1. “But I mean, you aren’t like… BUTCH butch.”
When I was in college (AND in the closet), I took this amazing course in LGBT Literature. One of my classmates (who I affectionately refer to as the Big Dyke on Campus) did this tremendous presentation on the many different “sub-brands” (so to speak) of butch. This included anything from Stone Cold to Saturday Night Butch. Now, I think it can go without argument here that gender is pretty damn fluid. So, there are all sorts of places one can fall on the “butch” spectrum. I, for one, place myself somewhere more masculine than Kiyomi McCloskey, and more feminine than Zac Efron (though only slightly). One of my coworkers has even taken to calling me “gentle butch,” which I find utterly hilarious and adorable. What bothers me, though, is the sort of connotation that being “butch butch” is negative. Because it’s pretty clear that when straight people innocently tell me I’m not THAT butch, they’re implying that those who do fall further on the masculinity spectrum than I do are unattractive, undesirable deviants, as if they’re giving me some sort of backhanded compliment. That being said… what exactly is being “BUTCH butch?” Is one required to sport a flat top and not shave their legs? Because I haven’t shaved my legs since February, and they’re looking just one hair short of “BUTCH butch” if I do say so myself…
2. “So why do you want to be a man?”
Nothing… and I mean NOTHING… makes my blood boil more than this question. And the hardest part about it is that most of the people who ask it are well-meaning friends of mine who are just fucking clueless. Why do I want to be a man? I don’t. I really, honestly don’t. If I could teach everyone on earth one thing with this, it would be that GENDER IDENTITY IS NOT NECESSARILY RELEVANT HERE! I love and support my transgender brothers/sisters. But being butch is not the same as being transgender. I have always identified as female. That’s never been a question I’ve struggled with. I know it’s confusing… but wearing a tie to dinner doesn’t make me anymore of a man than wearing a Bruins hat makes me a hockey superstar (unfortunately… or else I’d always wear a Bruins hat…). The bottom line is, they’re just clothes. And underneath those clothes, I like my breasts (as long as they don’t get too big), and my hips (as long as they fit into my dude jeans). I cry A LOT. I’m usually the needy one in my relationships. And I love a good Nicholas Sparks movie.
As an aside… I imagine I speak for many other butches out there when I say I get extremely offended when anyone implies I have gender confusion because I like a good pair of boxer briefs. I dated a girl once who was so jaded by her ex’s transition, she accused me of wanting to do the same nearly constantly. The offensive part was the implication that I didn’t know myself. Apparently this is not a problem exclusive to straight people.
3. “So then why do you want to look like a man?”
I don’t. Or maybe I do? I don’t know. Why do you want to be a blonde? Or like to wear heels? I like what I like. I look better with short hair. And nothing makes me feel sexier than a nice suit. Also, I’d like to remind everyone that what we consider “men’s” and “women’s” clothing is just a fabrication (no pun intended) of the fashion institute. Look at skinny jeans. You can’t tell the men’s pants from the women’s these days. Why do I want to “look like a man?” Because I want to wear what looks good on me, and what doesn’t make me feel like I’ve stepped into some episode of the Twilight Zone where pink doesn’t make me look awkward.
4. “If I was a lesbian, I think I’d like more feminine girls.”
Well. Congratulations. Your input is crucial to the continuation of our species. But, alas, you are not a lesbian. So I ask you… how do you know what kind of girl you’d want to sleep with if you don’t like girls? And why does it seem that SO many bisexual women EXPLICITLY state that they are only attracted to femmes (don’t believe me, just check out OkCupid)? Listen… you like what you like. But don’t throw in your two cents about something you don’t know. And certainly don’t go out of your way to use this like a disclaimer, as if touching a girl with long hair and a huge rack makes you any less gay (guess what… is doesn’t).
5. “Well… who’s the man and who’s the woman?”
My grandfather asked this sweet, albeit incredibly insensitive question, when he first found out I was gay. Now, because he was 80, I cut him all the slack in the world. But for those of you born AFTER 1930, you have no excuse. And, in case no one’s done it yet, I’m here to educate you a little. Contrary to ABC, NBC, CBS, blah blah blah, not all lesbian couples are femme-femme. Not every Caleigh Torres wants an Arizona Robbins (although who wouldn’t? Seriously). Oh, and also, that “butch spectrum” I mentioned earlier? Ellen is like… way closer to the femme end than not. So here we have all modern media representing all lesbians as femme loving femmes. And in “real life” we have just about every ignorant person alive asking who the “man” is. The answer is neither are the man. I know. I know… this is going to be a stretch. And I realize the faux hawks and lack of makeup are throwing you for a loop. But regardless, we’re both still women. ALSO…ALSO ALSO ALSO… Here’s an interesting fact many people don’t realize… Not all butches like femmes! I know. Total mind fuck right? I’m a bad example, since I’m pretty much exclusively attracted to super femmie girl-next-door-Katie Holmes pre-Tom Cruise types. But not all butches are. Many butches are attracted to other more masculine women. I dated a butch woman once (for a whopping 2 months) and it didn’t pan out.. partly because she was a child, and partly because she just wasn’t my type. And I admit, I struggled at times with the image of two masculine women being together. But then I stopped giving a fuck. Because who really cares how the world see it after all of the victories we’ve already won together? My point is, no one is the man. And don’t be so quick to assume that anyone is even more masculine than the other. Lesbian relationships: typical gender stereotypes need not apply.