Everyone who views the posts on my blog now and then should have noticed that I like butch fashion and butch style. I frequently post pictures of butches in summer, winter, autumn style or home made combinations of styles. I post pictures of big butches, thinner butches, butches of color, white butches, old butches, young butches and yet to post: butches with disabilities. I love our variety and although some lesbians would say that butches look all alike and heterosexuals think we all look like men, we are as varied as the clouds in the sky. What we have in common is that we are defying genderroles, we transgress the binary, we battle with their beauty norms, we make people uneasy by what we are. Because for most of them it always comes down to what you are: man or woman. Right? So we, in the way we dress, cut our hair, hold our body, walk, talk, drink a beer, lift weights in the gym, drive our bike, flirt with femmes or fudges or other butches, we definitely confuse the world, we make people angry and sometimes even violent towards us, all just because we choose not to fit in. So when I see other butches I feel this immediate connection. I know in real life I probably wouldn’t even like all of them, but that doesn’t matter, it’s the recognition of the other one’s struggle that makes me feel connected to them.
I’m convinced that butch has to do with an inner thing, as I described in my post Labels are not for cans (2) I identify as a butch and that means I’m not conforming to the gender performance society prescribed for me as a woman. I can see in my society that this is confusing for many people. A certain kind of genderbending is allowed: the” androgynous malnourished sultry #youlookveryshanetoday ” look (quote by Mary Lyn Bernard) is shown all over the internet.
Tomboys and androgynous women maybe look like they don’t fit neatly in their genderrole , but nobody would ask them if they are transgender, as happens to me quite often. They are still seen and recognized as women and that way they don’t pose a threat to our binary system. Since skinny is extremely popular among white heterosexual and lesbian mainstream public, tomboys and androgynous women are thé thing in the media.
I remember an article I read on Qwear about butch versus tomboy style, that had some interesting opinions. I personally agreed with this one from A.D. who said: ” The way I understand dominant definitions of tomboi/y style are highly influenced by race; for me, “tomboy style” should be renamed “skinny white FAAB tumblr queer masculine of center fashion” AKA the cuties of tumblr AKA everyone who gets reblogged AKA not me. However, butch/stud style are less race-specific, at least in the way I understand the fashion specificities”.
There are lots of interesting articles on the internet about the differences between butch and androgynous/tomboy. Autostraddle posted this article about Rachel Maddows and butchness and the homophobic way society deals with female masculinity. (2010 but a great article still!) . I don’t mind that there are lots of lesbian women who prefer skinny androgyny over a masculine butch. I dó mind that a lot of lesbian women are conforming themselves to heterosexist beautynorms and heteronormative patriarchal views on sex and gender. It makes the gap between butches (and radical femmes too) and ‘normal’ lesbians bigger. When being gay or lesbian is seen as more normal in a society, the pressure within these communities on non-conforming ones is getting bigger. If you look in a gay magazine, you can see that femininity within the gay community is not very popular. As a man, you have to be muscled and powerful and tough. You don’t want to be called a faggot. The same goes for lesbians. Lesbian magazines are filled with long-haired thin women. Even if they are wearing a suit, still visibly female. No hairy legs in sight.
I’m not afraid the identity butch will totally disappear. It will change, as it has changed already a lot since the original butch identity in the 50’s. I am worried though. There is nothing more dangerous then society’s sneaky ways of pressuring people into normality. I pray to the goddess we can keep our diversity and we won’t succumb to society’s standards on being female or male. We are butch dykes and we will always be here!