Posts Tagged ‘masculinity’
TopHotButches.com is live!
Here it is, folks – the project we’ve been talking up on twitter for weeks now: Top Hot Butches 2009. I have SO much to say about the project, how it impacted me, the dozens of artists and activists that I have now been exposed to who I didn’t know about before, the act of putting a list together (and choosing an order!), what it’s like to see images of myself reflected, the shock of looking at real grown-up butches and transmasculine folks and how that gives me a specific, personal vision for how I might continue to grow up and grow older in my own gender. I forget how little I see myself reflected, and it’s so important to feel represented in culture.
I’ve been working on this for at least a week straight now, solidly, for hours a day, and it’s taken over a bit, so I’m really ready to let it go and let it have it’s own life.
Thank you, sincerely, to so many people who have helped with this project: the panel of judges: Leo, Fimg, Geekporngirl, Kristen, and Rodger; thanks to Alisha for compiling most of the photographs, thanks to Femme Fluff and to DJ Haha for consulting on the content of the list, thanks to the fifty or so commenters who left suggestions for who might be on the list, thanks to the people who have been proofreading the site over the last few days (I’m still incorporating your feedback, thank you!).
Here’s the press release:
For immediate release – June 22, 2009
Sinclair Sexsmith, the “kinky queer butch top” behind Sugarbutch Chronicles and the editor of Queer Eye Candy, has launched TopHotButches.com, a top 100 list in the spirit of AfterEllen.com’s Hot 100 and GO Magazine’s Women We Love, focusing on transmasculine queer people of all kinds – butch, tomboy, androgynous, masculine, AG, stud, dykes, queers, and transmen.
“There is a serious lack of transmasculine representation in mainstream lesbian culture,” Sexsmith said. “Even in queer-focused top 100 lists, masculine women and transguys are rarely included. This does damage in two ways: 1. it implies that the attractiveness and desirability of lesbians is based on the heteronormative gender role assumptions of femininity, and 2. it excludes two large groups – dykes who are attracted to transmasculine women and trans men, and the transmasculine women and transmen ourselves. Where are our desires on these lists? Once again we are rendered other, strange, deviant, not attractive. This list attempts to fill in that hole.”
The project features photographs and links for all the 100 people on the list, and profiles for the top 10. There is even an “honorable mention” category, with more than a dozen more names.
“I thought it would be hard to get 100,” Sexsmith said, “I thought, maybe we can get 50. But I had so many suggestions, and I had more names than I could fit on the list. There are more of us out there in culture than one might think.”
The list includes predominantly musicians, comics, actors, and writers, but there is a wide variety of professions represented, from athletes and tattoo artists to political activists, radio show hosts, and porn stars.
“Diversity was important in picking the final list, and in the order of the list. Not just profession, but also ethnicity, age, geography, and body size. I wanted a wide range of masculinities in this project, to show how many various ways female masculinity and trans masculinity manifest,” said Sexsmith. “It was also important to me to include trans men, as much as it might seem to be in conflict with the title of the project, because trans men are a significant part of this community, and have been a serious force behind the re-visioning the gender and masculinity in gender activism in recent years.”
The Top Hot Butches project may continue annually. Visit TopHotButches.com to see the full list, photographs, profiles, links, and further information about the project. Sinclair Sexsmith can be reached at aspiringstud[at]gmail.com for interviews and further comment.
Head on over there to see the complete list … there is a page for you to comment on the site, or you can leave comments here. Thanks for all the feedback, and for being a part of this!
I don’t remember why, but at some point this weekend I thought, “I should find that Gender Subversion poster and put it on Sugarbutch.” Probably to talk about the difference between gender and personality, which I’ve been kicking around in my head lately (i.e., well: they are not the same).
And then, while catching up on my reader today, there it was, on Fourth Wave Feminism.
Buy this poster on Crimeth Inc. & support their wonderful work.
Specifically, when she’s a top, what do you call her in bed? Sir? Daddy? Master? Boi? If she’s a bottom, what do you call her?
What do you call your butch in more casual flirtation? Slick? Handsome? Cowboy?
If you are butch: what do you like to be called? What greeting makes your knees weak, or makes you feel like king of the world?
I’m sure there are others, but these spring to mind. There are so many cute pet names for a romantic partner, but when playing intentionally with gender in a relationship, sometimes “baby” or “honey” or “sweetie” or “darling” are too feminine.
So: how do you address someone masculine in a pet-name kind of way? And why?
Dad, were you wondering how I got here? How I went from that tree-climbing skinned-knee ragamuffin girl to this prettyboy? ... I never was your tomboy daughter, never got in fights with the boys in the neighborhood, never stood up to the bullies of my younger sisters. I was the artistic one, moody, on my own. Studying my peers as we metamorphosed into our adult bodies.Read More
I ran across this short film about depictions of masculinity in Disney films recently and was interested and impressed. Of course there are all sorts of problematic things happening with gender roles in popular media, and Disney films have no shortage of criticism written about them in general, but most often I see those critiques from the perspective of femininity and women, less so with the emphasis on masculinity and men.
I’m glad this work is becoming more commonplace, we really need more revisioning and reclamation of masculinity in our culture.
Thanks, all, for your thoughtful responses and life stories about butch hair in the last post.
Here’s a few of my thoughts about femmes and femininity and hair, and then I’ll ask some questions and open it up to whatever you’d like to say about the subject.
I want to distinguish here between options and personal preference – I talk a lot on this site – especially in terms of femmes and femme identity – about what I like, and I want to make it clear that those are usually my personal preferences, and I’m not trying to say that I think that’s what all femmes should be or that femmes who are not like that are not valid or are not “real” femmes or any of that crap. I hope that’s not how it comes across.
So, let me first say this, about my basic philosophies on hair: hair is a personal choice. It is also a major marker on the physical body used to distinguish gender differentiation in contemporary culture. Short hair on men, long hair on women; shaved legs and underarms on women, hairy men. This of course was not always the case; it used to be seen as very masculine for men to grow their hair long. Hair presentation, length, and social conformity are based largely on culture.
In my (unofficial, limited) cultural observation in the recent years, these differences are just getting more pronounced, although with the inclusion of gay male culture in mainstream men’s fashion, the rise of beauty products for men, the addition of “manscaping” and the metrosexualizing of fashion and beauty, beauty standards for men and masculinity are on the rise. It is not unusual for hetero/cis-women to expect their hetero/cis-men to keep their chest hair under control, to get eyebrow waxes, to keep their hair groomed.
But just because the beauty standards for men are raising doesn’t mean it’s okay for us to keep unobtainable beauty standards for women – or for anyone, for that matter. Honestly I believe we’ve got to turn the beauty culture inside out on our own personal journeys into our own gender identities, whatever flavor they may be, whatever area of the gender galaxy, to really examine what the culture dictates and unlearn the compulsory standards that can be exhausting, unobtainable, and even harmful to our bodies.
What the body does is natural, normal, acceptible, sexy – where hair grows, the stretchmarks, the veins that show through the skin, the moles and freckles, the thickness of the muscles or the tendons or the thigh or the waist or the hair. All these things are beautiful, and real.
And, in my humble opinion, are also turn-ons: the celebration of the beauty of the human body.
If you’ve never explored the potential damage and compulsory standards of beauty culture, take a look at:
- The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women by Naomi Wolf – a bit dated now, and well critiqued, but still holds many core concepts that I believe can be very transformational
- Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty by Nancy Etcoff – Undoes some of the cultural critiques of the beauty myth and argues for a scientific basis of valuing beauty; interesting counter in the nature-vs-nurture debate
- Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture by Ariel Levy
- The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls by Joan Jacobs Brumberg
- Killing Me Softly, Jean Kilbourne – This video tends to be shown (over & over) in women studies courses in colleges, and there’s a reason why: it can be really eye-opening to see what the culture of beauty dictates for women through advertising. Kilbourne has other videos that are also wonderfully critical of alcohol, tobacco, and thinness. They’re hard to find since they’re educational films, but your library might have them.
- Any other recommendations?
So: once we start undoing society’s standards, and treating every possible option as valid and valuable for different reasons in order to make a true choice, we can start exploring what it is that we personally prefer. What turns us on, how our bodies feel the most sexy, what the soft animal of our body loves.
My initial thoughts about femme hair always go to the hair on your head, and the ways it’s worn. Being that I am very attracted to femininity, I do like long hair generally, though I know plenty of femmes who totally rock the chin-length cuts or the boycuts, I’ve even known a few with shaved heads.
I wrote once upon a time about how much I love it when femmes wear their hair up, and specifically the idea that “a woman’s hair is for her husband.” I wrote, “I know there are deep problems with this idea of a husband owning a wife’s hair, but I love the idea of it being so sexual, such a turn on, when a femme lets her hair down, that it’s private, saved for me and me alone.” And that’s just it exactly.
About body hair on femmes … honestly, my personal preference is basically bare. Very little hair, everywhere. I find shaving sexy, I find the rituals of beauty sexy (when they are done with intention and sexual connotations especially). I like to shave my lover’s legs, actually. That’s a scene I haven’t played out in a long time, but I find that intensely erotic.
I do have some guilt about liking the reproduction of traditional femininity. I know I could write pages about how it’s not compulsory, it’s resistance, celebratory, and intentional, but still sometimes I wonder if what my block is that I wouldn’t find hair particularly attractive. But I suppose I can attempt to justify this by saying that I absolutely think it should be culturally acceptible – I hate that it’s dictated as necessary by the beauty rules – but that my personal preference is skin, skin, skin. Is that because of the dominant cultural beauty rules? Yeah, probably. I can’t escape it, I was raised in it, I live in it every day. But I recognize that it exists, what it means, how it operates, and I fully support people who reject that rule and who prefer to have their hair wild and free, or trimmed and neat, or completely bare. All options should be valid.
So, now you:
I know you’ve already got a ton of things to say about femme body hair, but here’s some questions to get started:
If you’re in the transfeminine area of the gender galaxy:
- Do you shave, wax, pluck, shape? Underarms, legs, thighs, stomach, chin? Why or why not?
- What was your process in coming to do the hair sculpting and
- How do you make choices about your hair? Based on sexual preferences? Cultural standards?What your lovers like?
- How do you keep your pubes? Trimmed, waxed, shaved, au naturale?
- What comes to mind when you see women who don’t shave?
- Do you sexualize shaving or body hair removal?
If you are someone who tends to date transfeminine folks:
- Do you have personal preferences when it comes to hair on the femmes you date?
- Do you sexualize shaving or body hair removal?
- Do you prefer hair on her head worn a certain way? Do you tend to be attracted to very specific hair cuts, styles, colors?
I’m also very curious about folks who live outside of the US – clearly my perspectives are very US-centric, and I’m not really sure what gets culturally dictated or compulsorily reproduced in other places. I have impressions, but being an outsider to culture in other places, I won’t presume to speak on it.
Please do elaborate however you’d like. And thank you, for reading and for your comments, I really like that we’re conversing here more and more, getting input from all kinds of people who live in all kinds of ways.
I am a butch who shaves.
Not my legs, inner thighs, stomach, underarms (though I’ll get to those in a moment), but my face. Chin, mustache, sideburns. Every day.
It has taken me years to admit this, to celebrate this. I started shaving my chin about ten years ago, at eighteen, when my-ex-the-boy and I got into a fight and he used it as leverage against me. It was toward the end of our five-year high school relationship and he was increasingly paranoid that I would leave him to come out (which I did), so we used to fight about my perceived dykeness all the time. We were in his car in our driveway, just home from somewhere, yelling at each other. I have no idea what the context was, but I still remember the way he looked over at me and said: “I mean, you have more hair on your chin than me!”
I’m sure I’d noticed the hairs on my chin and upper lip, I’m sure they’d been there for years. I was at that time in denial about most of what my body did, how it looked. I spent as little time as I could with obligatory lipstick and mascara – the only makeup I could master without feeling like a clown, I never could figure out foundation or blush or eye shadow, despite the hundreds of beauty magazines that I studied, attempting to discover and reproduce the secrets of femininity.
It wasn’t until he said that, though, that I thought I should pluck, wax, shave, something, anything, so as not to give away my gender deviancy and gender defiance that seemed to be so certain that it would even come through in my biology. I’m a hippie after all – deep down I believe whatever the human body does is ‘natural’ and that all the hair policing was perpetuating unobtainable standards of beauty for women.
But this wasn’t about beauty, suddenly. It was about gender. It was about being revealed, when I didn’t even realize I was.
I promptly went upstairs, shut myself in the bathroom, took my razor from the shower, and shaved my chin smooth.
That was 1999.
It was only very recently that I let the hair on my face grow, even for a day or two. I’ve often seen dykes in the lesbian communities who sport peach fuzz mustaches, goatees, sideburns, but it never really occurred to me that it would happen if I didn’t run the razor along my face daily.
It was Callie who mentioned it first. It came up with Datedyke, too. I didn’t quite get the appeal at first. It felt gross, even shameful. No, they said. An indication of masculinity.
Oh yeah. Right.
I buy men’s razors now. Made for the contours of a face, not the smooth line of a shin bone or inner thigh. I enjoy buying products so masculine. I do it, head high, boldly; I challenge what the clerk thinks. I am not shy about it. It is a small act of gender celebration, gender defiance, gender activism.
Sometimes I even like my five o’clock shadow. I’ve developed the habit of scratching my chin like the boys do. Feeling when I need a shave. Letting it grow on weekends, on weeks when I don’t have work. When I was in Mexico I didn’t touch it once. Ten days without shaving, I am sure a personal record. I didn’t even know my hair would grow that long, that dark, that thick.
Sometimes, I even like it.
Okay, so, body hair.
Well, here’s the deal. I believe hair is a potential enhancer of sex. A sex toy. That it can be used to increase sensation, both tactile and visual. That the key decision about the hair on my head is for a sexual purpose. That running fingertips from ankle to cunt feels different on an unshaved leg – for both the person to whom the hand belongs and the person to whom the leg belongs. That it is different to fuck with a full bush as opposed to a brazillian.
Whether or not one is better than the other is a purely personal preference. Clearly there are some cultural preferences that correspond with gender role and expectation, but when all options have been examined and stripped of their social meaning and compulsory prescription, we can actually have an opinion about what we prefer, and make a choice.
I’ll get to femme body hair another time. I want to talk about butch hair, here, a bit more.
I know transmasculine folks who shave and who don’t. Who grow their hair long and who buzz it off nearly completely. I know a butch whose hair grows in so light she doesn’t have to shave – though she hates body hair, and would if her own wasn’t so light. I know a butch who had a contest with her friends to see who could grow their hair the longest.
Sure, I personally have preferences – I keep the hair on my head short, #2 on the sides, two fingers on top. I do this for sex, and for gender: I love the feel of buzzed hair under some girl’s fingers. Love how it makes me feel boyish. Love how there’s still enough for her to grab and pull on the top, in the back. Love the physical sensation of her desire as she pulls on it suddenly, when I do something and she responds, a physical communication between us.
I don’t shave my legs or underarms. I like the cultural masculinity of it. I like the surprise and occasional understanding of strangers. I do “manscape,” as the kids are calling it these days. Trim where it grows long, sculpt a little. I figure I sculpt and trim the hair on my head, I can do that for other places too. It is for sexual purposes really. And goodness knows there’s a lot I’d invest for sexual benefits.
So: I covered options, now let’s talk preferences. What kind of hair do you prefer on your butch? Butches & other transmasculine guys, how do you keep your hair? Au naturale? Waxed? Plucked? Is it leftover compulsory hair depletion from your gender-conformist days, or have you examined all your options and made the choice you prefer? Femmes, do you love it / hate it when a butch shaves? When she buzzes her hair or grows it out? When she keeps a mustache?
[ I know there's a ton to say about femme identity and body hair too - let's keep this to butches, for now. Start thinking, though, the femme equivalent discussion is forthcoming. ]
This video, Tough Guise: Violence, Media, & the Crisis in Masculinity narrated by Jackson Katz, was something I first watched in college that significantly changed the ways I viewed masculinity and men.
I’m continuously thinking about masculinity, what it means, how we learn it, who enforces it, and this film was a key aspect to where I’ve come to in my understanding.
This is a small trailer version of the entire film. The whole thing may be kinda hard to hunt down, I’m not sure how to get hold of a copy aside from through the Media Education Foundation, but they’re priced for colleges and high schools, not individuals. Perhaps your library has it?
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.