…Happy Belated Butch Appreciation Day!
Damn, I’m so glad Genevieve blogged on Butch Appreciation Day, since I totally dropped the ball on that one. I didn’t realize it was Butch Appreciation Day until like 11:00 at night. I joked to Lisa that I needed an emergency bow tie:
Haha I’m so clever right. No, but really, in honor of Butch Appreciation Day, I’m going to share with you all a little thing I found. I picked up Kate Bornstein’s fun book, My Gender Workbook, from my school library, and while reading it I stumbled on this:
It’s a bit hard to read, but the image shows a table with three columns: “My Identity,” “What I Should Be Attracting,” and “What I Am Attracting.” Whoever had the book before me filled in two rows of the table. The first says, “My Identity: butch,” “What I Should Be Attracting: femme lesbians,” and “What I Am Attracting: everyone.” The second reads “My Identity: fat,” “What I Should Be Attracting: no one,” and “What I Am Attracting: everyone.”
Reading it gave me a warm giddy feeling in my chest. The person who’d filled in that table (who I’ll assume is a butch woman, but who may not be exactly that) was discovering something that took me a long time to figure out: butch women are desirable. Hell, we’re even hot.
For a long time, we hear the opposite. Our family members sometimes ask us why we don’t wear clothes that fit, or why we cut all our hair off. A popular theme for Maury episodes for a while was “I Just Want My Little Girl Back!” where teary, distressed parents (almost always mothers) brought their masculine daughters in for complete makeovers. The daughters would awkwardly step out from backstage in makeup, dresses, and heels as the audience cheered and Maury asked “Now, don’t you feel much more comfortable?” Took me a while to realize how fucked up that was…
I also have a secret pastime of making myself angry at people on the internet. One of my favorite ways to do this is to read ignorant posts from dudes on Reddit. Every so often, someone asks the classic “Yo, why do some lesbians date girls who look like men? Why not just date a man?”
But then I found (and appeared three times on) the ever-delightful Butches With Cute Animals. And hopefully someday I can get myself on the equally delightful Butches And Babies. You see, I have discovered that people who love or admire butch women are The Best People. I think it’s because they get to walk around all day with a spring in their step, as though they have discovered some delicious secret. Indeed, maybe they have. They see (and really really dig) the curves hiding underneath the starched-collar, button-down shirt or the hips sneaking in below the cargo pants and boxer briefs. I like the way Carol A. Queen says it in Dagger: On Butch Women: ”Where political dykes would don a baggy flannel shirt and think, ‘Nobody will sexually objectify me if I wear this,’ the butches were there tucking their shirts in, knowing that some little gal would love the softness of the flannel under her hands as she ran them up over the butch’s pecs.”
Butch is powerful because it fuses masculinity with femininity, toughness with sensitivity, rough with soft. When I hear people who love butches talk about why, they almost always say what they love the most are our feminine parts. Those are the parts that get assumed away by strangers on the street but emerge in more intimate company, for those Exceptional People who appreciate us. Being butch for me means I can carry your luggage up three flights of stairs, but I trust you not to laugh too hard at me when I scream at the big spider on the floor when I get to the top. It means roughhousing with my three-year-old niece one minute and reading books to her the next. It means ironing your nice dress before I take you out and buy you dinner. Because being butch (or femme, for that matter) isn’t prescriptive, I get to pick whichever gender roles I want and throw out the rest, or make up new ones altogether. And isn’t that more fun?
So to everyone who appreciates me and my fellow butches, thanks. You can bet I appreciate you back just as much. Happy Butch Appreciation Day!