Femmes of Power: Exploding Queer Feminities
Del LaGrace Volcano & Ulrika Dahl
192 pages • Serpent’s Tail • July 3rd, 2008
I have to admit that I was very wrong about this book. My notion that it was going to work as a coffee table pick-up was completely off track. I am a fan of the coffee table pick-up; light, full of fabulous photos, a browser, but essentially light in nature.
This book is far from light. It is a hefty celebration of powerful femininity in all its queer forms. If you, like me, thought you could dip in and out, think again. You will end up reading it from cover to cover, and then go back through it to linger over the luscious photographs.
The book is a collection of letters, short essays and photographs on the theme of queer femininity. It opens with an essay by Del LaGrace Volcano, which acts as an introduction to the photographs in the book, but also sets the intellectual context for the collection.
Del paints for us a picture of how the conceptualisation of queer femininity has emerged over the recent past. The picture is both a portrait of a personal and queer community journey. Del describes the way in which he, as a photographer has boundaried his own portrait making with ethical principles which extol the virtue and uniqueness of the femme. Expect to see pictures which tell their own story, and not Del’s .
The diversity of the contributors to this collection is impressive (Michelle Tea, Kate Bornstein, Valerie Mason-John to name a few). Not only do they represent different nations, cultures and age groups, they also represent a range of radical feminist and femme theory. But the strength of this collection is in its ability to creatively mix the intellectual with the personal, and the personal with the sexy. This makes for an explosive and quite irresistible mix.
This is a celebration of the growth in confidence of the queer femme. It is a photographic celebration, but also a literary one. The collection forces us to open our eyes to issues of identity, politic, persona, and philosophy, and takes the reader on a personal journey of celebration through interaction with the text and photography. This is not just a book for the femmes out there however. It is for all who appreciate the feminine, in whatever form it takes.
“Now, as I look at myself in the mirror wearing my impossible heals, my bosom sweetly strangled in a corset and a dildo dangling between my legs, I smile. Come on, does anyone really think I look like a slave to patriarchy?“
– Itziar Ziga
‘Playing with our Latin Femme’