Monday, January 11, 2010

Butch: One of the Guys

Have a self to recover, a queen.
Is she dead, is she sleeping?"

One of the guys; I was thinking about this earlier at the gym where I walked in and fist butt two guys on my way to the free weights, mutually nod at three other guys while going back and forth to the drinking fountain, gym gossiped with two other guys while doing shrugs and had a conversation with one guy about politics while hitting shoulders. These guys and a few others I speak/goof with are all the big monkeys who've been going to this gym (a golds) for a minimum of 10 years and other than a few exceptions all are straight males. The relationship I have with these guys is surface at best, we have a mutual report, a mutual respect and a commitment to ourselves through working out. None of which ever stops me from my commitment to myself as a woman, my commitment to other women or my commitment to dismantling patriarchy through disrupting/destroying its many patriarchal systems that support misogyny.

That being said, for all intents and purposes at the gym, I have very much become "one of the guys". Like a lot of Butches, something I'm quite familiar with being. Butches being such a small minority and Butch invisibility being what it is, as children Butches generally gravitate towards male friends because we share play interests and a way of being that seems closer to male than female at the time. Thats not to say we didnt have female friends as children, I think most of us did, but those friendships I think would better be classified as similar to the surface relationships adult Butches have with adult males. As children most Butches spend more time with boys and forge closer bonds with boys. From wrestling with them, playing sports with them, throwing stones with them, causing mischief with them, hamming it up with them etc

What I was thinking about at the gym today is how much of a divide between our self and our self  is created through our growing up being "one of the guys" as girls? No doubt the larger the gulf the more time it takes to re-couple Butch with female as adult Butch women. I dont think the re-coupling even begins until Butches begin having serious love relationships with other women. And depending on the woman, some can and do even further that divide through their own personal demons/issues. As much as Butch is a core identity, it is also a long growth process requiring a great deal of personal insight before one can feel good about it. Insights we will sabotage ourselves until we reach a level a maturity that can handle those insights, and even greater levels of maturity before we can glean pleasure in ourselves from what those insights tell us about ourselves as women.

Because we aren't given opportunities in our youth to feel good about being butch(hell we arent even made aware of it), Butches take pleasure and pride in being "one of the guys" in order to "feel" butch by not feeling female. But through this close male association we often (for decades) lose the thing itself that makes us Butch, woman. Woman is something that EVERY Butch must recover and recover in her own individual way at her own individual pace, but make no bones about it, she IS something that in the ways of being all Butches misplace or hide, usually through shame. How can a Butch feel pride in her "one of the guyness" with her femaleness constantly hanging around???

This is why each and every adult Butch must step up and show off the unique woman she is, be visible, because all us Butches owe it all those baby Butches out there right now looking for themselves in every face and finding only males. Give these Butch girls a chance be "one of the Butches" for a change instead of the "guys" we were!

Butch Women-Represent!



  1. Outstanding, and perfectly right on, Dirt. Thanks again for telling it just like it is.


  2. Thanks Nat! You know Nat in the last two or so weeks I've received half dozen emails from women claiming to be "butch" demanding I stop writing about Butch experience because I know nothing about it.

    Butches do not have identical lives, but we do have shared core Butch experiences that we can all relate. I've no doubt these emails werent from Butch women, which is why they cannot relate.

    I would wager they were from dykes appropriating our Butch IDs because they do not know any better. This too is why Butches need to step up and been seen. Even within lesbian/dyke/femme/butch spaces we still remain invisible.


  3. Dirt - Keep on writing...what you write makes complete sense to me. Sometimes I feel like I'm reading something from my own past. We Butches do not have identical lives but we do have shared core Butch experiences.

    I wish I would have stumbled on your blog sooner but I'm glad I found it when I did. I wish I had the stregnth to go up to other Butch women and say ... something. To connect on a level that us Butches understand. So many butches are into the whole passing as a male or curious about the whole transition thing on some degree. Hell, I entertained the thought of transitioning at one point. It was a very confusing time of my life. Then I had a moment when I was surrounded by other Butches who talked about Butch experiences and I realized...I wasn't alone. Far from it. That realization, at the time, was too overwhelming for me so I didn't reach out to anyone but rather, disappeared from the crowd.

    But...since that day I have allowed myself to be me. I'm happier. I'm not focused on trying to not look like a guy anymore. This is me. Don't like it? Tough shit. I developed an I don't care anymore attitude because I like who I am and it's my life. Amazing what that does for your self confidence. I'm the one who has to live my life, nobody else. Unexpectedly to me, I have been addressed as 'sir' more in the last few years than my entire life. There are days when I feel strong and then there are days when I don't. There are times I will be blunt but firm and say I'm a woman. Or I'll use humor and they realize they were wrong and other times I will just blatantly make a comment and let the other person feel like an ass. Then there are times, like today, where I'm just too worn down to even care. Reading your blog reaches me...uplifts me. Reminds me there are other Butch women out there - sharing similar experiences.

    Thank you for having the strength to share.

    I'm not able to respond with an identity becaues I do not have a blog, a google account or any of the other options. I've emailed you and for now, I'm signing off as Greystreak.

  4. That cracks me up! YOU know nothing about being butch? That's actually very funny :)

    You're right. We do need to start stepping up to the plate and be the role models. So many of my butch friends these days don't even call themselves "butch" or anything except for "gay" specifically because they don't want to be associated with anything "trans" -- but what's happened then is exactly what you've described. A young butch comes along and knows she's gay, yes, but also that that doesn't describe the whole thing. Next thing is she discovers this so-far-undescribed part IS described, and she's led to believe all the psychiatrization and gender-theory alienation is THE truth about who she is. Give her enough years going along with that and she's mutilated, coming down with strange cancers, and so on -- all because she simply didn't realize through the example of elder-others that she was fine, powerful, and awesome just as she was as a female butch person.

  5. You rock, GreyStreak. I relate to everything you said here. Thanks for sharing that!

  6. Wow, I SO connect with this! I couldn't stand the sissy girl games, and constantly peeled my eyes for an Anybodys(butch/androgynous female tomboy character in West Side Story)to be friends with. As it is, very few girls were up to that task. Doesn't mean I didn't socialize with them, just that I socialized with the boys more cuz their games were far more fun: climbing trees, doing expeditions and going into the alleyways(and I led many an expedition) riding bikes, even fighting and defending my brother, playing baseball, ice hockey, karate, and Full Contact.

    After I busted my nose, no more Full Contact for me, but I was into the martial arts way before it was really cool for feminists and dykes to really get into it. I still spar, still practice, and LOVE IT when I feel that Amazon Warrior energy from another woman, but if not, then I prefer sparring the dudes who are my pals on just that superficial level you mention. Also, I work in a male dominated field, and so it can be life or death if I don't identify with the guys on at least some small level. Not as much as in the past, unlike some younger Butches, or male identified ones, I KNOW I'll NEVER be 'one of the guys', nor do I want to be.

    It is the myths of the ancient Amazons, my martial arts background, connecting with other Butches who are a bit more matriarchally oriented and likeminded, and having Butch mentors that got me to identify more with womyn, and then as I grow older I don't have to be so 'machismo' or 'prove' anything to ANYBODY!

    People really don't know how to treat Butches, they either think we wanna be dudes, or that we're pseudo dudes with little vulnerability and emotionally cloaked.This is a deadly Butch stereotype. And yes, indeed, as Butches there ARE core Butch experiences.

    And not for one minute do I think you're NOT Butch! WTF???? You're almost as Butch as it gets, and YET you're STILL all Woman! And proud! Fuck that bitch!

    Keep on keeping on, in Butch Dyke Pride!