Posts Tagged ‘butch lab’
So this happened:
I’ve been debating for months how to tell you that the Butch Lab project is over. I have started mock interviews with myself about it, I’ve written rants in my journal. I want to put up a splash page over there, but to be honest—ha—it doesn’t get enough visitors for that to be actually noticed.
And that’s why the project is stopping. It never really got off the ground.
That could be because I didn’t throw enough energy over there, and if I had the time and energy to maintain another blog, maybe it’d grow into something. I can’t really expect it to jump into some big deal thing right away—but I guess I did, given the intensity of Top Hot Butches. Butch Lab never got the media attention, and that’s in part because Top Hot Butches had all that controversy and oh my god don’t we queers love controversy, especially when we know better than whoever is doing the stupid thing of insulting someone’s identity. The thing is, I took all of that feedback, scoured it, and spent months working on Butch Lab, incorporating all the feedback, and then it felt like it launched to silence. Sure, there have been many loving & supportive emails and many great comments about what the site has meant and how great it’s been to see all the mini-interviews (all of that is archived under on butches here on Sugarbutch, fyi), but it wasn’t really enough.
Beyond that, my life has moved more and more offline, teaching classes and leading workshops and organizing in-person events, and I just don’t have the time in front of the computer to hype butch-related things that perhaps I would’ve had a few years ago.
So, for all of these reasons, Butch Lab is closing. It’ll be up through the domain’s expiration in fall 2012, and I’ll be leaving Top Hot Butches up. When I made that decision, I wanted to continue doing the Symposium (writing prompts about butch identity and a blog carnival/roundup) and the mini-interviews, though I haven’t done that yet. I’d like to, perhaps I still will. I’ll add it to my 2012 Sugarbutch goals and see what I can do to make it happen.
Thanks, everyone, for being so supportive of both of those projects. Time to move on to more things, I guess.
"I'm not sure that I identify with the word "butch". I mean, people may see me as butch, but I wouldn't say that I am. I absolutely love my butch sisters but I just don't feel like it describes me the way that I see myself."Read More
"My butch is generally easy-going, and brings me closest to my casual, gender-neutral life-style. Dress-up occasions tend to bring out the more flamboyant parts of myself, depending on the context, my butch helps me stand apart and express genderqueer visibility."Read More
I posted way too much on Friday, so while the Butch Lab’s second Symposium topic went live on Friday too, I waited until today to cross post it to Sugarbutch.
I challenge y’all to comment on every single post. They’re beautiful, and I think this conversation is important.
Butch Lab’s second Symposium is about Stereotypes and Misconceptions around butch identity.
Now apparently masculine-of-center people aren’t supposed to be bottoms. In fact, one of Jae’s former girlfriends called her appearance misleading. Um…wtf? How Jae responded and responds is by making her sexual preferences really obvious and open. Have I mentioned that we met on OKCupid? “Bottom” was in the first sentence of her profile. I think she should have responded by leaving that tool. … If we’re talking about who wears the cock, that’d be me. If we’re talking about who has shorter hair, that’d be her.
It’s actually a fairly simple thing to avoid, too, though it takes a conscious effort. DON’T ASSUME. It’s just that easy. Just because K is butch doesn’t mean that she will bristle or bite your head off if you open the car door for her. The fact that she doesn’t like acts of chivalry directed toward her means that she might just bristle or bite your head off if you open the car door for her. G loves pink. Doesn’t mean she isn’t butch. That hot pink cowboy shirt she had on yesterday was WAY masculine, and super hawt, too! The only cure to making assumptions about people is not admit to yourself that you don’t know what they like ,what they don’t like, or how they’ll act in a specific situation based on any group that they belong to. You only know these things about them once you get to know them personally, as people, and not as gender identities.
The misconception: Butch is a dirty word. Something less than, something too extraordinarily ‘other’ to be acceptable. Butch is threatening as an in-between, an indefinable and therefore unknown entity. Our hair dresser keeps trying to give S a softer haircut, until we explain that S identifies as butch, and expects to look butch. The hair dresser laughs and blushes a bit, but starts getting the cut right. The truth: Butch is hot. Butch is cocky and shy and gorgeous and loving. Butch is an identity one can be proud of.
I am far from being a stone butch. I have my moments of weakness both physically and emotionally. I feel all kinds of emotions and most of the time I have absolutely no way of hiding them. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I definitely want to be touched, bitten, kissed, licked, penetrated and everything else when it comes to sex. … While it’s true that I can fix a lot of things, I definitely can’t fix everything nor do I want to. I am, sadly, not the owner of many tools, although I really would like that assumption to be true some day. I like tools. I like them a lot. I certainly am not threatened by a strong, independent femme. As a matter of fact, I’m really turned on by them. I mean, think about it. A femme fixing things or building things, knowing how to use her hands and get dirty? Yeah. So sexy.
Being butch doesn’t, or at least shouldn’t, mean I have to have certain interests (e.g., sports, which I largely don’t care for), skills (e.g., Patty changes lightbulbs and deals with tools because I am largely useless at these things), and social and sexual roles (my own being unnecessary to describe for the sake of this entry). And it certainly shouldn’t require me to be misogynist, which is something I see more and more gay women complaining about lately — butches that assert their butchness by denigrating femmes in all the same ways that women get denigrated by men in het culture. But, if I reject the external assumptions of what a butch is, what’s left to define me as butch, at least on the days where I would consider myself such? The answer, is, simply, that I don’t know.
We are inundated by images and stereotypes equated with masculinity. As a young queer person wanting to express my masculinity, it seemed to me there weren’t a lot of options. If I wanted other people to recognize my butchness, I had to copy the attitudes and behaviors of the boys, and other butches, around me. I played along for a while during high school, ending up with a combination of chivalrous and sexist behaviors. I was sweet to my girlfriend, holding the door for her, doing all I could to be the gentleman. However, I also went along with my butch buddy and other guys when they spoke in not-so-complementary terms about their girlfriends and girls in general. As time went on, it was clear to me that if being butch meant being sexist and chauvinistic, I would have to find a different identity.
Butches hate men. Butches drive motorcycles. Butches wear leather jackets. Butches are the “man” in the relationship and perform all the “male” duties. Butches work with their hands. Butches aren’t intellectuals. Butches can only have short hair in a men’s style. Butches like beer and sports. Butches are mean. Butches cannot access their feelings. Butches want to be men. Butches will only date Femmes and do not date other Butches. Butches are (always) the sexually dominant ones. Butches only wear masculine attire. Butches under the age of thirty do not exist.
I’ve heard a range of cliches, misconceptions, and flat-out assumptions that would make your hair curl. Butches are sexist, chauvinistic, misogynistic. They’re all blue collar. Butch and stone are the same thing. Butch is the queer equivalent of a “strong, silent type.” Butches are only attracted to femmes and straight women. … It’s almost like the image of butch, even (and maybe especially) among gay and queer society is some kind of adaptation of the Marlboro Man, crossed with Rooster Cogburn. … I’ve written a zillion blog posts about how these stereotypes annoy, irritate, and generally piss me off.
For many people that I know, “Butch” means man. To identify as butch would signify an identification with men, and therefore would want to be a man. I run into the assumption that I’m actually trans, due to my supposed “strong desire to be a man.” The difference is that my gender identity is female, rather than an identity as male. When I finally settled into a masculine style of dress, I felt like more of a woman than I ever have in my entire life.
My academic background is in math: specifically, probability, and a growing knowledge base in statistical theory. … Gender is pretty much THE example of a binary variable in introduction to statistics classes. I can’t tell you how many times I sat through an explanation of a binary variable only to hear, “The categories are male and female: each person belongs to one, and one alone.” And every time, it really really hurt. But it doesn’t have to. Consider that there are different types of variables. We, readers of gender blogs, already know that gender does require interpretation. How are you measuring it? Self-reporting? Survey collector’s impression? How are you accounting for error or bias? The truth is that gender alone could be its very own statistical model. To us, it is vastly complex. Why is that? I’d argue it’s because of something that a professor once said in lecture: No model performs well on its boundaries.
“Well,” I replied, “I have a pretty good sense of people. But mostly, you were by far the hottest butch in that bar, and I wanted you.”
“Oh,” she said, smiling, “I’m not butch.”
“Yes, you are,” I said, eyebrows raised. Is it possible that she doesn’t know? It’s not like she’s some college kid, she’s old enough to have figured out at least some of this identity stuff.
“No, I’m not,” she said again. “I used to think I was butch. I lived in the city after college and I played pool with all the butches at the lesbian bars, and they thought I was one of them. I thought I was one of them. And then I realized, spending all that time with those butches — that wasn’t me. I’m not that kind of tough. I’m a faggy genderqueer.”
For years, I was afraid to appear masculine; I struggled with feminine gender presentation, referred to myself as a ‘lesbian’, and felt totally…awkward. I also grew up in a conservative town, where any woman seen as not being feminine (i.e. passive, submissive, quiet, etc) was sometimes referred to as ‘butch.’ This word was bad, it meant nasty, un-feminine, not to be trusted, disgusting. … In the gay community, I think that stereotypes of butch-ness exist too. Specifically in communities where there may not be a lot of masculine gender presenting folks. … There was a lot of ‘dabbling in butchness’ going on. People just barely sticking their toes into the masculine gender presenting pool, afraid of being seen as butch but unable to control it, and judgment of these presentations ran rampant. People in the bar (not that I had a fake-id or anything) would openly state that they ‘didn’t want to date butch girls.’
- Ali Oh at Made of Words: Bottoms Up, Thumbs Up
- Madeline Elayne: Butches Don’t Wear Pink (and other fallacies)
- Victoria Oldham at Musings of a Lesbian Writer: Misconceptions
- Wendi Kali at A Stranger in This Place: Butch Stereotypes, Cliches, and Misconceptions
- RM at Letters from Titan: Butch Isn’t Ugly
- Kyle on Butchtastic: Butch Stereotypes, Cliches and Misconceptions:
- EST at A Lesbian Christian on Butch Stereotypes
- Joliesse Soul at This Side of Changed on Butch Stereotypes
- Laina at The Bookish Butch
- Harrison at How to Be Butch on Stereotypes, Cliches, and Misconceptions
- Lenore Louhi at Twenty Pebbles, a piece titled “Smoke”
- Cody on Cowboy Coquet on Stereotypes, Cliches, and Misconceptions
"[Butch] represents the way I walk in the world and represents the sisters and brothers who have come before me. It is a part of my herstory. By owning my female masculinity I own the word butch, thus, I own myself."Read More
"I identify myself as a motorcycle riding butch lesbian, writer, photographer and self-explorer learning to love and accept myself. I will answer to “Sir” or “Ma’am” but prefer to be described as “handsome” rather than “beautiful”. I am a woman who enjoys binding, packing and moving fluidly between genders."Read More
"As a butch I think it’s important to speak to my relationship to femmes, femmephobia and the privileging of masculinity. I certainly get crap for being gender non-conforming (on top of crap for being trans), but as a butch trans woman it’s easier for me to separate being gender non-conforming and being masculine."Read More
On Gina Mamone’s mini-interview, a commenter named MS wrote: “Can you post a definition of or primer on what gender queer means?” Kyle Jones was kind enough to comment in reply and explain a bit, and I proceeded to ask him to write up his own primer on genderqueer. Here it is.
This is a guest post from Kyle Jones, Butchtastic.net
Genderqueer people, by definition, are united by their rejection of the notion that there are only two genders.
Beyond their rejection of the gender binary as the sole way to describe gender, there is much diversity within the group of people who call themselves ‘genderqueer’—it’s a catch-all term that includes sometimes contradictory identifications. For example, some genderqueers identify as neither male nor female, some as both male and female. Some see ‘genderqueer’ as a gender in and of itself, some may identify this way because they feel they are beyond gender—genderless or a-gender.
I led a discussion on genderqueer identity at Butch Voices Portland 2010 and almost everyone who attended came to this identity from a different place. There were those who described a fluidity of gender, a sense that they were a mixture of male and female. Some people wanted to move beyond the terms ‘male’ and ‘female’ entirely. They didn’t see genderqueer as being a region along the gender binary axis, instead many described it as independent of that spectrum. Based on the diversity of personal definitions expressed in that session, we started to talk about a gender cloud rather than a gender spectrum. Because ‘genderqueer’ is an umbrella term, to really know how an individual relates to it, you’ll need to know their personal definition of genderqueer.
The term “genderqueer” can also be used as an adjective to refer to any people who transgress gender, regardless of their self-defined gender identity. And some genderqueer individuals also identify as transgender, because their gender identity does not completely correspond to their physical sex. Genderqueers may have any sexuality/sexual identity, any physical sex. There is also diversity in the way genderqueers relate to pronouns. Some prefer gender neutral pronouns such as ‘they’ or ‘them’ or the alternate forms “ze,” “per,” “sie” and “hir,” “zhe,” “hir.” And some prefer to stay with traditional male and female pronouns, though they may use them in less traditional ways. Other terms similar to genderqueer are genderfluid, gender-variant, bi-gender, third gender, two-spirit and gender non-conforming.
If you find all of this a bit confusing, you’re not alone. When I come out to people as genderqueer, I’m more surprised to find people who are familiar with the term than those who aren’t. And when I’m asked to define genderqueer, as I was for this article, I find it challenging, especially with people who aren’t comfortable or experienced in considering gender beyond male and female. In my experience, most of the world is still not ready to go beyond the gender binary. It takes a lot of work and effort to learn the new vocabulary and open your mind to alternative ways of seeing gender. One challenge I still have is trying to get my head around the idea of being ‘genderless’. I know that much of the way my brain has organized information about the world is still ruled by the existence of distinct genders.
As I mentioned, I identify as genderqueer. Butch describes my appearance, genderqueer describes my gender and queer describes my sexuality. My personal genderqueer definition is that I am not male or female, I am male and female. I have two distinct gender identities, each with a name, a set of pronouns and sexual preferences. Sometimes the distinction is obvious and sometimes more fluid and combined. One visualization I use is that of a tree with two trunks, each coming from the same root structure and base. My male and female identities have some shared history as well as some that is separate. As I visualize my ‘tree trunks’, they start together, then grow apart, come close again, intertwine and grow together, then diverge again as you look up the tree. My male side has a distinct personality, accent, sexual drive and issues. It has also been suppressed more, being less accepted by the outside world and, as a result, is the less developed and mature of my two identities. My female side, having had more time at the forefront, takes the lead in most situations, although my goal is to become more balanced.
You may be thinking, this person has multiple personality disorder. Though I’m not a professional, I know that’s not the case. I have multiple genders, which means I also identify as transgender, because the male side of me does not match my female body. I’ve had some awesome and unexpected experiences lately where strangers have seen my male side. It’s hard to describe the feeling of being recognized and acknowledged as male—something like a rush of adrenaline combined with a strong sexual charge—a big ol’ ego boner.
This is a frustration I share with other genderqueer and transgender people—the feeling of being partially invisible, of spending most of my days being partially unseen. I think we all share a common need to be seen and celebrated for who we truly are, and not just the easily understood fragments, but all our wonderful complexity.
This article is meant to be a starting point for people new to the term ‘genderqueer’, but it’s by no means the last word. If you’d like to learn more about variant gender identities, here are some excellent starting places:
- List of blogs by Butch, Genderqueer and Trans authors on Butchtastic.net
- Beyond the Check-boxes: Exploring Genderqueer Identity, hand-out for my session at Butch Voices Portland 2010.
- Wikipedia: informative and non-judgmental articles on a wide variety of gender and identity topics:http://en.wikipedia.org. Source of some of the definitions above.
- Transifesto, Trans-lations page: Matt Kailey’s list of terms used often on his blog, relating to sex and gender. Source of some of the definitions above.
- Polygender.co.uk: resource pages with information on genderqueer and transsexual related topics.
- Gender Queer. Voices From Beyond the Sexual Binary, Joan Nestle, Clare Howell, Riki Wilchins (2002) Alyson Books, New York.
- Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us 1994, Kate Bornstein
- My Gender Workbook: How to Become a Real Man, a Real Woman, the Real You, or Something Else Entirely 1997, Kate Bornstein
- Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation, 2010, Edited by Kate Bornstein and S. Bear Bergman
"I came up feeling afraid to claim it in case people decided I wasn't butch "enough." My butchness isn't particularly tough, or hard. My masculinity is more akin to queer male masculinity—faggy butch, you might call it."Read More
Butch Lab’s Symposium #2 is in progress, and I have some great submissions so far! I’m compiling them this week, so if you can get them to me by Friday you will still be included. I hope you’ll consider contributing!
The topic for the second Butch Lab Symposium is Butch Stereotypes, Cliches, and Misconceptions.
Here’s the writing prompt:
What do people think “butch” means? What are the stereotypes around being butch? What do people assume is true about you [or the masculine of center folks in your life], but actually isn’t? What image or concept do you constantly have to correct or fight against? How do you feel about these misconceptions? How do you deal with them? Do you respond to these stereotypes or cliches? How?
The easiest way to get your post URL to me is by filling out this form on ButchLab.com. You can always email butchlabproject (at) gmail.com if you have problems, but the form is preferable.