Tag Archives: lesbian

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.


butch is how i look..

 

the little book of butch - page three

about time i did another one of these … been too busy editing to draw much lately; in fact i drew this one a while back & forgot to scan it. as usual, i’ve been thinking and reading about butch a fair amount … i wish butch bloggers would update more! do they not know how hungry i am for their opinions and perceptions? *grin* seriously …

i’m still v much out of cyber-fashion, i think, continuing to reject the word “masculine” as part of my identity. i feel equally uncomfortable with “feminine.” i hold firm to my belief that gender should be liberated from society, the media and the fashion industry. visions of clothing stores filled with gently swaying racks, chanting “we are one.” i’m not saying it all needs to go unisex – i still need bras! but why are all of the other things i need labelled “men” when i don’t even need them to be marked “for humans?” ok, some clothes are cut for the presence or absence of protrusions in the chest and groin areas, but apart from that, it’s all just spin.

i don’t walk like a man – i walk like a human who’s so confident it feels the need to swagger – and no need to protect any of its genitalia.

so there.