The Hustle of Studs, Stemmes, and Femmes Part III: Stemmes

By Cisi Eze

Just when you thought the people of the world would not narrow your transcendent self via labels and labelling, they came up with ‘stemme’. 

Stemme’ is a portmanteau word derived from stud and femme.

Stemmes have the whole ‘stud thingy’ going on for them while retaining femininity. For me, being stemme is being androgynous.

Embodying these two extremes – stud and femme – come with hustles and here they are:

  1.       Bi-phobia

Yes, lesbians will assume your stemme-ness translates to bisexuality. Oh, I won’t pretend some lesbians do not have subtle beef with bi- women. So your chance of having a girlfriend has automatically trimmed down.

  1.       Homophobia

Yes, you are a lesbian; ergo, you will face homophobia. All the hate for something you can’t even influence. Life and its vicissitudes!

  1.       ‘Pick a Side’

People believe you have to “choose” one. Do you want to be stud or femme? They really believe you are confused. And you’re like:

  1.       Unfortunate Questions

“Are you the guy or girl in your relationship?” This is one of the many unfortunate questions you get. “How come you’re wearing lipstick?” is another one. The questions will literally drain you out. Family will never cease to ask: “When are you coming with your boyfriend?” You just want to vent at them.

  1.       People think you are ‘too cute to be gay’

Thanks Patriarchy for trying so hard to convert female beauty to something men have to possess.

Like, for real?! Women look good for themselves. Okay, some women still look good for male gaze. I should stop here, lest this becomes a political som’n.

  1.       Guys see you as a ‘challenge’

There is that one guy that feel his dick is the magic stick that would stir you into straightness. He believes you are confused just like other people do. And he would nag you to have sex through disgusting innuendos. And you’re just like ‘really?’

  1.       Assumptions

If you date a femme, people assume you are the guy. If you date a stud, people assume you are the girl. You can’t win on these mean streets. This is extra tiresome.

  1.       Stereotypes

Are there any stereotypes, behaviour patterns, attached to being stemme aside androgynous dressing? Because there are no stereotypes, per se, people appraise you based on other lesbian stereotypes. Because some people think studs are players, your loyal girlfriend self will be perceived as being a player.  You really cannot win on these mean streets.

  1.       General beef

Society is not used to grey areas. It always wants to categorise things into two. When you do not fit into those two, it gets angry. “How dare you be unconstrained, uncontained, by any label we have put out there?” We create labels because labels have stereotypes, and stereotypes give better cognition of people. Truly, society hates – or it might be envy – people it can’t understand.

So there you have it: hustle of stemmes!

  1.  Bi-phobia is real. For some reason, some people do not understand a human being could be attracted to people regardless of their sexual organs. Why do we have to narrow sexuality to sex organs? Do we fall in love with the sex organ, or do we fall in love with the mind?

These labels could be tiring!

Asexual. Bisexual. Pansexual. Homosexual. Heterosexual. Demisexual.

We are minds, before being bodies. Our minds did not choose our bodies. Should we label ourselves based on things we did not choose?

Try not to stifle all the different parts of you by conforming to stereotypes of a label. Humans are like oceans – profound, vast, ever-changing. Labels are like cups. A cup cannot hold an ocean. Let society choke on its labels.

You know what? Do you!

This was first published on Cisi Eze’s blog Shades of Cisi. Check out part I about femmes and part II about studs here. There is also this piece about a stem coming out party. Also check this one about the threat to penis of ‘lesbianism.’

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Cisi Eze is a media and justice fellow of the Bisi Alimi Foundation, she feels strongly about LGBT+ rights, feminism, gender issues, and mental health. She contributes to Bella Naija, her blog – Shades of Cisi, a podcast she co-presents – We Said It, and an online radio show – Stirring the Waters. She also has works on Kalahari Review, Mounting the Moon, Outcast Magazine, Rustin Times, 14: An Anthology of Queer Art Volume 1 and 2. Cisi’s art challenges existing societal norms.
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