Change Your World-NOT your Body

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Stone Butch Blues-Stone Butch Shame

Along with the male-centric, gender fluid, transgender, genderqueer, up is down, down is up, right is left, left is right blanket queer theory has draped over our Femme/Butch community, two works of FICTION were ushered in (Judith Butler's Gender Trouble-1990 and Leslie Feinberg's Stone Butch Blues-1993) which have devastated the Femme/Butch landscape making it unrecognizable to older generations of Femmes and Butches as well as littered our landscape with minefields for current and unless something drastically changes, future Femmes and Butches.

The number of shattered lives these two books have produced is inestimable. But among Butch and butch persuasioned women, Leslie Feinberg has been the Enola Gay and her Stone Butch Blues the "little boy" dropped onto our Femme/Butch community eerily meting out a similar devastation, destruction and vaporization of Butch women's lives!

Due to an unchanging hetero-patriarchal skyline streaked with strict gender roles, long after the sun falls from on high revealing the stars that lie beyond, Butch women remain invisible. Despite the blatant and often times violent homophobic reaction to the "queenie" man, he has been visible from the dawn of film. Behind little Mary Pickford in the days of silent film, there he stands or sits with legs crossed just so and today we cannot flip on our TV sets without seeing him hosting his own home repair show or starring in a major film, where the Butch woman has yet to make a single appearance.

Patriarchy may not be crazy about gay-less-than-macho men, but he tolerates them because in the eyes of patriarchy he holds no threat. He is no threat because he is slotted into the same misogynistic category as women. The Butch however is greatly feared by patriarchy! Through the blur of his own gender constructs patriarchy slots Butch women in the category just this side of themselves and so she remains visibly invisible yet invisibly a threat. Butch women are the greatest threat to men!

Butch women, like the general lesbian do not desire men, do not need men, but unlike the general lesbian she cannot be twisted to fit into his vile sexual fantasies. If she is however, due to the post patriarchy has slotted her (just this side of male) hetero-patriarchy is thrown into a tizzy! Hetero-patriarchy fears an attraction to the Butch woman because if he can be sexually stimulated by her and her "manliness" then he could equally find himself attracted to an "womanly" man. Insinuating that maybe his "compulsory heterosexualism" may not be so compulsory and the world will go up in flames and he with it!

All this to say why Butch women were and remain invisible. And what does any of this have to do with "stone butch"? Or Stone Butch Blues? EVERYTHING! Because of the why and where patriarchy has slotted Butch women, Butch women have been conditioned, cultivated and naturalized to slot themselves in with males! This misidentification produces a dysfunction varying in degree affecting the intimacy and sexuality of most Butch women. In the past both issues usually got ironed out with a bit of maturity, loving partners and through finding a like community, all of which aided in Butch women learning to love and embrace themselves AS women. But since the dawn of queer theory (early 90's) and its regeneration of strict gender roles, specifically its flood of male-centrism into the lesbian community, what used to be an understandable temporary aberration in Butch sexuality has now become the lifestyle identity we know as "stone butch".

This "lifestyle identity" has largely been born out the fictive novel "stone butch blues" delivered up from the splayed mind of Leslie Feinberg who has admitted to the destruction of some of her own visible femaleness through the use of drugs and cosmetic body mutilation due to her over identification with males. While the novel is fictive I suspect the shame the speaker feels is based in the authors own very real shame and sexual dysfunction.

For those unfamiliar with "stone butch", it is a term that has broad meaning for lesbian sexual behavior/dysfunction not just limited to Butch women. But due to the word "butch" in "stone butch" it is most often associated with Butch women, and my use of it here is in strict association with Butch women. Because Butch girls grow up with a certain division from their female bodies due to Butch invisibility and their identification with the overly visible male, many Butch women feel ashamed and uncomfortable using the parts of their bodies patriarchy has specifically designated FEMALE (breast/pussy) while having sex. This trouble can result in a myriad of ways Butch women experience sexual dysfunction. Some Butch women freak out if their breast are touched but are fine with their clits being touched. Some may freak over any kind of penetrative sex. Some may be okay with a woman going down on them but be afraid of being fingered. Some cannot deal with either their breast or pussy being stimulated and only make love to their partners. There may be a variety of ways to be "stone", but the one constant that flows through all "stone" relationships is the emotional "stoneness" made concrete through a lack of intimacy.

What the novel Stone Butch Blues has done is to give legitimacy to sexual and emotional dysfunction by romantically blurring these issues into a full fledged identity (rather than the identity crisis that it is)! This novel and "identity" gave rise to the nonsensical notions that Butch women ONLY "give" during sex and receive all their pleasure from giving alone and so were a Butch to receive (enjoying the bodies they were born with) they would be blacklisted as not "real" Butches by both Butches and Femmes alike.

The romanticism attached to "stone butch" sexual behavior is by no means an accident, it is a deliberate "look here not there" ploy used to deceive both the Butch herself and those around her. It is a misleading tool devised to mask the sexual dysfunction and shame that surrounds that dysfunction with a sense of "nature", a sense of "I was born this way". So rather than deal with the issues that created the sexual dysfunction and body dysphoria the Butch can merely play it off by saying "me? oh I'm just a stone butch", in truth the "stone butch identity" isn't an identity at all but a copying mechanism.

"Stone Butch" allows women to look no further, but in looking no further Butch women are being shamed and robbed from experiencing the very bodies their mother's wombs created! And it is through experiencing our bodies with another that we develop intimacy, intimacy with our partners but also an intimacy with ourselves. And that's not to say that because Butch women are born with a vagina they are meant to have their vagina's "fucked" in some hetero-patriarchal manner. It is to say that having a vagina and experiencing the natural pleasures of a vagina in no way invalidates the butchness of a Butch woman. But not experiencing all the pleasure our female bodies provide because of a shame in being women, needs to stop. And covering over that shame with a copying mechanism doubling as an identity only aids in continuing the shame Butch women feel.

Disguising systemic gender constructs created by hetero-patriarchy with a little pancake make up and clown shoes is what is at the heart of queer theory and it is queer theory who ghost penned Stone Butch Blues along side Feinberg . But when the curtain closes, the crowd goes home and the make up and clown shoes come off, shame remains staring back from the mirror.

dirt

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12 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. This one will be posted some time tomorrow. And dont "darling" me unless you mean it, but I warn you I dont date disordered women like yourself.

    dirt

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  3. I think you offended dannythejock's feminine sensibilities.

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  4. Danny is the perfect example of what happens when you buy into gender constructs.

    The sad thing is like most ftM women they go through all the doping and mutilations and they're still clearly visible female. Danny was obviously a tweener dyke to begin with, per usual.

    dirt

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  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  6. Danny, dont you have a "t" shot to inject?

    dirt

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  7. Snappy comeback. I can see we're finished. Good luck lady.

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  8. Brilliant analysis that I have to say I've yet heard in "real time" among the butches and femmes in my life.

    How did we reach a point where fear of intimacy and of the vulnerability of the female body (and its forms of desire) became an acceptable, frozen butch barrier to be "respected" rather than gently, carefully, and lovingly examined by the butch and her partner(s)?

    I've been this stone, walled-off, butch, myself... I know there's a deeper intimacy behind the physical walls I've set up, and trust in myself and my partners is essential to getting beyond this place. Not as a conquest, a stone to be 'melted" by a trophy-seeking femme powerplay--I hate that shyt!

    Complicated and yet so relevant.

    As you can see, I'm coming to this blog SUPER late, but wanted to let you know another butch is hearing you and agrees whole-heartedly.

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  9. CJ, Thank you for your comment!

    dirt

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  10. in truth the "stone butch identity" isn't an identity at all but a copying mechanism.

    YES.

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  11. Whilst in general I disagree with your attitude towards trans people, I would like to agree that 'stone' is not an identity in itself but a coping mechanism! I do have to wonder why you think SBB fails to acknowledge this- it is spelt out by the protagonist several times that she is stone as a result of the brutal treatment dished out to her by men, and she longs for a partner emotionally strong enough to help her past her fear. Even her taking hormones and getting her breasts removed was never about wanting to be male, per se, it was about wanting to hide.

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