I’ll tell you a secret. I’ve always felt uncomfortable with the word “butch.” I had never been able to figure out why. It hadn’t made any sense to me, because I liked butches, liked them a lot. Since I couldn’t figure out why I felt that way, I had decided that it must have been some irrational love/hate thing or something, and kept on using that word when I wanted to talk about certain women. I even started this blog to talk about them. It’s sort of a handy word, or at least it was for me, because I’ve always felt that I had trouble making myself understood when I tried to describe or discuss the sort of women it refers to.
I was googling this evening and trying to find some information about these women, and using another, clunkier term that I don’t like, “non-feminine,” and in one of the search results I found this quote by Margaret from AROOO on a post by Undercover Punk:
I completely agree about “female masculinity,” Amy. Anything that makes “unfeminine” (ie, not submissive in behavior or dress) a MARKED form of femaleness is anti-radical-feminism. For me, the word “butch” does the same thing, and is built upon the same model of “feminine” (submissive in behavior or dress) as “normal female.”
…and that is a large part of what had been bothering me about the word all along. I don’t know why that was so difficult for me to figure out.
Another thing that bothers me is the use of the word as a distinguishing descriptor, i.e., these women are butch, as distinguished from womyn in general. Womyn who are referred to as butch aren’t different from womyn in general in any way that is notable (except to the patriarchy). They don’t have some special inherent characteristics that no other womyn have. They have simply rejected society’s role for womyn, and, on an intellectual level at least, any other woman in the world can do the same (although they may have more or less trouble living their lives in accordance with that).
So that’s it for me. No more rattling on and on about “butches.”
I recently had a womyn ask me what I meant when I used the word “queer” because I used it in a negative way, and she thought it simply referred to gay men and lesbians. This is a response to that.
It is true that some gay men and lesbians refer to themselves as queer, but self-identified queer people also include transsexual people, transgendered people, genderqueer people, people who are into BDSM, polyamorous people, cross-dressers, and people who are willing to have relationships with some or all of these people.
When I speak of the queer community, I am referring to the subset of these people who subscribe to certain bullshit ideologies. One of these is the ridiculous idea that people are whatever they say they are. This is why it is considered polite to play along when males say that they are female, females say that they are males (i.e., some trans people) and a genderqueer person says that they are male one day and female the next (I’m not making up this example). People who don’t play along are assumed to be ignorant and/or considered to be transphobic.
Another facet of the queer community is the support of body negativity. If you log in to a queer community and make a post about hating your body and wanting your breasts lopped of, people will not be horrified and exhort you to love yourself. The queer community is filled with so much body hatred and body-negativity that such feelings are commonly accepted as part of someone’s “identity.” Similarly afflicted women will sympathize, people will suggest you get a binder (a breast-flattening device that continues to be used despite its tendency to dislodge ribs
and constrict breathing), people will give you advice about getting the surgery (called top surgery). You don’t even have to say that you are trans aka “really” a man or give the by now standard narrative of being born in the wrong body. Even people (almost always women) who are not trans are jumping on the surgery bandwagon. No one asks why you dislike your body. Who cares? If that’s what you want, book a surgeon!
Part of the reason for the body-negativity is the heavy focus on androgyny in some queer subcommunities, particular the genderqueer community. The ideal androgynous body is generally closer to male than to female (not to mention being young, skinny and white), so genderqueer males don’t generally express the need to change the bodies, while genderqueer females want to loose weight, get rid of curves, and get rid of breasts.
One issue that particularly gets on my nerves is a serious misunderstanding or misuse of the concept of gender or gender identity. Whereas gender in everyday speech is sometimes used as a synonym for sex, and in the context of feminism, psychology, etc., is spoken of as gender roles, which society forces on individuals, certain queer people seem to think gender is some sort of choice about expressing themselves and/or how they want to be treated by society. Sometimes the phrase “gender identity” is used to express this idea, when in fact gender identity is a term used in the social sciences to refer to one’s awareness of the gender role one is expected to fill. In short, there is no choice about it. It is not some facet of someone’s being or personality or a choice of style, it is some made-up bullshit used to keep people in line, a tool of oppression. They are muddying this important issue with their self-indulgent nonsense.
Another “polite” convention in the queer community is that one does not question another’s identity, EVER. Identity in this sense is a relatively vague, amorphous mass of concepts that may include things such as how one feels about being male or female, the pronouns by which one wishes to be referred, the gender role one prefers to live in, and the style of dress and grooming one prefers (usually in terms of being stereotypically male, female, purposefully androgynous, etc.) The result of this is that people are not challenged when they build “identities” based on self-hatred, stereotypes, and maladaptive attempts to deal with the various pressures of heteronormative conformity. For example, I was reading what someone wrote about being an FTM a while back. She was talking about how she had hated to wear the Sunday school dresses her mother forced on her as a child. Obviously, this doesn’t have a goddamned thing to do with being a man except in this poor woman’s warped mind.
Questioning the morality of some dude
identifying with appropriating womanhood, the identity of an oppressed group (womyn) probably wouldn’t go over so well in many queer circles either. Of course, being primarily composed of white, American, middle- to upper-class liberals, many in the queer community will be right at home with appropriation. Thus the endless trotting out of the two-spirit phenomenon (an appropriated facet of a Native American culture) and the appropriation of the experience of the intersexed community (some trans people are convinced that they are afflicted with a sort of brain-based intersexuality, and some just want to lump as many people as possible under the queer umbrella) against the wishes of many intersexed people. And let’s not forget all the “transwomen” appropriating lesbianism on top of appropriating womanhood.
It should be obvious at this point that queer ideology butts up against womyn’s liberation in a million different ways. We can’t even agree on what a woman is. Feminists are trying to delineate a group (womyn) so that they can point and say, “this group is being treated like shit and something needs to be done about it.” Queer people are saying, “but these males (transwomen) are in that group, too!” They are so focused on validating the “identities” of a bunch of men that they can’t or won’t see the difference between throwing on a dress and wanting to be treated as a feminine person with being expected to be a fucktoy for men, a baby-making machine, a cute, submissive airhead, and generally oppressed as a female from birth onward. The misunderstanding of/glorification of gender, the body-negative preoccupation with surgery and hormones, the overlap with the pro-BDSM, pro-prostitution, pro-porn “sex positive” community, and the general unwillingness to analyze anything anyone does are other anti-feminist issues.
As for the BDSM community, I’m sure I don’t have to explain the problem with people who get off on beating the shit out of and/or psychologically dominating each other.
I could probably go on.