An Argument For Butch/Femme

Guest post from my best friend The Muse. We were discussing a post I found earlier today called “an argument against butch/femme,” which I may discuss more later, and she, brilliantly, sent me this.

That rhetoric is so frustrating. Why is it so hard for people to understand that for some, defining yourself can be liberating, not limiting. There’s so often a snobbery in queer women who feel they’ve transcended the societal expectations placed on them by rejecting femininity. Anyone who does it another way is clearly still oppressed, unenlightened.

I rejected my femininity too, for ten plus years, but that was mainly a rebellion against my hetero lifestyle. I was like, if men want me, they’re going to have to want me in spite of all this. I’m not doing them any favors, making it easy for them.

Realizing I was gay helped me back out of that contrary corner, but I still wasn’t sure where to go next. My first girlfriend was an andro dykey sort who really dug masculinity, and was a total bottom, so she often encouraged me to be more toppy, more masculine. “I like you so much better without makeup.” “Clearly you look femme, but your energy is very butch.” Haha.

After her, I knew I wanted a masculine girl. It turned me on. But I ended up with someone who rejected her masculinity, her butchness, and was deeply ambivalent about how she was perceived. One early morning she was going out for coffee, but first put on these dangly earrings. I remarked something like, “oh, aren’t you fancy, adding jewelry to your hoodie and jeans ensemble.” She looked at me, dead serious and a little sad, and said, “If I don’t wear them, sometimes people mistake me for a guy.”

So I was constantly conflicted about who I in was her context, since I was made to feel guilty for the very reasons I was interested in her. In turn, she gave me mixed messages about my femininity, sometimes rewarding it, sometimes rejecting it. Fairly often I was left hanging, frustrated and confused in the lingerie I’d bought for her amusement, feeling costumed and stupid.

After that one, I knew I wanted a self-identified butch, but I didn’t know how femme I was. Was I femme enough to get into the club? Would a real butch be satisfied with my level of overt femininity? I couldn’t really walk in heels and I defaulted to jeans 80% of the time, and I felt the need to apologize for that. I put up personal ads describing myself a “tomboy femme” or a “low-maintenance low femme,” which the butches I went out with tended to eschew. In spite of my ever-present jeans and my aversion to the huge collection of skirts in my closet, they thought I was femme. Definitely. “Just look at your perfect red toenails, and your cute little sandals,” one said. “That’s certainly not butch.”

But even dressing up for your reading at the Stain Bar that Sunday in September, I felt a little costumed. I had been in jeans at work and changed there, and walking down fifth avenue to the L train, I got lots of looks from people I passed. My gut reaction was to think, “oh, they think I look stupid, or like a slut, or maybe the tops of my stockings are showing…” It didn’t really occur to me that I might just look hot. It’s so much easier being under the radar in jeans, wow.

Two days later, though, I went on a date with a butch named Lee. For some reason, I decided to ditch the jeans and wear a skirt, tight busty sweater, fishnets, heels. I normally wouldn’t do that for a first date, preferring to set expectations low and give full disclosure that I’d usually be in jeans, that the dressing up was occasional. She even asked me, “so, do you normally dress like this?” and I responded, “no, I just wanted to look nice for you.”

Four hours later. After seeing the toppy look on her face that gets me instantly wet, makes me tilt my chin down and look at her wide and expectant through my eyelashes, my mouth dropping open a little, just before she leaned over and kissed me hard, interrupting whatever I was saying. After making out wildly in an overpillowed winebar, her hands running up my skirt and finding the baby pink band of my thigh-highs, looking at me surprised and saying, “oh, that’s nice.” After a shameless PDA marathon along 14th street, grinding up against brick walls and in the middle of the sidewalk and in dark corners and on subway platforms.

After all that, I was convinced of the utility of skirts. And heels, two and a half inches or more, that put her cock just below my clit when I’m up against a wall. Fuck yeah. A (high-minus? medium-plus?) femme was born.

So, it very much arose out of sex for me, this butch-femme thing. I finally had a context in which I made sense and felt hot, and I loved it. Still working out the details, but I feel more me than ever. And I got there without help from societal norms or heterosexual paradigms, which of course had been with me all along, and of no use whatsoever.

We definitely need to explain to these anti-butch-femme ranters that this is a subversion of the hetero masculine-feminine spectrum, not an emulation of it. The butch-femme identity is as queer as all get out, and other queers should respect that, and not hierarchize the “best ways” to be queer.

Butch Flight, Dress-Up Test, Gender Galaxy, and Other Definitions

I’ve added a Definitions page, for a brief introduction to some definitions of terms I often use in my analytical/theoretical discussions of sex, gender, & relationships:

“Butch flight” – The concept refers to the dwindling number of butches in the queer communities, specifically in regards to that butches are now transitioning to be men, FTMs, transgender, or genderqueer. This is actually highly controversial and many people say “there’s no such thing as butch flight.” The concept can become quickly transphobic, and I think that is generally why the denial enters in. In my observation, it’s quite obvious how few butches there are in the community, and how even fewer masculine-looking lesbians identify as butch. It’s hard for me to say accurately, since I an ten years young in this community, but from my understanding, these numbers are decreasing. That’s the only thing I really mean by butch flight.

Dress-up Test – I’ve written about this in the past. For many years I had no way to define butch & femme, and relied upon what I called the Dress-up Test to gague whether which way someone leaned: if, when you dress up, you opt toward button-downs and slacks, you probably lean butch. If, when you dress up, you opt for heels and skirts, you probably lean femme. Yes, gender is more than just your clothes – it’s also your physical communication, the way your body interacts with the world. But the dress-up test is a good place to start.

Gender Galaxy – People often talk about the “gender spectrum” – mostly as in, “I’m not man or woman, I’m somewhere in between on the gender spectrum.” Looking at gender linearly, with male and female on either end, still leaves gender operating within a binary, with a grey area in between. The idea of a gender galaxy gives much more room to many more identifications. I heard this term kicked around by a few friends in college, but was reminded by Red and looked it up for myself; it appears that the term originated from the article Expanding Gender and Expanding the Law: Toward a Social and Legal Conceptualization of Gender that is More Inclusive of Transgender People by Dylan Vade, published in 2005 in the Michigan Journal of Gender and Law. Actually, just a few months ago, when I was doing reasearch on this, there were less than 10 results on Google – now there are 200. Glad to see this term being picked up!

GGG – A term Dan Savage uses in his sex advice column (and brilliant podcast) Savage Love. Highly highly recommended. As I’ve mentioned before, GGG “stands for ‘good, giving, and game,’ which is what we should all strive to be for our sex partners. Think ‘good in bed,’ ‘giving equal time and equal pleasure,’ and ‘game for anything — within reason.'”

Head on over to that Definitions page to make comments, add your own definitions, or request any terms that you’d like to see defined.

sugasm #120

The best of this week’s blogs by the bloggers who blog them. Highlighting the top 3 posts as chosen by Sugasm participants.

This Week’s Picks
The Ache of Desire Unsatisfied
“J groaned in my ear, and I nearly pulled down his zipper then and there.”

Unexpected
“Tingles of electricity were set coursing up and down that side of my body.”

Part(y)ing shots
“I placed both my hands on the tiled wall in front of me, clammy and cold, holding myself up.”

Mr. Sugasm Himself
The “Best way to make him felt hot”

Editor’s Choice
Who Is A Sex Worker?

BDSM & Fetish
Expect the unexpected
Vegas Squeeze Toy

Thoughts on Sex and Relationships
Statute of limitations for rape

NSFW Pics, Videos & Audio
Hot Wax at LSM with Madeline
Vivid.com: Briana Banks, Monique Alexander, Nadia Styles & Sunny Leone

Erotic Writing and Experiences
The therapy session

See also: Fleshbot’s Sex Blog Roundup each Tuesday and Friday.

my favorite harness: review

My very favorite strap-on harness, reviewed over at Eden Fantasys. It meets my three major requirements for harnesses:

  1. interchangeable O-rings,
  2. thin harness straps that hit my clit, and 
  3. g-string style, also so it hits my clit

I love how small it is, it’s easy to conceal and comfortable under clothing, and it’s nylon so it washes so easily. Plus? It’s only $16.

Have you used this harness, or one similar? What’s your favorite harness style, & why? Leave a comment here or, better yet, over at the Eden review.

My other reviews for Eden:

Nostalgia for the Butch/Femme Dynamic

Sometimes I hear people say they wish they lived in the 50s and 60s so they could experience the butch/femme dynamic, or they “miss” it even. Team Gina has that line in their song: “Sometimes I miss the butch/femme dynamic / ’cause only girls in carharts make me panic.” When I think about it, it’s kind of odd, coming from a couple of twenty-something girls. It’s an interesting sort of nostalgic feeling for a time that we didn’t actually witness.

Can you really miss something you didn’t actually live through? Seems like there’s a better word for it than “miss” or “nostalgia,” because it’s actually longing for another time. But it’s deeper than that – it’s a historical connection to that time, an inhereted lineage that I really do miss and sometimes long for.

Though the gender revolution/s that are currently happening – especially around butch/femme – are a resurrection of something of the past, maybe it’s actually more more accurate to call it something new – a similar idea resurfacing in a new way.

I certainly didn’t grow up with any sort of model of the butch/femme dynamic, not in my own family – where actually there was a strong rejection of gender roles, falling on the not-rare 70s feminist argument that gender inequality is based on gender difference and gender expression. And yet, I feel connected to the butch/femme dynamic, I feel like a part of it, both currently and along some sort of historical axis.

I’ve been reading Riki Wilchin’s book Queer Theory, Gender Theory lately, and one of her major arguments (so far) is that gender activism got pushed out of both the feminist and gay liberation movements of the mid-1900s because of the ways that the conservative right backlash was using gender deviation as personal attacks against the people in the movements. Now that both of those movements have come so far, and been so successful, we are finally able to unearth this genderphobia that has been prevalent all along and attempt some activism around that.

What’s interesting about that to me is the ways that genderqueerness had to go underground, hidden, shameful, through these liberation movements, and now we – quite often it’s the folks like me, twenty-something, queer, children of the revolution movements of the 60s and 70s – are picking up the torch in our own, new way. And hell, the gender revolution happening seems more radical now than that butch/femme nostalgic time for which some of us long – look at the trans movement, the trans rights, the genderqueer and intersexual activism and knowledge that is getting more and more mainstreamed.

little bitta housekeeping

I’ve been reworking this site a bit, as you can probably tell (assuming you’re not reading this via RSS) and I’ve tightened up the categories especially. I’ve written out explanations for them here in the new archive section if you’re interested in a little more details on the girls & the ways I’m organizing things.

Also, you can subscribe to Sugarbutch Chronicles via any RSS feeder, and if you’re a regular blog reader (not just of me, but of various blogs) and you don’t use a RSS feeder, I gotta say, you are really missing out. This is THE most handy blog tool that’s come along in a long time. You can also subscribe to the comments made on SBC, if you’re interested in how the community responds. I imagine the comments are mostly just useful to me, but sometimes the comments on the theory and gender stuff are really fantastic and add a lot to the discussion.

I’m trying to mimic Figleaf and edit comments to reply instead of adding new comments, so if you don’t see “Sinclair on ____” over in the comment sidebar, I still may’ve replied to you. Would it be best if I sent you an email reply too? Hmm. I’m still strategizing.

pumping: my homegrown dick

clitpump

One of the first things I thought, really, was, why the fuck does it have glitter and little hearts all over it? Doesn’t that seems a little ridiculous? Maybe it’s because generally I don’t buy vibrators (I have a few, ranging from a tiny Pocket Rocket to the grandmother of all vibrators, the Magic Wand, and honestly I don’t have any desire to add more to my arsenal of sex toys. Cocks, on the other hand … ) so I am unused to the stereotypical femininity of flowers and hearts.

Well, for that matter, why is this clit pump a vibrator?

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Shasta at Stiletto Diaries also has a review of this Vibrating Clitoral Pump, and her review was fairly negative – only one O out of a possible five. I suppose really it depends on what you’re looking to this clit pump for – if you want it as a sex toy, to aid in masturbation, it seems like there are quite a few superior things out there, I’m not sure why you’d want this. The vibration is semi-powerful, but the ring is made to go around your clit – maybe some people like that, but I tend to like things actually touching mine. When I’m getting off, that is.

But clit pumping … this little device has a particular purpose: to enhance bloodflow, and, ultimately, elongate the ligaments, in and surrounding your clit, making it – you guessed it – bigger.

When I went to Seattle in December, I came back in a mini-masculinity-crisis, perhaps you remember? One of the things that happened while I was there was that I got the updates from the trans conference Gender Odyssey that some of my friends had attended, and at which one had run a great workshop. Apparently the big buzz around the conference this year was pumping for trans men – enhancing your dick (i.e., clit on T, not necessarily a constructed penis) with pumping, which purportedly works, and could add an inch or two. Since then I’ve been vaguely curious about trying out one of those clitoral pumps (which I assumed would work better, for me at least, than an actual penis pump).

So I jumped at the chance to get this one.

Shasta is right, the suction is not all that powerful. In fact, a few times I wasn’t even sure it had created a suction – it’s a little hard to tell with the labia and such. (My friend & fluffer femme spy (you really need a tag of your own, considering how often I mention you, don’t you?) swears by the snake-bite kit, note to self, go get one.) I Googled clitoral pumping for trans guys – because, well, what else do you do when you want to know something? You go to the almighty Google gods – and I found an article from ’98 on pumping – Trans Sexuality: Gonna Pump You Up – that had a few interesting things:

About what will happen when you use it:

Growth will depend on how consistent you use the pump, what you had to start with, and genetics don’t hurt any either. I polled the mailing lists on the internet and received only one response, so there are basically no figures available as to what you can reasonably expect. I know that I gained a 1/2″ in diameter and near approximately 3/4″ in length before becoming rather lazy about pumping. These changes have been permanent and in my eyes worth the $80.00 that I spent.

Seems like they aren’t in the $80 range anymore, though I don’t know much about penis pumps, I’m mostly looking at clitoral pumps – they seem to be in the $20-30 range. I wonder if there’s better information about pumping now – I should ask my friend who was at the trans conference I guess. Doesn’t seem like there’s much online, that I could find.

The author goes through how to make a pump, how to buy a premade one, and finally, how to use one:

It is best to be sexually aroused before beginning to pump. You want blood flowing into the erectile tissue so as to enable you to form a seal. Place the cylinder on your erectile tissue. Once the cylinder is in place pump slowly and gradually until you feel pressure. If you feel pain, back off. An intense pinching sensation means that you either need to resituate the cylinder or it’s time to move up in size. If there is no pain, leave the cylinder on for so long as it feels comfortable, but do not exceed 5-10 minutes. You can expect to feel pressure or perhaps a very slight pinching sensation on the underside of your member. Release the pressure then rest for 5-10. Repeat once. As you get familiar with the device and the reaction of your body, you can work up to a second repetition … Go slow and easy. Soreness is an indication that you need to take a break for a day or so. It is imperative that you listen to your body. When you are done pumping . . . well, I don’t need to tell you how to scratch that itch.

(Quotes reprinted without permission.) Worth a try, or a few tries, I think.

After the first time, I can tell you: 1. it was definitely arousing, and I needed to beat off afterward; 2. I couldn’t tell how well the suction was working, and I wanted it to be stronger, but – 3. I’m a little sore afterward, in a way I am usually not after jacking off. I would assume this has to do with the pumping. Maybe it works after all! I’ll try to do this just about every day for a while and see if it makes a difference.

Sex Work, Trafficking, and Human Rights

Sex In The Public Square Presents:
Sex Work, Trafficking, and Human Rights: A Public Forum

New York, February 20, 2008 – Ten prominent sex worker advocates, writers, researchers will be publicly discussing the issues of sex work and trafficking from a human rights and harm reduction perspective, February 25 – March 3, on SexInThePublicSquare.org. The week-long online conversation will conclude with a summary statement on March 3, International Sex Worker Rights Day.

Sex work and trafficking are two issues that must be discussed as distinct yet intersecting, and we’ve invited some of the smartest sex worker advocates we know to help sort out the complexities. “This forum is not about debating whether or not we should be using a harm reduction and human rights approach instead of the more mainstream abolitionist and prohibitionist approach to sex work,” explains Elizabeth Wood, co-founder of Sex In The Public Square and Assistant Professor of Sociology at Nassau Community College. “Instead our goal is to create a space for nuanced exploration of the human rights and harm reduction approach so that we can use it more persuasively.”

Wood explains: “The human rights and harm reduction approach seeks to reduce the dangers that sex workers face and to stop human rights abuses involved in the movement of labor across borders, a movement which occurs in the service of so many industries. We want people to be able to learn about this perspective, and to develop and refine it, without having to dilute that conversation by debating the legitimacy of sex work.”

Questions and themes include:

Defining our terms: Is the way that we define “porn” clear? “Prostitution”? “Sex work” in general? What happens when we say “porn” and mean all sexually explicit imagery made for the purpose of generating arousal and others hear “porn” as indicating just the “bad stuff” while reserving “erotica” for everything they find acceptable? When we say sex work is it clear what kinds of jobs we’re including?

Understanding our differences: How do inequalities of race, class and gender affect the sex worker rights movement? Are we effective in organizing across those differences?

Identifying common ground: What are the areas of agreement between the abolitionist/prohibitionist perspective and the human rights/harm reduction perspective? For example, we all agree that forced labor is wrong. We all agree that nonconsensual sex is wrong. Is it a helpful strategic move to by highlighting our areas of agreement and then demonstrating why a harm reduction/human rights perspective is better suited to addressing those shared concerns, or are we better served by distancing ourselves from the abolition/prohibition-oriented thinkers?

Evaluating research: What do we think of the actual research generated by prominent abolitionist/prohibitionist scholars like Melissa Farley, Gail Dines, and Robert Jensen? Can we comment on the methods they use to generate the data on which they base their analysis, and then can we comment on the logic of their conclusions based on the data they have?

Framing the issues: What are our biggest frustrations with the way that the human rights/harm reduction perspective is characterized by the abolitionist/prohibitionist folks? How can we effectively respond to or reframe this misrepresentations? What happens when “I oppose human trafficking” becomes a political shield that deflects focus away from issues of migration, labor and human rights?

Exploring broader economic questions: How does the demand for cheap labor undermine human rights-based solutions to exploitation in all industries, including the sex industry?

An Elegant Blindfold

wink blindfold

A friend turned me on to this silk and suede blindfold called Wink from Jimmyjane, and I really want one. Or, perhaps more accurately, I really want a girl to give one to.

More versatile than your favorite scarf, this suggestive accessory can ravel while you unravel. Made of over 3 yards of 100% hand dyed silk cut on the bias, it provides more than enough comfort and just enough yield. The fabric softens beautifully with use & time. We’ve been known to slide off the mask and wear it out on the town — our little secret.

Each side of the supple suede mask is embroidered to help you get what you want. One side shows the universal symbol of snooze: the Z! Wear it nightly as a decadent sleep mask, or flip it over and flash your partner the come-hither heart.

They’re even more elegant in person.

k.d. lang’s Watershed

When I saw k.d. lang perform live recently for the first time, I was so incredibly invested in and taken by her presence onstage, in her suit and bare feet, crooning so intimately with the audience. I felt connected in a way I hadn’t felt at a concert before, and I wasn’t sure exactly what that was, until I realized that it was probably one of the first times I’ve seen a butch woman perform. Okay, so I’ve been to Michfest, I’ve seen Ferron and Alix Olsen and Melissa Ferrick – but somehow this was different, I’m not exactly sure how. Maybe because we were at Radio City Music Hall, and the audience wasn’t particularly queer? These were jazz lovers, a highbrow audience.

k.d. is one of the few artists whose albums I will go out and buy the week they come out. I have almost her entire library in my collection, and I often go back to her old albums just as often as her new. Hymns from the 49th Parallel is just as brilliant as Drag and as Ingenue … I love ’em all.

Watershed, which came out recently, is really worth a listen. It’s her first collection of songs written by her since 2001, and it’s gorgeous. Here’s the ad trailer (!) for the album.

L-word fans (or, if you’re oldschool, Murmurs fans) probably know that k.d. lang dated Leisha Hailey for a few years … man, to be a fly on the wall in that bedroom. Talk about a power couple. That’d be some good fan fiction, if I wrote that kind of genre.

On Privilege & Gender (Part Two)

One more thing:

To Belle, and to the femmes I’ve dated and fucked and longingly admired: Thank you.

Thank you for swooning over my neckties and collared shirts, my perfectly messy short hair, my heavy belt buckles and swagger and the way I order wine for you. Thank you for having my favorite whiskey at your house for me, just for me, thank you for dressing up and looking your best, celebrating the costume of femininity, for putting time into your hair and makeup and outfit and shaved legs and stockings and lingerie straps that bite into flesh and shin splints from high heels and freezing legs from short skirts and the eyelash batting and the way I feel like a million bucks when I’ve got you on my arm.

I appreciate your gender expression, deeply, because I make more sense when I’m next to you. To quote Cody: “Let’s be honest: we need femmes.” I didn’t get who I was until I started dating femmes. This identity does not exist in a vacuum, and, for me, requires the duo dynamic inherently.

I have so much reverence for the femme aesthetic. Am I occasionally jealous of your ability to pass? Yes. But I understand – at least a little – the burdon of it, too, and I want you to share that with me. Femininity is assumed to be for the benefit of straight men, and to subvert that can sometimes mean consequences.

Yeah, I get tired of being on the front lines of visibility sometimes. But when I have a femme on my arm, strutting down the street, freshly fucked and we’re melting into each other, everyone who sees us knows what we are, and I love the second glances we get. I love the tiny revolutions that happen in the faces of strangers passing by.

Passing is not always a privilege. Some femmes I know have even said to me that passing is never a privilege, in fact. (I’m not sure I agree entirely, but I understand the argument.) To force someone to admit that it is a privilege is to force a hierarchy, such a power play, such an insecure I’m-better-than-you kind of move.

I’ve joked occasionally that femmes and other passing queers get to hear what straight people say when they don’t know a queer is listening. My lovers have occasionally told me stories of what they heard at work or school and I’m shocked – especially in PC-Seattle where I used to live, I never heard people saying homophobic – or even homo-ignorant – remarks around me, because I am visibly queer, they knew I was listening. As a writer, as an activist, as an observer of human character, I am fascinated by those conversations and interested in access to those places where I cannot go. Likewise, I sometimes find I have access to intimate (bio-hetero-) male conversations, where they let me in as one-of-the-guys and bitch about their wives, tell sexist jokes, or fawn over girls at the bar. A straight girl – and probably femmes – would probably not have access to these conversations.

I’m remembering a conversation I had with my friend and femme spy once upon a time, where she strongly asserted that there is no privilege in passing as straight, especially because sometimes, when she is presumed straight and then outs herself, she actually finds herself in more danger than she was previously and, I believe she argued, she’d be in more danger than someone visibly queer – a butch – because of the perception that her passing was actually deception.

I definitely see her point there, and it makes me feel highly protective and posessive of femmes, to think of the occasional dangerous situations they may be in. I still think there is some privilege in the femme identity – as there is some in the butch identity, some in an androgynous or genderqueer or any other gender identity, isn’t there? If there was no benefit, what use would it be? I suppose “privilege” here though is not the same as “benefit;” one implies a hierarchical gain within social structures.

Maybe I need to back up here. What is privilege? How do we define it? How do we know when we have it, when we don’t? And what, if anything, do we do with it when we have it? What are our responsibilities with privilege, how do we meet them? How do we avoid abusing our privileges?

Uh, I’ll think about that and get back to you. Chime in your two cents if you feel inspired, please.

Ultimately, though, I really want to stress that comparing degrees of oppression is fruitless and purposeless. Who does it help? Do you really feel better after forcing someone to admit that they have privilege? It’s one thing to have a discussion about it, to acknowledge the intricate complexities within identity hierarchies – it’s another thing to play these I’m-better-than-you games.

Passing, Privilege, & Butch/Femme

In response to what Belle wrote about privilege, guilt, and butch/femme:

I can’t speak (write) for all butches, and I do get that some of us have awful things to say about femmes and passing and privilege. I don’t know what to tell you about all of that, except that I think that it’s bullshit. It comes from a misogynistic bullying place where the one who is bullied and oppressed turns around and bullies the femme who is littler than you.

This is male privilege. This is the heteronormative hierarchy.

I don’t feel “more oppressed” than any given femme, and I resent that game of who has more hardship than whom. Division and in-fighting are ways that our marginalized communities stay broken apart instead of banded together. C’mon, remember Lord of the Rings?

Yes, butches are more visible, and therefore, in some situations, easier targets. But femmes are targets, too, and discriminated against. Hell, there are so few of us who even fall into this butch/femme dynamic – why make enemies of each other?

This past week I appeared as a guest on the Diana Cage Show on Sirius OutQ radio, and she’d had a whole segment of conversation before my part (where I performed some poetry and chatted about breakups, smut, and femmes, what else) where she was talking about “butch training,” I shit you not.

“Who trained you?” she asked me.

“I don’t think I was ‘trained’ … do all butches get trained?” I was confused.

“Oh yeah,” she answered.

“What about femmes?”

“Oh, no, they don’t need to be trained.”

Oh man, did my mind boggle. I don’t think she’s right about that, but let’s say, for a minute, that she is. In what do we need training? Was I doing something wrong? Did I need to be trained? Had I already been, and didn’t know it? Who had trained me?

“I’m not sure I was trained …” I said skeptically.

“Yeah, true, you’re a chivalrous butch. An old-school butch,” she said, as if this meant maybe I didn’t need ‘training’ after all?

“Yeah, I am. And a feminist, hardcore.” But I kept thinking. “Maybe my first big love trained me,” I said. She was the first femme I knew and she whispered in my ear, I think you’re butch, and I came a little and threw up at the same time. I watched how she wished her girlfriends would treat her and tried to be that.

And when I thought about it more later, I think it was my mother, my parents, who probably most deserve credit for “training” me in the ways that I take care of myself and others. Isn’t that what we’re speaking of? How we love, how we care, how we expect the partnership dynamic to work? And, fundamentally, if I may interpolate here, I think the “training” refers to those butches who often have grown up tomboys, one-of-the-guys, with a socialized masculinity. Those butches that treat femmes – and women – and, hell, people – with disrespect and dishonor, and I think it has everything to do with the “tough guise” of masculinity.

My point is, this is often the same type of butch (as much as I shudder to sub-categorize) I’ve heard this “femme privilege” argument come from, too. And I resent it, deeply. It saddens and angers me. I don’t know how to encourage a more wholistic, human range of experience in that type of butch (again, I shudder), wish I did.


But. This is what I have to say to Belle, or to any femme who endours that forced guilt about femme privilege:

Yes, passing is sometimes a privilege, but not always. Just like my visibility is sometimes a privilege, but not always. Tell me about times it was a privilege for you, and times it wasn’t, and then ask me about my stories, too. Tell me what it’s like to walk in your shoes. Let me learn from your experience. It’s hard sometimes to be a queer in this heterodominant society, and it’s hard to be a butch or femme in a lesbian community rooted in androgyny and which associates gender oppression with gender expression.

Fuck, can’t we share this burdon? Can’t we pass this weight around, let it be a little lighter between us? I mean, I know I’m a hippie-feminist-do-gooder-pacifist and all, but I believe in the power of community, deeply.

upon leaving mexico

I can’t figure out how to shut the door or turn on the light, but then finally I push hard enough, flip the latch, and the tiny airplane bathroom illuminates. I want to slam my body around inside of it, test the boundaries of this little room, force myself to expand to the confines of the space.

Really, I want to feel anything other than the way my heart is bursting in my chest, thickening, pulse quickening and I can feel the pump of my blood pressure in my veins from neck to ankles.

I rip open the fly of my jeans and shove my hand under my briefs. My clit (that she calls my dick and oh I love how she engenders me) is half-hard and has been all week that I’ve been next to her. I roll it in my fingers, remove my hand and spit onto my fingertips, then replace it and start jacking off.

Anything but what I feel.

My cunt swells fast, opens, and I remember, easily, the feeling of fullness, the moment her fist pushed through and swallowed into me. The soft soft kissing of her lips on my dick, on my lips, as she moved her tongue so sweet and slow. I remember my own legs splayed, thighs to the bedspread as she kept me poised on her tongue for an orgasm that opened a line from cunt to heart like an earthquake does to the ground, deep shaking, trembling at a core balanced on lava.

And before:

Standing in the kitchen, she’s sitting on the counter, my hand under her small jean skirt, pushing panties aside, finding her wet, finding her clit and pressing as she gasps in my ear, ejaculates on my black tee shirt, my stomach, warm and wet.

Later:

Her mouth on my cock outside on the veranda. I have her backed into the corner with hands on either wall and then one hand in her hair, one hand on my cock, where I can feel her lips, her tongue on the underside of my cockhead, her throat where it is wet and slick when she swallows me deep.

After that:

I take her to bed, fuck her hard from behind, plowing, her face buried in the mattress, hands grasping at the sheets, my knees turning red from the friction against the rough comforter, hands on her hipbones like handles and I slide in and out, hard and thick.

Before:

There she was on the chair, legs up and we weren’t even doing anything but reading magazines, drinking coffee, but my hand on her thigh started my dick trembling so I just kept going, fingers inside her, thrumming her clit until she came, gasping, grasping at my biceps.

I had her in nearly every room of that little condo, our palm-tree view of the sunset we’d watch from the king-sized bed, her body shaking and pulsing, so vivid.

Remembering the lust pushes out, for the moment, the pain of leaving, the rush of loss, the ache of absence.

Back in the tiny bathroom on the airplane, I push my fist to the wall opposite and my ass into the door, praying it’ll hold firm, fingers working my dick, remembering her fingers, wishing mine were hers, remembering how I fucked her with this same hand so recently. I jack my own dick like I did her, hard, same rhythm that she likes, and I come, grunting low, pressing my body to the edges of the small space, and I don’t start crying again, but I do remember her sweet smile and instead of buckling under the weight I swallow hard, wash my hands, and return to my seat to stare again out the window, as the sun sets over the Mexican horizon.

pv
the view, and the girl

lesbian lifestyle finalist!

Sugarbutch Chronicles is a finalist for the Lesbian Blog of the Year Award from The Lesbian Lifestyle! Thanks so much to all of you who nominated me. There’s one more step in this process, which is to VOTE HERE for your choice.

Voting started yesterday, and I’m currently in last place, so I’ve got some catching up to do!

I’m really grateful SBC is getting some “lesbian blog” attention – I’ve been in the sexblog circles for a while now, but it’s been harder to break into the lesiban blog circles. It’s still very edgy to talk about sex so directly, so while I occasinally get a link or a mention or a comment from a lesbian (non-sex) blogger, I still feel like I’m the blog that someone points to and giggles and shyly reads in the middle of the night in the dark by laptoplight.

One of the goals of this blog, too, is to encourage lesbian sex & sexuality in ALL its various forms and manifestations, to spark conversations about gender and kink and power and sex in whatever ways might feel good to you and your lover. I’ve joked that my tagline should be “combating lesbian bed death!” and I still see that as one of my underlying missions of writing smut at all.

I always, always appreciate any feedback and discussion and conversation – that’s the best part of it, really, is sparking dialogue and opening up communication about pleasure and love and sex and smut and kink and play and sexy girls and all that great stuff!

So thank you, for the small moment of recognition – I really appreciate being a finalist, and I am in such fine company! Dorothy Surrenders and Lesbian Dad I read every day and really enjoy.

Lesbian Dad is so well written, and I just love the photos of her kiddos. Read Baba: a name I call myself as an introduction to how she came up with the mama-papa hybrid name for the “other mother”, the “non-biological” lesbian mom.

And how much do I love Ms. Snarker? Let me count the ways: the sassy L-word commentary, the Tina Fey Tuesdays (especially: What? Sexy? You are. Shut up.), and crushing on Jodie Foster … I have more of an appreciation of the heteroflexible gals in celebreality after reading this blog, I gotta tell you.

I haven’t been reading This Girl Called Automatic Win and Hahn at Home, but I’ve added them to my reader and will be starting to read them as well.

Last year, my buddy Curly McDimple won TLL Blog of the Year Award, and damn, her place is pretty great too. She’s kind of busy honeymooning with a particular hot poet as of late, but I still run into her for drinks on occasion.

Here’s a list of all the Finalists:
This Girl Called Automatic Win
Hahn at Home
Dorothy Surrenders
Lesbian Dad
Sugarbutch Chronicles

And, what else can I say? Cast your vote until March 3rd.

TLL finalist

the therapy session

The Saturday that Miss DD was visiting me in New York City, we attempted to go out to a queer dance that boasted swing, salsa, and tango music, but when we arrived it was near empty, awkward, unsexy, and unwelcoming. We did not stay.

The failed dance, really, is irrelevant, aside from that we had dressed up for it. We’d been to the Shanghai Mermaid the night before, which, we didn’t realize, would’ve been a perfect venue for our swing outfits: her short-short black twirly dress, small jacket with leopard-print accents, seamed stockings (there’s a word for those yes? “cuban heel”?), and she carried her red “ruby slippers” dancing heels in a bag – can’t have the soles getting all messed up – which she’d found when we’d been out shopping in the Village. I wore the outfit my stylist and I had picked out especially for this, including a black velvet jacket (which I’ve always wanted) and a fedora.

“I love that you understand costuming,” Miss DD said to me.

So we should’ve worn those fabulous swing outfits to Shanghai Mermaid, but we thought this dance was going to be great. Instead we were let down. We left the dance almost immediately, and went to Therapy.

“Therapy has the most fuckable bathrooms I’ve ever been in,” I remembered, opening the thick, heavy wooden door at the gayboy bar for DD. Fucking her in the bathroom honestly hadn’t been part of the plan – I was just desperate for a queer-ish venue where we could have some drinks, make out, possibly dance. It was the only bar around Midtown I could think of.

We found two stools at one of their huge beautiful tables and watched the gay boys, made up stories about their characters and hookups. Occupations, personal histories. Talked about literature and gender and dancing and costumes and how the fedora was fucking up my perfectly messy hair.

Eventually we made our way down to the first floor, to the back, to the bathrooms. I followed her into one of the stalls, which are more like individual rooms, real walls but the doors don’t quite go all the way to the floor. We both set our drinks down near the wall where we’d try not to kick them over.

She dropped to her knees, almost immediately. Did I kiss her first? Possibly. Possible too that she took my fingers deep into her mouth like she does, letting me feel her throat and the back of her tongue and her soft palette with my fingertips. Two, three fingers. Her tongue, her teeth grazing my knuckles.

And then on her knees. Her beautiful eyes looking up at me, cock deep in her throat, her hands on my thighs, on my ass, pulling me deeper into her. I’m moaning and gasping aw fuck and she takes my hand and puts it in her hair, I grip a fistful and hold her there, steady, as I pump my hips and fuck her face.

I was getting a little out of control here. I could feel it. That feeling looming where I can expand and explode and take. Different than orgasm, this is a topping energy that rises up and makes me want to damage, rip apart, destroy.

I started thrusting deeper and harder, taking control of the blow job, fucking her mouth rather than letting her do the work. I began tipping her backward.

Aw yeah, aw fuck yeah. Fuck.

Pulling her hair to lift her up to me, I stopped, pulled my cock out of her mouth, slammed her against the wall, hit her head against the tile. Kissed her. Hard, and again. Hand in her hair again, on her arms, shoulders, pinning her between me and the wall. I thrust my hand between her legs and found her pussy wet and ready for me, pressed my fingers inside, two then three, in and out slow, then harder and deeper, curling inside to touch her gspot and feel her opening for me, feel her swelling under my fingers.

She had one leg up, knee bent, against the wall and my arm was under her knee, but then she lifted it farther and pressed the sole of her high-heeled black leather boot against the opposite wall of the stall behind me. Opened her pelvis even deeper, gave us both better leverage.

Not to mention: so. fucking. hot.

She gasped, moaned. She bit my lips a little too hard and I pressed my hand to her cheek, pushed her face against the wall.

“Come for me, baby,” I started, whispering in her ear. “So fucken hot, you all pressed up against the bathroom wall like this. I love the way you suck my cock, you’re so good, so good. Now I want you to come for me, squirt for me, let it go, I want to feel it, I want you to splash the floor of this dirty bathroom … ”

She gasped, kissed me, mouth open, her stomach contracting and all the muscles in her body became taut, pressing hard against the edges of her so she could feel my fingers thrumming inside, and she started to gush, ejaculating in a stream I couldn’t see but could feel against my hand. Her pussy tightened and thickened and her muscles started pushing my fingers out, which means to finger her clit, so I did, brought two fingers against the hard swollen nub and pressed, worked it like a guitar string, an instrument, and she gasped and kept coming and coming, so much liquid.

“Yeah baby, oh yeah.”

Her fist gripped my hand, eyes bored into mine. “Don’t stop, don’t stop.” Her body shook. Her face opened, eyes wide and she shuddered, kept coming, I don’t know how long, a steady stream of come wetting the floor until finally her body gave out, spent, and she started laughing, whimpering and breathing hard, pulling me to her, kissing me, gasping.

We kissed. She brought her leg down from the wall with a slightly painful adjustment and stretched her hip. I adjusted myself and – of course – kicked her drink over, spilling it out from underneath the door of the stall.

Which is when we heard, “One at a time in the stalls!” and a knock on the door.

We laughed, tried to stifle it. “One minute!”  DD called.

“Oh, sorry ladies … ”

We shifted, gathered our jackets, bags, looked at the mess on the floor but could do nothing about it.

“Come on, now,” the voice called again.

We left the bathroom, trying not to laugh, embarrassed, made a bee-line right for the door of the club. Laughed and held hands and kissed in doorways all the way to the subway.

“God,” I said. “That was so hot.

Body Electric School 2008 Spring Programs, NYC

I’ve been to many of these Body Electric workshops for women over the past 8 years or so, and I can’t recommend them highly enough. They’re terrifying, and life-changing, and amazing. I recommended last year’s CBE here and wrote about some of my revelations and experiences after the workshop as well.Two workshops for were just announced for the 2008 schedule. Highly, highly recommended, I can’t say that enough.

Safe, playful and profound workshops for women of all ages and sexual orientations
Taught by two very gifted teachers

Celebrating the Body Erotic for Women
March 29-30, NYC, Sat-Sunday 9am-7pm
with Isa Magdalena
(back teaching at Body Electric after many years)

• Feel comfortable in your body
• Improve your body image and self-esteem
• Expand awareness, sensation and pleasure through conscious breath,
movement, touch, and communication
• Release fear, shame and old patterns that hold you back
• Communicate your desires and boundaries more clearly
• Learn to give and receive without losing yourself
• Explore the power of sexual energy / ibido / life force / kundalini
• Learn from your own and others’ experience
• Enjoy sex more
• Have more fun

Isa Magdalena was the first woman teacher at Body Electric (1993-98). She teaches sexological bodywork at the Institute of Advanced Studies of Human Sexuality in San Francisco, is author of Libido: Where Sex, Science Spirit Meet (2006). Isa is featured in several sex education videos from the New School of Erotic Touch, is a practitioner and leads classes in Taos, New Mexico. For fuller information, visit www.xtasia.info

*

first time in many years!

Power, Surrender and Intimacy for Women
June 20-22, NYC, Friday 7-10pm, Sat-Sunday 9am-7pm
with Alex Jade

* Learn BDSM techniques and develop skills
* Discover and clarify issues of empowerment and liberation
* Recognize how you engage in power dynamics in your everyday life and exercise more conscious choice
* Heighten awareness of your body’s capacity for sensation
* Explore power and sensation games for fun and healing
* Experience the joy of surrender and trust

Presequisite for this workshop is Celebrating the Body Erotic

Alex Jade has been a leading teacher at Body Electric for a decade and has developed several courses for the School. She is a gender-fluid sex activist, community organizer, shadow explorer and body-based therapist living in Seattle. She uses her training as a massage therapist, movement therapist and masters degree in social work to teach experiential sexual education classes and has a private healing practice.

Both Isa and Alex are profiled in Reclaiming Eros, Suzanne Blackburn and Margaret Wade, editors (2007).

Tuition: $395 per workshop. Recent CBE grads receive $50 discount on repeat workshops. Register with minimum $100 deposit. Full tuition is due three weeks before start of workshops. Contact Debi Soler, NYC coordinator, 212-726-0679, [email protected]

http://www.thebodyelectricschool.com

“Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity”

I have much to write about, I’m working on a couple pieces for you, more rantings on re-valuing masculinity, something about butch stubble, and of course there’s the aforementioned “Therapy session” where Miss DD & I got kicked out of a bathroom at a gayboy club.

Also, I’ve slightly changed the settings on my WordPress template so that it no longer produces /#/ in the URLs. If you’ve linked here, and you have that in the code, you might discover that your link no longer works. Just sayin’.

Also, for that matter, some of you are still linking to my old blogspot address – please check your linkrolls and update to www.sugarbutch.net.

Meanwhile, I’ve been a bit caught up in all the politics of the presidential race. I, like so many, am going back & forth between Hillary and Obama (interesting that we call her by her first name, isn’t it? I know she’s perpetuated that in her campaign, but still). My inner brain argues, She’s so experienced! She could really fix some of the bad stuff that’s happened! But – he’s such an orator! An inspiring leader! I get so inspired by his politics, in a way that I never get riled up when I hear politicians speak!

(Apparently my inner brain speaks primarily in exclamation points.)

I’d be pretty happy with either one, honestly. There are benefits and drawbacks to each. It hit me this week that we will, most likely, I really believe, either have a woman or a black man as president next year. That’s phenomenal. I remember hearing the rumors a few years back that Obama and Hillary would likely be running and I thought, really? Are we ready for that? This country seems so bass-ackwards and I can hardly believe we would elect a minority, of any kind, after we elected W twice. TWICE! Sometimes I think this country deserves what it gets.

I’m sure you’ve seen it by now, it is certainly making the rounds, but just in case you haven’t: the “Yes We Can” speech Obama made was set to music by will.i.am of the Black-Eyed Peas and overlayed with some celebrity singers, and it’s brilliant. The speech by itself is even brilliant, but lord, I love this so very much.

And hey, help me out here: who is the white chick with the fabulous mouth and the plunging v-neck showing off her cleavage who is singing in the “Yes We Can” video? Someone told me this was one of the Pussycat Dolls, but I think that’s the other girl, not the one I mean. There’s a list of all the celebrities on yeswecansong.com but I don’t recognize enough of the names to figure it out.

Sometimes lately I’ve been thinking that we need a great leader even more than we need someone who will be able to navigate the system, because hell, I and so many people I talk to are so disillusioned with politics right now. How many times did I hear “I’m moving to Canada” or “I haven’t been able to watch any political speech or debate or a word that W says since 2002” or “why even bother? this country is run by the elite” or et cetera in the last eight years? We – the liberals, the radicals, the social change fighters – need some hope and inspiration.

A few other links, before I stop ranting politically:

And: if you’d like to follow some of the articles and blog posts that I’ve been reading lately, you can either subscribe to my Google Reader RSS feed, or add me as a friend on your own Google Reader (I’m under aspiringstud (at) gmail (dot) com), or look over in the sidebar, now, where I added a clip of my shared items.


While I’m doing some housecleaning, let me also let you know that I’ve been invited to join the Lesbian Bloggers Blogads Hive (thanks Kelly!), which means that you may be seeing some ads appear on this site in the near future. I have such grand plans for Sugarbutch, and I love the ways that people are responding and contributing and communicating with me – and with each other – about so many of the things that I’ve brought up here, and I want to be able to do more, but I currently can’t devote as much time to it as I’d like. I’m hoping that, if it begins to make me some money, I’ll be able to clear more time in my schedule for it, write more, make some changes, keep it up better. I hesitate, though, because I really do think that ads compromise a blog’s integrity, but I’m trying to remember that these labors of love are expensive and time consuming, and I – we all – deserve to be compensated for our time and hard work.

I’ll keep you updated as the quest for compensation progresses. Ideas are always welcome.

That concludes your random political/community post for today … we will return you to your regularly scheduled smut on Sugarbutch Chronicles soon.

minor victories (#117)

Best of the best, baby. Here’s your weekly Sugasm features:

 Erotic Writing and Experiences:

Thoughts on Sex and Relationships

More Sugasm – Join the Sugasm 
See also: Fleshbot’s Sex Blog Roundup each Tuesday and Friday

Re-Valuing Masculinity

It is no secret that I like identity categories. Anyone who has read around on Sugarbutch knows I identify strongly with some of these labels – hell, even if all you ever read here is the masthead, my chosen categories are listed right there – kinky queer butch top – which is also the chronology of their development.

Kinky and queer came easily to me. Well, let me clarify. Not easy, exactly, but without much social stigma. It took me a few years to get out of the relationship with my high school boyfriend and come out, for example, but once I was out, I was out and didn’t really look back. Kinky, too, was generally easy to adopt.

Butch was much harder for me. I’ve written about that some, and many folks have pondered and asked me about the amount of work that I seem to put into it, as if questioning whether or not all this work is worth it. These questions asked to me are often followed by things like I just don’t get it, I am what I am, I’m just me, I don’t fit any one category.

Two things about that.

First, I like the work. I get off on it, I find it hot and engaging and fascinating, and interconnected to so many of my interests.

Also, I don’t fit into any singular thing either. I have a long string of identity labels – and even still, the whole is more than the sum of its parts, right? So even if I told you I am also a pianist, a photographer, a yogi, an Ears with Feet, you still don’t actually know me. You have to meet me, interact with me, see me in different situations, hear my history and future aims.

I wouldn’t ever force labels on anyone else. Call yourself or don’t call yourself whatever you like; just because I feel strongly connected to these things doesn’t mean I think you have to. I study post-identity politics, I understand that identity categories have issues.

I recognize that I am in the minority here, and even that I have a gender fetish. I love these categories and language that they provide when discussing gender. It is tightly connected to activism, for me, and I strongly believe in the ways that gender diversity is liberating and subversive. (Back to that in a minute.)

I run into many people, lesbian and queer women especially, who say, “I don’t fit in,” “I don’t know what I am,” “I don’t want to limit myself,” “am I femme/butch if I _____,” “I’m not really femme/butch, look at the ‘real’ femmes/butches out there, I don’t look like them.”

I would never presume to put my gender fetish on you. If I want to reject the labels and categories, or if you want to call yourself and your gender “blue” or “leopardish” or “the eleventh hour” or nothing at all or whatever, I don’t care. Do whatever you like, do whatever feels good to you.

And, if it feels good to you, I will gladly talk to you about it, explore it, lay down some of my concepts like the gender galaxy and the dress-up test and my theories on separating gender from personality.

The people I’ve done this with have generally been very interested in gender play and categories and theory, but were wary of being policed by the community about it. They don’t feel femme “enough,” or like a “real” butch.

Quite often, I find that the people who want to talk to me about this stuff want to identify with a gender identity category, but fear the social policing. Maybe it’s just part of human nature – to organize, categorize. I’ve said before, I don’t think one should conform to a label – any label, especially not gender – I think the label should conform to you.

All that said: generally, I do want to encourage more dykes to adopt the labels of butch femme – if they want to – primarily because I know how liberating it has been for me.

But I also want to encourage gender identity labeling, specifically butch/femme dynamic – because the primary contrary argument I hear to these labels is that they are limiting.

And this is where the activism comes in: I believe we need to go inside these labels and expand them.

We’ve actually done a pretty good job re-valuing feminine/female/femme in this culture, which has (in my opinion) everything to do with the three waves of the women’s liberation movements, and, especially, the Third Wave feminism of the 80s and 90s that questioned the notion that gender causes oppression, which was a major assertion of the Second Wave, and instead said that hierarchizing the male/female binary meant that femininity was inherently defined as “not as good as,” which should be examined and changed.

And, I would argue, generally, it has.

For more on that I suggest Manifesta by Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards – a very readable feminist book covering third wave politics and theories.

But: We have yet to have a gender re-valuing for men and masculinity. It is starting – and the fags and butches and drag kings and FTMs are on those front lines, for sure – but it is far from full force. This is, I think, particularly why there are so many more femmes than butches out there in the queer communities these days – to quote Team Gina, “there’s like one of them and thirty of us.”

We need this. Men and fags and butches and FTMs and people need a revaluing of masculinity.

And this is why I want to encourage more lesbians to identify as butch – because the more who do, the wider the understanding of the label becomes, and the more range the label has. If we say, I’m not that, because butch is this tiny limited thing, and that’s not me, then we are allowing it to be this tiny limited thing instead of going inside of it and exploding it, opening it up.

And that’s one way to add more acceptance to the range of masculinity.

What happened in January (2008)

Posted January 21, 2009, but back-dated. I’m late on this roundup – a year late, actually. I started writing up roundups in February of 2008, so never wrote up January. But as I’m doing a year-end roundup, I’ve been trying to get this all in order.

Interesting to reflect on what I was doing a year ago. This site was really quite differently structured, and I spent most of the month writing personal reflections about the girl that I was (really, really) into.

Relationships/Sex:

In other news: