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Old 05-09-2013, 12:22 PM   #1
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Default Butch visibility

As I start to write this I'm wondering if it might become something of a companion piece to the threads about femme invisibility. Of late I've been thinking a lot about this topic and to be frank, I've no idea where this post will wander as I drag it through my outfield. No doubt it will pick up bits here and there as it goes.

It it my hope that other butches will offer their experiences. I'd like to see what commonalities we share, how we vary and maybe shed some light on what it's truly like living in butch skin. I also invite femmes to participate. By all means, please feel free to share anything that comes to mind.

There is no mistaking that I am butch. Pretty much anyone who looks at me can see that. I could march down Main St. in a prom gown and tiara (don't hold your breath) and still read butch. While it might not immediately register that I am gay to some, that I am clearly far to the masculine side of the female spectrum is undeniable. Every day, many times a day, I out myself simply by existing. There are instances when my visibility is a good thing. That cute girl who flirts with me every time she sells me a baguette, the clearly present camaraderie with the butch who works at the recycled building supply place, the chuckle I get every time the check gets put down in front of me when I'm out with a more feminine woman, the straight guy who mows my lawn and refers to me as "dude"; in those circumstances it's really nice to have such open, comfortable acknowledgement, free of negativity, judgement and backlash. Then there are the other times. The guy at the locally owned hardware store who seems to tighten up every time he sees me, who waits on me because he has to but who cannot ever seem to completely suppress his derision. I can almost hear it bouncing around in his head like a ball bearing in an empty can, " fuckin' dyke...". The look of surprise upon meeting a new client with whom I've only spoken on the phone prior to that face to face moment. The boyfriend/husband/male friend who protectively takes the hand of his female companion if I happen to dare to smile in her direction, regardless of her response to me. The guys who look at me askance when I'm at the barbershop, wondering why a woman has invaded their man place. Sometimes I almost pity people for their reactions. Other times I want to lash out, say something like "What the hell are you looking at, fucktard?" I don't, though. I've come to a point in my life of finally, truly understanding the merits of picking one's battles. Were I so inclined, I could expend copious energy railing against any number of perceived slights, but really, it would be little more than shouting into the void. It wouldn't change anything and it would only serve to drain me. It also won't change the fact that I am butch, that I will never melt into the straight world in a way that would make some of the crap disappear. So, I shoulder it. Every time I leave my house. Every time I get out of my car. Every time I open my mouth. I shoulder it and I embrace it. I also revel in it because my being butch has brought into my life some of the most amazing women, both butches and femmes; people I might likely have not had the joy and privilege of meeting and coming to know and count as friends and lovers.

Yeah, it's really hard sometimes. Other times it outright rocks. Please...tell me won't you...what is it like for you?
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Old 05-09-2013, 01:28 PM   #2
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I'm thinking I might have to nudge this a time or two to keep it up there. Here's hoping I don't begin to feel like Sisyphus.
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Old 05-09-2013, 01:52 PM   #3
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i think this is a great post, and excellent topic. Majority of my closest friends are butch. I see their struggles, and feel the pain that they try to shoulder, and brush off as not important, or... The comment came from a small mind, therefore I'm not going to give it any credence.

But those words and comments hurt. And more than that they stick, and they haunt and traumatize in some cases. It comes from all areas, even in our own community having a distorted view of what 'to be butch' looks like. Frankly it pisses me off, if only for how it hurts the people I care about. Genetic features that they have no control over.. People saying things like, we'll you look femme, for having long hair, and how some (generally speaking) can't possibly comprehend that sometimes butches wear make up or suits for their position in their career, and it being some betrayal to their butchness?

I'm a strong believer, that if we want people to accept and embrace us for who we are, it starts from within. If you are butch, and you want to know what a real butch looks like? Look in the mirror
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Old 05-09-2013, 02:10 PM   #4
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Thank you Breathless, both for you compliment and your input. You're so right in several ways. The manner in which some of my brethren become so psychically beaten down breaks my heart. To fear possible scorn and isolation on a daily basis simply because you are being true to yourself can be irreparably corrosive. I am incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by people who accept me just the way I am. Perhaps that is due in large part to me being quite comfortable in my own skin, I don't know. No doubt some of it comes from that attitude you mentioned, of not caring and considering the source when someone tries to smack me down for being who I am.

I didn't go into the whole "you don't look butch" aspect in my initial post only because it could probably be a thread unto itself. Still, I hope it will be discussed here, too. I'd love for us to delve into appearance, mannerisms, mentalities...all of it. That is the beauty of butchness, the infinite variety.
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Old 05-09-2013, 02:17 PM   #5
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It took me a while to be comfortable in my skin and be the butch I am and proud of it I to get the looks and even on our vacation I got security called on me because I used the ladies room hell I have been using the damn ladies room all my life. IDK I am happy to just be me to get my hair cut where I want and how I want to have a partner who loves and respects me just as I am to be respected and valued at work. Even when someone refers to me as sir or by a male pronoun the officers I work with get very protective when that happens but it is all good with me. I think it is because now I am happy to be butch and damn proud of it but it was a long winding journey to find me
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Old 05-09-2013, 02:33 PM   #6
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A while back, I had a butch friend in my life, who, while at work, did not appear to be butch at all. After working hours, however, her clothing changed entirely, and there was no doubt whatsoever that she was butch. I never thought anything less of her, for that. She was just doing what she felt that she had to do, for her career field, and I supported her in that.
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Old 05-09-2013, 02:48 PM   #7
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I appreciate your sharing that, Nadeest. Did your friend ever speak to what that experience was like for her? Did it bother her or was it more a Clark Kent/Superman sort of thing? I understand that it's something she felt she had to do, but that doesn't mean either that it was easy or that it sat well with her. Is she in education? I hope it was something she was able to do without feeling as though she was having to live some weird double life. That would suck. Epically.
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Old 05-09-2013, 03:02 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Bard View Post
It took me a while to be comfortable in my skin and be the butch I am and proud of it I to get the looks and even on our vacation I got security called on me because I used the ladies room hell I have been using the damn ladies room all my life. IDK I am happy to just be me to get my hair cut where I want and how I want to have a partner who loves and respects me just as I am to be respected and valued at work. Even when someone refers to me as sir or by a male pronoun the officers I work with get very protective when that happens but it is all good with me. I think it is because now I am happy to be butch and damn proud of it but it was a long winding journey to find me
I'm glad you feel the way you do, Bard. I think it's much easier to go through life when you can accept, embrace and celebrate who you are.

I hear many butches talk about their journey, whether to a place of recognition, acknowledgement, for some it might even be resignation. I'm not cognizant of a journey of my own, per se, I think because I've known for so very long, I mean pretty much from the time I was a really little kid, that I am both butch and queer. I don't think that I ever experienced a growing into it because I was never not in it. Does that make sense? I do know, though, that the paths for many have been and still are not unlike mine fields hidden beneath thickets of blackberry vines. The way can be arduous and painful and dangerous. Life threateningly so, even.
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Old 05-09-2013, 03:30 PM   #9
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I hit a point in my life where I said "FUCK IT! It's not my problem if they can not accept who I am", I stopped worrying about it that day. Everything about me shouts BUTCH! From my full arm tribal tattoo to the boxing I do for sport. I walk around oblivious to the looks people give me because I simply don't care. I am who I am, nothing is going to change it. I have been butch from birth. It is my natural state of being. Somebody somewhere is always going to judge me, be my guest! I don't need their approval to be me. It's that simple for me.
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Old 05-09-2013, 02:25 PM   #10
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Thanks for starting the thread Ascot. I of course, am on the outside looking in, I have my own battles with being "seen" as Femme. So although I have not walked a mile in your shoes, I do have a little idea of what you and other Butches live with daily.

In this neighbor hood I'm living in now the folks know I'm one of "those gals", and at this age most folks don't care much because the thought of 'old people' having sex is gross, ask any teenager.

I usually read "Straight" or "Grandmother". In some areas it's safer to be read in those terms. Sad but true.

But of course the only time I get read as Femme right out of the gate is here.
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Old 07-23-2015, 11:02 AM   #11
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I always get the typical agnorant stares and suspicious looks,even in this day and age.I have long hair (half way down the back of my neck) today and I still get strangers coming up and asking me if i'm a man or a woman.It does not seem to bother me anymore,of course if I cut my hair extremely short and for my safety,still have to clear my throat everytime I enter a women's restroom.I tell those who are curious that i'm a butch woman and the same to those who are not.Most people accept me (i'm friendy about it) and to those who don't I just ignore.That's all I have for now on this subject.
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