A marketing person who wants me to choose her venue for an event (this is something related to work) introduced herself over email a few days ago and suggested that she and I "go get manicures together" and talk about my "event" (which I'm actually not in charge of anymore, and haven't been for two years).
1. You don't know me.
2. How about at least Google-stalking me before gender-profiling me?
3. You don't know me.
I found this totally bizarre and amusing, and I wondered if she's trying to do the buddy-buddy "old boys' network" kind of thing... except with another woman... whom she has never met. So odd. I was tempted to say yes, just to see the look on her face when butch ol' me showed up, but I don't think sitting through a marketing spiel about her amaaaazing venue would have been worth it. I mean, seriously. If she's not going to also take me to a blow-dry bar, buy me an appletini, and go skirt-shopping together, what's the point?
All of which made me think: what would a butch "old boys'" networking event look like? I bet it would involve neither manicures and appletinis, nor golf and scotch. Maybe craft beer and a softball game? A glass of red wine and a k.d. lang concert? What say you?
Occasionally, I receive hate mail--not usually directed toward me as a person, but toward queer people in general, or butch women in particular. I just delete these, because they're ignorant and unproductive and add zero value. But sometimes I get blog comments that are strange or ignorant or hateful, and unless they are incredibly horrible and offensive, I let those stay; you, my awesome readers, always inject a huge dose of reality/perspective into the conversation.
Anyhow, I wanted to share one of these with you because it epitomizes multiple discussion/critique modes that I loathe. Someone commented this on my post Things Butches Do That Bother People:
I don't like how butch women dress like men and then get annoyed when you don't treat them like women. Why dress like a man if you don't want to be seen as protective, wordly-wise and strong. Luckily I'm bisexual so I can just go get an actual man. Sorry but just the truth - been stung.
Let's break this into five constituent parts:
(1) I don't like how butch women dress like men
(2) and then get annoyed when you don't treat them like women.
(3) Why dress like a man if you don't want to be seen as protective, wordly-wise and strong.
(4) Luckily I'm bisexual so I can just go get an actual man.
(5) Sorry but just the truth - been stung.
And analyze them one by one:
(1) Is simply an aesthetic preference. Fine. I don't like it when you dress like a fairy princess. Or when you unbutton too many buttons on your shirt and I have to look at your nasty chest hair. We can agree to disagree, although I should point out that it is incredibly gender-reductionist to use the phrase "dress like men." But I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that by "dress like men," you mean "wear clothes bought in the men's department and marketed toward men." Fine. But I don't care about your particular idiosyncratic aesthetic preferences.
(2) What do you mean "get annoyed when you don't treat them like women?" This makes no sense. What does it mean to treat someone "like a woman?" Are you really treating, say, your male co-workers differently from your female ones? Why? That's weird.
(3) What butches don't want to be seen as protective, "worldly-wise" (whatever that is) and strong? Those all sound like good things. In fact, I don't get why these things are gendered, or what they have to do with the way people dress. This makes no sense.
(4) An "actual" man? Look, sweetcakes, butches are not "approximating" men. We are not fake men or wannabe men or anything else that is MANly. We are proud women who present in a way society defines as "masculine." Masculinity ≠ men. Your thinking is so incredibly reductionist and narrow that it depresses me. Go get a man if you want one, but puh-leez don't think that any butch would want to be with someone who didn't like her for who she is or saw her as some kind of "almost-wannabe-man."
(5) Why is it that whenever people say something stupid or offensive or completely devoid of evidence, details, or data, they hide behind the idea that this is the "truth?" If I said, "Straight people are annoying; sorry, that's just the truth," it would make no sense. There's an overgeneralization followed by a completely fake "apology," followed by the idea that something vague and offensive is "true." And then the "been stung?" Stung? What are you talking about? Simply the idea that you haven't had successful relationships with butches? Yeah, I'm not surprised! You don't seem to like them very much!
I. Can't. Even.
States aren't allowed to make gay sexual relationships illegal anymore, but this has only been true since the Supreme Court handed down Lawrence v. Texas in 2003. Before that, states were free to make gay sex illegal. Like, sex between consenting adults. If you're under age 25 or so, the recency may be a little jarring to you. By 2003, most states weren't actually enforcing these laws very often, but they were still sometimes on the books.
So you'd think that when a Supreme Court case was handed down, the state would take the unconstitutional law off the books, right?
Ah, no. At least not for gay peeps, and at least not in Texas. As a recent article in the Texas Tribune pointed out, the law prohibiting same-sex sexual contact of basically any type is still on the books. This means that someone could still be arrested for doing fun gay things--and indeed, it's come close to happening before. The charge would be dropped, and no conviction for violation of an unconstitutional penal code provision would stand up in court. But still, why is this law still on the books?
Basically, Texas legislators won't take it off. They know it's unconstitutional. They know it can't be enforced. But keeping it there is like getting to punch queer Texans in the gut. It's an official expression of the belief that homosexuality is wrong and bad and immoral and deserves to be punished. This is completely insane behavior on the part of the Texas state legislature. Completely. Insane.
If you want to learn more about Lawrence v. Texas case and the bizarre story behind it, check out this very entertaining podcast from Radiolab's More Perfect. And for Pete's sake, if you live in Texas, call your legislator and ask to have this offensive, horrible law taken off the books for good.
Okay, I have about three minutes, so I'm not going to go on and on about the madness that IS the 2016 presidential election, but I thought you might all enjoy this article if you haven't read it already. It does an incredible job underscoring the double standard for men and women in politics. Some highlights? Imagine, just for starters, that Hillary Clinton:
Do you think she'd still be in the running?
Anyhow, the whole article is worth reading. And you can love or hate Hillary Clinton, but I hope this election starts making people think a little more critically about gender and entitlement in America.
Lena Dunham was completely bashed on social media for her "white privilege" in making the following comment. She was at some fancy event and showed up in a tuxedo:
I was sitting next to Odell Beckham Jr., and it was so amazing because it was like he looked at me and he determined I was not the shape of a woman by his standards,” she told Schumer. “The vibe was very much like, ‘Do I want to fuck it? Is it wearing a … yep, it's wearing a tuxedo. I'm going to go back to my cell phone.’ It was like we were forced to be together, and he literally was scrolling Instagram rather than have to look at a woman in a bow tie. I was like, ‘This should be called the Metropolitan Museum of Getting Rejected by Athletes.’”
People who bashed her reacted basically thus: "Hey, white lady--I know you're used to being the supposed 'beauty standard' in America, but guess what? Not everyone has to find you attractive, and you're certainly not entitled to anyone's attraction."
I get it... somewhat. Of course no one is entitled to anyone else's attraction. And of course Dunham was making an assumption about someone she didn't know. Maybe Beckham Jr. was having a bad day, or responding to an important text, or about to beat his best Scrabble score and wanted to concentrate. Calling out a specific person for being a misogynist based on just that encounter is awfully premature.
And yet, I think I understand where Dunham is coming from. As a woman who doesn't meet mainstream feminine beauty standards--pretty much ever--I can't tell you how horrible and demoralizing and irritating it is to be summarily dismissed by men simply because they don't find me attractive. I can't count the number of times I've been sitting at a table with feminine women and had the men at the table completely and rudely ignore me while chatting up the other women.
Nor am I alone in this. Butch friends' anecdotes and empirical research suggest that on average, men care more about impressing women whom they find attractive than about impressing women they find unattractive. And we're not just talking about single men, or men of a certain age, or men who are looking for a date. (No, of course not all men typify this pattern, but it is a pattern nonetheless.)
To me, Dunham's comment was much less about white privilege than it was about being invisible to men when you don't look the way a woman is "supposed" to look. I agree that it was very uncool of her to publicly call out a specific person and ascribe negative motives to him when she didn't know what was going through his head. But I think the bulk of the anti-Dunham comments are completely missing the point: women are "seen" or ignored based on their gender performance, and this pattern is incredibly frustrating.