Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Problem with Butch Othering (last part)

Most Butch women will always have moments of not feeling quite right during sex because of the years othering has kept them a part from their bodies/hating their bodies. Unothering ourselves back into the Butch women we are takes years, patience and love...

Othering largely encompasses the entirety of a Butch's life and the othering that takes place usually takes its shape in some form of male. From the "tomBOY" we start out being othered with throughout our youth, to the "manly/mannish" dykes we're often referred to and ostracized with by the general lesbian community, to our being embraced in the Femme/Butch community as "masculine", All male all the time remaining forever unseen and unrecognized Butch othering far far too often even when with the best of intentions equals male, and that equaling only goes to further distance Butches from themselves as women and as lesbians even. Butch male othering in certain light, hetersexualizes the Butch/Femme relationship creating a gulf between Butch and lesbian which only goes to emphasize the gulf between Butch and woman.

While this easily could run an entire post (or more) I'd like to briefly mention a little more on the "best of intentions". Let me say first I cannot even begin to contemplate the many juggling acts a Femme finds herself having to perform in trying to figure Butches out and I thoroughly sympathize with what surely all Femmes go through/put up with for the love of Butches. But the sad simple truth is Femmes are in the dark about Butches nearly as much as everyone else. And I am not blaming, its merely a fact stemming from the result of Butch othering/Butch invisibility.

Femme's learn Butch through dating Butches, but this learning at best is braille with whole portions of the braille bumps missing! Its literally and figuratively feeling in the dark. But one thing she does know is Butches until her, were never made to feel good about being Butch. This is something she desires to do for them as a Femme lover as well as something she knows her Butch needs her to do having never had it. But because Butch othering largely equals male, the way most Femmes go about making a Butch feel good about being Butch is through the use of masculine terms/references. You cannot read anywhere regarding Butch where the male term "masculine" isn't applied! While this isn't meant as an insult from Femmes or the Femme/Butch community, its does aid in the continuance of Butch othering, not to mention it is inaccurate as a Butch descriptor. Butches are NOT MEN, therefore Butches cannot be MASCULINE!

Perpetuating Butch as masculine sets up a hetero male/female power dynamic conducive to producing sexism between Femmes and Butches and reinforces internalized misogyny within both Femmes and Butches. It is my personal contention that the heterosexualizing of Femme/Butch relationships partly leads to "lesbian bed death" within those relationships. The HUGEST mistake in any Femme/Butch coupling made is someone/s forget that they are lesbian!

And none of this is to say I'm against a certain amount of "playing" romantically, I'm not and this isn't. I think Femmes and Butches have distinct sexualities, sexualities inflamed by certain kinds of play. I don't think it is male/masculine/hetero for a Butch to strap and get turned on by her Femme lover sucking her cock (and calling it a cock), so long as both parties NEVER forget its "play". Sex is one of the few places adults can still comfortably pretend in and I'm not trying to change that. I do however think when a Butch internalizes "masculine" references for certain parts of her anatomy to the point she can no longer identify her breast as breast, her clit as clit or her pussy as pussy without HUGE feelings of shame, there's a problem. And that problem is a result of Butch othering.

There has been plenty O talk in plenty O Femme/Butch spaces through the years about how Butches redefine "masculinity", my question is if Butches are women why isn't it femininity we redefine??? Why are we instead put into a male category of being with which to redefine?? Shouldn't we leave that to the men? How did this become our problem as Butches? I maintain because of our being othered from the start. As I said we were othered right out of being female practically right out of the fucking womb! Hetero-Patriarchy defines femininity and hetero-patriarchy judges which women qualify to be situated within the gates of  femininity i.e. which women are worthy of view for the masturbatory gaze or just plain which women are fuckable.

We have little power as a small sub community of lesbians (femme/butch) to influence the huge hetero-patriarchal machine, but why aren't we challenging and changing what we can within our own community, especially with the HUGE amounts of shame and dysfunction running clean through it? Why are we perpetuating "masculine" as the ultimate Butch descriptor and compliment? Why aren't we instead dismantling the severe misogyny attached to the reason we attach "masculine" as a descriptor and compliment to Butches? Why aren't we stretching femininity to include Butches (because we are female are we not?)  in order to help put a stop Butch othering? Why are we not exploring a Butch femininity? Because within that exploration I'm sure we would discover and UNOTHER together Butch as female, Butch as girl, Butch as woman period!!!



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  1. I so agree with you, but cannot take on femininity. I'm 'womonly' in my softer moments. Never feminine. Femininity has been forced on me, or shamed because I'm family, friends, coworkers, and even partners in the current partner has gone through the same thing, so NEITHER of us tries to feminize the other...

    But, I also agree that Butches are Dykes, Lesbians,FEMALE and WOMYN.

    And we've been shamed out of some of those terms with this brave new world. I've heard of Butches who say they're a Dyke and not a woman, or they're a Butch and not a Lesbian, or of course the ones that say they're Butch or a transButch or a Genderqueer Butch and not Female, or somewhere's between Female and Male.....

    But you're right, WE ARE WOMEN, just as much as any other Lesbian, we are Dykes because we LOVE and LUST for Women and Females, and we are FEMALES BECAUSE WE'VE BEEN BORN THAT WAY!!! The rest of the shit is therefore, if I don't use the term 'masculine', and it's so hard not to, since I like many of the masculine forms of dress, buy clothes only in men's stores, and like more masculine things, pursuits and interests(while having a few female things I like like big silver jewelry with beautiful stones) I use the term "Amazon", because it really IS who I am inside, is fully Female, proud, strong, Kickass, and completely connected to being a strong powerful Dyke and womon loving womon!

    In fact, when I came out as a young Butch, some feminist Dykes referred to me as a "Strong Woman", meaning Butch...very female identified, but it made me very proud! It was incredibly affirming!
    -In Sisterhood,

  2. P.S. Do me a favor and read my latest blog and let me know what you think. It's very much covering some of the same territory you've mentioned in your last 3 blogs here..with the Butch Othering.

  3. MA,

    Femininity defined by men was "forced" on you, expressing yourself in natural butch manner as a Butch IS feminine because Butch IS female.


  4. I'll go with Butch IS Female, but I won't ever go with Butch is feminine. Femininity is a patriarchal social construct with expectations, along with masculinity. We need other terms. For now, I'll just say I'm Amazon, a Butch Dyke Amazon at that, and have been so since a very, very young age....

  5. Dirt, let me begin by saying how much I adore you. You are a strong and yet sweet woman that I believe no ladder is too high for. I know that it IS important to you to not be seen as " masculine" but what I don't know is why. I find a soul filling satisfaction by knowing that when I close my eyes all that really matters is how I see me.

  6. Tara,

    Since I'm female it is an impossibility for me to be masculine, so why would I want to be seen/treated as something I'm not. Over time many who are treated as something they are develop a sort of stockholm syndrome which leads far to many into trannification.

    Women are masculine, Butches ARE women.


  7. We are all as humans both feminine and masculine. Proof of this is the fact that we as women produce our own testosterone and that men produce estrogen. I admire that you are trying to change the way the world views you. For me, it is far more important that I love me. I find women especially lesbians to be very vicious judgemental people. If we can't support one another how could we possibly expect it from others? I read many Butch blogs and the common thread I see is that Butch women feels undervalued but are quick to dismiss Andro women. First we need to love ourselves then the others inside our community then and only then will we be able to show the rest of the world that regardless of how they label us or how we label ourselves, we are all WOMEN. Without us life would crease to exist.

  8. Tara, what we are biologically is female/male NOT feminine/masculine this difference is astounding.

    And I agree we do need to learn to love ourselves first, hence the reason for 99.9% of my blog.

    There isnt a Butch alive who doesnt suffer from some sort of Butch shame, shame based in internalized misogyny.


  9. To me- the butch identity is rooted in a type of honor code. We are honest about ourselves- what you see is what you get. We are not trying to disquise ourselves as men- otherwise we would be putting socks in our pants, taping our breasts down, and applying facial hair. Most butches that I've known did not do that; hence the difference between us and drag queens- who are trying to actively convince others that they are women. Most butches refuse to partake in self mutilation, deceit, and imposed traditionalism. As I look at tradtional feminine social behavior- I can't help but be disgusted by it's insincerity and manipulation. Very little about, what we call- feminine, is an honest depiction of the real person: High heels that make you look taller than you really are; makeup that makes you look different than you really look; breast implants/calogen/botox...!
    We refer to this as FAKE! Some of the most messed up girls I've ever met, were girls who dated butches that they could treat like men. Most of these women were not lesbian- they just hated guys. Well, in the end, these women prove to be toxic to the gay community. They took their frustration of men out on butch women- that's crap! My message to these type of women: Take up your issues w/ "them who brought ya"- don't hide behind our jeans because you're too chickenshit to stand up to a man.