To empower queer women towards greater involvement and presence in the community
OUR VISION
Advocacy for LBTQ women's rights at CEDAW
Sayoni was at the United Nations in Geneva in October 2017 to bring Singapore LBTQ women's issues to the forefront. The CEDAW Committee heard our concerns and raised recommendations related to LBTQ women in their Concluding Observations for the Singapore government.
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Sayoni is a Singapore-based feminist, volunteer-run organisation that works to uphold human rights protections for queer women, including lesbian, bisexual and transgender women. We organise and advocate for equality in well-being and dignity regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity/expression and sex characteristics.

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  • 1

Ask lesbians what they think the labels mean and you would find variegated answers:
“Femmes are passive… wear skirts… girly… expect their girlfriends to take care of them…”
“Andros are masculine… prefer pants… might wear skirts to work… many high-flyers in this group… Andros don’t bind (their breasts) but are masculine…”
“Butches are totally masculine… totally out… flat-chested… prefer one-way in bed… new age butches do it two-way… some pay for everything for their girlfriends… generally more laid-back…”

Characteristics entailed in the stereotype of these labels:
Mannerism, Dressing, Socio-economic status and even Personality traits.
And different person pick different combinations of what these labels mean. Some think it’s just dressing. Some thinks it’s dressing and bedroom preference… some thinks that all lesbians who wear skirts are homogeneous!

How confusing- there is no concensus in the lesbian community what each label really means… And this frustrates a lot of people.

Maybe this is what would be better… More consensus on what these labels really mean- what is the defining characteristic of a certain label? As in: what makes a femme a femme and not an andro or a butch?

Ah. But labels can never say enough about a person…

Nonetheless, labels are still around… it goes to show that they have not outlived their usefulness (yet).

Okie, let’s put things in perspective.
Physical attraction is one of the major components of a relationship for most. Without physical attraction, there ain’t no relationships. So, when someone, who prefers girls who dress feminine, is seeking a potential mate, her ears would perk up at the sound of “femme” rather than “andro” or “butch”.

Beyond appearances, as a diverse group of individuals, we would have the following:
Girl A likes zesty girls who pose great mental challenges day in day out.
Girl B likes someone princessy, so that she can shower her with tender love everyday.
Girl C likes a motherly figure of sorts; someone meticulous and fastidious around the house.
Girl D likes someone with compatibile interests e.g. SM, extreme sports, traveling to the wilderness of African plains.

So… It doesn’t matter that a self-identified femme prefers pants or is extremely aggressive in bed or digs her nose in public etc. Such nitty gritties would be ironed out at the second round of elimination. Labels thus serve as the first round of selection for attention. Without labels, you might end up spending a lot of time on just selection alone- by the time you get a mate, you are probably 85 years of age.

Someone who hated labels told me: ”I cannot be with butches!” AHAH! There~ you just made use of labels!
Love ‘em or hate ‘em- Labels labels are here to stay.

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