Afternoon InqueerySex & Sexuality

AI: Flagging

Being of a femme-ish presentation (more tomboy, or just ‘gamer,’ really), I am assumed to be straight by nearly all of the people I meet.  This is annoying, though something I’m unfortunately quite used to.  A recent internet white rabbit hunt had me reading about femme flagging using colored nail polish, and thence to the hanky code and other sartorial signals historically or currently used to communicate messages about sexuality.  It kinda made me wish I didn’t hate nail polish so much.

Do you deliberately flag anything about your identity or preferences, and if so, how?  Do you frequently see others doing so?  How do you feel about these sorts of signals? 

The Afternoon Inqueery (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Queereka community. Look for it every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday at 3pm ET.

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Dae is a chemical engineering graduate student who aspires to become a mad scientist, but is prepared to settle for being a professor. Her extracurricular academic interests are an ever-shifting list, but currently include temperament psychology, philosophy, transhumanism, and pre-modern literature. She identifies as a bisexual cis-woman, as well as a feminist, humanist, atheist, and roleplaying game enthusiast.


  1. April 25, 2013 at 10:29 pm —

    I flag when I’m in a situation in which it has a good chance to be recognized. I consider flagging to be the start (and not the end) of a conversation, and that has served me incredibly well. I’ve made friends and great one night stands through appropriate use of a flag. I even have the pockets on one of my kilts placed on the right (instead of the left) so that I can flag properly since I usually flag as a bottom.

    The one thing I would flag as a top for (rope bondage) I have no need to flag. If I pull out my rope and start tying a friend I get more requests than I can keep up with. It’s finding people to tie ME that’s the problem.

    • April 26, 2013 at 9:56 am —

      That’s pretty awesome. I’m a bit skeptical of the femme flagging nailpolish thing because, as I learned on Tumblr (go figure), some people use the traditional flagging colors, but for the most part it’s free-form. Then again, I guess that if you’re around other people looking for those signals, it will start a conversation – much as you mentioned – whether or not they understand precisely what your particular presentation is saying.

  2. April 26, 2013 at 1:18 pm —

    I admit I find flagging really confusing. What I would really need to flag is “super shy and afraid to approach and make an ass of myself because I don’t know what shade that is”

  3. April 28, 2013 at 8:52 am —

    A while back on Effing Dykes she wrote a piece about how femme dykes might be able to identify each other and concluded that it was in the asymmetry. I’ve worn the buckle of my belt on the side of my hip, rather than in the middle, ever since. Dunno if it actually works (the issue with these systems is it assumes everyone understands them but they rarely do), but it looks cool. So.

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