Identity Politics

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.

6 thoughts on “Identity Politics

  1. I heard someone tell a church discipleship group that Butch is now under the Transgender Label. She perceives herself as being pretty well up there in the whois of the Trans Community. She tries to fit what everyone wants to see her as. Just my opinion. However I know much of t he Butch Lesbian Community are also Feminists and Separatists. Rest assured they see this as misogyny. The trouble is a few whois names say something is and nobody questions it.. I will be glad when we can all just be ourselves to ourselves and quit molding ourselves around what others think we should be. Start questioning some of these theories up against our own beliefs of what we see ourselves as and quit dictating what others should be. While we are at it, I finally have figured out how illusive this social media stuff can be. People sit there and spend their life scooping up the friends of others and build a large presence for themselves. Other people come along and give their narcissistic ass’ more credit than they truly have and believe they are the authority on everything and are the who’s who… The day I was in that discipleship it was all I could do not to say hey that is bullshit… I am beginning to question rhetoric for sure. How you doin’ Mainely Butch? BTW that person is on your friends list and at one time was on mine.


  2. And yes.. It is politics… It took me a long time to realize many under this gender thing are so not the authority they profess to be. In these ways I am beginning to see what someone we mutually do not care for was trying to say 4 or 5 years ago…


  3. Great Post!

    We agree that the labels thing has gotten a bit out of control. Yes, everyone should get to identify as they wish, and ask for others to call them by whatever words feel right to them – – AND it would be great if we could also all ease up on each other if/when we make mistakes, use a wrong pro-noun (especially if that pronoun is one of the many newish non-binary ones – it can be hard for some of us older folk to keep track of the many words and which of our fellow LGBTQ folks are going by which of the pronouns).

    Thanks, Mainely Butch, for an other interesting post.

    With Love to All, from
    The Femme half of the
    ButchFemmeListings Team


  4. BTW Mainely Butch.. I am not suggesting you have done anything wrong at all with your blogging. It is good to see people bring this more to light. I just get sick of those who come in acting like the authority to our LGBT youth who believe what these experts (on everything) are saying.. Blows me away…


  5. Everyone’s experience is unique, even if we share a lot of experiences and have a similar world view.
    No one has a copyright on the words gay, lesbian, butch, trans, transgender, or transmasculine. My version may look different from your version, but it is just as valid. I have used all of them, concurrently, and if it annoys or confuses some people, that is their problem, not mine.
    I put authenticity ahead of ideological purity; and will not bow down to sex, sexuality, or gender fascists.


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