Posts Tagged ‘top hot butches’
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 just kinda speechless. If we do another list, she’ll have to be #1 with a bullet.
(Thanks Sassafras, who was the first one who sent me this link!)
With the relaunch of the Top Hot Butches project, I am including different people than last year, in a totally different way.
I think this is some of the confusion about including cis men. The Top Hot list is not a top 100 butches list like it was last year. I’m not that interested in hierarchizing everyone based on hotness. Hotness is all relative, anyway.
What I am interested in is community, and bringing people together who experience similar gender identities. I’m also interested in the word “butch” itself, and how it scares many people, how many of us have such a strong reaction to it, like it’s a slur, as it has been used against many of us for lifetimes. And how it becomes a strong, defining word for others, a major hook on which we hang ourselves and by which we define ourselves. Many different kinds of people use this word to talk about who they are, and I’m curious about that.
The new site is more community-focused, with a whole blog component, Tumblr site, and Symposium, as I mentioned the other day. And there is still a Top Hot section. It’ll be more like a database of people you can go browse through and find their work and be inspired by, not a numbered list. Just people, doing good work, going about their lives, with a butch or masculine of center gender.
I’m much more inclined to include women than men, and it will be harder to find men to include, since I am restricting the men included to being butch-identified (more about that below).
I am especially looking for trans women who identify or present as butch, men (cis or trans) who self-identify as butch, and people of color along the masculine spectrum. It’s been easier to find the white butch dykes than anyone else, but I know there are a lot of other folks out there!
Check last year’s list to see who was on it before you nominate somebody. Everyone from the list last year, unless requested otherwise, will be included in the new project.
Rules for nominations:
- Must be active in the public sphere of some sort, or a leader, and well known, in their field. Performers, writers, and activists are particularly easy to point to, but anyone notable in any field is applicable. Yes, this means your girlfriend/boifriend/boyfriend might not qualify. No, having a blog is not necessarily qualification enough.
- Must have been doing work at some point in the last decade. There are plenty of people we can dig up who are no longer alive, or who were notably butch or visibly masculine women from decades past, but this project is about what’s going on now. Perhaps at some point in the future we’ll tackle Top Hot Butches pre-Stonewall, but for now, let’s focus on who is around now.
- Can be of any age, though generally we’re talking about folks who are post-puberty, and even more frequently folks who are post-Saturn return, as it sometimes takes quite a bit of time to really know oneself enough to come to an alternative gender identity and expression like these. Age doesn’t matter.
- Can be of any race, religion, ethnic background, or sexual orientation. That probably goes without saying, but I’ll make it clear anyway.
Inclusions of women, cis or trans:
- It would be GREAT if they self-identify as some some of masculine of center identity: butch, macha, stud, ag, tomboi, genderqueer, etc.
- If they do not self-identify this way (or they have a level of fame where they wouldn’t reply to an email asking if they do or not), they will be considered for inclusion based on these things: 1. rejection of traditional femininity, including but not limited to dress, style, and hair; tendency to shop in the men’s department and display a masculine gender expression most of the time; 3. swagger, meaning some sort of masculine energy in their movements; and 4. are out as queer. Some exceptions will be made to the requirement that they are out as queer, such as in the case of Katherine Moennig, where she is very clearly queer but has not made official statements regarding such.
Inclusions of men, cis or trans:
- Must self-identify as butch. Either you know that they identify as butch, because they’re your friend or you’re aware of their work, or they have made some sort of public statement that says they identify as butch.
Inclusions of genderqueer folks that identify as outside of the binary:
- Should self-identify as some of masculine of center identity: butch, macha, stud, ag, tomboi, etc., and be interested in being included in a database of butches.
How to nominate:
Email me, or comment on this post, with the following:
- Name of the person you’re nominating
- What they do (writer, performer, activist, lawyer, whatever)
- Link to or attached recent photograph, at least 640×480 (landscape) and better yet, cropped to 700×400
- Link to their website, Myspace, Twitter, or other web presence for more information about their work
Aside from Top Hot Butches, I am also compiling a list of butch-identified bloggers. If you are a butch-identified blogger, or if you read a blog by someone butch-identified who you like, will you please leave a link to them here and I’ll add them to my list. I have quite a few that I know of, of course, but I’m sure I don’t know you all! Even if you think I probably have yours, leave it anyway just to make sure?
And a huge thank you for your help with this project! It is coming together, and I’m really excited to show it to everyone.
So you may have seen me Tweeting about the relaunch of the Top Hot Butches project, which I’ve been working on for the past few months. I’m getting set to launch it in mid-November, I’m aiming for November 15th.
And it’s time to start asking for your help.
Addressing the Controversy
A friend of mine asked this week what I was going to do to address all the controversy around the original list. I’ve given this a lot of thought, and I’m ready to open up the project, to take it to new levels, so I am approaching it differently.
The controversy was around including trans men on a butch list. There are many reasons this is problematic, but the main one is that trans men are men and a butch identity is usually a female masculinity, and aligning trans men with female masculinity is demeaning to their identity. However, there are many trans men who do have an allegiance with the butch identity, and I still feel it’s important to include them in this project.
Dykes and queers and trans men are not the only ones who use the word “butch.” When I spoke with Buck Angel about his inclusion on the list, aside from saying he doesn’t care, he also said he associates “butch” with the gay male communities much more than with dykes. It has a long history of being used for guys, and indeed if you do searches for “butch” you come up with it as a nickname for cis men more often than anything else, it takes some time to dig for the queer women’s angle on it.
So I am including cis men in the new project as well, queer or straight. Don’t worry—this will not take away from the focus of the site, which is the exploration of butch identity, which is still primarily a female masculine identity.
Of course, that begs the question: what makes cis men butch? What makes anybody butch, really?
I’m still not really sure. Nearly ten years into this butch identity and I still don’t have a good definition. So for now, I’m going with: self-identification. I don’t decide for you whether or not you’re butch, you get to decide for yourself.
There is still a Top Hot Butches-style list on this new project, however, and I don’t want to uninclude folks like Joan Jett or Samantha Ronson because they don’t self-identify as butch (or, hell, maybe they do, but I can’t seem to get ahold of them, wonder why). I still will be including androgynous, genderqueer, and other masculine of center women who are in the visible public realms who have an obvious rejection of feminine style and who have some swagger.
So what is this project?
I’m keeping the name of it secret, for a little longer. But don’t worry, it will be all over soon enough. The mission of the new project is:
to promote a greater understanding of masculine of center gender identities, expressions, and presentations, through encouraging: 1. visibility, because we feel alone; 2. solidarity, because there are many of us out there, but we don’t always communicate with each other; and 3. an elevation of the discussion, because we have a long history and lineage to explore and we don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
The site will include: a revised Top Hot Butches section, with photos and short profiles of people in the public eye who are butch-identified or who present a dapper, radical masculinity; a tumblr blog for butch media submissions and perusal; a blog with interviews, articles, and announcements about butch-related information by multiple authors; and a monthly symposium, a cross between a blog carnival and a link round-up with monthly writing prompts.
Speaking of the symposium …
Call for submissions for bloggers & writers: The first Symposium
I am planning to launch the new project’s monthly Symposium with the site’s launch on November 15th, and I need your help. I’m looking for writers who have something to say about butch identity, who are wiling to post their thoughts on their own blog (or email them in, if they don’t have a blog) and link back to the Symposium in exchange for the promotion within this project. Here’s the topic for the first Symposium:
Symposium #1, November 2010: What is butch? How do you define butch? What do you love about it? What does it mean to you?
Prepare a post for publication on November 15th, and I’ll be gathering all the links and putting forth a round-up of all participants.
This new project needs more help than just writers, however. I’m also looking for interns.
The new project is seeking interns. I am looking for people interested in learning how to moderate an online community, engaging in a digital environment; learning the ins and outs of blogging, including search engine optimization, WordPress coding and template modification, and basic photo editing. Email me with a statement about why you’d like to be involved and your relevant experience before November 1st, please.
I will also be seeking out writers for the site. If you’re interested in that, the best place to start is by participating in the Symposium. More information will be available on other calls for submissions to this project soon.
Okay I think that covers it! I’m really excited about this, I hope it will be as good and solid and successful as my vision for it.
Maybe you remember that Ellis is Top Hot Butch #53 from the 2009 list. Maybe you’ve been a fan of her folk-rock guitar for a long time, maybe you even already have “Right On Time.”
But me, I had lost track of her work in recent years, I think the last album of hers I have is “Everything That’s Real” from 2001. And I’m thrilled to rediscover her work and to support this new album. And WOW is it amazing. I’m still playing the title track and track #7, “Without A Compass,” over and over. Do consider purchasing & downloading Right On Time—if you like this kind of music, you’ll like this new album.
Two of my favorite butches on the planet – and the fabulous addition of femme Anna Camilleri – have collaborated in a queer performance collective. This clip from earlier this year is fucking rad.
SweLL featuring Anna Camilleri, Ivan E Coyote, & Lyndell Montgomery
SWELL—the new incarnation of Taste This, notorious Vancouver-based queer performance collective. In 1994, four young East Vancouver artists—Ivan E. Coyote, Anna Camilleri, Lyndell Montgomery, and Zoë T. Eakle—came together to conduct an experiment. All four had been performing solo on small stages, and they wanted more than a ten-minute spot sandwiched between the fire breather and the sound poet. They founded queer performance troupe Taste This, and premiered their first full-length project at the Edison Electric Gallery. 100+ people were turned away at the door. Artistically emboldened by the response, they took the show on the road to Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco, and then continued to create and tour a total of four stage works in Canada and the US, until disbanding in 2000. Notably, Taste This released Boys Like Her: Transfictions (Press Gang Publishers, 1998) to critical and public acclaim, including a 1999 Book of the Year Award from Forward Magazine, an American Library of Congress Award nomination, a Community Service Award for Achievement in the Arts by Xtra West, and in 2008, Boys Like Her was included in the Queer Canadian Literature Collection at the University of Toronto. With over a decade of artistic experience to their individual credit, Camilleri, Coyote, and Montgomery recently started talking about resurrecting the kind of magical collaboration that Taste This was. A lot has changed, but the issues that the early collective inhabited are still relevant in the contemporary artistic and political landscape. Questions of gender, class, sexuality, rural versus city life, and family dynamics continue to attract the attentions of the three artists. For the premiere of “So The Story Goes”—an original, full-length inter-discipline performance work—they’ll be joined by acclaimed artist Leslie Peters.
- Swiped from myspace.com/swetlltastethis
Ivan E. Coyote, Top Hot Butches Number Six and amazing storyteller, writer, and performer, has a new book out this year from Arsenal Pulp Press called The Slow Fix. I just picked it up when Kristen and I were in Philadelphia about a month ago at Giovanni’s Room, which, by the way, was one of the most amazing queer bookstores I’ve ever been in. Such a wonderful collection of books there, I could’ve bought twenty – I settled on three.
And, I just heard from Arsenal Pulp Press that they’ve got a promotion going on through September 30th – “FREE Ivan E. Coyote Book, Loose End, and with this download, you are also entitled to a SPECIAL 25% DISCOUNT off the purchase of any or all of Ivan’s books, SIGNED BY THE AUTHOR.”
I think I have all of them, but I might be missing one. I’ll have to double check. Hmm, maybe this is a good holiday gift – who’s on my list that would like Ivan’s books? I’m sure I can come up with a few.
Because that piece I published earlier this week broke through some things, I’m apparently posting like crazy. So here’s a lovely video by the folk duo Coyote Grace, featuring (self-identified) butch trans guy guitar player Joe Stevens (and #96, with his permission) and femme bass player Ingrid Elizabeth.
Voila, Guy Named Joe.
l-r: Lyndell Montgomery (#21), Bren Ryder (#17), and Ivan E. Coyote (#6) at Ivan’s recent 40th Birthday bash in Vancouver. Note the SIX shirt Ivan’s showing off – a reference to Ivan’s Top Hot Butches number, and a gift from Lyndell.
Thanks to Ivan’s partner Zena for snapping this shot and sending it to me (and telling me I could post it).
So, now that the trans discussion is calming down a little bit, I’m starting to get a slew of feedback about calling the *other* people on this list “butch.” Either saying, these people are not butch, they are femme, or saying it is non-consensual to label people as butch on a list.
I hear you.
This is because of the name, “Top Hot Butches,” which implies that EVERYONE on this list is “A BUTCH.” And that is just not true. Come on people, of course that’s not true! That is why the subtitle included also androgyny, genderqueer, stud, AG, and trans men. A lot of people have a very specific vision of what “A BUTCH” is, myself included!, and many of the people on this list do not fit that.
I fully understand that “butch” is a specific gender identity, that it is not necessarily the same as androgynous or tomboy or genderqueer or stud or AG or trans man, that nobody else should have the right to pin a particular gender identity on anyone. That concept itself is a very firm, basic, and important foundation to the gender activism work that I do.
And I’d like to get back, for a minute, to the original intention of this list, which is to showcase a big part of the lesbian and queer communities which is often completely invisible in mainstream lesbian culture: masculinity, and gender diversity. A mainstream lesbian publication would actually call Joan Jett or Jenny Shimizu or Katherine Moennig butch, despite that there are many, many of us who are working to construct butch as something alltogether different, and that we would scoff at their excessive use of eye makeup. But still: masculinity and gender diversity in lesbian and queer culture is underrespresented, while femininity is still held as the standard of hotness.
This is what the Top Hot Butches list was seeking to address.
I’ve been viewing “Top Hot Butches” as a brand name more than a gender identity descriptor of the list. And I know that you can’t really use “butch” as a brand name in this way, because the word is defined as a gender identity descriptor, and if I redefine it as a brand name but the entire rest of the fucking world is recognizing it as a gender identity descriptor, my own redefining of it is kind of useless.
But still: It wasn’t until last night that I realized the distinction, in this specific project, between brand name and gender identity descriptor. Someone made a comment, saying, “Would there have been anything like this furor if – without changing anything else about the descriptors, explanations or rules – the list had been entitled ” The Sugarbutch Hot List”?”
And the answer is, probably not. I mean, “butch” would still be in the title of the project, so certainly that would still be a problem, but “Sugarbutch” is much more of a brand name, and it would’ve been much easier to distinguish that I am not attempting to call everyone on the list butch, trans men included!, and that I was simply compiling a list of hot people.
I considered calling it something like “the Sugarbutch Hot 100″ before I did the project, but not very seriously. I thought it would be too small in scope, I didn’t necessarily want it to be part of Sugarbutch, I wanted it to be a separate project. I didn’t think it would matter. I want Sugarbutch to be my personal online writing project, though I’ve been joking for a while that I’m building the Sugarbutch Empire. Hell, maybe it would’ve been better for the “brand” to be associated in this way. Another reason I wanted to separate it a little was because it was catchy – “Top Hot Butches” would get a lot more attention than “the Sugarbutch Hot List” and look at that, it has. I guess you could say I’m taking baby steps toward taking my work a bit more mainstream, and this was one of the ways I decided to do that. That is going to be a very hard transition, if I do it at all, especially judging by this past week.
So: there’s some finer points of gender and identity theory that are being brought up in response, to which I want to say, people, chill out. This is a Hot List, and those are by definition inviting controversy. Bottom line is, I am not attempting to claim that everyone on this list is butch.
I’m still thinking about changing the title. I know the “brand” intention is unclear in the name “Top Hot Butches.” And the internet is oh-so-fluid, after all.
One last thought though … would I have wanted to avoid all this furor and conversation and rallying and fine-tuning? I don’t think so. I wouldn’t want to have missed out on everything that’s happened in the last couple days. It’s been a learning process for me, and I am glad to have gone through it. Though I have learned that the next time someone says, “well, this could be controversial,” I will probably rethink it in some way, rather than say, “BRING IT.”