Tag Archives: homophobia

butch, identity & a little catchup-ketchup

So far the festive season is festering away … I’ve moved house, changed my psych meds … what a brilliant time of year to do it all eh? I’ve also landed a v cool editing contract. What I haven’t done, is hang out online and I ain’t here for long today.

First things first, I need to reblog the following:

Symposium #1: What is Butch? on Butch Lab:

… and I also need to mention that in the process, I stumbled upon Jolie’s very excellent turn of phrase, “identity geeks.” Not only is it uber-cool, it also applies to me like a comfortable pair of ripped and faded jeans. (The ones I wore to East London Pride this year).

So Google has banned ads for the book Queers in History, because of the ooooh-verboten word “queer.” That falls under the ‘sexual content’ no no, although the book is entirely about queer figures in history and in no way about sex. This brings me on to another of my favourite rants i.e. how very, very, incredibly fed up I am of my identity instantly being associated with sex. Sexuality is a far broader matter than the sex act, thankyouverymuch world.

Back to butch … OK, here I need to add the disclaimer, again, that I am in no way trying to diss anyone’s interpretation of it, simply define my own. You google butch, you find a lot of bdsm, masculinity (radical or otherwise) and … butch cock. I hate typing that phrase.

I am not a man, I don’t want to be a man. I don’t even want to be a woman the way most of society defines us, but I am a feminist and so “woman” is what I (re)claim. I’ve said a lot on this subject, so I shall move on …

BDSM. No. I see a whole bunch of bloggers who identify both as butch and as Buddhist also way into bdsm, on a very conscious and analysed level. I would simply like (as little as I like discussing my sex life publicly) to state that I am indeed butch and a (bad) buddhist, but I am not into bdsm – not one bit. And I (we!) have extraordinarily fabulous sex.

That is all.

Beyond butch. I read a cute FAQ which stated, amongst many other things, that the mental health of queers is far better if they are out and open about their identity. It struck me that this is in fact true for all of humankind. If you know who/what/where/why/how you are and stand with a measure of surefootedness on this planet of ours – you’re a pretty well-adjusted specimen. Perhaps, we just don’t know when to be satisfied and content, perhaps many of us (*points to self*) just keep on and on questioning until we’re convinced we can never be happy. But that is a whole other discussion and I am digressing fearsomely.

Being an identity geek, let me claim the following:

Human [it’s not under threat, so not too militant about it]

Woman

Feminist

Queer

Lesbian

Dyke

Butch

Gay

Geek

Bookworm

Editor

Writer

Thinker

PTSD person

Speculative fiction fan

Alt.indie music fan

That list could go on forever.

Ima stfu now *grin*


Butch Symposium, part the first.. Boxer Shorts & Bras

Call for submissions for bloggers & writers: The first Symposium (Sinclair Sexsmith)
I am planning to launch the new project’s monthly Symposium with the site’s launch on November 15th, and I need your help. I’m looking for writers who have something to say about butch identity, who are wiling to post their thoughts on their own blog (or email them in, if they don’t have a blog) and link back to the Symposium in exchange for the promotion within this project. Here’s the topic for the first Symposium:
Symposium #1, November 2010: What is butch? How do you define butch? What do you love about it? What does it mean to you?

I am a butch woman, a butch lesbian, a butch dyke – so my interpretation of butch stems directly from that. Beyond that though, butch is an adjective I use to describe the way I look, the way I walk. For me it’s about style, not gender. It’s the hipster jeans, the sneakers, the wallet chain, the watch, the heavy silver rings, the fact that I wear men’s clothing but refuse to accept masculinity and femininity as my gender labels. It’s my reclaiming of stuff that society says is just for boys and men. It’s liberation. It’s boxer shorts and bras.

A pause here to reassure sensitive folks that I am only speaking for myself and only about my own private perception and expression.

My masculine traits and appearance are seen as masculine, because that’s society’s definition, not mine. My voice is deep – so was Marlene Dietrich’s … er … OK so maybe she was butch. I walk loose-limbed like a man, not with the supposedly femme hip-sway. It’s just the way I walk, it’s comfortable and often it tells potential muggers that I am not afraid. It’s important for me to feel safe on the streets – my comfortable shoes, sneakers, boots are all practical in case I have to run.

Female and woman are terms I can claim for my sex, biologically. I don’t give much of a shit about gender – mine or anybody else’s. My sex matters a lot to my sexuality though.

What do I love about butch? Well, I’d look and be who and what I am whether there was a word to describe it or not, but the fact that the word “butch” exists has some lovely consequences. To quote that ole politically incorrect thing, “chicks dig it.” I’m a “type” for some women (yay!). “My handsome butch dyke,” she says and I fairly strut about like … something that struts about in a particularly pleased way. Ahem. It gives me cohorts too, a tribe, a family within my queer family. Women to talk about clothes with, for example. There’s solidarity when the world rejects me, when kids on streets mock me, when people mutter that clearly I really want to be a man. It also means, simply and profoundly, that I have given myself permission to dress how the hell I want, to be me.

The things I love about butch give butch meaning to me – but of course there are some negatives too. “What are you? A man or a fucking woman?” from some twelve year old on the streets of the UK. “Obviously you’re the man in the relationship,” from a friend in South Africa. Assumptions, insults, general fuckwittery. Times when people start to get violent about it … but then the courage needed to still be oneself adds such positive meaning to anyone’s life too, right?

Language is shorthand for thought. Butch is a proud, strong word. It doesn’t beat anyone else up, it’s just one of many, many aspects of who I am. And who I am is alright.

Loads more waffle and cartoons about butch.


Adding some Eastern Cape LGBTQ voices to the struggle ..

some members of a new activist organisation, incl yours truly. i need a haircut.

my butch friend, mfundi, from the Eastern Cape LGBT Forum. i LOVE this photograph, i’m very proud of it.

my my my gail! mine!

zama, my homo homie from nshongweni in kzn. also ECLGBT Forum.

leigh ann, serious transgender activist

dawn, from the Coalition of African Lesbians

the eastern cape’s the most impoverished, most marginalised province in south africa. there are challenges not only from the westernised version of hate and intolerance that we all know about, but from traditional practice too. sadly, southern african indigenous populations aren’t amongst those ethnic groups who tolerate us trannies and queers. so those are brave faces, not just beautiful ones. and we’re talking grassroots activism. and it’s so worthwhile i can’t even begin to describe just how crucial it is.

seriously.


teach your children well

don’t leave the bullying/intolerance issue to schools – it starts at birth.

tell your kid you’ll love it no matter what – and mean it.

promise to protect and defend your child.

do everything you can to promote your kid’s confidence (not arrogance).

victims get victimised.


how do you solve a problem like sex/gender?

“the milk and sugar are over there sir,” says the woman in the coffee shop.
“can you pull your car forward please mama?” says the guy at the petrol station.

(“mama” isn’t just saying that my gender’s been read as female, it’s also saying i’m old enough to be a mother)

those two interactions took place within minutes of each other and i responded the same to both i.e. i didn’t contribute anything gender-related at all. there were times in my twenties, when if a guy called me sir, i’d respond my calling him ma’am. deadpan, straight faced too. now? i just don’t care.

the queer community often feels fragmented to me. there’s a group wanting gender transcended, the demolition of the binary and the introduction of a fluid approach. and there are those who want to transition instead of transcend and those who just want their biological gender affirmed – those people tend to say that the binary is an irrelevant societal construct – but then they define it and cling to it. i’m not saying that’s wrong, i just don’t understand the logic.

and we all talk, think, shout about gender – but nothing much is said about sex. not sex the act, sex as in male/female. if sex is what you are biologically, frankly it needs challenging too. south africa has a higher-than-global rate of intersex births – are we going to keep forcing all those people to one end or the other of the binary? do we need no sex-categories, or a whole lot more? or just a sliding scale? surely caster semenya is merely the tip of the metaphorical iceberg? are society and its sports teams ever going to allow for more than the binary? or less, even?

why is humanity so very willing to accept new technology, but so fiercely averse to society’s own evolution?

my vote goes to defining the biological sex purely biologically – baby smith has a vagina. baby jones has a penis. baby cooper has a vagina and undescended testes. whatever – but without adding “male” or female” to it. then the babies could grow up, wear whatever the fuck they felt like – and get equal pay for whatever job they did. if the penises consistently beat the vaginas at running, they could create separate leagues, but then what about intersexed people? and the whole binary would probably happen all over again..but at least it would give some respite from gender inequality?

nope, i’ve just talked myself round in a complete circle of historical gender formation.

so what’s the answer?

this game was removed, but ffs …

… and these are the people who bothered to do something about it – major props for that.


dear queer, i love you ..

because illogical societal stigmas make families forget sometimes, that they love their children and parents and siblings and so on, we queers generally fear coming out, with a dread a lot of people don’t seem to appreciate. in fact, before the terror, it’s society that has caused the fact that we need to come out at all.

we shouldn’t have to.

but we do – or we lurk, fearful in closets not of our own construction.

i was very, extremely (a lot!) touched by a letter roxy wrote, from the viewpoint of the mother of a queer child. it shows a level of love and understanding and basic human compassion that actually, we should all be exercising. it’s the basis of most religions and the better philosophies and part of what allegedly raises us above animals ffs … that letter should get printed out and sent to the world.

now roxy ain’t the mother of a queer child, at least, not right now, i think her “weasels” are a little young to be deciding that. she is, however, both a queer and a mother. She has her own coming out journey and it’s an interesting one. (btw she and her genderqueer lover are happily polyamorous bdsm freaks, so if you go clicking around her blog indiscriminately, i won’t be responsible for any orgasms and/or conniptions you might enjoy/suffer). ;p

i don’t have a huge amount to say on this topic that hasn’t already been said … just … people manage to love murderers … please don’t draw the line at queers?

please.

[desmond tutu and his god have no issue with us, so why should you?]


playground genocide

[waiting for an appointment to arrive + this ensued]

victims don’t have to be inherently weak – they just need to be outnumbered. anybody and any group can potentially be victimised.

you start by noticing a difference between “them” and you, that you don’t like – because it makes you feel inferior perhaps, or superior. or a strange mix of both. and you begin by name calling – something catchy, something that’ll stick. and you gather like-minded people around you to join in …

applying logic rigorously here, you can see the connection between the birth of a prejudice and a possible result of massive genocide. so name-calling and gossip and forming little cliques are effective methods towards gaining some power. and power is a beautiful, ugly, wondrous, terrible and dangerous thing.

plenty of minorities wound up defined that way (and subsequently murdered) not because they were small and weak, but because they were doing rather well, stood out and the people around them got jealous and pissed off and it united them.

i am guilty, for instance, of being habitually snotty and dismissive of americans and of straight people. the former, because i live in africa and see things from that particular perspective and the latter because i am queer. it’s actually completely, unforgivably wrong though. crass generalisations pretty much always are. now, it’s easy for me to get away with it, because americans and hets are far too powerful to ever give a toss what i think. but what if i started picking on smaller enclaves in undefended positions?

apply logic rigorously. and then “do as you would be done by.”

ok, i’m done lecturing. for now.


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