careful, your prejudice is showing

March 14, 2008  |  essays

Dear Angry Anonymous Girl on Craigslist,

The Closet Musician is so right about thickened skin. Reading your posts, I feel the hatred you carry, but only down to a certain level before it just simply stops. Your words hit my bullet-proof armor and don’t penetrate any further. And that armor is made up of years of self-examination, of friend’s and lover’s support and care, of gender theory and feminist theory and queer theory, of reading memoirs and listening to my community’s stories. I haven’t internalized any of what you’ve said about female masculinity, about butches, bois, tomboys, about ME – which is good, that’s an improvement.

Perhaps sometimes I’m not as sensitive as I think.

But I know that you’ve hurt others, deeper than me. I know how fragile it is to come to and then embody this female masculinity, how fragile these gender identities are, how easy it is to sometimes tear them down. You’ve hurt my friends, my lovers, my people, and that is not okay.

In the tone behind your words I can tell you really mean what you’re saying. You actually believe this hatred, you actually believe that masculine-identified female-bodied folks are responsible for discrimination against lesbians, that this type of female masculinity is ugly. That surprises me – that kind of deep-seated hatred always surprises me, on anybody, for any group.

This post of yours, the subsequent comments on Craigslist and on the various lesbian blogs, have reminded me how radical it still is to exist outside of gendered norms. How subversive it is to break the sex/gender assumption that dictates that female-bodied folks must be feminine and male-bodied folks must be masculine. How dangerous it is for me to walk around in men’s clothes, get my hair cut at a barber shop, buy cocks and pack.

Gender is still the dirty little secret in the worlds of activism and social change. It is still possible to deflate a female women’s rights worker by calling her “mannish,” still possible to discredit gay male activists by calling them “flaming” or “fairy.” There are consequences to subverting the paradigm of the sex/gender binary.

And you know what? That must mean that us activists, us queers and butches and bois and femmes and drag queens and fags and radical fairies and trans guys and girls and genderqueers – we must be doing something right. We’re a threat. If we were that easy to dismiss, if we were that marginalized and insignificant and deviant, we would not have to be called out as “ugly” on a public forum by a cowardly anonymous genderphobe.

That revelation I feel in my bones, past that armor, all the way down to my defenseless bloody organs. A vibration of hope, a vibration of power.

Last night, I said to The Closet Musician that I was grateful for all the comments that have come after the original post, I’m grateful that my community of genderqueers are not taking this lying down. I’m grateful for all of the comments here on Sugarbutch, for all the reactions of surprise and love and care, for all the angry rants and the articulated defenses. Here are a few:

It’s in the way that they are both gallant…and in / private moments raunchy, sexy and hot, that makes me shudder / It’s the Butch Mystique, which I would never pretend / to know, but that I understand and love.

It’s too bad you can’t appreciate the beauty of female masculinity, the amazing variety of genders in the queer “community”, and the sheer fun of fucking with gender.

I know for a fact that there are plenty of attractive, femme women who love their butches. Objectively hot women, even by glossy magazine “normal people” heterosexual standards. … Even hot women are occasionally rejected (there’s always another hot one somewhere down the line) so the argument that someone would like a butch for no other reason than she can’t do any better really doesn’t work. And what makes you think butches aren’t picky?

For many of us, there is simply nothing hotter than a really butch woman.

u don’t like masculine women but who died and said u can dictate who a individual is and how they should look. … im not a butch but I LOVE THEM because they are the bravest of our kind to put themselves out there and be who they are. I think you should find out who you are and stop judging what u don’t know. Remember lesbians in general have to struggle to be accepted and its more than effed up to kno that 1 of our own is holding us back. I hope ur proud of yourself ur famous.

The entire post was pure internalized homophobic spew. Nothing sickens me more than a member of a disenfranchised community further discriminating against others … we are the ones on the front lines, as much now as then. … It has been our fight, our visibility and our scars that have allowed you to have increased freedom and safety. … The next time you want to put down butch, maybe you ought to think a little harder about your history.

But even so, I wish we were at the point where even though you are thinking these awful, prejudiced things about female masculinity, you would never, never voice them to others, because gender discrimination would be a faux pas, so politically incorrect that you would never put it out there into the world, because there would be huge social consequences.

Wait, I just realized something. What you’re saying is hate-speech. It’s prejudice against a group of people, and it violates Craigslist’s Terms of Use:

You agree not to post, email, or otherwise make available Content: a) that is unlawful, harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, defamatory, libelous, invasive of another’s privacy, or is harmful to minors in any way; [...] c) that harasses, degrades, intimidates or is hateful toward an individual or group of individuals on the basis of religion, gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, age, or disability.

Like many of the posters have said, I don’t care if you aren’t attracted to butches. Just like I don’t care if you are or aren’t attracted to men, to redheads, to big breasts, to high heels. Attraction is personal, yours is yours and that’s just fine. But I do care that you’re taking your personal preferences and turning them into hate speech, to discrimination. Your hatred is fuling gender discrimination and transphobia, both of which have very serious consequences in our society. I am so tired of seeing yet another headline for a trans person murdered in a hate crime, and your hate crime, your post, is precisely the same kind of misunderstood, misguided hatred that fuels these crimes.

But, like they say, karma’s a bitch. If you have any desire to cover your ass, I suggest you educate yourself. Figure out your own internal shit. Live and let live. Stop spewing such hatred. And while you’re at it, donate to the Gender Public Advocacy Coalition, a non-profit organization that “works to ensure that classrooms, communities, and workplaces are safe for everyone to learn, grow, and succeed – whether or not they meet expectations for masculinity and femininity. As a human rights organization, GenderPAC also promotes an understanding of the connection between discrimination based on gender stereotypes and sex, sexual orientation, age, race, and class.”

Perhaps I will practice some lovingkindness meditation and think of you – may you live in safety, be happy, be healthy, live with ease. Maybe through that practice I’ll come to some new place of generosity and be able to forgive your ignorant prejudice. I’d like to be able to do that. I’d like to be that generous.

For now, I wish you peace in your heart.

Sincerely,

sinclair

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7 Comments


  1. wow. I was MIA for 3 days and shit goes down.

    WTF is wrong with people? I’ve never understood hate, and more over, I don’t understand hate/prejudice with in minority communities (inter-racial racism, transphobia in the queer community).

    Why do people have to be such ridiculous, hate mongering, I don’t even know what. I’m just speechless. I don’t even feel that way about people who stick pictures of fetuses in my face, or tell me I shouldn’t exist because of my sexuality. I just can’t fathom that amount of hate.

    And yes, I like to go down on them. Clearly I’m ugly, insecure, and all the jazz. I’m also a really good lay, so sad story for her.

    Excellent response, and way more polite than anything I could possibly say.

  2. Thank you, Sinclair. You have written a reasoned and articulate response to a pile of self hatred.
    Jan

  3. oh hon, such a perfectly beautiful and passionate response.

  4. You are brilliant and mature. I wish more people were like you.

  5. Someone posted a description of a post on Stuff Lesbians Like that comments on our CL habits. I took a look at it (http://gracethespot.com/?cat=73) and she mentioned you as one of her her inspirations (and what an inspiration you are!) with a link to your site.

    My CL post is the one that points out that "there is simply nothing hotter than a really butch woman" — because, how can you talk about this stuff if you leave THAT out?

    [I love that comment - of course, I would. :) I saw that SLL post, glad it led you to me! - ss]

  6. Thank you for your postings. Thought you should know that it was following this ‘discussion’ on CL that lead me to your blog – and reading through Sugarbutch is making me very happy (among other things…) So, I’m grateful to the Angry Anonymous Girl for that, and even more grateful to you for such a great site.

    I was also pleased to see that you’ve referenced my reply above too — I had hesitated to post it to CL, wondering if responding would be just feeding the fire and if the hateful thread was best left alone to die out for lack of feeding, but I couldn’t help myself. Some things need to be said.

    [Sara - wow, that's amazing that you found me this way! I'm so glad that you did. And thank you, sincerely thank you, for replying in support of the genderqueers/masculine-identified female-bodied folks. Which comment was yours? and how'd you find me, were you googling the craigslist dramas somehow? Just curious. -ss]

  7. thanks for your post and insight. yep, nothing hotter than a butch…

    but, good job on the critical analysis and really examining this issue

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