Opinion

The power of femme friendships

Olivia Harden, Opinions Editor

This semester, I’ve spent plenty of nights in friends’ living rooms, drinking tea and just catching up and checking in with one another about life at Chapman. This was my group of “femmes” that I never thought I would find.

A femme is a person who may display feminine qualities. It’s an all-encompassing word that includes men, women, gender-fluid and nonbinary identifying individuals. I would have never been exposed to this language of the activist community without becoming a part of it.

As much as I love Chapman, my first year was pretty miserable at times. I desperately searched for spaces where I didn’t have to present a perfect image of myself all the time.

If we fast-forward to this year, I can’t imagine not having spaces where I’m allowed to exist imperfectly. Those spaces were created by people, not places.

When President Donald Trump passed an executive order banning travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries, I felt weak. The political climate of second semester has been entirely draining and polarizing for me as a woman of color. I wanted to help, but I felt powerless in the face of all of it. This travel ban felt incredibly racist and hateful. I wanted to do something, but I didn’t know what. Then, a friend reached out because she wanted to do something, too.

Before I knew it, I was in a living room planning a protest, which is something I’d never done before. The whole process felt incredibly healing and empowering.

All of that hard work made me feel incredibly connected to the group of femmes who I had planned it with. Sure, we kept planning events based on our social justice work, but we also started having dinner together and movie nights. I became a part of an incredibly tight-knit group. This group of women and femmes are my Chapman family.

They’ve taught me so much about different identities just by being themselves. It makes me want to work on my allyship simply because I want to be a better friend and I don’t want them to have to educate me in order to be themselves around me.

I’ve never had a group of friends like this who are constantly checking in on me, who are so incredibly generous with their time, money and energy. I’ve never been able to be completely honest about my mental capacity or my need to be alone before I met these people.

The worst part of all this is that most of them are graduating and leaving me too soon. I’m heartbroken, but I’m grateful to have had them. I don’t even know how to put into words how much love I have for you all.

It’s hard for me to believe that just four months ago, I didn’t have a group of femmes that I was learning from or organizing with. The impact they have had on my Chapman experience has been incredible. There’s power in femme friendships that is unlike anything else.

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