Neither butch nor femme

12/22/2009

My blog peep G. posted something interesting a couple of days ago about Butch Dismissal. Apparently butches are not always welcome in the lesbian community. Which comes as a surprise to me. For a long time the femme problem was prevalent, i.e. femmes aren’t real lesbians, and so on. But G. says that a lot of femme women think butches aren’t sexy and many personal ads even explicitly state “no butches”. What the hell? I can respect that someone just isn’t into the butch look and feel, but for a lot of people the term “butch” seems to be an opposite to sexy, appealing, attractive, stylish etc. in general.

So butches have a hard time because they get a lot of disrespect from the femme girls, right? And femmes have an invisibility problem. And then there’s people like me (or my girlfriend), the whatever-the-hell-I-am-type. And we have problems with the community too. Because we don’t fall into any category. I’m not exactly butch. I’m not femme. I have not even enough androgyny to pull of some decent cross dressing. I’m somewhere in between.

Sure, most of the time I like that I can’t be put into a box. And I have the advantage that I can femme it up or butch it up according to daily mood. Although to be honest, the reactions I get once I do that are unbelievable. If a girl like me puts on some make up and nail polish… it is discussed… at length… wherever I go. Work colleagues – check. My parents – check. Friends – check. “Ohhh since when are you wearing nail polish?” “Makeup? Hm…” Just imagine what happens if I dare to wear sneakers, loose jeans and a male-looking button up shirt the next day? They clearly don’t know what to do with me. So that’s the fun part of it.

But being this undefinable also comes a) with a lack of role models*, b) with a serious clothes shopping handicap and c) have you heard anyone say “Oh man, I’m so into these girls that are neither butch nor femme”? I haven’t. So that makes random pulling at a bar a bit hard. Which is probably part reason for my extreme delve into being “properly lesbian” shortly after coming out. I cut my hair really short, went for the butch look and behaviour and had a way easier time scoring chicks. Because I was properly identifyable as gay. The problem: That’s not really me. So I had to backtrack, find out where I ended and this persona started, to be able to be me and be apart from the polarity that is “butch” and “femme”.

I realise this might not be considered a “real” problem like femme invisibility and prejudice against butches. But it seems that there are issues within lesbian communities around the world that really shouldn’t be. Whether it’s femme invisibility, butch dismissal or something in between.

By the way,  G., rest easy, I know a lot of chicks who think butches can be way sexy :) Thought you should probably come to Vienna, because as far as I can remember the community here butches can score pretty easily. Although I have to admit it’s been a while since I went out to any lesbian events I don’t think much has changed in the past 3 or so years.

* No, Dani Campbell/Futch doesn’t work for me, because that’s basically just clothes/role model for skinny butches. Unfortunately.


Lessons Learned: Don’t mix your gender pronouns

12/18/2009

I’ve been a little busy lately what with christmas getting nearer and nearer so I just caught up with the updates in the Grunberg/Bono debacle. Apparently, Grunberg wrote Rebecca Juro at the Bilerico Project an email reiterating that his comment about Bono was meant to be a fat joke and not a trans joke. In turn Juro tried to make clear that maybe it wasn’t Grunbergs intent to be disrespectful that way, but that he was. I particularly like the following paragraph of Juro’s try to explain the problem:

“Grunny, when you make jokes about Chaz Bono, even though your intent is to joke about his weight, that’s not what a lot of people are going to take from it. Mixing gender pronouns in reference to a transgender person as you did in one of your tweets is considered deeply offensive in our community, disparaging to Chaz’s gender identity, and by extension to the rest of us as well. I know you don’t see it that way, but that’s how I feel, and it’s how many other transgender people and allies feel as well.” – taken from here

Bilerico also got in touch with GLAAD - a very smart move – who in turn wrote a post themselves and rallied for people to call Grunberg out on his mistake. It had an effect. Grunberg tweeted:

I’m glad they got him to apologise again even though neither this one nor his first apologise prompted by my previous blog post seemed all that heartfelt. But I can live with that. The gain for the LGBT Community in all of this still is that Grunberg and some of his fans may have learned that it is considered offensive to mix gender pronouns when talking about a trans person and that Chaz already IS male if he considers himself to be – whether he already has the parts or not doesn’t matter. Maybe a handful of people will have learned not to say things like that again. And maybe, just maybe, they will spread the word about it.

I realise that the transgender issue is a touchy subject for a lot of people. It’s something people are not comfortable talking about. After all it has to do with private parts. But the thing is: It doesn’t. It only has to do with how you feel about yourself.


Greg Grunberg is a douche – or doesn’t know better

12/07/2009

So, last Saturday Heroes Actor Greg Grunberg decided to make a fool of himself.

On Twitter he said:

Uhm… not cool, dude! Not cool at all.

I haven’t been following @greggrunberg for quite a while now, because – simply put – he just wasn’t funny and seemed kinda uninteresting. He just didn’t stand a chance in the “famous people” section of my twitter stream which is full of intelligent and funny people like Neil Gaiman, Amanda Palmer, Eliza Dushku or Rachel Maddow (to name only a few). So I missed the whole he/she drama. Fortunately fellow Tweeter FireboltX told me about it, asking me to politely call Grunberg out on his mistake. Apparently, quite a number of people have been doing exactly that.

Some remained indeed very polite:

Some tweets sounded a little more straighforward:

Even Canadian rock band The Cliks (Cliks singer Lucas Silveira is trans, for those who didn’t know) had something to say to Grunberg:

Since I myself am not a very polite person I just called him a douche as well. I didn’t expect him to react to that, but I would’ve expected him to react to the polite remarks his fans made, asking him to set it right. After all he did retweet further transphobic remarks that he had apparently fueled in some of his followers. So the “I don’t read my @replies”-excuse kind of doesn’t work. Hence the conclusion: not only is he stupid enough to say something that blatantly transphobic, he’s also not smart enough to retract it when called out on it.

Is this further proof that people just don’t take Twitter seriously? Would he have said something like that in a print interview or a TV segment?

But whether he intentionally made the remark fully aware of how transphobic it was or just doesn’t know better, it’s like the Trans Group Blog said: “Greg Grunberg has over 1.3 million subscribers to his feed. When he tweets this kind of transphobic “humor”, hundreds of thousands will read it. Furthermore, because Grunberg is a major television star and thus has a certain influence on those who enjoy his work, his words and opinions will likely have a lot more traction than the average Tweeter’s.”

There’s only two things to be said:

If it wasn’t his intention to hurt Chaz Bono and millions of other trans people it’s: “Please, Mr Grunberg, watch your words, you’re hurting people.” Which is  what many have said to him, to no avail. He still hasn’t retracted his statement as far as I can tell.
If it was indeed intentional all one can say is simply: “Dude, stop being such a douche.”

edit: I apologised to Grunberg for my douche remark here. That indeed wasn’t the right way. However, my opinion still stands.


the road to queersome | what makes “sexy”?

11/28/2009

Max and Billie (just ignore, Jenny, will ya)

I’ve gone from straight to bisexual to lesbian (hideous platin blond fauxhawk included) and back to bisexual. And all that just in a couple of years, basically since I turned 20. Well, it turns out I’m not bisexual at all. At least that’s how I’ve come to see it. It’s not that I don’t like that label – if I have to embrace a label at all it’s a pretty ok one. But it just happens to not be enough to describe how I feel. What I feel about people. Who I’m attracted to. How I want to be with others.

Justin Bond (actor, performer)

Bisexual was enough when I was – simply put – into men and women, and then when I was into women and men. But what about my intense liking for sweet gay boys, raunchy bisexual men, for not-quite drag queens, beautiful FTMs, a crossdressing butch or that submissive straight guy who seemed so very vanilla on the first glance? What embraces all that, if I’d have to give it a name? Queer? Omnisexual?

My reality is that I will turn my head when a beautiful femme walks by me on the street just as much as I’ll lust after guys like Adam Lambert or find John Cameron Mitchell as Hedwig incredibly sexy. I rooted for Max and Billie on the L-Word and I Justin Bond and Sophia making out on Shortbus gets me all hot and bothered.

Adam Lambert redifining sexy at the 2009 AMAs.

And I find this… incredibly liberating. To me, it’s all about charisma and genderfuck and having a naughty, creative mind. I can honestly say that I don’t give a damn whether you have a penis or a vagina or a mangina. Boobs, muscles, moustaches. It really doesn’t matter in the choice of my lovers.

I know I’m not the only one who feels like this, and I can only hope that as we evolve the notion of “normal” will be rethought and the term “sexy” will become redefined.


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