butch stoicism

October 31, 2007  |  essays

This past weekend, a friend reminded me that my sensitivity manifests in this butch body, this gender performance, as stoicism. I forget that about myself. I think it is obvious that my feelings are hurt, that I am withdrawn or sullen, yet externally it appears as anger, hard walls, and judgment.I forget that’s how I’m seen.

See, this butch thing is still relatively new – less than a third of my life – and I am treated and perceived differently because of it. I’ve written this before, but: I was never “one of the boys,” I was never the athletic jock, the girl who wished she could join the football team, the one with the toy truck collection. I was the ragamuffin hippie child, making daisy chains, playing in the mud at recess and then changing into mary janes when I got back inside. I was the girl with the handmade dress and the holes in the knees of my wool tights.

Back when I had long hair, this same expression of emotion in me was perceived as something else – hurt, pouting. But now, with my boycut #4, it is stoic anger.

I changed, yeah. But I also am just the same. Don’t forget I used to be the girl on the playground that built rock sculptures and then would sneek into the library to read Jean Fritz and Madeleine L’engle and Anne of Green Gables and The Babysitter’s Club. Don’t forget that this gender doesn’t mean that I don’t feel, too.

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4 Comments


  1. So strange that youve written this today. I absolutely understand the place inside of you where this post came from.

  2. Thanks for writing. It revealed myself to me again. I was filthy, absolutely filthy all of the time until I was 7. Before I was 10, I had broken both arms two times – one each from monkey bar mishaps! I had tea parties outside on the porch with my puppy until she was gone… girlhood is a curious thing.

  3. Madeleine L'Engle. g'damn. love her. And, yeah! It is frustrating to be emotionally misunderstood no matter, the time, place, or appearance.

  4. actually i see/saw it as sullen, not anger. but maybe that's just because i know you… :)

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