2014 So Far…and Stone? Butch…

Boots
Boots

2014 is coming into it’s last couple of months, and I am reflecting on the months of this year that are now behind me.  It’s been actually a really great year for me.  I can’t complain, I won’t complain.  I have had some pretty awesome things happen and have been pleased with this year in general.  Compared to the previous two years this one has been a virtual cake walk.  Now, it hasn’t all been roses by any means.  I’ve had a couple of tough situations sprinkled in among the good stuff too.  I think that those challenging situations make the positive stuff look even that much more appealing.

I have had to curtail one pretty close friendship this year.  Someone who was in my life for 6-7 years and who taught me a lot about myself over the times that we shared  I had to end the friendship because it just wasn’t healthy for either of us.  She wanted more than friendship, and I wanted more of a casual friendship and less of a closer friendship….see we were definitely not on that same page in our lives. I have a lot of respect for her and always have wished her the very best.  I don’t know if she reads me anymore, but if she does I know that she’ll agree that our taking different paths now is for the very best for both of us.

I had a serious year of personal growth.  As I look, back over blogs and records of 2014 I can see the changes pretty vividly in my own mind.  I came into 2014 with that gusto that says “THIS is going to be MY year” and I tried not to lose sight of that vision.  There were times that I stumbled, woke up and forgot to be grateful, or forgot to be mindful of the moment.  I think it’s natural to have a few of those.  I know that I had more days where I did embrace and follow a more relaxing routine that I worked on developing over the last couple of years.  A year like I have had doesn’t just happen I don’t believe, you have to be willing and able to make it happen for yourself.  I came into the year much more willing and with a truthful mindfulness of what I wanted out of it.  The mistakes I made were inevitably part of the process of growing and learning, no matter how painful or irritating those moments were, they were meant to be part of the deal.  I came into the year with a blah hand of cards to begin with, but I tossed them all back and pulled a fresh hand to work with, so to speak.  That was the best move I made.  To let go of what I could not control; to accept and recognize that there would be things beyond my control that I would have to just let be.

I engaged in really cool conversations with my American friend who lives abroad, who I shall now call Mushy.  She has showed me what things could look like if I wanted them.  Everything I had been wanting in the way of a romantic partner – or thought that I wanted – seemed to not really fit with what I actually needed in reality.  Through a series of deep questions, which led to some very deep contemplation on my part, I started to see the err in my desires.  It’s actually kind of hard to explain, but there was this big sort of s “shift” inside of me that I think really needed to happen, no matter what.  When I was confronted with these questions and asked to really think about my answers I started to find that my old pattern of thinking wasn’t lining up with my answers very well at all.  I thought that I had a certain “type” of woman that would make me happy in love, and in a relationship.  And after some back and forth I came to some very real and eye-opening revelations about myself.  I had been thinking one way, but internally desiring quite another.

I wrote about the changing of my “type” of woman a few blogs ago.  The more I have thought about that the more appealing it is to me.  My woman has to be different than the typical type I have previously gone for.  She’s strong and she’s demanding – like me.  But she also is very loving and caring and makes me a priority.  She may be shy, but she’s also bold, and she’s okay with my taking charge, too.  She knows when to turn off the work clock and turn her attentions to me, to us; her and I.  She just needs me to help her relax away the stress from her job, she needs my touch to let her know she’s so much more than the job or her work persona.  She’ll want to relax into my arms and let me love her like she deserves to be loved.  And she will love me in return just as much.  Yeah…that will work.

There’s this pressure in the Butch-Femme community for Butches to only date Femmes…although some buck the trend, for the most part that’s the main body of the Butch-Femme dynamic.  Butches date only Femmes and visa verse’ especially “stone” Butches and “stone” Femmes . While I have always gone for the very Femme women, those diva types, then maybe the next step toward the middle.  On this scale of Butch/Femme I would date the 1’s and 2’s.  I fall myself around a 9.5…I’m stone, but I’m not unreachable.  This I have discovered about myself.  In some ways I am very stone, yet in others I am certainly not the stereotypical stone.  I know, it’s confusing.  Hell it confuses me sometimes!  I think that everyone is very individual.  While my definition of Butch may be slightly different from my buddy’s definition, the cores are very similar.

femmebutchchart

I have found that I am not as emotionally stunted as I previously thought I was – or maybe I even was..but I’m not now.  I’ve grown in that particular area quite a bit.  I can express emotion now much more freely than I could say 4 years ago…we change, we grow, and this has been part of my own personal growth for sure. I’ve become much more open with my feelings, less likely to just stuff them as I used to do.  I’m not afraid to speak my mind – even if it’s uncomfortable or makes me feel vulnerable – anymore.  I was told that I am very soft and gentle in actuality and as I sat back and thought about it and thought about the last 6 months of my life I can see where I have definitely come out of my shell emotionally.

Perhaps it’s got something to do with the people that I have associated with more these days.  I have had a good solid network of great friends and a couple of very special women in my life this year.  Most have all helped me to relax more and to be more trusting.  Yesterday I was told that I don’t have “Stone emotions”, that my fear of emotional exposure was more from being “screwed over” in the past….I had to think about this, and I have to say it’s pretty close to the truth.  I have always had this fear of my own emotions, I never cry…and if I do you’ll never see me do it.  I try very hard to keep my emotions in check so that I’m not wearing them on my sleeve, so to speak.  But it’s more about comfort level than it is about being stone Butch or not.  Even stone Butches have hearts and emotions, we were just under the impression that we had to hide them to appear more tough and stoic. I’m tired of appearing tough, or rough, or scary.  I’m weary from keeping emotions bottled up inside where not showing them somehow protects me from exposing my true self.  I’m a sap inside. I’m seeing that the only thing that stone represents truly to me is a sexual preference.

I think I am just going to start calling myself plain ‘ole Butch.  I can take up the stone sexuality part with my lover when necessary, and not worry about all the stereotypical crap anymore.  I don’t have to take on anything that I don’t want.  I’m definitely a masculine of center (MOC) Butch…on the exterior anyways, but on the interior I’m finding that I am a lot softer than I am stone.  It’s actually a little freeing just saying that out loud.  I never thought I’d see myself admitting that I am soft in any way…amazing.  Hell, I amaze even myself.  Now, you still won’t see me cry probably, and I am probably still going to say “fuck” a lot….and I’m not going to change anything, just going to drop the “stone” label because it just doesn’t feel right anymore.  I don’t need anything that makes me look or feel any harder-core than I already am.

I met someone recently who has been having a major impact on my life.  She’s quite the woman.  The past few weeks she’s helped me to see that there is no such thing as too busy; that I am and can be a priority.  She has a very high level, stressful and high pressure type of job…and yet she’s made time in her every day for me…several times a day!   Even when she’s schmoozing 400 people at one of her big events I get texts from her – just because. That makes me feel pretty damned special!  I’m pretty impressed to say the least.  She is not the typical type that I have fallen for in the past…she’s more on the scale of a 5  (reference graph above) I’d say. (hahaha) She’s got her head on really well, and she’s even taught this old dog some new stuff.  Especially about what I deserve and what I should or should not accept from others, and I am sure I have more to learn from her.  Anyways,  I have mad respect for her, and a big fat crush on her too.  Or maybe it’s on her cat…they’re both pretty damned adorable!  Either way, I want to continue to get to know her, and have her get to know me.  There’s no rush here, and we have so much more to learn together I am sure. I love how comfortable she makes me in talking – that’s something really kind of new to me this year – talking and learning about someone a lot more than I’ve been interested in doing in the past.  The pure emotional connection we are making is pretty amazing.  And I love that she wants to talk to me all the time, and that she’s even apologetic when she has to go to work or to go work out even…and she doesn’t have to be apologizing for any of that, but she does…and it’s impressive to know that she cares enough to be that way with me; that she makes me a priority.  That’s something she’s taught me – not to take less than being a priority.

So that’s the synopsis to date for 2014…interesting fucking year it has been.  I know I am skipping some things, right now I am not quite sure how to put an ending on certain stuff.

Rock on.  ~MB

 

Advertisements

B-F Question…Hardest Blog I EVER wrote!

This could be the most difficult blog I have ever undertaken!  I know, right up front, that I will probably get a lot of backlash for this. The topic is VERY difficult to write about without using stereotypes and words that we don’t necessarily “like” to use, but in order to write it I could not find a way NOT to resort to using the stereotypes.  I hope you will read first, and understand I am really trying to explain MY concept of answering this often-asked question. I am not intending to insult or disrespect ANYONE in any way, shape or form.  And I have tried to very delicately explain that this is just MY take on this topic, and is NOT the rule, may not be agreeable to anyone else. I am being very basic here, believe me we ALL KNOW there’s more to it than these basics, but for the sake of writing this piece I think I have to keep it to the old basic “stereotypes” for better understanding by a wider audience, please allow me a little lee-way here!  I would LOVE to see others write about this question and how they would answer it that is different from my thoughts below.  

The last post where i posed the question about Femme-Butch dynamics and the question about “why are Femme lesbians attracted to Butch lesbians, why not just date a man?” has spurred some very interesting and varying comments and input from my readers and Youtube audience. I love it! I like hear other peoples’ opinions and what they might say in return to the same question, opposed to what I would say myself.  It’s always great to get different perspectives and angles on any subject that interests me. 

I am going to boil down my answer to the question.  

My simple answer is “Well, they are both Lesbians, and lesbians are women who are attracted and have intimate, sexual relationships with other women.”

Now the particulars are in the pudding of the question.  The “asker” (if asked seriously by someone who truly doesn’t understand the Butch-Femme relationship dynamic and is truly curious for an answer. For sake of argument imagine someone close to you, who you love and respect asking you this question in all seriousness) sees two women, one very feminine, “girly” looking, and one very masculine, rougher, “boyish” looking.  He/she wonders “why would a woman would want to be with another woman who LOOKS like a man, why not just be with a man if that’s what you like”.  It may sound screwed up to us inside the equation; those in the LGBTQ community, and especially those of us who live the Butch-Femme dynamic daily.  But let’s just look at what the “asker” is seeing and why the question isn’t always so “stupid” when asked seriously and with respect.

The “asker” sees the Butch as more of a “man” than as the woman that she truly is. Maybe it is her clothing, perhaps haircut, rougher hands, short nails, and the way she is read as very male much of the time. Maybe it’s the way she talks, the way she carries herself, that Butch swagger, the tattoos, or the steel toe boots.  Whatever the “asker” sees that leads them to wonder what woman would be attracted to a woman of Butch identity,  

This can and does confuse those who are not part of the LGBTQ community, (and even some who ARE part of our community).  What the “asker” doesn’t see are her soft heart, her compassion, her personality, the fact that she IS a woman, has female body parts and has experienced life as a woman – a Butch woman.  

The Femme she is dating embodies all of the more “Feminine” aspects of being female. She presents to the world much the same way that most non-Butch women present, as purely woman.  She may look “straight” (The old, “oh you can’t be a lesbian, you are too pretty!” scenario), may wear make up and have a well coiffed hairdo, long painted nails and wear much more colorful and stylish clothing.  

Femmes love the masculine energy of a Butch woman.  They love that she IS a woman, and that she is rough and tumble on the outside, but has a heart of gold, is caring, compassionate, tender, vulnerable to only her, and understands her in ways no other does.

As A Butch myself, I love the Feminine energy of a Femme woman. I love that she likes to look her best, not just for me, but every day when she step out that door. I love that she cries on my shoulder during sappy movies, the way her soft, smooth hand fits so good inside of my rough one.  I love the smell of her hair, she chose that scented shampoo just because she knew I would like it – and I would TELL her so.  I love that she gets honery, stomps her heels and would fight off the whole population of the women’s rest room just so I could piss in peace.  Yes, I could go on, but it’s those opposing forces that drive us as Butches and Femmes into each other’s arms.  It’s my need for Femme energy and her need for my Butch energy in the end that brings us together as a unit.

So in the end my basic answer to a serious asker, is that Femmes are attracted to the attributes of masculinity that are embodied by a Butch WOMAN.  It’s the fact that she IS a woman that is appealing in her masculinity. It’s the way she has her own style and way of carrying masculinity that particular way that she does.  It’s about 2 women loving one another, and their preference is for the more opposite of what they are themselves, because that energy appeals to them; speaks to their soul.   

Side notes:  Of course we all know that in the end relationships come down to personality and how well the two participants get along.  Over our life times our tastes go through a range of changes, morphing into new phases and new likes/dislikes along the way.  My example is me….In my 20’s I was very much looking at the prettiest girls, the “10’s” as we used to call them. I was into how a woman looked, I was young, eager and maybe a bit shallow.  At 30 I matured. Who cares about a few extra pounds anyway?  I began to date women who made me laugh, who I enjoyed the company of and who were not just arm candy.  I fell in love with a wonderful, intelligent, witty, cute and sexy woman that I would not have given a second look to at 25!  She captured my heart and soul for 14 years…At 50 I am now interested in people; yes mostly very Femme women are my preference.  But they have to be intelligent, have a great sense of humor, be tolerant, caring, compassionate, and a dozen other things that I never thought about back in the days of hunting the 10’s.  I see the inside goods as well as the wrapping, and I am most interested in a combination of the two – a woman who likes to look her best, and is smart as a whip!  (she can even OWN a whip! lol).  I don’t think about sex first anymore, I think about what we each have to offer the other in ways of partnership, companionship and THEN sex!  🙂  

 

Femmes 

The Scorn of Labels, Identifiers and Belonging

(I have about had it with being scorned for identifying as Butch….dammit. ~ MainelyButch)

“It isn’t an elapsed time since birth, sometimes, but the elapsed-time-since-rebirth since one’s heart and, not incidentally, loins make themselves known” (S. Bear Bergman, “Butch is a Noun” Arsenal Pulp Press, 2010)

I hear the words all the time “we are all just lesbians, with tits and vaginas and we like other lesbians, we don’t need and shouldn’t use labels”.  It is an oft repeated and misused cry of not belonging; of not knowing where one belongs or how one identifies.  Maybe it is shield used as a defense, as a place to hide and think that they are not judged or seen as anything but just lesbian or gay.  They claim to walk a line of indifference, not aligning with any one group.  But when you ask who they are they will tell you perhaps “Irish, English and Hispanic” or any other ethnic or cultural background.  Why they are afraid to also find an identifying place under the vast LGBT umbrella, I do not know or understand.  I don’t understand them not identifying with something as much as they claim not to understand my identifying as Butch.  I am sure the topic will continue to be debated and chewed apart at every opportunity, so here is my take on the topic .

There are some in the LGBT community that speak harshly about the labels and identifiers that others of us use in our choice of vocabulary. They rebuke the use of any labels, claiming it sets us back and divides us somehow, and I deny no one their own opinions at all.  Noteably,  I have noticed this especially true of the Butch, Stud, and Femme identifiers.  Somehow others feel, or seem to feel, threatened by the words themselves.  Do they stir up images unkind to the mind of those who do not understand them? Is it that not understanding our worlds as they are known to us and us alone that frightens them somehow; that makes them want to take away our words for ourselves?  Do they see it as some attempt to make them identify too?

I hear the often verbalized words,  “labels, I don’t identify with any label” and “labels are for soup cans” – which is true because the label helps you choose your favorite kind of soup, as our identifiers help us find those and find those which we favor in flavor.  Without those soup can labels you may be wind up eating cream of mushroom, when you really wanted tomato and basil.   Those soup can labels have a vital purpose, to delineate our choices; as do our chosen labels and identifications.  It’s good to know when another identifies such as I do, to know we have a comraderie and that we possibly have similar thought patterns and likes or dislikes.  It gives me and others a place of belonging, where we can openly be the style of whatever label best fits us, and gives us guidance to be the best we can be.

Butch – Femme has given a rich, rich contribution to LGBT history.  There is no actual handbook on Butch-Femme contributions, no handbook of how or why we choose this lifestyle.  (*although there are many good reads which I will list after this piece)  Many say we are mimicking the heterosexual norms.  But I say that we all live by examples absorbed from childhood experiences and life knowledge.  My role models were a very solid heterosexual set of parents, my mother embodying the strength and fortitude of a strong Femme – something I now seek in my own partners. And my father the epitomy of masculinity, strong and true gritted, someone I emulated and strove to be like all my life.  I knew from a young age that I was lesbian, and that I was decidedly Butch.  There was never ever a question in my mind.  Yes, I knew I was/am female, with a female body and all the appropriate birth parts, but my mind was something different than other female minds.  My mind was influenced by higher testosterone levels as a natural occurrence, as well as being surrounded by high levels of testosterone based people such as my father.  I am sure the combination has much to do with who I am as a Butch today.  I know it has much to do with how I treat a woman – in the absolute best and most respectful ways possible, coveting her femininity and softness as something I want desperately in my life – but beside me, not inside me.

You can scorn my use of the Butch identifier all day long.  I shrug it off because I know you do not really understand – either me or the word itself.  It’s simply due to that understanding that you feel you need to rebuff my attempts to belong to my own group.  You may not know where you belong, you may fell trapped in limbo and wish you could figure yourself out as I have done with myself.  Perhaps it’s that you envy my guts for having the fortitude and foresight to really know who I am and where I fall in the binary scale of feminine and masculine.  My clarity is palpable, and this scares many.  For without fear they would not scorn.  Scorn itself is quite simply born of fear and not knowing.  It is natural to fear the unknown, the unthinkable and the different.

 Perhaps one day they will allow themselves to find their own people, to identify as someone who is part of a group, whether that is simply the human group, or a specified group, race, creed, heritage, kind of group, they belong somewhere, and others no right to deny anyone else of belonging, of identifying and of living as they choose to live.

As a stone butch I cannot identify with the straight up lesbian label.  It does not fit me.  My ideas of relationships with other women, sex and being are not the same as someone who is middle of the road, sort of what I call the granola lesbian.  She may feel neither feminine nor masculine.  She just likes women; is into same sex relationships and is happy to just be herself, however that manifests for her.  Personally, I tried to identify with that variance for many years, actually to the point of doing much unnecessary and deep emotional harm to myself in the process.  Because it was not and is not how I am wired.  I am wired hard Butch.  The masculine wire in my brain is much thicker, more of a pipe than a wire, than the thin thread of femininity.

Yes, I am woman.  I shall never deny that fact.  I was born a girl.  I have girl parts.  I do not see them in the same way as others much of the time.  The feminine feels uncomfortable and wrong for me personally.  Yes, I toy with gender, I allow my own natural masculinity to shine through, I do not stifle it  or tone it down one iota.  As I will not be or try to be anyone that I am not.  I am who I feel inside that I am, and I am proud to be Butch.  Proud to recognize my Butch-ness and let it control me and continue to make me exactly as intended.  No, I did not learn Butch from anyone.  I did not learn masculinity, but I did emulate and strive to be the good parts of masculine. The one difference between men and Butches is just that, we can inhabit the masculine in ways that are comfortable, not forced. Men may be made, a virtual fact of nature, but Butches are born, absorbing that which is right for each of them personally and leaving the crap right on the floor – the macho attitude, the underlying tilt toward more internal anger, violence and anything remotely negative about being wired as a biological man. 

So, in wrapping this up, I stand firmly in my Butch boots.  I cannot explain to someone who just doesn’t get it that this IS just me, this IS who I am and no one has any right – or reason – to question that or to challenge it in any form.  All I can hope is that with time and experience that every person finds who they really are inside and allows themselves to freely recognize that, to revel in it as I do and to be the happiest they can be by being just who they are in life.

I harbor no ill feelings towards those who rebuff my gender, my sexuality or my identification.  I do not always agree with their styles or choice either, but I keep mum generally and  I only ask for them to learn tolerance, respect and to live and let live, as I do with them in mutual respect.  I will not force my labels upon them, and they hopefully will not force their opinions of labels on me.  It doesn’t matter anyways, I am just Butch. And this Butch is strong, resilient and knows who she is at her core.

 

Related reading/reference:

“Butch is a Noun” 2006, 2010 by S. Bear Bergman, Arsenal Pulp Press

“Missed Her” 2010, stories by Ivan E. Coyote, Arsenal Pulp Press

“Dagger”  1994 by Cleis Press Inc.  Edited by Lily Burana, Roxxie, Linnea Duc

“Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme” edited by Ivan E. Coyote and Zena Sharman, Arsenal Pulp Press, 2011

“Nobody Passes: Rejecting the Rules of Gender and Conformity” 2006 edited by Matt Bernstein Sycamore, aka Mattilda, Seal Press

“Butch/Femme: New Considerations of the Way We Want to Go” 2002 Edited by Michelle Gibson, Deborah T Meem….co published simultaneously as “Journal of Lesbian Studies” Vol. 6 Number 2. Harrington Park Press

“Butch/Femme: Inside Lesbian Gender” 1998 edited by Sally R. Munt, Cassell, London/Washington