There is so much seemingly new “talk” around the web and in our social circles about labels and identities as of late. Or at least I am personally noticing a trend in this area. I’ve noticed growing conversation about what it “means” to be Butch, Trans, Femme, Dyke, etc. I’ve seen cartoon mock ups of the types of lesbians that we notice in the world now (world:bloggosphere). I’m going to try to find that recent cartoon article and attach it here. It lays out like 10 different “types” of lesbians that one encounters any given Sunday … or is that Saturday night? ha. From the Power Lesbian in the business suit with a cell phone duct taped to her right ear, to the ubber Femme pillow princess type who own’s stock in Cover Girl. I’ve seen so many of these sort of articles and the such about lesbian identity … and gender variances as well.
I know that my experience of Butch is not the only way that one experiences it, that my interpetation is only one drop in a giant bucket of lesbian-ness in the world.
I remember the day when it was bad enough to be known as “queer”; when the word “lesbian” was something you read in the dictionary and came from some Greek mythology class. No one used the word, it was almost like it was avoided intentionally – and it WAS. Now what I am noticing is actually called Identity Politics. suddenly there is sort of this political essence to our labels, some even have social status, and cultural prerequisites. We’ve divided, yet not conquered.
I’ve written about labels several other times in my blogging days, and it seems to be a recurring theme, with an ever changing landscape of views. My own views and opinions have changed slightly in some respects, and have swung wildly in others. I used to think that labels were necessary, and in some respects I believe they still are…but they’ve become very very complicated. It used to be the standard Butch/Femme, now it’s all sorts of variations of Butch and all sorts of mutations of Femme. It’s easy to be confused…and more likely than not one WILL be confused by these identity politics.
I read an article today that really got me to thinking. It was called “A Dispatch From the Shifting, Porous Border Between Butch and Trans” I found this piece particularly good, well written, well thought out and pretty darned informative. The lines between Butch and Trans are becoming more porous in my opinion. More than once I have blurred that thin line myself, and questioned my own identity. Still I come back to the facts of myself that Butch women are not men – as stated in the first line of the article. Yet so many people think still that Butch women want to be men…it is a bit aggravating to those of us who prescribe to the originality of Butch. It’s my identity, it’s who I am and it’s not that I want to be male, it’s just that I am a masculine woman. Can you imagine how straight Butch women must feel? Yes, there ARE straight Butches, believe it or not. I have a couple in my own extended family even, women that fuck up the gaydar pretty bad. Anyway the last thing that a straight Butch would want to be is a man. She wants men in a whole different way, in that straight girl kind of way. I have a cousin who would put a good Butch lesbian to shame, she can roll with the best, and she’s straight as they come. Even in her relationships she’s generally more masculine than her male partners! I love how she presents to the world, fearless and confident.
Another piece that I ran across lately, it was making the rounds on Facebook, so you may have seen this one, but it’s called “The Ornithology of the American Lesbian” A cartoon piece, it was kind of funny, yet almost insulting with it’s subtle undertones of sarcasm. It was fun to think about the labels in the guise of birds….It’s hard to describe what I am speaking about without you seeing the piece, so please check the link, and come back……I had someone ask me which bird they would be most closely associated with, but it was hard because they left (intentionally I am sure) a wide berth of perception with each. They’ve even dragged the lame old Shane from TV’s L-word into the fray…lame, lame..
None of us are born with a guidebook that provides explicit rules for thought and behavior that will enable us to navigate life successfully…..I think I read that somewhere else recently, and now that I return to finish writing this blog and posting it I forget where I read it. Damn, that guidebook would have helped out alot through the years had someone figured it out and written it!
I read again tonight another piece on gender identity and the politics of using the word “Queer”, it was by a German blogger that I follow, you have to translate the page and sometimes think about the sentences to make complete sense of it, but her writing is interesting and thought provoking for sure on the subject.
Anyway, thought I would bring these articles and this subject to the table here. I being of an older generation think we really need to be cautious about language and changing things too much so that we hit this zone of overkill with labels and words, and are always on alert for “offending” someone with a particular use of verbiage. I read another particularly good piece in Huffington Post just this evening on the use of the word woman in some connotations. I found that generationally there ARE big differences in how words are now being used, and with whom.