identity politics, Interviews

Ellis: Butch Mini-Interview


1. What is your relationship with the word or identity “butch?”

I identify as a butch woman. I think of “butch” as being a synonym for being a more masculine woman. When I was younger, I thought that butch meant tough, and I worried I wasn’t tough enough. I love pretty ladies and I used to think the only way to have a pretty lady love me back was to be more tough.

But now I’m realizing that toughness isn’t as strong as I thought it was, or at least it is different than I thought it was. Now, for me gentleness is king and I’ve found kindness to be the path to a more steadfast and stronger me.

So my understanding of what it is to be a butch woman looks different then it used to, maybe softer in some ways, less defensive. And, happily, it turns out that my pretty lady loves this gentle butch!

2. What kind of words and labels, if any, do you use to identify yourself?

Butch, queer, woman loving woman, woman, buddhist, peaceful warrior, runner, musician, songwriter, human …

3. What do you wish you could tell your younger self about sex, sexuality, or gender?

Hmmm… I would tell myself to relax and be patient more.

I’d tell myself that sex isn’t about being someone who is good in bed or having to perform. When I was younger, I had a bit of defensiveness about wanting to be as good as I thought maybe a man would be. Now I know that it’s so not even the point! Loving someone is loving someone. The parts aren’t a big thing. Connecting to the person you are with and loving them is better when there is vulnerability and real sharing.

I would also tell myself that there is a joy in discovering who you are and really the thing that matters most is cultivating the heart. I would encourage myself to care about the feelings that come up as a butch woman living in a culture that doesn’t see or recognize butch. I would tell myself that the fear, inadequacy, anger, and sense of outsider-ness that I felt wasn’t about me, and that it is a result of being in a culture that doesn’t recognize the butch woman.

Published by Sinclair Sexsmith

Sinclair Sexsmith (they/them) is "the best-known butch erotica writer whose kinky, groundbreaking stories have turned on countless queers" (AfterEllen), who "is in all the books, wins all the awards, speaks at all the panels and readings, knows all the stuff, and writes for all the places" (Autostraddle). ​Their short story collection, Sweet & Rough: Queer Kink Erotica, was a 2016 finalist for a Lambda Literary Award, and they are the current editor of the Best Lesbian Erotica series. They identify as a white non-binary butch dominant, a survivor, and an introvert, and they live outside Seattle as an uninvited settler on traditional, ancestral, & unceded Snoqualmie land.

0 thoughts on “Ellis: Butch Mini-Interview”

  1. Gina Beck says:

    Ellis, Thank You so much for sharing yourself in this Q&A. Your answers hit my heart. Thank You again! Gina ART+MUSIC=LIFE

  2. This is a comment from a gay man (Kinsey 6 gay male, if there is such a thing) and perhaps therefore inappropriate for this website. It is intended to be respectful because I feel respectful.

    I’m a butch leatherman, a Top, but I’m intrigued and impressed by the fact that many butch women capture the essence of masculinity and the admirable qualities of masculinity without being biologically male. Of course, there is male aggression, there is a testosterone laden hyper masculinity and there can be a masculinist arrogance. These can be negative qualities. There is, I think and I hope, a more admirable form of masculinity, comprising a gentle strength, protective, brave, peaceful warrior like but not rapacious or exploitative. I suspect that finer side of masculinity can be recovered and celebrated. It is quite possible that it (the finer side of masculinity) may be partly found in the gentle bravery of butch women who personify the best in masculinity and avoid the worst. Masculinity should not be the monopoly or preserve of men. There are bio women I have met who express and possess a masculinity that I, as a man, admire, respect and like. From a bio male perspective, it does not require male genitalia, high levels of testosterone and macho codes of behavior to qualify as possessing masculinity. There are bio women who are better “men” than many bio males.I have learned more about being a true man from butch women than from most men, gay or straight. What I read above about gentleness and kindness inspires me and reminds me of what is important. Gallantry, decency, respect for others are not just male qualities but it would be nice to think that masculinity, in women or in men, could be associated with such qualities and traits. Respect, Peter (Leder)

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