Butch Visibility in a Man’s World

I was doing a very normal thing this morning: taking out my trash. I was casually dressed in sweats, a t-shirt because I was outside getting a few things done; and a ball cap because it was sunny outside. As I get to the trash can at the end of my driveway, a truck pulls up and a guy yells out, “Hey Buddy!” I told him I wasn’t his buddy and asked him what he wanted. He got upset, mumbled something about how he wanted to ask me something and that he didn’t know what he did to me but whatever. I ignored him and went back into my house.

Was I a little harsh? Maybe. A lot of people, and I mean a LOT of people judge me based on my clothing, how I walk and stand, how short my hair is, my ball cap, etc and they conclude within 2 seconds of seeing me that I am a man. I won’t lie, it is upsetting for us butches to be mistaken for men like that. It makes us feel invisible and it discounts the fact that we are women, which is something we still are no matter what we do or wear and we are proud of this fact. We are absolutely nothing like men, so to be mistaken for men shows us that the world did and does see us in the black and white of the patriarchal binary system.

Do you know what I didn’t do? I didn’t threaten to kill him or threaten him with rape for his mistake. I said a few words and wasn’t a polite timid woman apologizing to him for HIS mistake, but I didn’t do what so many men who pretend to be women do: I didn’t threaten, harass, or stalk him for mistaking me for a man.

As I said, we are completely different from men. We don’t think or act like men and we sure as hell don’t want to BE men. When people accuse us of this, it is either because they truly don’t understand what and who butches are or because they are trying to humiliate, discredit, and/or silence us.

Butches are at both the forefront and at the back of the LGB community. A butch was right there at Stonewall as one of the people who started the riots that sparked the LGB civil rights movement. Butches are highly visible, which leads to taunts, slurs hurled at us, beatings, rape, and death. We are antagonized for being butch women because we are not, according to society, the “right” kind of women.

At the same time as all of the above, we are also invisible. We are not represented in TV, movies, or other media. When we do happen to end up on TV, it is either as a caricature that is made fun of or we are expected to dress, act, and BE more feminine to please the general audience.

And then you have a group of individuals who are trying to erase butches from the planet completely. They are doing everything in their power to render us extinct. This group is comprised of 2 types of people: (1) the men who claim to be women and then further claim to be butches (see Tobi Hill-Miller, etc.); (2a) the women who feel the right course of action in this patriarchal binary system is to attempt to transition into men, but still call themselves butches (FtM or F2Tg); (2b) the women who are butches, but insist that they are also somehow male by labeling themselves “male-identified” butches.

These people make it almost impossible for young lesbians who are “different,” who are baby butches, but don’t know where they fit in this world to be ok with the women that they are. These young women are encouraged and even brainwashed into transitioning into something similar to men because they are taught that to be a different kind of woman is bad. They are taught that the binary is king and that they must choose: masculine = man and feminine = woman.

To be anything else, a masculine woman or a feminine man would be an abomination in these binary-loving people’s eyes. So they preach and they intimidate and they brainwash and they bully these young women (and sometimes even older women fall into this trap) into taking hormones, having healthy breasts cut off, having healthy uteri and ovaries removed, all in the name of patriarchy.

So we are disappearing. As we watch our sisters try to embrace all that is male in order to be more accepted by the patriarchy and as we watch more and more young women trying to transform their bodies into something more acceptable to this male-dominated society, butches are disappearing and being replaced by fakes who distort who we are.

Something has to be done soon about this trans epidemic or we will eventually end up with the total extinction of butches; and that would be a shame. Transwomen are already bastardizing the very idea of what and who a woman is by trying to claim the one thing men have never really owned: femaleness. We cannot allow women to continue to hurt themselves by trying to change their bodies and delude themselves into thinking that change will make society accept them.

There is a whole generation of wonderful butch voices that needs to be heard. There are butches still out here who could be role models to young lesbians, showing them that it is k do be different, it is ok to love your butch body, it is ok to be women who the patriarchy and this binary system of being will never accept.

Acknowledge our existence.

Acknowledge our experience.

Know there is a better way of being butch in this man’s world.

Advertisements

2 comments on “Butch Visibility in a Man’s World

  1. What you said about the ‘are you trying to be a man’ comments being an attempt to humiliate butch womyn really struck me. That’s exactly what it is: it’s “how dare you drop the trappings assigned you, how dare you not perform the fuckability mandates, how dare you even THINK you can get away from being the rapeable class, how dare you dress in a way that makes me not want to fuck you.” It drives in the idea that women exist for men and that butch women deserve to be questioned, insulated and indeed humiliated into submission. But submission is exactly what being butch denies. I’m farther from being a man/male-identified as a butch than I EVER was as someone who performed femininity. Powerful post, thank you.

  2. BigBooButch says:

    Thanks very much for your comment. I look forward to hearing more of your thoughts in the future.

Drop me a line

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s