Identity Policing and the Enforcers

I have been doing quite a bit of reading of some other great blogs here on WordPress, as well as listening to people discuss their lives and issues surrounding “identity policing” on Youtube and Vimeo, and other places.  It’s been a topic on Facebook as well, and Twitter, too…hell every social network seems to be infected with the new LGBT Identity Police Virus.  Inner-community homophobia is rampant.  Inter-community bullying is growing at an alarming rate, and our community sub-sets are feeling the heat of pressure from the more “mainstream” LGBT population at large.

One blogger, who I follow, writes about someone criticizing their blog for their own personal opinoins, saying they are basically all bullshit.  These are the feelings and thoughts of a person in her blog, and no one has the right to call her personal thoughts “bullshit” or any of the other totaly derogatory words that were used toward her about her blog and about her as a person.  Yes, personal attacks on a person’s integrity and personal life.  It doesn’t just happen in Hollywood anymore, folks.

I was appalled by what I read, as the blogger wrote all about the attacks in a recent blog and one thing she said was this ” Knowing who you are, being okay with it, loving yourself is good. It’s healthy.”  Which was a response to her attacker, who told her that self-love is not attractive.   Where has this creep been living, under a rock?  Don’t we ALL know that before anyone else can ever love you you must love yourself.  For all love in your life starts with you; starts in you. And without self-love and self-respect you can neither give nor receiver either from another.

On another of her blogs she writes of the new fangled word “heteronormative” which is often used to describe the type of relationships that I am comfortable and satisfied with in my own life – Butch-Femme relationships, which often appears to outsiders as if we are mimicking the “husband and wife” model of the heterosexual world.  And pershaps in it’s under pinnings, we do sort of look to this model.  It is a very traditional model, and one that holds respect of generations.  Again, our own LGBT community shuns us over the dynamics of many of our relationships, saying we are acting “too hetero”.  Yup, you are either “too” much of something or “not enough” of something it seems these days.  When I am called “Sir” – which happens quite often throughout my daily ventures – I am presenting as “too Butch or masculine” and when I tear up over a story of a dying 2 year old eating banana splits, I am labeled as “not Butch enough” for showing the slightest of emotion.  WTF?

Problem for me is that I am too fucking secure in exactly who I am in this world.   I am Stone Butch and I love myself, just the way I am.  I am far more comfortable in this skin that I ever was when I was stumbling through life trying to satisfy others by not looking “too Butch”; but presenting as just androgenous enough to be accepted by most of my former lesbian friends, most of whom sought to assimilate an identity somewhere closer to the feminine, so they could “blend” more easily into the hetero world around us at work and in public.  An identity theme that  was neither comfortable nor doable for me – ever.  Although I did give it a shot for a period of my life, I looked very much like a gay boy in drag.  Laugh, but I am serious.  Never did I look right or feel right until I fully accepted my Butch-ness and threw off society’s squeaky demands that I “femme it up”, only to turn and pick up my suit coat and tie, and – after putting them on  – getting that exhilarating feeling like I had just come “home”.

Thinking about the whole screw-ball idea of “policing” each other in various ways, some as simple as Femmes calling Butche’s “litter pigs” as one of us casually tosses a stub of a cigarette butt into the dirt at our feet and crush it with the dented steel toe of  a Chippewa boot, to the much larger infractions of calling a Butch a “sissy boi” when he/she has trouble choosing which restroom to use at the truck stop on Route 66.  THAT is as crushing moment, just believe me.  The heat will rise past the collars of our button down shirts, flushing our faces a slightly paler shade of Harvard’s crimson school color.  Every nerve is on edge, and we fight back stinging tears of pure anger – at ourselves and at the person who called us out at that very vulnerable moement in time.

The trans community, as a another stark example of recent “enforcer” behavior stuff,  has been enduring some serious infighting as of late – across Youtube, Twitter and Facebook – with quibbles about people blurting out the “you’re not trans-enough” stupidity.  Seemingly trying to “police” who “gets in” to the “trans club” and who is just not “good enough” in their eyes.  And WHO are they to be setting the “rules” of what is enough and what is not?  I don’t get why people who sort of “self-identify” with a particular group (whether it’s the trans group or some other sub-set of the LGBTQ community), are just not more supportive of each other and of their own diversity!

Oh and what – pray tell – did we all do before social net working for our serious discriminatory behavior entertainment?  One must pause to reflect, remember the bus stop taunts, the icy stares of older school teacher mums, the doctor’s frown when you didn’t want to undress from the waist up in fear of chesticle exposure.  Seems we are all our own worst “enforcers” of these mythical laws of gender expression and how it “should” be done, or portrayed.  I keep hearing  and reading the words “trans enough” or “NOT trans enough”…which secretly scares the bejesus out of my ass, because the miniscule piece of me that once in a while questions my own gender non-conformity-  as a Butch lesbian – cries a little every time I hear “trans” followed by the dreaded word “enough”.  Is it these 2 or 3 small words that keep my Butch ass in line as a Butch?  Meaning perhaps I may think that IF I were to ever consider transition that of course I would never be “trans enough” and would definitely be “NOT trans enough” for eternity…thus why would I EVER even consider it?   Yes, I will admit this to myself and to you my readers, those words fuck with my head in a big, bad way.  And I will not even consider transition at this point in my life, for a few reasons but a very VERY  big one is fearing the use of those words against ME.  I would never be “trans enough”, because I will always just being that Stone Butch that rides a very thin line between gender identifications, constantly being trailed by the “gender police” across America.

What do you think?  How have the “gender police” pissed you off?  And do you encounter the secret LGBT “enforcer” squad in your world?

Five Years Later….

Yesterday I decided to clean out the back bedroom of my home, where I had been just throwing stuff out of the way for quite a while.  Totes that I had never opened in years, boxes of stuff that needed to the “gone through” and everything that didn’t quite have a spot yet.  It’s been a year this week since I got this home and moved in.  And while the rest of the house looks fine, that back room had accumulated quite a bit and had stored a lot since my move.  It was time to purge some of it, throw it away or yard sale the good stuff.  It was a lot of things that I just didn’t need or want any longer.  

But there, hidden in that room, were two totes that I had hauled around with me for the last five years that I had never dared to open.  Yesterday I opened them.  They contained the tattered remnants of my “old life”; of my 13+ years with my ex, Leigh.  Inside were all of the old files from our farm that we owned together, records of horse innoculations, little notes, bills, and everything tied to that relationship and our being inter-connected as a couple for all those years.  Yes, even the receipts for the wedding rings.  For two or three folders I held it together, then I found a tattered old napkin on which she had written some little things on one of our anniversaries.  I could feel myself sinking; dropping very low inside of myself,  to a place I had long ago buried in my heart and soul.  I began to feel the anger swell, the rage at myself for all I had done in leaving that relationship, and the sadness, oh the sadness.  

As a Butch I am sometimes a bit on the emotionally dead side.  Ok, maybe it’s just me and has nothing to do with being Butch.  But whatever it is, I have that stupid and yet very solidly ingrained ability to shut things out of my brain and not deal with them; just hope they will disappear.  That is what I have done with every thought of Leigh and all those great years we shared.  Buried it and deep.  It wasn’t meant to happen this way; we were going to grow old together.  Then I screwed that all up, and walked.  Now I can’t even put together a full sentence to tell you why or to come up with any “good” reasons.  And honestly, I carry her in my heart still…even though I wish I could let that go so badly.  THAT hurts the worst.  I cannot think of her or mention her name without getting choked up and becoming depressed.  But I cannot change the past, and I have to somehow find a way to deal with this inside of myself.  A way that will not continue to ravage every possible future relationship I might have.  It’s so not fair.  Nothing about it is right.  And nothing I have done since makes much sense in the grand scheme of things.  How does one reconcile this kind of shit within themselves, or do they ever?

I forced myself to go through that entire tote of records, and it got worse emotionally by the minute.  To the point of me finally going into a complete rage – at myself – yelling, screaming, punching things…I felt I wanted to just explode, and disintegrate on that very spot.  Disappear and pretend I never existed.  My melt down lasted for a little while, then I regained some small amount of composure and decide that all of it HAD TO GO.  I had to purge this piece of physical connection out of my life; clean that room and clear that space – physically and emotionally.  I did not need any of the stuff in that tote.  Furiously I shredded documents, receipts, paperwork and memories.  One by one, page by page, my “old life” was turned into threads of paper, wispy and unreadable.  But hadn’t I already done this?  Had I not shredded the relationship 5 years ago when I made the decision to leave?  

So, I did make it through every file in that tote, all 200 of them, in between breaks and bouts of self-rage and hatred.  Never in my life have I felt so small, or so angry at myself.  The pile is much, much smaller now….a tattered napkin remains, and as I held it in my hand I felt the grief of a thousand days flow through my veins.  I don’t know what to do with it, the rage, the anger or the grief.  Still this morning I am in a state of flux.  

I immediately hauled ALL of those shredded papers/memories to the dumpster.  They could NOT stay in my home; in my space, any longer.  I have to get by this, get over it and move on.  But I know this, when you love someone that deeply, and have them in your every day for years and years you NEVER stop, the love may change, grow, die a little, morph and rekindle even…but it never leaves your heart and soul.  How to deal with that is a whole nother issue…perhaps I need a good therapist and some time to process, or perhaps I will just re-bury the whole thing just a bit deeper this time.  I don’t know.   But something has to happen, and I know it.  

There is a second tote.  It contains photos.  We were together before the days of digital photos, so there are lots of hard copy photos, negatives and the such.  I do not know if I will ever have the fortitude to sort through those.  I know I want to keep some of the ones of the kids, old friends, pets, proud moments, but I know there are a lot of the two of us together in happier times, and I’m not sure I can mentally endure seeing those things again….so for now it remains sealed and will wait til I decide what to do.  

This has been the hardest post to ever write for me.  But I HAD to write it.  I had to start to let myself know it’s okay to be sad and I have to find a way to finally be okay with the way life is going.  I have to move on from the self-hatred I felt yesterday and find my peace with all of this once and for all.  I don’t know if that will ever happen, but I pray that one day I can look back without tears streaming down my face.  One day…

My Butch Identity

We all determine our own identity.  It’s a basic and very real fact.  We wake up in the morning and we KNOW who we each ARE in this vast world; and in the sub-culture of the Butch-Femme world it is no different.  It’s how the “world” view us that often perplexes me…that and how my own “other” lesbian friends visibly flinch at the mention of the word “Butch”.  Like somehow it reflects on their own identity that they have a friend who identifies fully as Butch.

As in S. Bear Bergman’s book “Butch is a Noun” I am of that same very thought – Butch IS a fucking noun!  And I embody my Butch identity in my own truly unique way, just as every other self-identified Butch is entitled to have it their way.  There are no real rules, although there are a TON of stereo-typical imaginings of what Butch is and is not.

Butch Wonders talks about “gender policing” or “identity policing” that goes on, as I also spoke of in a recent Youtube vlog I did.  Everyone has their own notions of what is and is not “Butch” or even “Butch Enough” or what is too girly to be Butch to begin with.  And while I may have some of my own personal bias about what fits my own identity as Butch – such as I would never be caught with my hair not kept very short – it’s not my place to say that longer hair is not Butch for the next person.  Perhaps they can pull it off just fine as it aligns with their own personal tastes in what being Butch means to them.

The Butch identity has long existed and has morphed through history over and over.  But one thing seems to permeate the entire lineage – Butch resembles the masculine, the male and the dominant way of things. But there are as many types of men in this world as there are ideas of what “masculine” means to different people.  I have my personal ideas, my quirks, my adaptations of masculine presentation, and you have yours.  It’s pretty much that simple.  No one will ever agree on EXACTLY what Butch means, or is, or should be in the gender non-conforming community.  So if it’s working for you, just do it.  Do what feels right, what looks right for you and what you know you feel most comfortable in.  And be the best damned Butch you can be.  Oh, and use your damned manners!  Don’t I hate a Butch with no manners…THAT is one thing I think we should all hold proudly, that Butches know how to be masculine, and have manners too!

Stumbling

I am attempting to film a video for my YT channel that is giving me fits.  I need to speak the right words to get my points across in a very concise and fitting manner, so that several of my viewers understand where I stand on the issues.  It’s driving me bats because (there is currently a BAT in my fucking house, btw) I know what I want to say, but am having trouble finding the right words…not usually an issue for MainelyButch! *sigh* but I won’t give up, I will eventually get a version I can live with filmed, edited and posted.

I have taken down a couple of recent vlogs from that channel.  This pisses me  off that I allowed myself to feel the pressure others were putting on me that caused me to pull them into private mode. I am usually much more bold and don’t care what others think, but my psyche is obviously in a weaker place this week and I allowed the pressure through.

This brings up one thing that the vlog is addressing, that one cannot be made to feel any way that they do not ALLOW themselves to feel.  We are in control of those feelings, and while the actions or words of another may not be what we want to hear, but how we react to them is completely up to us individually.  Just because I say I feel one way about something, does not mean someone else needs to agree with me – or worse, be adversely affected by my own personal choices and feelings.

Now…I am addressing issues that I am having with a few commenters on my vlog, with whom I have been having some back-and-forth direct YT email and comment exchanges in recent weeks. If you do not recognize that as you, please do not insert yourself in the scenario..I am blogging about this only to get the thoughts out on paper so that I can perhaps assist my own brain to sort through the best way to handle things such as this altercation.   I am trying to figure out how to explain to this person that my opinions and my experiences are MINE and I do NOT expect any of my viewers or readers to have or hold the same things in their world.  She thinks that I am somehow expecting people to agree with me, when I would never do that, I encourage differing opinions, and am open to new experiences, the sharing of our individual experiences and in finding the common ground of agreeing to disagree without hostility being a side-effect.

Hostility.  That is the word.  I have been experiencing some degree of hostility aimed toward me,  from a few different directions, that is making me uncomfortable as I am unsure of just how to deal with each of the individuals.  I don’t want to deal with it at all by “firing back” or slinging mud at anyone.  Of course, when one is attacked – especially on an ehical level – the gut reaction is to go into “defensive” mode and do exactly that – fire back. Corner me and I will fight my way out.  Give me breathing room, and I will give you that same respect and we can perhaps converse without threat.

I am just at a loss for words. Some things leave me that way.  And I hate that.

Just Chillin…

Ah, a late late late Saturday night…or wait, it’s actually Sunday morning, in all technical terms according to the clock on the computer here.  Whatever, I am still awake from Saturday…so I consider it late Saturday night, because that’s just what I do…I make up my own fucking rules.  It’s my life, my rules.  

I had a migraine headache from HELL today.  Right behind my eyeballs, and it hurt like the dickens.  Do dickens hurt?  What the hell ARE dickens?  Ends of dicks?  Hmmm…I’m in one of those very weird moods in my head, silly, contemplative and happy.  🙂  Happy sometimes makes me sorta silly.  And Silly definitely always makes me happy.  Yep, hand in hand they go, skipping across the river, good ole Silly and Happy…LMAO…ah to be silly happy is a good thing – at least it is in my world at the moment.  Just dropping the serious side for a while and being completely free to be happy – and silly!!!

Today is my little chiweenie dog, Nola’s, fourth birthday!!! Yes, 4 years old she is!  It’s amazing that I can remember her birthday but not that of PEOPLE in my life sometimes!  She’s been with me since she was 7 weeks old, remember, I found her in New Orleans, Louisianna, in a cardboard box marked “Free Puppy” on July 31, 2008.  The woman who owned her had the parents and had a litter of 4, she was the last one left…just hanging out in that ratty old box waiting for me to show up to bring her home.  At least that is what I believe she was waiting for!!!  Thankfully it was a mere coincidence that Nola and I were brought together 4 years ago.  I was not intending to get a puppy, or a dog for that matter, it just happened – just like those things that are meant to truly BE in our lives do; they just HAPPEN and we open our eyes and our hearts and bring them home, because we know that we are in that moment to change our lives in some small (or large) way and bring those things that are meant to be home to our hearts; into our lives.  

NOLA = New Orleans LouisiAnna.  Born 6-10-08  Breed: ChiWeenie (50% Chihuahua, 50% Mini-Daschund) and PERFECT.  Temperment: Diva Femme, does not care for children or cis-men.  (LOL, it’s true)  Physique:  13 lbs of joy.  Nice shape, not fat, very soft and cuddly!  Devotions:  ME  🙂  and her best dog friend “Moose” or Moofasah as we affectionately call him…a 140 lb chocolate labrador retriever!  

Ah, it’s 2:30 am and I need to get my tired, semi-sick ass into the warm, snuggly bed with Nola.  Wishing someone ELSE was there too!  🙂  But I am patiently waiting for that, and it’s waaay worth it!  😀  More tomorrow morning perhaps!!! 

This is so awesome! Jesse hit it right on the nose with this blog.

Butch Ramblings

There comes a time in our lives where, if we are lucky, we question ourselves; question our own motives and our reasons for existence. This doesn’t mean that we are jaded, and if we we think of ourselves in such a way then maybe it is actually a good thing? If we don’t question these things, then I would humbly suggest that we are not truly living. Knowing one’s place in the world is perhaps one of the greatest mysteries of life, yet it probably doesn’t have to be.

Perhaps it is from the wisdom of age that I have come to realize that life is not an appointment, nor is it a goal? Life is not an “achievement” or any one specific event. Life is a process of learning that is ever continuous and evolving. There is no perfect life, for perfection is subjective. What is right for one may…

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An excellent blog about Butch passing and visibility. I can relate very much to all of the points made here.

Buzz Cuts and Bustiers

Bren: Hey Maddie! Wanna hear about a funny thing that happened to me the other day?
Maddie: ONLY IF IT WAS ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM. Sorry, kidding! Go.
Bren: Heh! It was actually at Dunkies (what us cool New Englanders call Dunkin Donuts). I was in line, but it was a slightly unorganized line and it wasn’t clear who was next. The lady behind me said to the cashier, “He was next.” I was standing there for like a full minute before I realized she meant me!
Maddie: MISTAKEN GENDER IDENTITY! What did you do, Bren?
Bren: Um, well, I ordered my frozen hot chocolate, paid for it, and left.
Maddie: Are there feelings involved? Were there feelings involved?
Bren: Well, I mean, it’s not exactly uncommon for me to be mistaken for a dude. I get “Sir’ed” with some frequency.
Maddie: Well, do you ever correct…

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