Identity Complexity

“How do we bridge who we become with who we were?”

“Remember who you wanted to be”  quoted from a bumper sticker I saw yesterday

“Language sets expectations”

I seem to be running into all of these one-liners that are basically alluding to identity and I find this very interesting.

I have also had some conversation surrounding identity and how we embody it, about the multiple pieces of a person and how they make up the whole.

Also, in writing about intersectionality it spurred me to think about all of the things that make up me; all of those pieces, and how they all fit together with each other.  It’s hard to figure out which piece goes in what order when you start listing all of those aspects of yourself out.  Like, what comes first, what is your first identity?  Of course we all know that it’s your sex.  When you are born they automatically declare “it’s a Girl!” or “it’s a Boy!” and God forbid they can’t figure THAT out, then all hell breaks loose I would imagine.

So if our first identity is our sex, whether we are male or female, then our second identity would be what color we are – am I right?  Those will be the first things noticed about you when you are first seen, what sex and what color.  So, I started life as a white girl.  Oh but wait, wee what I did there…I listed white first.  So is my color or my sex predominant?

I read a lot about “white privilege”, so I think that your color is the predominant first identity.  Even in common conversation we tend to go to color first, like “the black kitten” not “the kitten black”  Am I making sense?  I am thinking this through as I write…so bear with me here.

Identity, as we know, changes over the course of life.  That’s just how it works.  There are some things that don’t change, like your color/race.  But we do go from being “girl” to being a “woman” at a certain age, and we develop into people with various other identities to tack onto the ones we start with.  Once you decide your sexual preference, there’s that.  So, now I am a white woman lesbian.  Jesus, this can be super complicated.

At one time in my life I was a soldier.  And thus that was part of my identity.  Now I am a former soldier, or a veteran.  At one time I identified as a Republican (go figure, it’s true though) but now I identify as independent in political thinking, leaning toward Democrat. I now identify as a Butch lesbian, but remember there is no singular experience of an identity.  So my Butch will be different from your Butch, maybe subtly or maybe starkly, but it will definitely be different.  People are all different, no two are ever exactly alike.

There are identities in class and socio-economic status too.  I’ve always identified as middle class, grew up that way and have maintained that middle class socio-economic status – although some days I feel poor as fuck, I know I do have privilege as middle-class.

This all brings me back to line one of this blog: How do we bridge who we become with who we were?  We all build history in our lives.  Years ago I was a hard-core drug addict.  Today, while I still fight the demons of addiction, I am not what I was once upon a time by any means.  I have evolved, grown, learned and improved in that area of my life and identity.  I think back to when I identified as a more conservative Republican and what that was all about.  I was in the military, perhaps I was sort of brain washed by the military machine.  Today I am much more concerned with social justice and equality than I was back then.

So, there are all of these pieces of ourselves that come together neatly – or so we hope – to make up who we become; who we are today.  Who knows what new pieces will be added to make up who we will be tomorrow, or next week.  Good thing is that as human beings, with very complex brains, we do have the ability to make concerted efforts and to make choices, thus we do have influence on what happens with our decisions.

These are all the pieces of my identity that intersect to make me ME:  A white Butch lesbian woman, independent, Methodist, working-class, HIV+, recovering addict, American, introvert, avg. intelligence, physically disabled, outspoken, employed, mobile, compassionate, activist…hell, the list can go on I suppose.

Like I said, I’ve been thinking about all of this because of the word intersectionality.  So, I’ve been thinking about the way the world sees me.  Not how you or my family sees me but how I am seen statistically.  (But then it is interesting to wonder about how my closer contacts identify me, too.)

Then I think about how the word is used when speaking about oppression, domination and discrimination.  Of course, I am already considered a 2nd class citizen because of the mere fact that I am female.  Men want and do dominate our world unfortunately.  Women will always fight male domination and oppression, I do not foresee a time when that will not be a fact in my lifetime.

Just this last week it was a full panel of MEN that were gathered and deciding on women’s health issues during the Trumpcare debacle.  Not one woman on that panel or in that room!  THAT, my friends, is fucking oppression and male domination at it’s finest – or worst I should say.  Why is it that men think they can or should ever be deciding on women’s health/body issues?  Where do they get the idea that it is THEIR job or duty to tell women what to do with their own bodies, or what is/isn’t going to be covered by insurance.  Insurance covers Viagra, so equally it should cover contraceptives.  Fair is fair in my book.  But not in the “book of men” I suppose.  No man should ever be making a woman’s decision for her. Ever.  That panel should have been ALL WOMEN.

I will leave you with  a quick question, which of your identities expose you to the most oppression, domination or discrimination?  Drop me a quick comment below and let’s talk a little about this.  I’m very interested to know what you think.

Peace!  ~MB

 

 

 

 

 

Early Morning Rantings!

Once again I am awakened at 2am, just am not meant to sleep like a normal person should right now.  I wake up and I am just…up…no going back to sleep in the immediate future.

I had a really great conversation with a great woman that I have been talking to lately.  It wasn’t an easy chat at all, but it was good for both of us I believe.  I confided in her a good bit about my addiction history, and she didn’t go running away like a scared cat. Addiction is not an easy topic to navigate and I admire her for her inquisitiveness on the topic, as it is a big part of who I am and why I am.  I look forward to more conversations with her, about everything.  She is someone I very much want to keep in my life.  🙂

Today was a bit hectic, but seriously productive. I worked til 1pm and then got together with my best friend and went to do our Friday afternoon errands around town.  Every Friday we have a ritual of doing this.  It’s called living paycheck to paycheck.  We get paid, go out and pay our bills, do the shopping for our respective households and take care of whatever else needs doing in town.  It is a struggle sometimes, but I make it work somehow.  And I realize that there are millions of others who are making it work this way as well.  It’s not easy in today’s economy or job market to do it any other way – especially if you don’t have a college education to fall back on, which I don’t.  Sometimes it feels likeI am always trying to play catch up on things, but hey, that’s just how it is.  I do alright.

I visited Trader Joe’s grocery this afternoon, I love that place!  I actually requested an employment application when I was checking out, and the woman who checked me out told me it was a super great place to work.  Everyone in there seems pretty pleasant and happy to be there, so they must enjoy the job.  I love the diversity of people in the place, from old hippies, to housewives, to young dykes, it’s just a palate of different people. They must have a really good company equality policy.  I am going to research the company a bit just to be sure that I would be a good fit there.

I also visited Staples office supply store on my excursion about town.  I needed a ream of copy paper.  They had a really good deal on some excellent quality paper that I had to take advantage of!  That is another place I could picture myself working.  Although a bit more “stuffy” than Trader Joe’s eclectic atmosphere, it would be fun.  I was in the corporate business world for many years and used to frequent the place quite a bit for supplies for my company.  I imagine working with people who were doing the same thing would be right up my alley in skill sets. And being the techno nerd that I am, I can imagine I would probably reinvest in the company and that might not be a good idea!  I’d be buying stuff like crazy.

Meanwhile, in Trumpy-land the Twitterverse is running wild with Trumpy stuff.  This Russian connection thing is really getting out of hand, Jeff Sessions needs to resign and a full investigation needs to ensue.  It just has to happen to put this subject into some sort of understandable terms. I was Tweeting with a friend in Texas who is petrified right now.  Being our age and queer isn’t going to be an easy path under Trump as he keeps going along with ripping away our rights and equalities.  It’s also just plain scary as an American, not withstanding being a part of the LGBTQ community!   Everyone seems to feel the impending doom of being attacked in some way by all of the executive orders and wild things that Trump and his team are doing or proposing to do.  I know I’m fucking scared.

Living in Maine has some pretty unique advantages.  Where I live especially because geographically it’s a great spot.  Right between Boston Mass, and Portland Maine.  I can be at the beach in 5 minutes, in the White Mountains in less than an hour and to either of the two cities in about 45 minutes.  Geographically it’s fucking perfection.  Maine also has a good equality rating. I just read an article in the Bangor Daily News about Maine being at the top when it comes to gender equality.  We also have good protections for the LGBTQ citizens here too.  I am glad that I live in this type of state.  From personal experience I can say that there IS really good gender equality.  Maine women are a fierce and tough lot.  Especially those from “down” Maine, which is actually upstate Maine…it’s a Maine thing…those women are hardened by the lifestyle of living in a very rural state, where you have to be fairly tough to survive.  I live in the more populated area, it’s a bit easier to navigate life here, but my cousins are down Mainers’ and they are not to be messed with.  The women are equal to the men up there in so many ways, they do equal work and expect equal pay. And truth be known, I believe they run the whole fucking show!  I have a healthy respect for my down Maine women cousins. They take no prisoners.

I hope your weekend is a great one!  Signing off from southern Maine….Peace!  ~MB

 

Rules Don’t Apply: Being Butch

butch-name-tag

I am Butch.  A Butch who loves femme women in particular and a member of the Butch-femme community; a community that struggles in today’s politically correct sort of world.  We are more often than not, ostracized for “copy catting or aping” heteronormativity.  My partner is asked why she feels the “need” to be so feminine, and I am grilled about my “wanting to be a man” by those that just don’t understand the Butch-femme dynamics or lifestyle.

Within my own community I find people telling me I should just “transition and get over it” when that is the furthest thing from my mind.  They seem to think that I must “want” to be a guy, because I look and act in more masculine ways.  The truth is that I love being Butch.  I am not afraid of my female parts.  Since I have had chest surgery I am much more comfortable in this female based body.  Sure, I hated my boobs when I had them, but that didn’t mean I had to transition.  Many lesbians, like me, are uncomfortable with their breasts – even some that don’t identify as Butch!  I was just lucky enough to be able to do something about my upper body dysphoria and have the surgery I had wanted for all my life.  I am fine with my body now; I’m flat chested and happy.  I am fine with my masculine appearance and my butch ways.

See, the rules don’t apply to me.  I have chosen to live outside the definitive lines of the gender binary.  I don’t prescribe to much of anything that would label me a girl/woman/female person.  As well as I don’t identify as a male person.  I fall somewhere in the middle of that scale, a gray area where I embody the best of both worlds.  It’s a comfortable place for me, mentally and physically.  I lean hard toward the masculine end of the spectrum, by pure nature.  I was born this way; born Butch.   It’s the only place I fee comfortable, safe and seen.

I am pretty stereotypically Butch.  I dress like a guy, talk like a guy (thanks to the US Army and smoking I have a pretty deep and rough voice) and I embody most things masculine in nature.  I’ve even been told that I think like a dude.  I am not very emotional and I rarely cry….all things that people believe are stereo typical of most Butch women. That tough exterior and rough attitude everyone believes we have. I like to think that Butch is my actual gender, that I am neither man nor woman, but somewhere in between and we call that “Butch” in my world.  In my world Butch is a noun.

I am often mistaken for a guy.  I get called “sir” and “dude” all the time, and it doesn’t bother me.  It often makes me smile, like I have some sort of secret.  I wear my Butch like a scarlet letter, prominent and proud.  I walk the walk and talk the talk so to speak. And it embarrasses me when people who I am with will try to correct those who mis-gender me; somehow it’s easier for me to just shrug it off and laugh to myself. I get a kick out of it.

I feel bad for my friends who are femme lesbians.  They are so invisible. Usually being seen as “straight” all the time.  Only we see each other; we seem to recognize each other somehow.  I know that it must be hard for her when she’s told that she can’t be a lesbian because she’s too pretty, or she hears the dreaded “why do you date girls that look like guys, why not just date a guy instead?”  As Butches and femmes we hear these types of comments, or get these questions, quite often.   I’ve heard some brilliant answers to them over the years.  But it never ceases to amaze me when someone feels so emboldened as to ask such personal stuff.  And it’s always so disappointing to hear it from anyone who identifies with the LGBT community, that just feels like a true back-stab. You would think that they, if anyone, would understand that we are all unique and we all like different things; differing lifestyles and have various tastes.

So when I lace up my Chippewa work boots and tug on that worn old ball cap over my closely cropped crew cut hair, I definitely look the part that I gleefully embody:  Butch to the core.  And loving it. I blur the lines of the gender binary and I am comfortable in my own skin, being authentically who I am, and I never want to change that.

Peace.   ~MB

Great Books

I went to the local Barnes & Noble bookstore tonight to order Tomboy Survival Guide by Ivan E. Coyote and had the luck that the bookstore had been overrun by a local kids band that was playing Christmas carols on the platform of the magazine section. They had the place completely mobbed.  I did, however, manage to get the book ordered and should be getting a call from the store in a few days when it’s in for me to pick it up.  I’m looking forward to reading this new book by Ivan.  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of the other books written by Ivan and can’t say enough about them.

Most recently I read Stilettos & Steel by Jeri Estes, which was one of my all time favorite books!  It’s a Butch/femme romance and action book.  Set in the 60’s in San Franscisco complete with mob influence and seedy nightlife.  I found it to be a very easy and quick read.  Although it could have had a bit more sex, still it was really good and kept me quite interested from beginning to end.  The book is based on a true story and Jeri Estes really brings it!

I am always on the lookout for new books to read, especially about the LGBT culture and stories of living in our community.  I feel like they are becoming harder and harder to find as the internet takes over our visual fields and minds.  When was the last time you read a good book?  I mean really sat down and read it from front to back?  I know that before Stilettos & Steel it had been quite a while for me.  I pick up my daily reading now from my laptop, like most other people today.  I tend to look to people like Cleis Publishing – who publish a wide variety of  books from LGBT authors – for most of my reading list.

What is on your reading list?  Have you read any good books that you can recommend?

 

 

 

Butch Christmas Stuff


ITs common around this time of year to hear partners of Butches – usually in my experience our femme counterparts – ask what to get their badass Butch for Christmas. Of course if they are asking for something specific  or special then your job should be pretty easy.  You just have to figure out if it’s a one gift exchange or if you have in mind maybe an assortment of smaller gifts which will take her to open on Christmas morning and will be much more exciting and pleasing for about any Butch I know.  Maybe you just do stockings filled with little gifts and maybe some of their favorite candy.  Whatever you choose as your tradition is cool…but make dampened sure that your Butch partner is on that same page!  One thing that we tend to hate are surprises.  Don’t say you only want one gift and then present your Butch with several from you.  Because we do listen at this time of year.  We secretly want to please our girls and make the move us more.  So make sure that your Butch knows what you want too!  
Ok now I like the multiple present kind of Christmas if possible.  And I love just thoughtful small gifts.  I’d rather get things that I need and will use or wear rather than get something I won’t use and don’t really need or want.  

Here’s a suggestion list of small gifts you are sure to please just about any Butch with a at Christmas.  Of course this is just a list of things that I am ways happy to receive, but I am a typical Butch with typical masculine tastes. I like to get lots of little things that I use everyday. so here’s my list I think you’ll find it might be helpful in making your Butch happy this Christmas.

  • Pocket knives — every Butch lives a good pocket knife or 3.  
  • Ties and belts.– just be sure you know your Butch’s tastes in these kind of articles, like I like black belts with my black shoes and brown belts with my brown shoes. And I like my ties to be fairly thin. if you know your partner well then  you’ll know what she likes.
  • Good pens — we can never have too many good pens especially as writers. if you want to make it extra-special have her name engraved on it or a nickname.   Like I’d love to have a pen that said “mainelybutch”
  • Watch or bracelet — just remember don’t make it too girly we like thicker things, heavier things.  Rings are cool too.  Just make sure you know what type of metal to shop for. I E. Does she like gold or silver?
  • Her favorite cologne or aftershave.  Just make sure she hasn’t got a full bottle in back up.  We don’t wear much of this stuff and usually only on special occasions.
  • Good hair gel.  I recommend “Sebastian Liquid Steel”  It is awesome stuff and spikes up a crew cut like nobody’s business!
  • Small electronics like a wireless speaker or a nice set of wireless headphones.
  • Hobby gear.  If you are significant other likes to fish why not buy her a fishing license for this next season. you can generally get them at any sporting good store in your local area. If she likes video gaming then maybe the latest video game she’s been raving about would be the ticket.If she likes to ski for half the lift ticket for the two of you for a nice weekend would be a good present.  You get the idea you can pander to her interests. 
  • Then there is ways clothing that we need yearly to react the stained or worn out old stuff like new plain white t-shirts, boxer briefs, and good socks.  Personally I always like that stuff.
  • Good hard bottom slippers.  Just in case we have to run outside and chase the dog.early in the morning before we get our boots on.!
  • Gift certificates — to the barber shop, movies, bookstore, Sears (they have nice tools), sandwich shop, coffee shop, etc.  

So that’s my simple list of little things that will please just about any Butch on Christmas morning.  It’s really not that hard or expensive to make us smile.  

I hope this helps some of you as you go about your Christmas shopping.  And if you are Butch let me know what I missed here!  I’m sure this is,a list that can be expanded in many ways.   PEACE. ~MB

Thanksgiving and Politics

I am becoming more alarmed as the days tick by…soon enough Trump will be sworn in as POTUS and I fear that day.  He’s surrounding himself with white nationalists, known racists and Nazi sympathizers.  As I heard today ” they’ve gone from wearing white hoods to business suits.”.  Which is exactly what I am seeing.  Emboldened by their new “leader” these outspoken haters are poised to basically take over in January.  I am very concerned and worried about what this means for all Americans; for civil rights, women’s rights, the LGBTQ fight for equality as well as just for living in the US at all.  I’m seriously afraid that our country will be commandeered by the alt right and a truly hate filled agenda.  How can I not be afraid of this when every days events happening around Trump are so bluntly indicating that this is the direction that he is determined to take us?

My best friend is sick of hearing about it.  She says she’s tired of watching it on the news.  She’s a straight white woman in working class America who’s upbringing was southern based.  She obviously sees this a bit different from me. It upsets me that she feels so overwhelmed by it all that she wants to play ostrich and keep her head in the sand.  But she is entitled to think for herself and to do what’s best for her.  Personally I need to KNOW what is going on so that I am semi-prepared for what is to come.  I watch the news and various commentary to stay well informed.   Because I think it’s important to be well informed.

I am going to meet later today with a couple of people from the LGBTQ community who are trying to organize groups around the country of people to sort of gather, support each other, to speak out and to fight for what we believe in .  The idea is in its infancy but i believe it’s a great idea and want to be involved.  I hope we can build a community that transcends the brewing hatred and bigotry and becomes a force with a voice.

The holiday is on Thursday this week and I am — like many others out there — trying to plan my personal strategy for dealing with my family if politics comes up, which I am most certain it will.  There are Trump supporters in the mix and they know I am a liberal and hate the man.  If things go as they have in the past someone will start making little snide wise cracks about the “tree hugging liberals” and I will begin to silently fume.  I have tried to educate in the past to no avail.  I am preparing myself for what could be a very aggravating day.  My only hope would be if my Mom declares it a politics free zone…even then they will gloat.  I know other people will have it even more rough.  One woman on Facebook was saying her parents told her she could not park her car at their house with the HTC sticker on it on Thanks giving because they believe that sodomy is an abomination and they won’t have it at their house.  She’s an ally, and the parents are evangelical in nature.  Yup, it will be a hard day for many I am sure.

I hope that YOU have a wonderful holiday.  I’m going to try to make most of mine enjoyable by focusing on love and tolerance.  Are you going to be dining with people of opposite views this Thanksgiving?  How do you handle it if a controversial subject comes up?  Does your family try to understand your views?

Much thanks to you, my dear readers.  May the force be with you .  Peace.  –MB

Just a Bit…

I was just reminded tonight that I have not blogged in quite a while, so I should put something together here and let you all know that I am doing stupendously well!  things have really been turning around for me, I’m getting myself together and it feels great.

The weather helps a lot, it’s been like summer here for a couple of weeks now, in the 80’s and sunny almost every day.  Honestly, we could use some rain as everything is very dry and parched.  I have to water my plants almost every night. And my outside water spigot is not working, so I am having to bucket water from the house out to the gardens and water each plant by hand.  Pain in my ass.  But my gardens, both flower and veggetable, are looking pretty damned great if I do say so myself.  I’ve put in all of the flowers that I am going to do for this season, maybe in the fall I will add some bulbs for tulips and daffodils next spring.  But for this year all the perennials are in and doing quite well.  They’ll all come back next season and it will look even better as the whole garden comes together and matures.  I will try to add some recent photos of the flowers I am growing at the end of this blog.

Health wise I am doing awesome as well.  I’m over the scare and stuff from the beginning of the month.  Doctors all say that I am doing well, altough I have some more neurological blood testing to be done, some enzymes are off for some reason.  I don’t understand most of the medical mumbo-jumbo, but I can follow directions.  I am doing well with the relapse too, haven’t touched a thing since I ended up in the hospital.  I can look back now and see all those things that triggered it in the first place too.  I was on the phone with someone tonight and she reminded me of the stresses that I was under, which probably helped lead to my relapse.  Anyway, that’s behind me now, and it’s staying there for good!

The dogs are doing great.  My Dad bought them both matching rainbow collars at the local Strawberry Festival that we attended together with my Mother this last weekend.  I thought it was quite sweet of him to give them those collars, and it was his mild way of showing support for me as well.  Being a staunch Republican he and I don’t talk much about politics or anything about the LGBT issues.  I’d rather not get into that with him.

So at work things are going well.  But I am about tired of being called “sir” all the time.  Summer doesn’t help, I wear a t-shirt (company issued) and black jeans and boots to work every day. It’s obvious that I have a flat chest (as I like it) and I keep my hair in a crew cut….so perhaps some would say I am asking for it. Yes, I am very masculine and present as very androgynous.  But when you thank someone do you have to add “sir” or “m’am” to the end of it?  Can’t we keep things more neutral and just say “thanks”?  Today I counted….11 “sirs” – a couple of them I swear were in a sarcastic kind of way, which irks me to no end.

I have really been trying to be more social lately, going to the fairs and festivals, attending parties that I usually didn’t go to, and being more friendly and nice to people in general.  I feel the change in myself as well, I’m loosening up and it feels good.  I’ve even been making plans for the rest of the summer, little things here and there to make sure that I stay out and involved in life.

So, that’s what’s going on with me.  Just an update of sorts.  I hope that you are all doing well and are in the best of health and spirits —AND enjoying this lovely Spring/Summer!!!!    Peace!!!  ~MB