I’ve had some interesting conversations lately, of course many sparked by my choice in recently having had top surgery, and then many sparked by posts and conversations regarding the Butch-Femme dynamics upon which my life seems to ride. One thing that I heard said recently was to the tune of “..what’s up with these people who join these B-F groups online then come out and say they don’t ‘label’ themselves as either?” This questioning statement, brought up by a Butch friend of mine, sort of stuck with me and I wondered about it for days now. I guess if I didn’t identify with something I wouldn’t join a group that is based upon those identities. I don’t join exclusively trans* groups as a result because I don’t quite identify as trans*…although I did get a message from a fellow blogger who identifies as “transmasculine Butch” and I thought that was a very close identity marker for myself as well. I’m definitely masculine and I’m undeniably Butch….thus you could identify me as a transmasculine Butch. But for sake of simplicity I will just stick with good ole’ Butch.
I do wonder about people who don’t use an identity word..it confuses me. Especially if I encounter them in a Butch-Femme circle anywhere. And when they start going on spouting about how they “don’t like labels” or the old cliche of “labels are for soup cans” and they are “just lesbians” or “just women who love women” I start to get pretty nauseated. What the hell is so hard about just understanding that those terms could describe any of us…but that we choose to use the words Butch and Femme as our identities, because for one we relate to them very intimately, and second that we recognize one another as such much more easily.
When I meet a woman who doesn’t identify as Femme (or Butch) and has just that sort of plain old lesbian vibe going on (for lack of better verbiage), well it’s just boring. Yes, I said it. Boring. I really don’t mean it as an insult, it’s just that I don’t understand the (what I see as) more boring vanilla style lesbian universe. It’s like they think that by identifying with a word, that may better describe the end of the lesbian spectrum they are on, is some kind of taboo. I think that the only taboo part of it is that they alienate those of us who do identify and who do live the B-F lifestyle. By saying that our way is nothing that “they” are intersested in being associated with….yet there they are attending our groups and events even though they don’t identify with us…how the fuck does that work in their heads anyways? I just don’t get it. If you don’t identify with us then why join our groups, attend our events or talk about our lifestyles? Go hang out with the wanna-be crowd
The Butch-Femme relationship is often referred to as ‘The Dance’. The words Butch and Femme are like Cowboy, Ballerina and Astronaut…you either are or you aren’t It’s not like a temperature, i.e. hot…warm…cold…frozen. They aren’t adjectives, they are just who we are to me. Again…Butch is a noun. And if you aren’t Butch or you aren’t Femme, then you can’t understand it. It’s just like there are people who dance…and there are Dancers…subtle, and yet so hard to explain.
One of the interesting things to note is that the lesbian community as a whole has often bashed and not accepted the Butch-Femme dynamic, many times being told flat out that we are not even really queer because we are perpetuating the stereotypes. Always being visibly Butch, I cannot hide in this queer world, nor do I even want to anymore. But yes there was a time when Butches couldn’t pass as straight and sometimes even passed as men in history; a time when we stayed silent and let our Femme counterparts do the talking and interacting with the outside world. I believe that for me personally, as I have become more comfortable in myself over the years that I have stopped doing this for the most part. But it’s a process, and with a history that is so fraught with lack of acceptance -not only from the straight community but also withing our own lesbian community – it’s easy to understand why so many of us Butches are used to stuffing our emotions or learn to become very emotionally vague.
Now, I know I am going to catch some flack for this post. But I hear this stuff all the time, and I wonder why no one outright just asks the question in a post on one of the groups, but they gripe privately – as someone did to me recently – about it. If you have something to say I say to say it and speak up!
On a sort of side note here…there’s also this new thing with the capitalization of these words..Butch and Femme. I have chosen to capitalize BOTH now because I realize that they are equally important in my world. Used to be that we used the lower case “f” in referring to Femmes, but in realizing that Femme can also be a gender identity I have decided in my world the word should be given full and equal status as when I capitalize Butch. I thought I would mention this as some may notice that I have made this change up recently. I’ve been reminded by some pretty awesome Femmes that they do see this as a gender identity. (I do think that the lower case f is sort of reminiscent of the Dominant/submissive (D/s) lifestyle and the capitalization corresponds with that style. I personally see D/s as more of sexual identities or more so roles that we may play. (Isn’t language grand?)
Everyone has their style. It’s all cool….I’m just going to keep mine as Stone Butch.