Category Archives: queer

You know what’s totally awesome?

Making space for each other.  Making space for each other’s experiences, opinions, thoughts, and ideas.  I’m all for debate, and honestly, I’m usually the first person to speak up and let someone have it when I feel hurt, offended, angry, or frustrated. 

Right now, I am sick of the trans/butch border wars.  What are they?  Well, Halberstam wrote about the FTM/Butch border wars in Female Masculinity (a must read, in my opinion…I am excited to get my copy autographed when I see Halberstam speak at the U of M in a couple weeks).  I feel like the border wars are getting bad again, and I think that there is no simple answer except that we all deserve space and respect.  I don’t believe that anyone is to blame–but I do think that some folks treat masculinity like a limited resource, and I don’t beleive that it is.  I think that people have been getting frustrated and angry and writing a lot of polarizing things.

I will be clear and honest.  I am butch identified.  I was assigned female at birth and continue to use the identifier female.   I have been reading a lot about people’s opinions on butchness just leading to transitioning to male.  Well, I’d like to clearly state my opinion:  I do not believe that butch is a stop on the path to male. Suggesting this makes a supposition that:

a) butch is JUST a stop on the way to true masculinity (false)

b) all people who transition to male spend time in the subject position Butch (to assume this is to erase the existence of femme identified trans men)

c) butch is absolutely a valid place to be without any intention of transitioning

d) some people who transition continue to identify as butch which is completely legit–because no one owns butchness except those who occupy it

 

I am not going to post links and stir drama, I just wanted to make my position clear.  I love my butch life (finally) and I embrace all butch sisters and brothers who want to occupy this space with me.


I’m a Virgo-Virgo-Saggitarius (i could go on– i know my birth chart pretty well now).  Because my Mercury is in Virgo, my first reaction to any situation is to try to organize, classify and analyze everything.  Seriously, I’m a taxonomist– I love to categorize things, mark time, countdown, count up.  As y’all know from reading this blog, I’m an obsessive counter.  I remember dates well– birthdays, anniversaries, etc.  Today is a big one.

the author & her mom, 12/12/03 (oh yea, i got married in a ice blue velvet gown)

Today is five years since I left my husband.  Well, he was my husband then, but he’s my ex-husband now– our marriage was legally dissolved in the great state of Ohio and I changed my last name back in 2006.  But 5/13/05 was the day I said “I don’t think I can be married to you anymore” and that was that.

Of course nothing in life is that simple, or is it?

May 6, 2005 at San Fran State Univ, one week before we split up

Today I feel like I should have seen this emotional truck coming– I feel sad, lonely, curious.  Where would we live if we had stayed together?  Our geographic location was a compromise of my job and his studies.  Parallel universe Mr. & Mrs. T might have lived on the west coast, had kids.  Would we?  What would they be like?  I don’t even know if I want kids or not (most days, no. once in awhile, yes.)

home alone, june 2, 2005

 After he left, I lived alone for the first time in my life.  I was 27 1/2 years old.  It was horrible some days, amazing other days.  I started cooking again (that was something he loved and did most of– he was a student and did a lot of the household stuff because I worked full time at a more than 40 hours/week job).

I feel lonely– since our split, I have had two other relationships.  I’ve been single for the last ~9 months. I can’t help feeling a little bit like I keep rejecting people who really love me.

I know that it was the right thing.  Parallel universe me might not even be alive– she was pretty fucking depressed and suicidal. I’m sad a lot of the time, but I don’t want to die.

I’ve spent the last several months trying to figure a lot of stuff out, trying to change my life– quitting smoking, looking to move back east, and honestly?  It sucks sometimes.  Change comes out of conflict, and I’ve had a lot of hard, sad days– I can’t lie.  But I feel like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel– and no matter what, I am grateful. My life is full of amazing love– family, friends, chosen family. 

the author after a haircut from her favorite barber

I’m going to be okay.  And it’s okay to have these sad, pit stop days.


I don’t know if you’re reading one of my favorite blogs yet, but if you aren’t, maybe you should.

The Sartorial Butch is a blog started by a pal of mine, and recently has received some really awesome extra attention! Jezebel and the Washington Post!!  Totally outstanding.


this amazing flyer was made by my pal EJT.

 

Hey there… this is a hugely awesome weekend in Minneapolis.  Tomorrow night is Soul Friday at the Nomad World Pub (my favorite dance night in town) and Saturday is the Dirty Queer Show at Bedlam Theater.  I’ll be at both events with my amazing crew– I hope to spot a lot of you out and and about.  The sun is shining, birds are chirping, and it’s time for the hot queers to thaw out and come dance!


I’m writing today because I need to come out.  Yes, again

I’m coming out as a Femme ally.  This means that I value the richness that Femmes bring to my life in a myriad of ways.  This means that I value the diversity that Femmes bring to our community.  This means that I recognize the validity of a Femme gender identity, and I affirm the place that Femmes hold in my radical queer community.  This means I recognize the ability of Femmes to stand up for themselves, but I also recognize my responsibility to be responsive when Femmes ask for back up.  This means that I reject the misogyny and femmephobia perpetrated on Femmes by non-Femme presenting people, and I’m asking you to come with me. 

Well, what are you afraid of?

Actively identifying myself as a Femme ally means doing my own homework.  Take everything you know about other kinds of privilege, and apply it here.  I have a lot of Femme friends, and I read their blogs, ask their opinion, ask how I can be a better ally, ask what they need from me and other radical queer identified people. I read a lot of blogs written by Femmes I don’t know as well.  Being a good ally, in my opinion, means making yourself available but doing your own work.  Start conversations, confront femmephobia, but know your place.  Do not take over Femme space.  Do not make everything about you.  Have conversations about being a good ally to Femmes– and start by asking Femmes you know how you can be a good ally.  Do not assume that all Femmes want and need the same thing from you.  Do not assume that Femme is a homogenous group. 

It seems that someone is always maligning Femme with high maintenance.  This is Femmephobic.  I think it’s important to confront Femmephobic rhetoric, and for me, part of that is being able to identify with what I don’t like about what someone else is saying.  When it comes to the triggering phrase “high maintenance”, I think it’s really important that we find a common definition of high maintenance.  Dictionary.com defines high maintenance as slang:

high-maintenance

  1. mod.
    [of a person] requiring much care and coddling. : He’s sort of a high-maintenance guy. He requires lots of reassurance.

Okay, as far as I can tell, this has nothing to do with Femme.  There may be people who ID as Femme who require coddling (something I assign negative value to) but care?  I am human and I require care– no matter how butch I am feeling on any given day.  All people require some care.

When I think about high maintenance, I think of people who expect me to read their minds.  People who demand a lot, but don’t lay out any parameters for their expectations.  I think of people who expect me to know eactly what they want and need, but refuse to give any guidance.  I think of people who can’t make decisions, don’t know what they want, don’t know how to ask for what they need.  That’s what I think of when I think of high maintenance.   Those are bad behaviors no matter what your gender identity.

So I guess my question for you, lovely readers– if you identify as Femme, what are things you want/need/expect from allies?  If you are already considering yourself an ally to Femmes, how do you do this?  How can we do better?

Edited to add already:

So after posting, I got into a chat conversation with an awesome human i hold near and dear to my heart.  Through that convo, I was able to identify part of why I think this specific issue requires specific attention.

I stated to identify as a feminist in elementary school.  I continue to identify as a feminist–and all of the chaotic imagery that entails.   What I am trying to articulate right now is that femmephobia is misogyny.  Anti-Femme sentiment is an extension of patriarchal, anti-female attitudes and behaviors.   I think it can be about sexual objectification, silencing women’s experiences, and rejecting and maligning femininity.

I also think that we need to stop policing gender in every way.  I wrote about butch gender policing recently–but i think we all need to move into a space where people  in our queer community are not policing each other’s genders.  I’m sick of having to constantly reassert my butch identity up against a traditionally female hobby–one that was taught to me by a male member of my family–but that’s not the issue now is it?


The title of this blog is “if i can bake a cake, i can build a bomb“, which is one of those tenets I have heard and seen around anarchofeminist circles for many years, and it’s one of my favorite maxims (obvi, or i wouldn’t have named my blog this). It has many meanings to me.

If I can bake a cake, I can build a bomb. If i have the intellectual capacity to learn baking, i have the intellectual capacity to learn electrical wiring. (And vice versa, fyi…one of my parents is an electrician and a kick ass chef .)

The overarching meaning for me is that I contain multitudes. My gender, sexuality, affections, emotional attractions, physical attractions, hobbies, academic interests, the kinds of culture I consume, my political ideas– I am all over the map. I am not just one thing, and the many things I am also contain multitudes.

I’m a serious music lover. I am happiest when music is on– I listen to headphones all day at work, I listen to music at home, and in the car, and on the bus, and when I’m walking around Minneapolis. (I do not listen to headphones while I’m riding my bike because it’s unsafe, in my opinion.) I have so many favorite bands and songs and albums that I could never just choose one favorite band or one favorite song– my love is infinite. Asking me to choose one favorite band or one favorite song would be like asking me to always be the exact same person, each and every day in and day out– and sorry folks, that’s not going to happen.

The other day I sat at a little round coffee shop table with my friends KJ and LE, and we discussed how the internet has us listing all this stuff about ourselves– our favorite movies, books, hobbies, bands– on dating profiles, on facebook– and we do such work trying to paint these pictures of ourselves that we leave so few surprises for when we actually get down to the business of actually getting to know a person. Our attempts to taxonomize ourselves have left us moving through the world as bodies covered in labels and lists. [And I know from taxonomy-- I'm a virgo who does analysis for money.]

I’m feeling sad and frustrated by what seems to be the perennial explosion of “it’s done like this!” There seems to be a lot happening in what i’m about to call the Butch Blogosphere that feels a little bit unforgiving and inflexible– and I struggle with reading some of the stuff that’s been going around.

I want to say that:

1) I believe there are at least as many genders as there are people– and then times it by about a zillion, because i think each person has the capacity to express many variations on gender– and that’s what I mean when I say gender is fluid. Bond writes about diversity– well, I think there is fluidity and diversity. [Bond--I love your blog and I'm not trying to start anything-- just saying what I believe based on my experience.]

2) I believe there are as many ways to perform various largely recognized categories of gender (i.e. butch or femme) as there are people who self-identify with those genders. I reject the notion that I am less butch than someone else because I do not bind. I reject the notion that I am more butch because I have short hair. I reject the notion that I am less butch because I sew, or that I am more butch because I can grill up some tasty food outdoors.

When I see people simultaneously fighting for gender and sexuality liberation– be those people queer or straight, trans or cis, then policing each other’s gender and sexuality expressions, i experience cognitive dissonance. How can we say “I want to be free to be myself, but you are not free to be yourself?”

I came out 15 years ago. It’s been a roller coaster (you can read some of that here) and through most of that, I have expressed a butch gender identity– with the exception of some times when I was with my ex-husband. [Yes, I mostly wore women's clothes then, and sometimes wore make-up. I was still way closer to butch than femme in a lot of ways.] I have absolutely been guilty of judging others and trying to police the identities of others– but as I get older and give less of a shit about what other people do and think in general, I have realized how sick it is to fight for liberation without including everyone’s expressions in that.

So I’m just stating my opinion– there are billions of ways to perform gender, billions of ways to be queer. Thank you, universe.

[And thank you to Bevin who helped me expand on a few ideas.]

[Also, to anyone skeptical about my baking skills?  I said I can bake a cake-- I never said I could bake a vegan cake.]


Sometimes when I go out to restaurants and bars that are not completely populated by other gay folks, I scare people in the bathroom.  This Saturday night, I was out with three friends and I had to use the restroom.  When I walked in, there was a person in the other stall, and no one waiting.  I entered the available stall and while I was using it, three or four women walked in–talking to each other.  My heart stopped– just for a second.  This hadn’t happened in awhile.

First, I was wearing a tie.  Ties detract from every feminine aspect of my body– my chest, the width of my hips, the softness of my face/features– it seems like straight women see the tie first and the person wearing it second– so when i came out of the stall, two of them gasped before realizing I was female.

This is one of the prices I pay for my gender presentation in spaces where there is no single-user restroom available.  I know many many people who experience this kind of pressure and fear and frustration every time they need to use a public restroom.  Generally I can speak and immediately assuage the discomfort of the other women in the bathroom– my voice isn’t very high, but it’s certainly not the voice of a man (and less masculine now that I quit smoking).

Should I speak to assuage their discomfort?  Does my right to pee in public supercede their right to feel safe in the restroom?  No, it doesn’t.  But it doesn’t supercede my right to feel safe in the restroom either.  Someone told me to dress more femininely when I go to straight places.  Well, that defeats the purpose of spending 32 years becoming the person I am.  I don’t have and don’t want separate outfits to wear when I go to straight places (which are most places–even most places that I go).

Recently, my department at work was moved down two floors.  We are mostly still sitting near the same people we have always sat near.  I have never experienced any kind of gender or sexuality discrimination at work– I am very very lucky, I know, but my workplace is committed to being a great place to work.  The move has resulted in us sharing a restroom with a whole new department of people we don’t know, and I told “wrong bathroom” at work the other day by someone I don’t know.  I replied politely, “I don’t think so” and when i turned to face the person, I could see her surprise that she was wrong.  I guess I’ll use the unisex a little more often until people who don’t know me are accustomed to seeing me at the copier or in the halls….which honestly is fine by me because I prefer using the unisex, but don’t want to occupy it in the even that a person with a disability is in need of the facilities.

It’s funny– I do identify as butch, but I don’t think I look like a man [nor do I want to look like a man].  I have the round body of a fat woman, but my chest is smallish [thanks, 1996 reduction!] just because I’m wearing men’s clothes doesn’t mean I’m in the wrong bathroom.

This has been happening to me for years.  It happens more when I am thinner, and it happens more depending on my hairstyle.  It happens more in the winter than in the summer.  It happens more in bars than professional settings.  It happens more in Cincinnati than Minneapolis.  It happens more and more.


Rachel Maddow. Rachel Maddow. Rachel Maddow is drop dead gorgeous (well, in my aesthetic anyway), amazingly smart, hysterically funny, and she makes watching the news again fun.

She has a lot of fans– these two sites are favorites of mine (#1 / #2).
I am a huge fan. So much so that I cross-stitched this 2×3 in portrait. 20 colors in the palette. almost 3000 stitches.

stitched by beelisty, 2009

stitched by beelisty, 2009

Edited to add a link to this wonderful Mother Jones interview with Rachel.

Edited to add her appearance on Martha Stewart:
Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nT1a8ULuB0
Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6-b4bqM5ac
Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OfbAtKiitdU

cross posted to queercraft.



i’m also blogging over at the new radical queer news blog that my friend eBomb started. check us out.



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