A lesbian has accused four fashion retailers of ‘appropriating’ the term ‘femme’ by selling T-shirts which use the word as a slogan. She has said its use – which is common homosexual circles – should be reserved for those are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
The woman – who calls herself ‘H’ Beverley – visited UK branches of Topshop, H&M, Urban Outfitters and Mango and took photos of T-shirts they sell bearing the word ‘femme’, which traditionally means ‘woman’ in French. (The picture above shows a model wearing one such T-shirt).
She then made a complaint to each company saying, in effect, that they had no right to use the word because it is a homosexual term for a feminine lesbian.
‘H’ Beverley, 25, considers herself a ‘femme’ lesbian and said it is unacceptable for firms to use the term for financial gain.
She said she believes the term is ‘ours to use’.
According to the Daily Mail, she said: ‘I think the shops don’t realise what the word means or they just don’t care. They’ve just taken a word that has a specific meaning to a specific group of people and sold it to people that it has no relevance to.’
‘H’ Beverley also sent tweets to H&M and Topshop stating ‘the word femme has a history & meaning specific to LGBTQ+ people. It is ours to use – it isn’t yours to sell to straight people’.
She added: ‘It’s not necessarily diminishing the suffering of the LGBT community by printing this term on a t-shirt, but it’s serving it up out of context…I use the term ‘femme’ to describe myself and if I saw someone wearing one of these t-shirts, I would presume they were gay. The people I know who own this are mainly lesbians. Personally, I would say this is appropriation but you need to be careful using it because people just put their guard up as soon as that is used.’