The passing of Leslie Feinberg has opened up whole new conversations surrounding Butch and Transmasculine identity.
I would like to share in parts of that conversation here and I think it’s appropriate that this blog is called Butch 2.0, it’s time to reinvent a new Butch, a 2015 Butch and it’s time to take back our identity, to wake up and for us to ban together and form a more cohesive union. It’s time to recogize the Femme in the Butch/Femme relationship, and not just focus on the Butch.
I reached to buy a new copy of Stone Butch Blues today online, and was astonished to find the cheapest copy on Barnes & Noble for a little over $67 usd for the reprint in paperback…so even the booksellers have realized the commodity of that book; the book that changed so many lives over the decades. A book about the 1960’s that resonates in 2014. I also found collector copies on eBay for over $269. usd which is ridiculous. I want the book again, but I’m not willing to pay scalper prices for it. I will wait.
So what does reinventing Butch look like in 2015 and beyond? What have we learned from everything to this point?
We talk about “Old Fashioned, Old School” Butches (and Femmes, but I shall focus on the Butch side for this piece). OFOS was a term coined by someone on one of the 90’s Butch-Femme social networking sites (perhaps, Butch-Femme.com? I am not sure) It meant that those who followed the OFOS “rules” would look, act and be like those Butches of yore. They were to be stone, tough, mean and commanding. Yet they knew how to “treat a lady” as it was said. Stone was a prerequisite it seemed, if you weren’t stone you couldn’t possibly be OFOS because they were ALL stone, meaning they all averted sexually intimate touch. (make a glossary)
I get asked a million questions about being Butch. I am lousy in verbal expression. I’m much better with written word, and the time to formulate my words. When I am put on the spot to answer an out of the blue sort of question I am often at a loss for the right words.
The world changes and so do we. Very few Butches today live truly as OFOS Butches, unless they are still of the age to recall such people, or if they are very well into the history of the Butch/Femme movement in lesbian history. The days of back door entries into the honkey tonks that would hide them, the cross dressing Butches that had to look like men to be safer in the world. Those who were beaten for not wearing at least 3 pieces of female clothing, those were the OFOS Butches of yore.
Today we have a new Butch. Once that’s more comfortable in Levi’s jeans, Timberland work boots and flannel shirts. Sunday or wedding dress up is a nicely taylored suit and tie. Haircuts are almost standardly crew in nature. Hoodie sweatshirts will work until the temperature drops below 30F, then we need to don that leather jacket or Carhardtt foremens coat. It’s the pretty typical look for the New England style Butch for sure. At least in my world. There are just certain things that are practical in life and a good Butch is one of them.
Oh there are variations…the cargo shorts and polo shirt with Nike’s types…younger, maybe a baseball hat on cocked to one side and a lip piercing….I’m young, cutting edge and ready to roll. That’s what that look says to me. They’re cute and I want them all for little brothers.
Then there are the super snappy dressers, who I can tell a mile away that they have very little common sense or experience. They may have experience with having it easy picking up women, but once the women figure out that they are more into themselves than anything or anyone else, they drop them pretty hot. I never wonder why they are single, it’s just obvious to me.
There is beginning to form a group of Butches that have had top surgery or a major top side reduction. This was a big topic in 2014. I had mine done in August. I know I got both good and bad feedback on that move..but did it does it make me any more or less Butch? Some say it does, some say it’s an afront to my female body, some say by doing it I want to be in transition to be a guy, and some say hey, it’s your body do what you want. Lots of us who are choosing this surgery are getting the same kind of feedback I am sure. There are entire hateful blogs and vlogs concerning how evil getting top surgery is. They’ll scare ya to death unless you understand the truth that it’s just cosmetic surgery and it’s up to the person who wants it, period. For me it was the best thing I ever did for myself. I was uncomfortable with my chest for years, and now I am completely comfortable. I love having my shirt off and it’s so comfortable to sleep half naked….yeah, it makes me much more happy and comfortable with my body in general.
I do hope that maybe we can have more conversation about this among more Butch bloggers. I’d really like to know other experiences and the such around top surgery.
CALL OUT!!!! I would like to know all of the very BEST in Butch and Trans-masculine writing on the web, blogs, vlogs, whatever and wherever. If you know of any please put them or links in the comments below or contact me directly. I am trying to work on compiling a really thorough list of excellent resource blogs and bloggers interested in community participation.
There are 316 million people living in the United States. It’s unbelievable that our freedom to make life choices is controlled by only 9 Supreme Court Justices.
A friend of mine posted this as his status on Facebook earlier today…it made me really think about what he was saying. Then I thought about it like, wait…only 5 Supreme Court Justices made the pro-life decision for Hobby Lobby yesterday…so we are being ruled by FIVE people in essence??? This infuriates me to no end.
Women have the right to reproductive choice and health in my opinion. Men have full insurance coverage for all of the erectile dysfunction products like Viagra that are on the market, we didn’t exclude 4 of them on the guys! So now SCOTUS has set this precedent that if you own a company and believe strongly in your religious beliefs, that that simple fact allows you to deny equality to your employees. That is just not right. You are then in essence forcing your religious beliefs on that employee, when her religion may be completely different from that of you as the employer. How did this even get to our Supreme Court? We had decisions in 1968 and 1986 that completely said that employers could not force their religion on their employees, yet here we are in 2014 doing exactly that! And this Supreme Court has seen fit to confer more and more power and privilege to the already powerful and privileged corporations, and take away the power of the American people to make their own adult decisions.
Our country is fragmented by skewed political beliefs. Half of us believe in equality, and the other half is jaded (again in my opinion) by the religious and political right that seems to command every corporation in America with some of the most archaic beliefs going. Corporations have more power than the people.
Our forefathers worried that this would happen. They worried and debated, what if a few powerful individuals and corporations seized control of the country’s politics and economy and ruled over the people; against the will of the people. Our Supreme Court was set up to stop things like this from happening. They were to weigh issues and look at things in the light of what is best, fair and equitable for the people of the United States. Yesterday they dropped that ball completely and ruled in favor of Corporate America, in favor of religious suppression and against all women in the USA.
Their decision will not only affect the women though, they may not realize that family planning and contraception affect the men involved as well. If he doesn’t want to wear a condom, or have a vasectomy (against most religious beliefs also, but still covered by insurance) then he is just as responsible as the woman involved in making sure she doesn’t become pregnant with a child they cannot or do not wish to care for, raise, nurture, support, and set off into this world one day. A decision to use contraception, for medical reasons or reasons of birth control should be up to the woman and her doctor. These medicines are not only approved by the FDA but the former assistant commisioner of the FDA, Susan Wood, said “…these medicines’s only connection with abortion is that they prevent the need for one.” although religious zealots see them as abortion pills, not as medicines used to prevent pregnancy.
(On a side note here please remember Hobby Lobby’s 401K plan still invests in manufacturers who make these medicines and companies that make and use drugs in medical abortions. What hypocrites!!!)
Yesterday women as a whole joined the LGBT community in it’s 2nd class citizenship here in the US. Women are no longer in charge of their own personal decisions in their own personal reproductive health, it’s now governed by a SCOTUS decision that will reach far and wide across America, affecting employment, insurance benefits, family planning, and equal treatment of women in all arenas. SCOTUS said basically if an employer has a religion and you work for them, you are working under the conditional religious belief of the employer. I ask, how can a “company” or “corporation” have an assigned religion if they are in the for-profit sector of the US economy??? Under this ruling corporations could cite (genuinely or disengenuously) “religious exemption” in refusing to serve gay clients, or denying health coverage to a multi-racial child of an employee…just for starters!
I wonder if stoning in the streets is the next protected religious ‘right’? Hell, if the company you work for believes that their religion condones death by stoning, then watch out…YOU could be next to go!
I am of the very firm belief in the separation of church and state. It pisses me off that even our money says “In God We Trust”. I believe that religion has no place in politics or in government. If you wish to live in a religious state, then ISIS is forming a new Caliphite in the middle east right now, run right over and join up! There you will be able to live under all of the religious oppression that you can handle – probably more than you can handle!
I don’t believe that anyone’s belief in God, Muhammad, Allah or whoever you worship has any place in making laws or governing people in any country. Religion should be protected, yes, your right to practice it and hold it dear should be a right that you have in your home, so long as you are not harming any other person or thing. The scriptures that guide each religious belief were written in another time, long long ago and many of the beliefs are out-dated and archaic in today’s world. Today we have things like equality, the right to life, the right to the pursuit of happiness, and the right to freedom of speech. All of which are against many Bibical writings. Especially if you are a woman.
Now I am no political pundit, nor am I overly religious or knowledgeable about Bibical lore, but I know the basics, and I know that religion and politics have no business being mixed…pardon the pun.
What we need here in the US is total equality of all citizens. Women, Men, no matter what color, shape, size, sexual orientation, gender presentation, or religious belief, we all need to be treated with full equality. You would think that we had that kind of freedom and equality here to listen to the gossip of the world. But let me assure you we do not. and yesterday’s Supreme Court decision is the prime example of how very screwed up we are as a country. We need a new government.
This is Nola enjoying her new “Big Joe” chair.
Flannel Files is a blog that I read regularly. In a post concerning her own personal metamorphosis she asks these questions…
“”What about you? Are you a moody butch or in a relationship with one? Are you still a work in progress or is your transformation complete?”
I certainly have been told that I am moody at times in my life. And I know this is true, because I take medications to keep my mood on an even keel; keep my depression at bay and to keep me happy enough to continually participate in life. Although my more somber moods tend to be less frequent nowadays, still I do have them.
Butches seem to get a bad rap for mood swings. Not saying we don’t have them or deserve a rap on the noggin occasionally, but when a Femme has moods we blame it on PMS conveniently, and when a Butch gets a bit growly it’ s like “wtf is wrong with you?” Personally, I live alone so it is not so much of an issue for me, but I do feel for my Butch brothers, ya’ll got it rough.
Ah, and our transformation. Yes, we can call it that, just don’t call it transition please. People are confused enough about us Butch figures. We come off rough and tough and then we get accused of wanting to “transition” to be male. No, that’s not the case with most of us. We are completely confused enough transforming to being just plain old Butch. It’s a lifetime fight; a lifetime transformation and a lifetime of learning to accept who we are and convince others to do the same.
I went from this gawky short kid who was trying to survive high school, and did by the skin of my teeth) into a slow transformation over the decades to the Butch that I am today. I’ve talked and written about several of the “episodes” that I’ve experienced along this journey; from the funny to the mundane. Even again today I had another ‘dressing room dilemma’ at Walmart. I wasn’t even binding, yet the lady directs me right into the guys dressing room. I shrugged my shoulders, grabbed the jeans I was trying on and headed in. She never saw me past my haircut evidently. Not saying the rest of me was any less Butch, but I wasn’t trying to ‘pass’ by any means.
I am not sure any of us as human beings ever are finished with our transformations in life. Every day that I wake up is a new challenge. Every day is a new learning experience or chance to learn if I open my eyes and see it. As I have gotten older, past that 45 mark I feel like I have definitely gotten more rooted in my ways; I’ve become a creature of beloved habit.
Now not all habits are bad. I have a habit of getting up every morning and slugging back 3 cups of the darkest roast, strongest coffee I can get, before I can even speak. The bad part is the couple of cigarettes that I inhale with the coffee. I also have a habit of wearing a white t-shirt under just about everything I wear – even my polo shirts. It’s just something I do, maybe from watching my father don a white t-shirt for years when I was young. Maybe just because I love the feel of the cotton against my skin. Some habits just stick with us over our lifetimes. Some come and go and if we are lucky don’t return ever.
My transformation from soft Butch to more Stone Butch came after my LTR of 14 years ended. It was then that I realized that I had been untrue to myself for a very long time. That I had been trying to be someone who I wasn’t. I tried to be softer for the woman I was with, not for myself. At heart I am Butch to the core. I live and breath a rough kind of deep masculinity only confined to a female body. It’s a masculinity that I was born with, that genetically I have always had – or so I feel personally. I have never known a day in this life that I did not feel Butch. And as I have said before, Butch to me is my gender.
Today I identify as a Butch. While some call me a Stone Butch, I never quite know if I can put that word with Butch or not. While I am a Butch lesbian I know that I have capacity for deep feelings and a softer side. I can be compassionate and caring even though maybe I don’t look the part. I understand my masculinity in a feminine way. I don’t take things for granted like a guy would, possibly because I feel that I have more to lose. And I don’t want to ever be considered misogynistic. I treat people with the same respect with which I wish to be treated.
I thank Flannel Files for the inspirational writing prompt! While I didn’t relate to the butterfly “metamorphosis” type of transformation, I think it was more like going from puppy-hood to being a big dog! What do you think?
From “The Daily Post” “
Tell us about the home where you lived when you were twelve. Which town, city, or country? Was it a house or an apartment? A boarding school or foster home?”
I was a rather lucky kid. I grew up in a rather complete family; Mom, Dad and two younger brothers, and two younger sisters – 7 of us total. We were lucky as kids, we had terrific parents and we weren’t abused or living with alcoholics -like many of my friends tell me of their childhoods. I had a pretty typical lower middle class childhood, living in a small rural town in southern Maine that hadn’t yet reached it’s hay-day of strip malls and outlet stores. My parents worked their asses off to support and raise us, and I thank them for the childhood they gave each of us.
At twelve, I was living on a beautiful rural road, with sparsely dispersed houses, in a very historic area of town. We lived in a huge old house, the first floor being over 300 years old, the second floor added in the 1940’s. At one time the place had been a large farm, complete with two large barns that each burned long before I was born. There were the remnants of ancient apple orchards, even a pear tree and lots and lots of grape vines gone wild. The property was up against land that had been left to the town, thus it was called the ‘town forest’ – tons of acreage of wilderness with trails, old dumps, old foundations and even a couple of very old grave yards…ooooo….that we as kids would think were haunted by the old sea captain buried in one of them.
Along one edge of the property, just over the line into the town forrest, was a swamp with a small stream that ran harder in the rainy season. We played in that swamp for hours and hours. We built crude bridges, caught frogs, tried fishing and manhandled turtles. My mother would buy us tall rubber boots for our excursions into the swamp land. I recall that we had a name for the swamp, but cannot recall what it was now…but it was a beloved place to play, get dirty, find adventure and live out fantasy life as sea captains of small boats we would try to build, or as army guys crawling through the swamp grass and muck in search of the ‘enemy’ neighborhood kids.
Toward the back of the property, behind the house was a small field where there were eight or ten old apple trees. These afforded us plenty of tree climbing to pick apples. Mom would make pies for us out of them. They were old Macintosh type apples. We would have “apple wars” throwing rotten ones at one another as we scurried for cover behind the piles of old stones used to build crude stonewalls along the border of the property between us and the town forest land. Farmers would build the old stone walls that are found throughout New England when they would clear land to plant. They really had nothing else to do with nor other way to dispose of the rocks and stones unearthed when plowing. So up went stonewalls to mark borders, pen cows and horses, and to keep out the villains. Our property had stonewalls on all three sides, and was fronted by the road on the fourth.
We had one neighboring house next to us, and one kind of diagonally across the street. Next door was the home of the two elderly people who sold my parents the home for under $8,000. back in 1972 – when I was 10 years old, and we had returned from living for a short time in New York. These two became our adoptive grandparents as we had none of our own grandparents living at that time. The only grandmother I had known had died when I was 10 just after we moved into that old house; the house that would be in our family for 44 years and would be the center of family activity all that time and would shelter a million memories.
Gram and Gramps were awesome as neighbors, and they especially were sweet on my youngest brother, who went there daily for homemade cookies and some hugs from Gram. One time Gramps even got out and rode the little guy’s bike around the driveway, which was quite comical! Old man on BMX bike, knees up to his chin…you get the picture I am sure! He had a big wide grin on his face too! Gram and Gramp were killed in a head-on collision on their way to camp one weekend when I was 20 and in the US Army in Germany, sadly. I’ve always missed them. They always said they would “go together” and by golly they did. Bless them.
To the left side of the property, as standing in the road looking at the house head-on, we would play baseball, kickball and football in the field there. Gramps usually kept it mowed, as his property bordered it along that side. He loved to see us set up our baseball diamond, even though we did break his garage window once with a baseball hit foul. I think it may still be broken today even. It’s a downhill slope on that side and we would roll down the hill, wrestle and play for hours there. A few years Mom and Dad tried growing vegetable gardens on that side. The deer and bunnies would come and mow down the rows nightly. But we did succeed with some stuff once Gramps showed us how to put down dried blood around the garden to keep out the critters. Evidently they think of death and dying when they smell dried blood and avoid the area. It worked and we did have a nice crop of corn one year.
So, when I was 12 living there at the homestead I was just coming into my more rebellious years. But I was generally a good kid. I loved to read. I would find hiding places on the property, a flat stone at the far corner along the stonewall where I would lay and read. The lilac bush out front would get so huge that you had paths and tunnels through the center. It was near to the road along the front left corner, and there was a rock cliff that fell off to the road below; the lilac grew right on that cliff. I spent hours laying at the top of that cliff reading Nancy Drew mysteries, Harriet the Spy, and anything else that I could relate to.
Around this time I found a book on the roadside one day, a porn book…which piqued my interest but had to be hidden like crazy! I had a place in the old tin garage where I hid it, a platform up in the rafters where I could climb up and be out of sight to read the really nasty stuff. Until someone told on me and I got caught…that ended my porn reading career until I was 18 and could get it myself! 🙂 Ah, what a memory!
At 12 I had a 2 year old brother who I just adored. I would spend a lot of time watching him for my hard working mother. She worked right up at the end of the road at a small motel where she started as a chambermaid and wound up as the general manager. We could ride our bikes the half a mile to Route 1 and be at her place of work should we need her for anything in an emergency. The summer of my 12th year we had chickens, as I recall. Mom has always loved her chickens and fresh eggs. We would sell the eggs to locals who would drive into our broken pavement driveway looking for them. Our coops were clean and the chickens happy. We had one that would always get beat up in the pen, so she ran loose on the property and we named her Henny Penny. (The sky is falling….) She was friendly. And in the fall when the chickens all became chicken dinners (and I cried on the cliff with my cat squeezed tight in my arms) somehow Henny Penny was no where to be found on that day. She reappeared the next morning as if nothing had changed. Eventually Henny went to a retirement farm to live out her days. Dad just could not do the beheading of such a sneaky chicken – after all she had survived the carnage, she must have been a blessed chicken.
Back then, 1974, you could leave your 12 year olds in charge of your other kids and they would all survive. Sure, bloody noses and cuts from fights happened and you held the victim down until they agreed not to tell Mom and Dad that you caused the injury! Kids fell out of tree forts, crashed their bikes without helmets, and stayed out til dark, but it was a much safer time and we didn’t have video games, colored TV or social media to occupy our brains. We had the outdoors and our imaginations. We had tree forts that we built with our young hands and Dad’s leftover wood and good nails. We held each other down and made each other drink lemon juice or hot sauce, just for fun. We had rope swings that we almost killed ourselves on at times. There were neighborhood BB gun wars, single pump only! And the occasional lawn dart in the head did happen, but you survived. You learned to swim whether you liked it or not, Mom’s rule. You took a bath on Sunday night, whether you needed one or not. And Walt Disney never dreamed of showing you Myley Cyrus! Yes, it was a different time, and much more fun in my opinion, I would not trade then for now ever!
At 12 I was also discovering who I was as a person, and knew I had secrets that I could never talk about with anybody. I was about to go into 7th grade. Kids were starting to have little boyfriends and girlfriends. I was mortified by the mere thought that I would have to be some boy’s girlfriend at some point. I never knew at that time that there was an alternative for me. That would come years later, long after a fun childhood of skipping rocks on the local beaches, and building sandcastles with my baby brother. And that would come just a short year after I would take him to the races in my 1973 Dodge Dart, and teach him to jungle pee because I didn’t want him in the porta-potties at the race track. I had plenty of time for my future self, I was too busy being a fun, countrified kid from Maine who loved lobsters, clams, sunrises over the Atlantic, Seapoint Beach and my awesome family.
The smoldering fire, white hot, rages
In my gut, my heart, my loins
I crave to take you there
To places only you dream
On days that end in Y
Your why is never questioned
You obey, you submit, you come
To me, willingly, softly, fiercely
In my mind, in my fingertips
Playing across your moist skin
Weaving through your thick hair
Finding places to seek and hide
For things unspoken yet necessary
To bring us to that precipice
That edge of abandonment
Sweat and heat of deepest desire
Passionate, biting and searing
Courses though my expanded veins
Rhythm beating in my heart, in my heat
Ravaging; ripping through your love
As my hand finds its way
To cover your scream, hold you down
Not yet my needy lover, for only
When I say you can will you
To me in the midnights hours
With visions of torment, satisfaction, release
Sighs of relief and exhaustion
Red-hot fire is streaming through my body