial and alone for those of us who cannot indulge the passing dreams of choice who love in doorways coming and going in the hours between dawns looking inward and outward at once before and after seeking a now that can breed futures like bread in our children’s mouths so their dreams will not reflect the death of ours:
For those of us who were imprinted with fear like a faint line in the center of our foreheads learning to be afraid with our mother’s milk for by this weapon this illusion of some safety to be found the heavy-footed hoped to silence us For all of us this instant and this triumph We were never meant to survive.
And when the sun rises we are afraid it might not remain when the sun sets we are afraid it might not rise in the morning when our stomachs are full we are afraid of indigestion when our stomachs are empty we are afraid we may never eat again when we are loved we are afraid love will vanish when we are alone we are afraid love will never return and when we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard nor welcomed but when we are silent we are still afraid
So it is better to speak remembering we were never meant to survive
“There are things we do because they feel right & they may make no sense & they may make no money and it may be the real reason we are here; to love each other & to eat each other’s cooking & say it was good.”—quote a friend sent to me.
Young progressives committed to social justice who had found it easy to maintain radical politics when they were living on the edge, on the outside, did not want to do the hard work of changing and reorganizing our existing system in ways that would affirm the values of peace and love, or democracy and justice. They fell into despair. And that despair made capitulation to the existing social order the only place of comfort.
It did not take long for this generation to find out that they loved material comfort more than justice. It was one thing to spend a few years without comfort to fight for justice, for civil rights for nonwhite people and women of all races, but it was quite another to consider a lifetime where one might face material lack or be compelled to share resources.
“Breaking the silence – talking about class and coming to terms with where we stand – is a necessary step if we are to live in a world where prosperity and plenty can be shared, where justice can be realized. The time to talk about class is now – before it is too late, before we are all trapped in place and unable to change our nation’s fate”—bell hooks
FEMME SHARKS DON’T EAT OUR OWN. FEMME SHARKS LIKE TO EAT THOUGH FEMME SHARKS RECOGNIZE THAT FEMMES COME IN ALL KINDS OF SIZES AND EACH KIND IS LUSCIOUS. WE WORK TOWARDS LOVING OUR CURVY, FAT, SKINNY, SUPERSIZE, THICK, DISABLED, BLACK AND BROWN FINE-ASS BODIES EVERY DAY. WE REALIZE THAT LOVING OURSELVES IN A RACIST/SEXIST/HOMO/TRANSPHOBIC/ABLIST/CLASSIST SYSTEM IS AN EVERY DAY ACT OF WAR AGAINST THAT SYSTEM. FEMME SHARKS DON’T THINK ANOREXIA IS CUTE. WE THINK EATING A BIG-ASS MEAL IS SEXY. WE SAY SCREW “HEIGHT WEIGHT PROPORTIONATE PLEASE” IN CRAIGSLIST WOMEN SEEKING WOMEN ADS AND IN LIFE.
WE HAVE BIG MOUTHS AND WE KNOW HOW TO USE THEM. DON’T FUCK WITH US! ASK US IF WE WANT TO FUCK THOUGH !
FEMME SHARKS WILL RECLAIM THE POWER AND DIGNITY OF FEMALENESS BY ANY MEANS NECCESARY
WE’RE GIRLS BLOWN UP, TURNED INSIDE OUT AND REMIXED.
FEMME SHARKS ARE OVER WHITE QUEERS OBLIVIOUSNESS TO QUEER OF COLOR, TWO SPIRIT AND TRANS OF COLOR LIVES. WE KNOW THAT WE ARE A CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE WE’RE OVER WHITE FEMMES AND BUTCHES WHO THINK THAT FEMME ONLY COMES IN THE COLOR OF BARBIE. WE’RE OVER BUTCHES AND BOYS AND OTHER FEMMES TELLING US WHAT WE NEED TO DO, WEAR OR BE IN ORDER TO BE “REALLY FEMME.”
FEMME SHARKS RECOGNIZE THAT FEMMES, BUTCHES, GENDERQUEER AND TRANS PEOPLE HAVE BEEN IN COMMUNITIES OF COLOR SINCE FOREVER. THAT BEFORE COLONIZATION WE WERE SEEN AS SACRED AND WE WERE SOME OF THE FIRST FOLKS MOST VIOLENTLY ATTACKED WHEN OUR LANDS WERE INVADED AND COLONIZED. FEMME SHARKS WON’T REST UNTIL WE RECLAIM OUR POSITIONS AS BELOVED FAMILY WITHIN OUR COMMUNITIES.
FEMME SHARKS AREN’T JUST DIMEPIECES AND TROPHY WIVES FUCK THAT! WE MIGHT BE YOUR GIRL, BUT WE’RE OUR OWN FEMMES. WE RECOGNIZE THAT FEMMES ARE LEADERS OF OUR COMMUNITIES. WE HOLD IT DOWN, CALM YOUR TEARS, ORGANIZE THE RALLY, VISIT YOU IN JAIL, GET CHILDCARE HOOKED UP, LOAN YOU TWENTY DOLLARS. FEMMES ARE WELDERS, AFTERSCHOOL TEACHERS, ABORTION CLINIC WORKERS, STRIPPERS, WRITERS, FACTORY WORKERS, MOMS, REVOLUTIONARIES DEDICATED TO TAKING THE SYSTEM THE HELL DOWN SO WE CAN BE FREE!
FEMMES ARE LEADERS IN TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS/ DEFENDING OUR QUEER AND TRANS OF COLOR COMMUNITIES. WE USED OUR STILETTOS AS WEAPONS AT STONEWALL WE WERE THE TRANSWOMEN WHO FOUGHT BACK AT THE COMPTON CAFETERIA WE’RE THE GIRLS WHO STARE DOWN ASSHOLES STARING AT OUR LOVERS AND FRIENDS ON THE SUBWAY. WE WALK EACH OTHER HOME ACT CRAZY ON THE BUS TO GET ASSHOLES TO MOVE AWAY AND KNOW HOW TO BREAK SOMEONE’S LEGS WE SHARE WHAT WE KNOW.
FEMME SHARKS STAND UP FOR THE NEW JERSEY FOUR AND EVERY OTHER QUEER AND TRANS PERSON OF COLOR IN THE PRISON INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX FOR DEFENDING OUR LIVES. WE BELIEVE IN SELF-DEFENSE AND SELF-DETIRMINATION. WE BELIEVE THAT WE HAVE A RIGHT TO DEFEND OURSELVES AND OUR COMMUNITIES AGAINST ANY KIND OF ATTACK- FROM ASSHOLES ON THE STREET TO RACIST WHITE CLUB OWNERS WHO WANT THREE PIECES OF ID TO FOLKS WHO INSIST THAT WE’RE STRAIGHT. TO PEOPLE WHO TAKE OUR LAND.
WE REMEMBER OUR DEAD- SAKIA GUNN, GWEN ARAUJO, AND MANY OTHER QUEER AND TRANS POC WHO DIED BECAUSE OF RACIST, HOMO/TRANSPHOBIC VIOLENCE NOT AS A POLITICAL STATEMENT BUT AS WOMEN WE LOVED IN REAL LIFE WOMEN WHO COULD’VE BEEN US OR OUR LOVES.
WE ARE NOT GOING TO BE LEFT OUT OF “THE STRUGGLE” NOT THIS TIME WE’RE NOT JUST A PRETTY FACE.
FEMMES GODDAMN WELL KNOW HOW TO STRAP IT ON, CHANGE THE OIL IN THE CAR AND PUT UP SHELVES. WE CAN DO ANY GODDAMN THING WE WANT! THAT’S WHY WE’RE FEMME SHARKS! FEMME IS NOT THE SAME THING AS BEING OUR MOMS FEMMES ARE BEAUTIFUL AND STRONG WHEN WE BOTTOM AND WE’RE HOT AS HELL WHEN WE TOP OUR BOTTOMING AND TOPPPING ARE BOTH GIFTS TO BE MET WITH RESPECT. WHEN WE TAKE OUR LOVERS FIST ALL THE WAY INSIDE ASK FOR WHAT WE WANT BE THE BEST DIRTY GIRL OR MAKE OUR LOVERS FLIP WE’RE A FUCKING MIRACLE. IN THE WORDS OF JILL SCOTT, “YOU GOTTA DO RIGHT BY ME. IT’S MANDATORY, BABY.” FEMME SHARKS SHOP AT ROSS, FOXY LADY, VALUE VILLAGE, THE HM $5 RACK, TORRID AND THE DOLLAR STORE , AND KNOW HOW TO SHOPLIFT WE CONCOCT BRILLIANT STRATEGIES TO LOOK FINE ON TEN DOLLARS OR LESS. WE’RE ONLY “INVISIBLE” IF YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO LOOK FOR US.
WE TAKE CARE OF EACH OTHER RECOGNIZE THAT FEMMES ARE EACH OTHERS’ WEALTH HOS BEFORE BROS, ALWAYS! FEMME SOLIDARITY AND LOVE FOR EACH OTHER IS A REVOLUTIONARY FORCE WE BELIEVE IN GIRLS LOVING GIRLS, RESPECTING EACH OTHER’S BRILLIANCE NOT FIGHTING OVER BOIS OR BUTCHES NOT TRYING TO BE THE ALPHA FEMME WE’RE ANTI-DRAMA (I wish more femmes knew and lived by this -LP) BELIEVE IN THE POWER OF COMMUNITIES THAT HEAL HURT, APOLOGIZE, LISTEN TO EACH OTHER AND MAKE THINGS RIGHT. WE BELIEVE IN BUILDING OUR QTPOC COMMUNITIES STRONG
FEMME SHARKS WERE THERE WHEN FRIDA KAHLO HOOKED UP WITH HER GIRLFRIENDS WHEN JOAN NESTLE, CHRYSTOS, JEWELLE GOMEZ, ALEXIS DE VEUX, SYLVIA RIVERA, DOROTHY ALLISON, MINNIE BRUCE PRATT AND AMBER HOLLIBAUGH MADE QUEER FEMME HISTORY WHEN ZAPATISTA WOMEN HOOKED UP WHEN AFRICAN QUEERS RESIST EVERRY DAY WHEN OUR GRANDMAS AND QUEER AUNTIES SNUCK OUT AT NIGHT DIDN’T GET MARRIED TIL LATE- OR AT ALL HAS A BEST GIRLFRIEND AND STOOD UP FOR HER FEMME SHARKS WERE THERE
FEMME SHARKS ARE IN THE BODIES OF COUNTLESS SEX WORKERS, NEIGHBORDS AND LADIES WAITING FOR THE BUS AND IN THE LINEUP AT CENTURY 21. AT RIIS BEACH, FUNKASIA, LOVERGIRL NYC, BUTTA, MANGO, MANHATTAN’S, DESILICIOUS. FEMME SHARKS LIVE ON THE REZ, IN CAPETOWN, NEWARK, OAKLAND!!!!!, THE SOUTH SIDE, NEW ORLEANS, COLOMBO, JUAREZ AND BROOKLYN SUBURBIA, THE FARM, AND LITTLE SMALL TOWNS. WE’RE IN FOSTER CARE, THE PSYCH WARD, JUVIE, AND ABOUT TO BE EVICTED.
WE ARE SURVIVORS WHO ARE MORE THAN WHAT WE SURVIVED. WE ARE FIGURING OUT HOW TO HEAL AND HOW TO MAKE IT SO THAT NO ONE WILL HAVE TO SURVIVE SEXUAL VIOLENCE EVERY AGAIN. WE BELIEVE IN THE TOTAL DESTRUCTION OF THE SYSTEM AS WE KNOW IT TO MAKE SOMETHING MUCH MO BETTA AND WE BELIEVE IN MAKING OUR OWN WAYS TO FIGHT AND RESIST ON THE DAILY.
A FEMME SHARK IS ANY GIRL WHO IS TOUGH, HUNGRY, FIGHTS FOR HERSELF AND HER FAM AND IS WORKING ON BECOMCING THE KIND OF GIRL WHO FINDS GOD IN HERSELF AND LOVES HER FIERCELY
WE’RE YOUR BEST GIRLFRIEND AND YOUR WORST NIGHTMARE
LOVE AND RAGE THE FEMME SHARKS
FEMME SHARKS ARE ON PATROL! JOIN THE MOVEMENT! SHARK SHARK IT UP!
FOR MORE INFORMATION, EMAIL
Written by Founding Femme Shark Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha
The Femme Sharks are an idea that was dreamed up by SBBFFF (Slutty Brown Best Femme Friends Forever) Zuleikha Mahmood and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha in March of 2008, Oakland, CA. This work is shared under a Creative Commons license- feel free to share if you give credit
“The subtle sculpting of identity has roots in Boston for me. I was never out when I lived here, but my femme, which is queer as hell and more geographically-based than maybe any other part of me, comes from here. My femme is New England. Sometimes she’s not there when I’m not here, but when I’m here, that’s who I am. My femme is being the only person so many people talk about their feelings to, is bleakness and settling into my bones, is wearing flannel shirts with sparkles in the winter and charming the pants off small town husbands without ever sharing more than I want to. It’s fabulous and covert as needed, sometimes both at the same time. It’s dreaming of myself with white hair and wrinkles, a vegetable garden overflowing with things to put up and at least seven signature jam recipes under my belt. It’s trying to know when and how to talk to my mom about class privilege and resource hoarding, when her mom dies and all she wants to talk about when I visit her is which family heirloom punch bowl I’ll inherit when she dies. It’s my generosity and my boundaries. It’s me learning to change as I come back here over and over again, learning to stick with it with people and places even when it’s hard and what my body knows best is leaving.”—http://bodiesofstory.wordpress.com/2011/08/23/on-leaving-new-england/
So I dug through my e-mail and found The Ethical Slut (THE book on polyamory and effective communication that taught me everything I know) in pdf form so DOWNLOAD THAT SHIT. READ IT. SEND IT TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW. Cause even if you have no interest in being poly, it saved my LIFE in teaching me how to communicate non-violently and talk about my feelings/needs/boundaries/desires.
Um, hell yes. This book is great. And now it’s free! Get it.