Posts Tagged ‘s. bear bergman’

The Great Reader Mini-Interview, part two

October 17, 2013  |  miscellany  |  1 Comment

What is your relationship to sugarbutch.net and Sinclair?

My favorite part is probably the porn. My least favorite is probably the personal relationship stuff; it’s interesting but also cringeworthy and full of secondhand embarrassment, at least for me, and makes me shout “WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT” at the screen a lot.

—jay, http://www.twitter.com/jswaggerbk

I most enjoy the smart and progressive gender theory. I love the ways Sinclair moves the conversation forward, and remains open to all ways of knowing. I also enjoy the erotica, a lot. I would also be interested in an exploration of the “butch bottom” — my partner would probably fall into that category, and I’m interested in teasing out the less obvious relationships between gender and power there.

—rachel, http://www.bellybuttongazing.blogspot.com

I wish you would do more of exactly what it is that you are doing. I know that some of your readers have been sending you messages saying that they miss Kristen, or that they wish you would do more of this or more of that. But all I wish is that you keep writing what you want to write. It’s that which shows me your true colours, and its that which is real. SO very real about you that keeps me grounded in my shoes, in my reality, in my concepts of what Butch is. Of what Queer is. Of what Love is and what power is. The fact that you have remained true to yourself. The fact that you have listened to your heart, despite the whispers and the judgements; you are still moving in YOUR direction, and that’s fucking hot. That’s power, that’s taking the time that you have on this planet and making the most of it by not wasting it on doing what others want you to do. You follow your heart, and that, to me, is truth.

You and I went through a breakup at the same time. I found that your silence matched my silence and i never once questioned it. When you finally found words again I felt them with you. and I found myself speaking to you through the screen consoling, and sharing my experiences. I wanted to tell you that we would be ok. That even though things ended perhaps under different circumstances, we were feeling the same pain, the same stages of denial and rejection and loss, and I felt like you brought me home a lot. But I also felt like I wanted to bring you home with me too. It was therapeutic and it helped me out a lot.

—EK, http://instagram.com/ek_bo

What advice would you give your younger self about sex, gender, or relationships?

It’s ok to be gay, go to church, believe in God, and live in the South all at the same time! I’ve been attracted to women since I was 4 years old. My first two kisses were girls! In South East Texas however, being gay isn’t even an option. I just thought I could easily appreciate another woman’s beauty. No one speaks about being gay. Thank you for putting out such straight forward information. I love that there is no beating around the bush on your site. Thank you for being a proud, intelligent, gay woman and not hiding it.

—Julie May Richardson, http://instagram.com/julie321

I would tell my younger self to stop worrying about what everyone else is going to think, and say, and whisper behind your back and to just go flirt with girls already.

—Sara, http://somekindofsexy.tumblr.com

What one resource has had the most impact on you, and why?

I can’t narrow done one source but I can give you a genre: books. I read everything I can get my hands on. Right now I’m interested in the Invisible Femme problem. Since I happen to be one.

—Michelle

Probably reading Butch is A Noun, S. Bear Bergman. As stupid as it sounds, I didn’t really ‘get’ that there were other people that felt like me. But if I can slide another thing in, it’s been kind of amazing to find the web presence of butches, dappers, and all the other words that confuse me. Tumblrs, blogs, twitter accounts; it’s illuminating to think that I’m not weird. Finding a community of similar folks has actually really helped with my confidence.

—Zoe, http://dapperirishdyke.wordpress.com/

Anything else to add?

Femmes have been my salvation. There have been 2 femmes who made me whole again. After being abused by my mother for years about my gender, I shut down. hiding even inside the lesbian community. These femmes brought me out with their wisdom and sight, their ability to see me and respond to me. I was lesbian for a long time but never fully me until I embraced and lived my Butch life.

— sumner, https://twitter.com/Butchkind

Friday Reads: Lambda Lit & Publishing Triangle Awards

March 18, 2011  |  reviews  |  1 Comment

This week, the Lambda Literary Awards and Publishing Triangle Awards announced their finalists for their 2011 prizes.

I was a judge this year (can I reveal that yet?—I won’t tell you what for until I know for sure) so I’ve been reading reading reading many books in the past few months. I read a lot anyway, but this has been a crunch. It was exciting to have a part in choosing the best ones.

The Lammys award ceremony will be held Thursday, May 26, 2011 at the School of Visual Arts Theater in New York City (333 W. 23rd St), followed by a private after-party nearby. I’ve attended the last two years (and wrote about them both for CarnalNation.com), and I’ll be attending again this year. It’s such a pleasure to show up and be familiar with so many of the books and authors, so many of the presenters and judges, and to feel like I’m really part of the queer literary community.

(And next year, I’ll have my own book out!)

I encourage you to look through these great lists and pick a couple to read, even if you don’t usually read queer stuff, even if you don’t care about the awards, just to show your support. I still have quite a lot more I would love to read, I haven’t read any of the poetry this year, and there are many that I haven’t Here’s a couple of my favorites—out of the ones that I’ve read, anyway—that I highly recommend.

  
  

Two of the nominees even include my stories: Best Lesbian Erotica 2011 and Sometimes She Lets Me: Best Butch/Femme Erotica.

S. Bear Bergman: Mini-Interview

January 7, 2011  |  on butches  |  1 Comment

Butch was the first way I ever really felt seen, or desired. Butch is how I was recognized, and it's how I was made. I love many of the ways of butchness, and even the ones I really do not love I can at least understand. The part of me that is a butch - not a butch lesbian or a butch woman but a butch as its own whole and true thing - is both the toughest and the tenderest part.

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Don’t Forget! Big Sideshow Next Week in NYC

November 4, 2010  |  miscellany  |  1 Comment


November’s Dangerous Mammals Tour
at Sideshow: The Queer Literary Carnival
Hosted by Cheryl B. & Sinclair Sexsmith
with S. Bear Bergman, Ivan E. Coyote, Jessica Halem, and Tania Katan
Find out more about the readers!
Tuesday, November 9th @ The Phoenix
447 East 13th Street @ Avenue A
East Village, New York City
Doors, 7:30pm. Reading, 8pm
Free! (We’ll pass the hat for the readers)
RSVP on Facebook!

You Won’t Believe Who’s Performing At Sideshow in November …

October 20, 2010  |  miscellany  |  4 Comments


November’s Dangerous Mammals Tour
at Sideshow: The Queer Literary Carnival
Hosted by Cheryl B. & Sinclair Sexsmith
with S. Bear Bergman, Ivan E. Coyote, Jessica Halem, and Tania Katan
Find out more about the readers!
Tuesday, November 9th @ The Phoenix
447 East 13th Street @ Avenue A
East Village, New York City
Doors, 7:30pm. Reading, 8pm
Free! (We’ll pass the hat for the readers)
RSVP on Facebook!

Ten Ways I Am A Gender Outlaw

October 8, 2010  |  on butches  |  14 Comments

Today is the last day on The Great Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation Blog Tour, and I’m closing it out. Thanks, Kate and Bear. Thanks, Seal Press.

It’s a fantastic book. I laughed, I cried. Would you expect anything less?

There were a lot of pieces about trans experiences, not as in one singular trans experience, but people writing about their lives and what it’s been like to have the experience being gendered like they are in the world. A few other pieces were by cisgender femmes—but I have yet to read a piece in there talking about butch experiences. Now, it is a book focusing on trans identity, primarily, so maybe stories and essays about butch experiences don’t even belong here. That’s okay, I don’t have to see myself reflected in every single book about gender, sometimes it might not fit.

But it got me thinking: what’s my relationship to the term and identity “trans?” Is butch a trans identity? And what are the ways that I am a gender outlaw?

I do see butch as falling under the trans umbrella, as a sort of trans identity, because butch is a masculine identity on a woman (or, should I say, “woman”), and that is not what our culture defines as what a woman does. I am trans in that I transcend the binary, I transform the binary. I believe in more than the binary, and partly because of that I also believe that a masculine expression on a female body is a completely legitimate expression of “woman,” and that therefore it may not be a trans identity.

However … that’s not the dominant cultural acceptance of the way woman-ness can be expressed, that’s for sure. And I have learned more about gender—both mine and cultural systems of gender—from the trans movements than anywhere else. I find my gender has more in common with many trans folks than it does with anybody else, in part because of the intentionality and thoughtfulness behind it. So I still have an identification with trans. Though not without hesitation—which is why I say “a sort of trans identity” whenever I’m talking about it. I do understand how it could be, and I understand how it could not be. I guess I fall somewhere in the middle, sometimes feeling more trans than not, sometimes feeling not trans.

Regardless, though, a butch identity is outside the law, and is an outlaw. In this case, it’s not necessarily that I’m outside of the actual legal law, though we could talk about the ways that we still haven’t passed an ERA (wtf?) and that my sexuality in this country makes me a second-class citizen, but we’re not talking about sexuality here: we’re talking about gender.

And my gender, though perhaps not outside of the legal law, as it is no longer dictated that I wear at least five pieces of women’s clothing (can you imagine!? It was not so long ago), is outside of social law. Society has certain laws that I break all the time, by crossing back and forth between “male” space and “female” space, by presenting masculine in this world, by passing sometimes and not passing other times, by dating women, by being a feminist, by challenging misandry and misogyny and other ways that masculinity is constructed.

Here’s some other ways I’ve been thinking about that make me a Gender Outlaw:

10. I shop in the men’s department. I know this seems both like a given (duh) and like not a big deal, it actually can be. Getting a salesperson to help me is pretty difficult. Making a decision to either use the dressing room in the men’s department, or carry everything back to the women’s department, or not try on anything and make my shopping trip twice as long when I need to come back to return the things that don’t fit, can take up more space in my head than it needs to. Sometimes I get shoo’d out of the women’s dressing room, or at the very least I get disapproving and confused glances by other shoppers—both in the men’s department, women’s dressing rooms, and at the check-out. It’s more complicated than one would expect to keep shopping for men’s clothes, to crossdress, basically. And at this point, the only thing I don’t buy in the men’s department is binders (bras).

9. I visit a barber once a month. Inserting myself into traditionally men’s spaces is tricky, sometimes dangerous. Though I live in a very tolerant city, I still come across plenty of men in these spaces who are skeptical, giving me shifty sideways eyes, at best, and outright homophobic at worst. I continue to walk in there like I belong and request the same services (at the same price—which is also sometimes a problem) that any of the guys get. Aside from the barber, I get my shoes shined, I sometimes get my nails done or my eyebrows waxed—yes, I admit to a certain level of metrosexuality that goes with my masculinity. But it’s all for sex, people. I do it for the sex. And the pure joy that comes with a dapper presentation.

8. I disrupt the assumption that misogyny comes standard with masculinity. I treat women well, and I take that seriously. I do not believe femininity is any easier (or harder) than masculinity, and I do not believe it should be in a hierarchy of any time. I strive to not only believe that, but to live that belief.

7. I like what I like—I don’t let my gender dictate my interests, hobbies, or personality. I enjoy cooking, yoga, reading books, amateur astronomy, meditation, the psychotheraputic process, building community, and I don’t really like sports, or monster trucks, or remote control cars, or many of those “typical” masculine hobbies. I challenge the idea that any hobby belongs to any gender. These are human experiences, and human expressions, and human things to do, and I can choose from any one of them.

6. I research the butches and genderqueers and other masculine-of-center folks who came before me. I know I’m not alone in this lineage, this way that I walk the world, and even though sometimes it feels like I made it all, I only made myself in a long context of many others, and I pay homage as often as I can with respect and props.

5. I read everything I can about gender, keeping up with the latest books (like Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation!) I (try to) keep up with the myriad of butch and masculine-of-center blogs online, to keep hearing people’s stories, to watch as they unfold, to keep up with the conversations. I feel lucky that I have so many stories to read!

4. I see a gender identity as a beginning, not an end. As with any identity, the minute someone tells me they identify as a certain thing—femme, butch, genderqueer, gender-fluid, trans, male, female, whatever—I take that as a starting point, and I am curious to know more, not as the end point, where I fill in my own assumptions about what that means. I keep my assumptions in check. I keep my inner gender police in check, and instead of expressing anything like, “Whut? You don’t seem x to me,” I ask, “Oh? What does that mean to you?” It’s a starting place, a jumping off point, not something to close down the conversation.

3. I make friends with straight men—or at least, I’m friendly with them—to challenge their assumptions about masculinity (and butch dykes). I don’t see them as the enemy. I don’t assume they’re all the same. I challenge misandry in the queer circles. Marginalized communities, especially those who have come up from the lesbian and feminist histories, have a lot of man-hating built in to them. (I know, I’m not supposed to say that, but it can be true.) There is a difference between challenging a system of patriarchy vs challenging an individual man, who may or may not be as much of a subscriber to feminist beliefs as any of us are. Aside that, many queers are skeptical of masculinity—I have seen that as I get further into my identity as butch, and I’ve seen it happen to many of my trans guy friends. I do my best to challenge it when I see it, and ask what’s behind that comment, jab, or joke. Gently, and kindly, but still, to challenge.

2. I am a fierce feminist, and see the intersectionality of many different kinds of oppression and do my best to analyze and check my own privileges while standing up for those that are marginalized and oppressed. I think most homophobia and transphobia is still about a basic, fundamental sexism that believes men are better than women and therefore masculine-identified people are better than feminine-identified people, and I think the feminist theories can be a way to untangle those underlying cultural beliefs systematically.

1. I love my body. I just heard Tobi Hill-Meyer read a piece at the spoken word performance at Butch Voices Portland about how much of woman-ness is tied to hating one’s own body, and it really resonated for me. Despite being raised a bit non-traditionally, despite growing up into a butch gender, most of us are taught by this culture to hate our bodies, and I continue to treat myself with care, respect, and love, in the face of a culture which would have me buff, pluck, shave, cut, dye, powder, or hide the skin, stretch marks, and “flaws” of my body.

What do you think, y’all? Did I forget something? What are the ways that YOU are a gender outlaw?

Don’t forget to pick up Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation at your local queer feminist bookstore.

Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation

October 8, 2010  |  reviews  |  1 Comment

You’ve probably read Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us by Kate Bornstein, published in 1995. (If you haven’t, you should.)

To follow it up, fifteen years later Kate Bornstein has teamed up with S. Bear Bergman for a new anthology, Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation, published by Seal Press.

Kate’s premise in the original Gender Outlaw is that ze is neither a man nor a woman, and discusses hir stories in forming a trans identity. It was one of those books that sunk into my stomach like a stone, that I gobbled up in a weekend, thinking, oh my god there are people like me out there. Not only that, but there are mentors on this path, there are people who have been deconstructing these identities—and building them back up in our own ways, let’s not forget that part—and changing the ways we perceive gender to work in this culture. That book was a revelation, for sure—it is widely used in college classes and read by all sorts of gender outlaws.

But now, Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation picks up the premise of the original Gender Outlaw and runs with it, telling stories of the many, many ways that gender outlaws struggle, celebrate, and live.

I could write something about each individual piece, what it meant to me, what I thought about it, how meaningful it was, what I liked or (occasionally) didn’t like. I could mention Katie Diamond and Johnny Blazes’s graphic essay about the many meanings of “trans,” like transgress, transcend, transpire, transform, translate. I’d love to mention pieces by Sassafras Lowery and Tamiko Beyer (both of whom have read at Sideshow), and my friend Fran Varian’s piece about gender and class and respect. I could say something about every piece in this book—even the introduction, a smart and sassy IM exchange between Bear and Kate about the contents of the book, what it’s been like for them to edit it, and the state of gender outlaws in general.

Julia Serano’s piece has been sitting in my head for days as I chew over it. She’s such a genius, I am seriously crushed out on her brain. In her piece, she takes that entirely too commonly heard phrase, “all gender is performance,” and explodes it:

Instead of trying to fictionalize gender, let’s talk about the moments in life when gender feels all too real. Because gender doesn’t feel like drag when you’re a young trans child begging your parents not to cut your hair or not to force you to wear that dress. And gender doesn’t feel like a performance when, for the first time in your life, you feel safe and empowered enough to express yourself in ways that resonate with you, rather than remaining closeted for the benefit of others. And gender doesn’t feel like a construct when you finally find that special person whose body, personality, identity, and energy feels like a perfect fit with yours. Let’s stop trying to deconstruct gender into nonexistence, and instead start celebrating it as inexplicable, varied, profound, and intricate. —Julia Serano, from Performance Piece, published in Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation and reprinted in full by Jezebel

Just, chills. I love what she’s saying here. I feel like I have my own piece in conjunction or response to that one. In fact, I feel like I have twenty pieces about gender that I’m itching to write, after reading this book.

I’m so glad I had the chance to check out this book, it’s definitely going to be something I recommend all over the place and mail as gifts. It belongs on my essential reading list, for sure. I’m excited to contribute to the virtual blog tour, as well! It has been amazing—just check out Riot Nrrd Comics’ graphic review, as a great example, and read through the rest of them if you like.

Just in case you haven’t seen it, and if you can’t wait to pick up this book and you want more Kate right now, check out Kate’s contribution to the It Gets Better Project. And you can always follow @katebornstein & @sbearbergman on Twitter. If you’re in the New York City area, you can also come in to Bluestockings Bookstore tonight, Friday October 8th, for a reading from Gender Outlaws!

Pick up a copy of Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation direct from the publisher, Seal Press, from your local independent feminist queer bookstore (if you want them to stick around), or, if you must, from Amazon.

Countdown to the Butch Voices NYC Conference: 3 Weeks

September 3, 2010  |  on butches  |  3 Comments

The Butch Voices Regional Conference in New York City (and then in Portland and LA) is coming up in just three weeks. And in honor, I’m counting down the Fridays with classic and modern butch book titles that I highly recommend.

Butch Is A Noun, S. Bear Bergman’s first book, has been re-released by Arsenal Pulp Press just in time for the fall series of regional Butch Voices conferences. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend it. It’s a personal collection of essays about what it’s like to live outside the binary gender system, in more ways than one, and what the identity, word, noun, verb, and adjective “butch” means to Bear.

The first chapter of Butch Is A Noun, “I Know What Butch Is,” is one of my favorite essays that I think I have ever read. Bear has a PDF of it over on hir website, if you’d like to read it as a preview to perhaps buying the book, and there’s also a great video of Bear reading the first chapter (that I have posted before, but it’s time to post again):

(Just ignore the girls in the background. Seriously.)

One of my favorite comments about the book comes from Kate Bornstein, who says: “Butch Is A Noun is a book that… a) should be required reading in any gender studies curriculum, b) femmes should read whenever they’re feeling unloved, lonely or misunderstood, c) butches should read, d) all of the above. The answer, of course, is d. Thank you, dear Bear.”

There’s lots in there for not just butch-identified folks, but also for folks who love butches, regardless of your gender.

Here’s the description of the book from Arsenal Pulp Press:

Butch is a Noun, the first book by activist, gender-jammer, and performer S. Bear Bergman,won wide acclaim when published by Suspect Thoughts in 2006: a funny, insightful, and purposely unsettling manifesto on what it means to be butch (and not). In thirty-four deeply personal essays, Bear makes butchness accessible to those who are new to the concept, and makes gender outlaws of all stripes feel as though they have come home. From girls’ clothes to men’s haircuts, from walking with girls to hanging with young men, Butch is a Noun chronicles the perplexities, dangers, and pleasures of living lifeoutside the gender binary.
This new edition includes a new afterword by the author.

There’s lots of ways to connect with Bear online—read hir livejournal, follow @sbearbergman on Twitter, and of course sbearbergman.com.

In case you don’t know about it, Bear also has a new anthology, co-edited with Kate Bornstein, Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation just released from Seal press. Pick that up directly from Seal Press, at your local independent queer feminist bookstore, or, if you must, from Amazon.

Pick up a copy of Butch Is A Noun directly from Arsenal Pulp Press, or head out to your local independent queer feminist bookstore, or, as usual, if you must, from Amazon.

The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You by S. Bear Bergman

October 15, 2009  |  reviews  |  1 Comment

exitS. Bear Bergman has a new book out, The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You, which is a collection of personal essays, mostly on gender. And to celebrate, Sugarbutch is helping to kick off a virtual book tour! Thanks, Bear! Thanks, Arsenal Pulp Press!

Bear also wrote the book of gender essays Butch Is A Noun, which I’ve mentioned on this site more than a few times. It is one of the only books written about butch identity in the last ten years so it’s certainly influential to my work and philosophies on gender in general. There are some clips and excerpts from Butch Is A Noun available online and I highly recommend them. That first essay, “I Know What Butch Is,” I quote from often and go back to frequently, I just love Bear’s writing and style in that piece.

When I published Top Hot Butches in the Spring earlier this year, Bear was listed as #48 and was one of the factors of me including trans men in the list of butches in the first place. If I excluded trans men, I would have to exclude Bear, and Bear wrote pretty much the only book on butches in the last ten years – did that make sense? Not really. I thought it was extremely important to include Bear, specifically, which opened up the door to include other trans men as well. Of course, not all trans men identify as butch, but at the time I didn’t think I could include some trans men and not others … and the inclusion was problematic. I do not want to start hashing through that here, this is about Bear’s work, after all, but I really appreciated Bear’s supportive emails and contact around the list and that controversy.

Lots has happened for Bear since the publication of Butch Is A Noun. Ze addresses this right away, in the second essay: whereas during the first book, ze was for the most part perceived as a dyke, partnered with a woman, and lived in the suburbs, and now Bear is pretty much perceived as a fag, partnered with a guy, and living in a fairly big city. This transition from “suburban-dyke-me” to “city-fag-me” seems to have altered Bear’s relationship with masculinity a bit, and many of the essays in The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You address this unpacking of masculinity, tracing it back through history and family (I especially liked the discussions of masculinity through the lens of Judaism and his particular family experience of ‘being a man’), and discussing what it means in some new life contexts.

Arsenal Pulp Press provided this lovely little blurb:

Alternately unsettling and affirming, devastating and delicious, The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You, is a new collection of essays on gender and identity by S. Bear Bergman that is irrevocably honest and endlessly illuminating. With humour and grace, these essays deal with issues from women’s spaces to the old boys’ network, from gay male bathhouses to lesbian potlucks, from being a child to preparing to have one; throughout, S. Bear Bergman shows us there are things you learn when you’re visibly different from those around you―whether it’s being transgressively gendered or readably queer. As a transmasculine person, Bergman keeps readers breathless and rapt in the freakshow tent long after the midway has gone dark, when the good hooch gets passed around and the best stories get told. Ze offers unique perspectives on issues that challenge, complicate, and confound the “official stories” about how gender and sexuality work.

I’m still working my way through the book, I haven’t finished it yet, partly because I’m savoring it. I could zip through it a bit faster than I am, but I really appreciate Bear’s perspectives on all of this and I love having access to someone’s inner thoughts about gender, masculinity, queerness, transitioning, love, life … all of those little things, ya know. Sometimes it feels like my own mind eloquently written down, sometimes the concepts are a bit foreign and I have to stop and go over it again. I don’t agree with everything, and there’s some tension between butch and trans here that I am finding fascinating and particularly hard sometimes, but I am so grateful for Bear’s work.

Aside from the virtual book tour, Bear is on an actual book tour, too! Check out the schedule on sbearbergman.com for dates and appearances in Columbus, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver, & more.

Pick up The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You, Essays by S. Bear Bergman from Arsenal Pulp Press, or from your local independent (feminist, queer, radical) bookstore.

Butches & Trans Guys

June 23, 2009  |  on butches  |  25 Comments

I know what butch is. Butches are not beginner FTMs, except that sometimes they are, but it’s not a continuum except when it is. Butch is not a trans identity unless the butch in questions says it is, in which case it is, unless the tranny in question says it isn’t, in which case it’s not. There is no such thing as butch flight, no matter what the femmes or elders say, unless saying that invalidates the opinion of femmes in a sexist fashion or the opinions of elders in an ageist fashion. Or if they’re right. But they are not, because butch and transgender are the same thing with different names, except that butch is not a trans identity, unless it is; see above.

- S. Bear Bergman, from “I Know What Butch Is,” the first chapter from hir book Butch Is A Noun.