Day 19 – Butch or Femme?

Butch. As. Fuck.

And because the term is open to interpretation, I shall bore you with an explanation.

I was born with a vagina and still have it and am very fond of it. That’s not a dig at trans people. We live in a foolish society with rigid rules and so I could be medically diagnosed (!) as gender non-conforming and politically as a transgressor … and it’s all rubbish really and simply shouldn’t matter one bit. But we (we humans) are by and large, slaves to things like media and religion and others’ opinions. Tsk.

So here we have this rather lovely old term, “butch,” which people tend to apply to masculine looking women, especially if they’re lesbians – and I am both of those things. As I have said ad nauseam, I only adopted the term myself in my thirties, because of all those negative connotations – butch dykes tend to be seen as portly and badly dressed (and I am neither). I was described as androgynous and then later, soft butch. Over the years I had a think about the portly, badly dressed, mannish dykes who are out there, spearheading visibility, but getting reviled by their own community. It’s bullshit, isn’t it? I started to identify very publicly as butch. I will admit to being far more solid around the middle than I was in my younger days, but I’m still not badly dressed.

I’m instantly read as a dyke, sometimes read as male and I honestly don’t give much of a shit about how people see me – although I am certainly vain enough to enjoy the fact that anybody bothered to look. I get comments sometimes – sometimes they’re directly abusive and sometimes merely fuckwitted.

“So you’re the man in the relationship.”

No. I’m the woman wearing men’s clothing, mostly. My voice happens to be deep, I loathe make-up and can rarely be arsed shaving my legs. My sex is female and has no bearing on my choice of clothes etc. My gender can be a simple or complex as you care to make it. Butch, as they say (them with the beeeg words) is my gender performance. A few minor adjustments to society, however, and I and everyone else would give even less of a shit.

FFS … if butch equalled male and femme equalled female, I guess most of my body parts would be femme and constantly starting uprisings about the way the rest of me is. So ja, I’m butch – by appearance and stubborn politics.

“You dress that way because you want to be a man.”

No. You wouldn’t believe the fun I have as a woman … the orgasms, the orgasms!

“Why can’t you be more feminine?”

Because I don’t wanna.

*no femmes were harmed in the making of this blog post.

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About ulla

queer. antisocial. verbose. View all posts by ulla

17 responses to “Day 19 – Butch or Femme?

  • the.writer.says

    Butch, femme…
    just labels.
    we are all women – we have a fuckin’ vajayjay for crying outloud!
    ;)

  • Leslie

    I have yet to come up with an explanation to identify myself. Sometimes it stresses me out, and then I realize it shouldn’t.
    I like your confidence and possession of butch.

  • Harrison T.B.

    I very much like this explanation! Particularly your acknowledgement that you COULD be diagnosed as gender non-conforming but you don’t seek out that diagnosis. I think that speaks a lot to “butch” as being, in part, self-determined, which jives with my own understanding of it.

    I particularly like that you took on the word “butch” as not being something to be scared of. That is part of my own reason for identifying as butch, even though – sometimes – the social chatter around the word gets me down sometimes.

  • Moominboy

    We only have labels because our brain has to desperately make sense of the complicated world around us. You are a human being, is all :)

  • Peachy Keen

    people like labels so that they (we) know what to assume about you ahead of time. i join them since i couldn’t beat them. and although i could never be “butch” (i LOOOOVE pink, & glitter, & makeup, & all things sparkly), i have always admired a woman who can say, “fuck you. i like pants.”

    “I will admit to being far more solid around the middle than I was in my younger days, but I’m still not badly dressed.” – HILARIOUS!

    “although I am certainly vain enough to enjoy the fact that anybody bothered to look.” – HILARIOUS!!

    “sometimes merely fuckwitted.” – HILARIOUS!!!… & getting used!

  • me

    Thanks :)

    Labels, as I keep on saying (tediously) are as useful as they’re inhibiting … A bunch of cans of food with no labels would be scary. Labels also help us identify each other and ourselves..and get laid :D

  • LadyLuck

    “You dress that way because you want to be a man.”

    “No. You wouldn’t believe the fun I have as a woman … the orgasms, the orgasms!”

    Howled.

  • Girl From The North

    Like your thinking

  • Aloe Legal

    No femmes were harmed in the making of this post lol

  • Victoria Oldham

    Nicely said.

    My partner has the same issues with the butch label you do, but there’s no question that she identifies as butch. So, she’s taken on the labe of metro-sexual butch. Well dressed and not stout. :)

    It takes courage to be the person you want to be–whether that is butch, femme, something in between, or just “you.” And courage rocks.
    v

  • me

    I love Kate Clinton’s “stylish butch” too – but *lolz* because I’ve used metrosexual butch in the distance past too – only, these days it’s problematic. Even my Armani looks like sk8wear nowadays, doll… So I guess it’s butch+disclaimer. I’m permanently terrified that perhaps a kid I know might want to understand me, google “butch” and … Well they wouldn’t even get the horrors of lack-of-style, I’d more likely find myself forced to have discussions about pomo bdsm or something. *cringe*

  • Victoria Oldham

    ” I’d more likely find myself forced to have discussions about pomo bdsm or something. *cringe* ”

    LMAO. Entirely possible. So, the more pages like yours that exist when googled, showing that butch doesnt neccessarily mean stained wife beaters with food laden jeans while wielding a horse whip, is the way forward. :)

  • me

    Hmmmm.. Nouveau-old-skool-butch renaissance. Hmmm. Mmm. Good one. *ponder* *stroke chin thoughtfully* *brew fresh pot of maniacal laughter* *dominate wor… Oh wait that’s another agenda.

  • Victoria Oldham

    LOL I’m all for a renaissance, but the maniacal laughter should probably be left out, if only for the moment…

  • Winter

    I have a different take on the ‘badly-dressed’ thing. If the consumerist standard that worth and identity come purely from possessions, especially clothing, didn’t have a stranglehold on us, no one would give a shit if you had a freshly dry cleaned armani suit or some ripped up, stained cargoes.

    @thewritersays:
    Having a vagina does not make one a woman.

    • ulla

      for me, it’s as much about feeling good as it is about being deluded that i look good. in a v real way … like … i can’t cope with stuff that isn’t comfortable, cotton etc.

      and ja, the vagina defines the sex, but certainly not the gender.

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