Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Problem with Butch Othering pt 1

Growing up Butch you futilely search every face you come across, friend, foe or stranger even, looking for yourself and tragically finding nothing. Having no reflection, other than the one you see in the mirror makes it difficult to gauge how you are perceived by others.

When I was in 10th grade, in English class, we had this awesome teacher, Doc. Cronin whom everyone just called Doc. The class largely dealt with reading tons of short stories, some plays and some poetry. Near the end of every six week marking period before a "big test", Doc would have us play what basically was English Jeopardy, like the game show, covering in a fun way all we had read up to that point. When we played this study game it was from the start, boys against the girls and from the start the boys claimed me for their team. When the male score keeper went to the chalk board he wrote girls with a line drawn down the middle, then he wrote on the other side of the line Men plus Beaker, Beaker had been my nickname since 6th grade. So thats how I was viewed then, not as a girl or as a boy but as an other. Seen as too much of both I guess to fit comfortably in either.

I was twenty when I realized/admitted I was a lesbian. Knowing little about lesbians other than they naturally are attracted to and fall in love with other lesbians, I went learning about lesbians. I read everything I could get my hands on, from "her/story" to crap lesbian fiction and everything in between. I quickly learned I was a Butch lesbian. I youthfully with eagerness and zeal embraced this word that was the name for my nature, that I never knew before. I was Butch, a Butch, Butch. Part of the thrill of having this word Butch and owning my butchness was now I no longer was an "other", I was a Butch! But all too soon I learned through reading and lesbian life, Butch was an "other"! I was STILL an "other"!!! Actually the lesbian community viewed me as worse than an "other", they viewed and treated me as MALE, period!!!

The Femme/Butch community I didnt find till my early thirties, and ignorantly believed with that find that finally my "othering" would cease and I would be seen and embraced as the Butch lesbian I was. Wrong. Maybe had I been ten years older and discovered the Femme/Butch community twenty years before, things might for a spell had been different. But my discovering the Femme/Butch community coincided with post modernism's toxic injection into queer theory spreading its patriarchal adhered to rigid gendered norms throughout the body of all gay and lesbian communities, Femme/Butch included.

So from my start into the Femme/Butch community it was all about how alike Butch women were with men, how "masculine" Butch women were and how the more a Butch "acted" like a man, the butcher the Butch was! WHA??? I know Shakespeare said "all the worlds a stage" or some such nonsense, but I was and am a firm believer in the authentic life, especially since its the only fucking life we have! I desired to be apart of a reality based community where Butch simply meant what type of lesbian I was and signified what type of lesbian I was attracted to. I didnt sign up to be the brad pitt to some Femme's angelina, acting out some out dated non lesbian boring hetero role playing! I'm NOT a man, and Femme is NOT straight!

Spending most of my adult life working to over come several decades of the harmful misogyny I had internalized growing up, learning to appreciate the uniqueness and eventually love my Butch woman's body, I was not about to start being "he'd" in order to "feel" Butch! Nor did I feel comfortable with having the term "masculine" repeatedly applied to me no matter how many times I had heard Butches redefine "masculinity". So here I found myself once again othered because in a community I most certainly belonged in as a Butch, I didnt belong because I failed to "present" myself as male and failed to acknowledge other Butch women as male!

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  1. Shit, Dirt! You hit that nail square on the head. That's exactly what I've been expressing most of my life, always stuck being the "other", and just craving my tribe, my community. In the 1980s, I was denied that because the so-called "womyns community" at the time/place denied anything but andro (and later almost all those women came out as actually having been straight women who'd just "decided" to be "political lesbians" - my ass!)

    Then, yes, the whole "Cut-n-drug" crew showed up next to obliterate and deny who we really are.

    Then, yesterday I went to what calls itself a "woman-identified butch" group, but they also allow "transmen" in the group because they don't want to be un-inclusive. Even though having the "transmen" there means it's no longer about women, it's now about women who pretend to be men.

    This is the question in my mind the last several days: Why is it always MY/OUR job, as women who are the so-called "other", to make room for everyone else, even when it obliterates us? Isn't that like classic sexism? Like, didn't feminists figure that whole lie out all the way back in the 1950s?

    So how come it's no longer cool for straight women who have to give up all of who they are for men, but its still required for butch women to give up all of who they are for women who want to be men?

    Until women-IDd butches figure out how to stop cutting our own throats, we're going to keep hurting - ourselves, and each other.

    Ok - off soap box now (sorry - you got me ranting :)


  2. Feel free to rant away Nat! And you are absolutely right.

    I find it sickening that "ftMISOGYNISTS" are allowed in any lesbian space period! Women who are considering "transition" fine, I feel there may be hope for them. But there is no hope for drugged and mutilated women I'm sorry to say. If you cannot embrace yourself as a lesbian woman, than you do not belong in lesbian spaces period!

    And to be honest, most women who "transition" after a year or so on "T" begin fucking bio males and other ftMISOGYNISTS anyways, so at that point even though they forever remain biological women, there sexuality changes to bi/hetero. So again NOT lesbian therefore not belonging in lesbian space.


  3. Nat, this is EXACTLY what happened to us in Oakland. We had a mouthpiece who was Trans or a failed FTM trans(with the scratchy voice, the trans style dress and uptightness, and body) from the get go leading the so-called ONE Female Identified Butch workshop at Butch Voices, then the Butch group, while trying to impose her crap on the rest of us. My gut right away told me she was trans. I didn't know I knew her from before, where at a meeting of a womon to womon organization years ago, she lifted her shirt up and showed off proudly her breastless sickened forward years later and she's leading this so called Female Identified Butch group....and then letting members start in with the "I'm genderqueer, sometimes I use male pronouns" shit...

    What you do on your own time is one thing, what you do in community time, is another...

    Well, I hadn't heard about that particular group in awhile, so I just wrote on their list, which had gone very silent after all this discussion and debate for the soul of the group, to keep it female identified. There's ALWAYS saboteurs who don't know WHO the fuck they are! It got nasty on the list, and said illustrious leader turned into being an FTM tin dictator...but the Female identified types like yourself caught on quick.

    We're still organizing, but we won't emerge till our ground rules are fully set, we've done some good work, but one thing our group will be for ALL Female Identified Butches who use Female pronouns only in the meetings, and who HAVE NO INTENTION TO TRANSITION TO MALE!!! There will be no ifs ands or buts about it!!! It will be a safe place for young, as well as older Butches to be free of that pressure to transition, take 'T', 'fit in', or consider themselves genderqueer instead of fully Female, Butch and Dyke...

    And you're so fucking right Dirt, one other thing this FTM type in the group wanted is it to be o.k. for Butches to talk about fucking men...and ah...that just grosses me out! It's so fucking unButch. I LOVE other Butches....and no way I wanna hear about another Butch wanting to fuck dudes, then come around and have interest in us and give disease to members of the Dyke community then!

    I say take back our space, and keep us in the lowest risk group for S.T.D.'s and A.I.D.S! I just don't get how when they transition all of a sudden they want to be doing gay boys! Just makes no fucking sense to me!

    Dykes for Dykes FOREVER! Whether you're into Butch/Butch or Butch/Femme!

    Damn, it's hard to get Butches to have some enlightened self-interest and to organize together without all this 'gender' b.s.

    We're Dykes, we're women, we're Butches, WE'RE PROUD!

  4. Not only do both you, Dirt, and Amazon need a biology lesson when it comes to trans men, but in addition you will need one on STI's and HIV/AIDS. You honestly believe that it is gay men "infecting" the women's community via queer trans men? You are that far behind? That is both incredibly sad and frighteningly dangerous. You do realize that queer women, dykes, have been passing all manner of STI's etc. to one another for centuries, quite without the assistance of men-- trans or otherwise?

    It's one thing to be proud of being Butches. I support that til the end of the earth, but when that pride is build on the backs of others, well, you're welcome to it I suppose.

  5. I'm proud to be a woman period Anon Butch or otherwise. And that has zero to do with the "backs" of anyone.

    Regarding the STD stuff, you lost me. These young straight girls who are trannifying arent bringing anything to the lesbian community because they arent lesbian, their straight. Because they may find a stray fag to screw them has nothing to do with lesbians. Its straight women being straight women, whether they drug and mutilate themselves regardless.


  6. "Butches are NOT MEN, therefore Butches cannot be MASCULINE!"

    What an absurd statement. Go look in the mirror, Lynn. You are a woman, AND, you are masculine. Rather than project your self-loathing and fear onto the world at large, how about you try loving yourself and your personal masculine gender expression? It's okay to be a butch lesbian. Fight for acceptance and honor as a butch lesbian feminist. Work to free "masculine" from "misogynistic." Thousands of activists before you have already paved the way with foundational arguments. Your issue isn't really anti-misogyny, hatred against men, masculinity or FTM's. You just want to be accepted, respected and loved as a Butch lesbian, a homosexual woman with a masculine gender expression. Rather than cop to self-hatred and male-bashing, work to positively re-vision "masculine!"

  7. Absurdity Trist is the ignorant post modernistic approach to male/female-masculine/feminine queer theorists have convinced the unknowing of.

    I'm a woman, plain and simple. I Butch woman with butch mannerisms and physical characteristics. None of which is masculine, because I am female.

    Trying facing your internalized misogyny Trist, ask yourself why you do not want to identity as a woman. Those answers if you are honest, will lead you to a complete understanding of what I write.


  8. This is interesting Dirt. But i would like to know how you explain my gender issues when i was not even butch. Im a 30 year old woman who had had sex and relationships with both sexes, who has tryed to appear butch and instead ended up passing as a gay man when i was 18(not intending to!). So decided to just be myself, and then had other lesbians questioning weather i was lesbian or not. Also having other lesbians tell me im femme. i used to get people refuse to believe i was anything other then straight even when i had short hair. I was no good at sports at school, infact worse then all the other girls. No one wanted me on there team. I became aware of gender issues in my 20's, and i grew my hair even longer to try and hide it, ive been trying and trying to live as female. I have no hatred of females or my femaleness. I have tryed to get around it with hope that there is a god and that if i live this life as female then in my next life i can be male. I know i could never be a real man, and i want these thoughts to go away. I know that women can be everything and more then men can ever hope to be, ive been a feminist and believed in equality all my life. This should not be happening to me. Its like i have a core self that in essence is masculine, its on a different plane and sometimes i am him even though my body is female and i know others can see him mlike he projects his masculinity (not swaggering machoness)and some people sense that im different, i see myself in cartin types of men and not in women no matter how butch they are. My masculinity is not based on pleasing a femme or even attracting one, its not based on attracting anyone, instead its about expressing what i think of as my true soul essence. The more i fight this and the more i tell myself its not real the more i feel like im distroying the best part of myself. But im not gonna become a transman, not gonna take fake hormones as its true that carnt make me a real man. But in the back of my mind its always there, everytime i see a man who is like the one i aspire to my mind wonders into his shoes and i find myself in a daydream, when im on my own i become him, but when i have to face others (which i do on most days) its hard to not see myself the way they see me.

  9. @Neon, this post specifically deals with Butches, as you arent it clearly would apply to you.

    Also the "masculine" cannot be an "essence" of a person, the masculine contend with secondary physical male characteristics. These arent things that exist in the mind, they derive from the body.

    You seem to have bought into the Gender Straight Jacket hook, line and sinker.