Okay, folks: we're in the throes of summer, and it's time for a butch fashion refresher. (Note: The exception to these is Pride, where you can break any fashion rules you want. I say: if full frontal nudity is accepted, your belt and shoes don't have to match.) 1. Now is a perfect time to go shopping for summer stuff
, because it's all on clearance! I love waiting till a season's underway, then snagging the good stuff for half price.2. Athletic shorts are to be worn only if you are doing something athletic.
Going out to dinner does not qualify as "athletic." (Hiking shorts are a different matter--I'm talking about mesh or nylon basketball or running-type shorts.)3. White belts are IN
, and so are light grey ones. Pair with light-colored pants or shorts, and shoes that are not completely black. Check out the photo at the right. Soooo hot!4. Experiment with lighter fabrics
, like linen and seersucker. They're actually kind of fun. If you don't know where to start, try cream-colored linen shorts or a seersucker button-up shirt.5. No pleated shorts
(please). 6. Boat shoes and deck shoes are in
. Wearing them with socks is out.7. It's perfectly acceptable to wear black socks with athletic sneakers if
all three of the following apply: (1) the socks are athletic-type and barely go above your ankle; (2) A significant portion of your shoes is black; (3) Your shoes are not the least bit dressy. 8. It can be hard to find men's shorts that aren't absurdly long
. If you have this problem, too, check out--I kid you not--the golf shorts at a fancy department store. Most are dorky, but some are awesome. Plus they have secret pockets. Another place to look: "outdoorsy" stores like REI. Many hiking shorts are versatile enough to be worn anywhere.9. Choose short-sleeve button-up shirts made of light material, and not too wide in the sleeve
. You're going for this look
, not this one
.10. Get goofy.
Summer's a great time to experiment with colors and patterns you wouldn't ordinarily wear. So break some of your usual rules--heck, break some of mine, too--and go have fun!
A dyke on a bike in Oklahoma City (from Stacey)
Great news, dear readers: I've finished the outline of the Pride Project site
, and I've been putting up the fabulous pics you've started sending in! So far, I have five cities up, and I'm hoping they'll give you a taste of the awesomeness to come:
I'm excited about the project, and hope you are, too! More soon--I'll keep you updated.I have about 80 readers signed up so far, and the more the better! Send me a quick email if you might be interested. Pics and written descriptions of any of this year's Pride celebrations
(including the ones that already have pages up) are welcome. And as always, so's your feedback.
A BW reader sent me this, and I thought some of you might, um, have some reactions to it. Anybody? Anybody?
This guest post is written by BW reader Sarah Ultis, a dynamite thirtysomething femme who also blogs at the Butch-Femme Project. Ultis lives in Phoenix, Arizona and happens to be an "outlaw knitter" who does cool stuff like yarn bombing.
Relationships are difficult. They take work, dedication, and a commitment to talk through the hard stuff without giving up, so everyone makes mistakes. However, when it comes to butch-femme relationships, there are a few things butches seem to excel at in the screw-up department.
- Acting too much like a man. As a femme, I love, love , love the masculinity of butch women. I love girls who look like boys, enjoy cars and football, and would rather talk trash with their buddies than discuss the latest chick-lit. But I’m a lesbian for a reason. If I wanted to be with a man, I’d be straight, so if my girlfriend becomes emotionally distant, unwilling to talk about feelings, or would rather spend more time swilling beer with the guys than with me, we are going to have issues. (That doesn’t mean that if, during the course of the relationship, you realize that you should be a man and want to transition that I, as a lesbian, am going to leave you--but see #5.)
- Acting too much like a woman. I realize this sounds like a contradiction, but it’s not. I want a butch who is emotionally aware, expressive, and can discuss feelings, but I don’t want a butch who’s girlier than me. There’s only room for one princess in a butch-femme relationship and that princess must be me in all my femmie glory. When we dance, you need to lead. You are the cockroach killer, oil changer, furniture mover, flower buyer. Don’t get me wrong--I am perfectly capable of doing those things, but I don’t want to do those things. If you spend more time crying than I do, or steal my lipstick when we go out, our relationship will become more sister than sizzle, and we are going to have issues.
- Not working enough. This is one of my big peeves. I know that plenty of you work your tails off and keep the same job for 15 years, but the butch women I seem to run across have trouble staying employed. Even more frustrating is that they'll have a job when we get together, but as soon as we’re committed (and usually living together) they mysteriously lose it and I’m left carrying the load for both of us for long periods of time. This is not okay. See princess reference above. I have no problem being an equal partner and sharing the financial burden. I don’t expect to stay home eating bonbons while you slave away, but I do not want to be the long-term sole bread winner for our household. Losing jobs happens, especially in this economy. But if you lose more than one job for the same reason or quit more than one job (especially without talking to me about it first) we are going to have issues. (This only applies to butches who are capable of working but don’t. If you are disabled, or become so, that is an entirely different matter. See #5.)
- Working too much. Yes, I’m well aware that this, too, seems like a contradiction. (Femmes are contradictory by nature. It’s just the way we work.) When I talk about working "too much," I don’t mean a 40-hour week. I'm talking about the opposite end of the unemployed butch spectrum: the workaholic butch. These are butches who constantly cancel plans or show up late because of work. It doesn’t matter what the plan is, how long we’ve had it, or how important it is. If work calls, she’s gone. This is also not okay. I need to know that I am important enough to set aside time that is just for me and connecting as a couple. (Again, see princess reference above.) Work is important, and sometimes it may be necessary to spend extra time there. We can talk about that, but if time and again work is more important than “us,” we are going to have issues.
- Failing to be honest. The biggest cause of failed butch-femme relationships in my experience has been that one or the other (or both) has said they want things they don’t, or that they don’t want things they do, or failed to communicate their true expectations. Sometimes this happens because we don’t know what we want, or we want to want something but aren’t ready for it. Like we want to have a relationship but aren't totally over an ex. The important thing is to analyze our feelings and be open. If you miss the ex and wish she’d come back but know she won’t, you are not really single. Your heart can’t fully be given to someone else. Be honest with yourself and the person you’re trying to date. If you want kids and won’t be satisfied without them (or wouldn’t be caught dead near a child) say so. Don’t wiffle waffle about what you want or need just because it might cost you the relationship. It isn’t fair to leave the other person with the impossible task of trying to satisfy needs you aren’t being honest about just because you don’t want to be alone. In the end, they'll feel unworthy and you'll feel guilty and you will come to resent each other.
The first key to this list is to be honest with ourselves about what we want and who we are. The second is to talk to each other
and really listen in return.
We cannot find long-lasting, satisfying relationships without being our true selves at all times. If the person you’re with would leave you for being who you truly are, she’s not the right one for you, nor are you
the right one for her
. So if you’re a butch who’s scared of spiders and collects pink teddy bears, be that
to the fullest, but be honest about it so that the woman who loves you can love all
of you, not just who you appear
to be in your badass leathers on the Harley.Thanks again to Sarah Ultis of the Butch-Femme Project for this post. Any butches out there want to write something similar about butch-femme relationships from a butch's perspective? If so, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. --BW
I know I've been writing less about fashion these days and more about identity, butchness, transgender stuff, etc. And I *love* writing about identity. But you know what, butches? I still want to keep you looking good.To that end, this post is all about hair products for short-haired butches, bois, MOCs, dykes, etc. Back in March, I wrote two posts about butch haircuts, complete with pictures of hot BW readers
. One was about fauxhawks
and the other talked about pomps, shags, buzzes, and other dykealicious cuts
. First, the five basic genres of butch-relevant hair product:
A few months ago,
- Gels: Clear stuff you squeeze out of a tube. Sticky. Comes in lots of holds and finishes (firm, not firm; shiny, not shiny), and usually contains alcohol, which is problematic if you have super dry hair. Make sure you get a kind that doesn't flake.
- Glues and pastes: These come in a variety of textures--sometimes hard and in a jar, sometimes creamy and in a tube. They're opaque and can literally feel like glue. In my experience, these give a stiffer hold than gels. Good for thick hair and longish fauxhawks. For a really strong hold, wait till your hair is half dry, then style it, then blow-dry it. (At least, that's what I'm told. I'm too butch to own a blow-dryer.)
- Waxes: Hair wax usually comes in a jar and can make your hair feel, uh, waxy. It's best for very short styles and medium-to-fine hair, and is best for dry hair (not dry meaning "not wet," but dry meaning non-oily hair). If you put wax on oily hair, it will look like you haven't washed your hair since the start of baseball season.
- Pomades: From what I've seen, these are basically like waxes except that they make your hair shiny and (in my experience) are harder to wash out. Like wax, pomade won't make your hair hard or crunchy. The cheapo ones feel (and look) like Vaseline.
- Mousses and creams (or "cremes"): Mousses look like Cool Whip, and creams/cremes look like hand lotion. Most don't offer stiff holds, but they're good for making frizzy hair calm down. Also good if you have curly hair and don't want your product to take the curl away.
I asked readers for butch hair product recs. There were five clear favorites and many runners up. The right hair goop for you will depend on your hair's texture, cut, and look--but your butch brethren have suggested some places to start:
Plenty of butches swear by got2b ultra glued
($4.72/8-oz tube; 0.79/oz). One reader says, "I put a tiny bit of water in my hands and maybe a nickel size amount of the glue product, rub together, and spike!" Some, people mentioned got2b blasting freeze spray
and plain ol' got2b spiking glue
(minus the "ultra") as well. I've used the "ultra" version; I was expecting a glue, not a gel (since the words "ultra glued" are on the front--but admittedly, so is the word "gel"). It left my (very thick, naturally wavy) hair wavier than I prefer on fauxhawk days. Let your hair dry a little before slapping this on, or else it won't hold well. Smells great, though--clean and fresh.
Bed Head Manipulator
was a huge favorite--recommended by more readers than any other hair product. I've never tried it, partly because I haven't liked other Bed Head products, but given the number of rave reviews, I'll give this one a shot soon. $13.49 for 2 oz ($6.75/oz).
Bumble and Bumble's Sumotech
is pricey, but unless you have very thick hair, you won't need to use very much. Starting at $25 for a 1.5-oz jar, this rings up at a whopping $17/oz. I
prefer Bumble and Bumble's regular gel ("the multi-talented sculpting medium")
, which is still pricey at $25.99 for a 5-oz tube ($5.20/oz). I used it for years--it smells terrific and leaves your hair soft enough that your fingers (and hers) can run through it. The only Bumble and Bumble product I've tried and disliked is their texture hair UNdressing creme
. It gave my hair the best texture ever
(seriously, it was like magic), but if I touched it at all
after it dried, it flaked off my head in a downy powder. I'll pass on the faux-dandruff, thanks.
(or "Crew") makes several varieties of butch-friendly hair products. Readers varied on which ones they favored--it depended on their haircut and hair type--but the three most popular were Crew Fiber
($11.99 for a 3-oz jar, which means $4/oz), Crew Pomade
($16.72 for 3 oz, or $5.57/oz), and Crew Firm Hold Styling Gel
($17.92 for 15.2 oz, or $1.18/oz). One reader (who evidently has more experience with Crew than I do) writes, "Crew Defining Paste and Crew Forming Cream
work very well for a fauxhawk or messy look. Their Fiber
works best for a spiked look, and Pomade
is good for a flat forward with a small flip on the front if your hair is 1 inch long or shorter."
Crew also makes the d:fi
line, which caters to a hipper client base than the "classic" American Crew products do. D:fi even has a separate website
from the Crew site
, complete with stylish twentysomethings striking trendy, unsmiling poses. If you're inclined to give d:fi a shot, start with d:struct Pliable Molding Creme
($12.15 for a 2.65-oz jar, or $4.59/oz), which is good for fine hair and reportedly smells like pineapple.
And some runners-up to check out:
- Imperial Barber products, particularly their pomade
- Hawleywood's Layrite Super Hold Pomade
- Short Sexy Hair Hard Up Gel (which is reasonably priced if you buy the giant 16-oz size, as Hard Up devotees tend to do)
- Redken Work Hard Molding Paste
- Aveda Brilliant Retexturing Gel (for a piece-y look)
- Murray's Superior Hair Dressing Pomade
- Garnier Fructis Survivor Tough it Out Glue (my new favorite--super cheap, plus the hold is strong, straight, and non-flaky... if a bit crispy)
- Johnny B. Mode styling gel (I want to try this.)
- Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Shaping Cream (I'm not sure why you'd want to shape tea trees, but whatever. One reader says, "It works magic on your hair and has a fragrance that attracts the ladies.")
- Hair Cubed Microfiber Hair Thickener (This stuff is wicked expensive, but one BW reader insists that if you don't have very much hair and want it to seem like you have more, it's worth every penny.)
- Schwarzkopf Osis + Dust It Matifying Powder (That's right--powder. This stuff is weird, but interesting. You apply it to dry hair, then style it. It can even grip a longish fauxhawk. Good if you're not a morning showerer. Left my hair frizzy by the end of the day, though.)
Feel free to post more recommendations in the comments. Happy styling! Want to make a short instructional video on how you style your butch hair? If I choose yours, I'll post it on Butch Wonders and enter you in a drawing to win a small (but awesome) prize. Videos should be under three minutes, and brand new (never posted online before). Send submissions to me here.
Ever found a dog in a pile of blankets and ties? Because I totally have.
Nothing like a little gender nonconformity to add to the world's awkwardness, is there? I thought I'd list a few butchiness-induced (and sometimes just lesbian-induced) awkward moments that have happened to me or to friends of mine in the past few months:
Okay, your turn--and I know some of you have some good ones: what awkwardness has your butchiness (or even your lesbianness in general) created recently?
- A work acquaintance calls you a "lady" and you squirm a little. As if that wasn't bad enough, she then writes you an awkward note of apology in which she seems to assume that you are trans.
- A man accidentally follows you into the ladies' restroom.
- You're out to dinner with your ex-husband and people assume that you're a gay male couple.
- You meet a very feminine woman and make some statement that assumes she's straight, then she has to correct you.
- You're watching a slapstick movie with your parents and some over-the-top butch lesbian stereotype in flannel appears on the screen and they don't know whether they are supposed to laugh and you all stare at the screen in awkward silence.
- A kid points at you in grocery store, loudly asking, "Mommy, is she a mens or a womans?"
- You're checking out a cute boi from behind, when the boi turns around and it's a sixteen-year-old high school guy who looks like Justin Bieber, and then you just feel yucky.
- Your mom wants to buy you some (women's) tennis shoes and asks what size you wear and you realize you have absolutely no idea what size you wear of any women's clothing.
- Some straight girl is checking you out, then you see it dawn on her that you're female and she becomes uncomfortable.
- Someone tells you that you and your girlfriend "could be sisters" when in fact the only physical characteristics you share is that you are both white women with short hair.
via Creative Commons
I bet we've all experienced at least one of the following:(1) Being told we don't "belong" to a group we think we belong to.
(2) Having someone assume
we're part of a group with which we don't actually identify.(3) Hearing someone else identify with a group to which we belong, and being annoyed because we don't consider them a part of the group.Where does identity "policing" come from? And why, in the LGBTQ community,* of all places, does it seem to happen so often? I was pondering this the other day and came up with a short list of possible (no doubt interrelated, and no doubt often subconscious) reasons:
As I've talked about before, I'm no fan of identity policing. Nonetheless, I can understand the impetus behind it, and I bet I've unintentionally engaged in it.
- You feel marginalized in various ways because of an identity you claim. If another person who claims that identity is not marginalized in the same ways, it may feel unfair that they "get" to claim that identity, too. (For example, I suspect this is why female-ID'd butches sometimes don't like trans men claiming butch identities. Butch women have to deal with looking gender-nonconforming virtually all the time. Many trans men can pass as gender-normative if they want to.)
- You want a group to specifically define you, not to be some kind of broad identity that anyone can claim. (For example, ever encounter a hipster type who claims to be "queer but straight?" If so, you might know the feeling I'm describing.)
- You're an "average" member of some group. But if the group is opened to people of some other identity, too, you become lower status within this group. (Butch women/trans men is a good example for this concept, too. Men are higher status in American society [and, unfortunately, in most others as well]. Trans men often pass as men, look like men, etc. If trans men can be butches and butch = masculine, then there's a way in which trans men are "more butch" than female identified butches. Some female butches may find this threatening.)
- Your group is already low status in society, and you don't want an even lower status group to join it, because then it will make your group even lower status. (For example, I've heard lesbians eschew trans women who consider themselves lesbians, and gay men eschew trans men who consider themselves gay men.)
- You think your group is cooler than some other subset of it, so you emphasize a boundary to separate you from that subset. (E.g., I've heard gay men say disparaging things about lesbians, distinguishing sharply between themselves and queer women--arguably, drawing on male privilege while implicitly chastising lesbians for their gender nonconformity and/or "unattractiveness." [To be clear, I firmly believe that this kind of statement is an outlier.])
- They lack some aspect of the identity you claim. You see this aspect as central to the identity. If they don't share that aspect, you can't talk to them about it in the same way, so all of a sudden the group you felt comfortable in includes people you can't talk to (in the same way) about something central to the identity. (For example, if your queer women's group includes a bunch of bisexual women who are dating men, it might feel kind of weird to talk with them about what it's like to be, say, a queer woman at a work function to which partners are invited.)
- You feel like you "got there first" and have a feeling of ownership over the identity. When people who aren't like you start to claim it, you may feel like the identity is changing in a way that excludes you. You want the group to define you--you want it to be a nice fit, not some broad umbrella identity under which you happen to fall. (For example, if you identify as genderqueer or neutrois and as neither male nor female, you may feel uncomfortable or discouraged if people who identify as [and appear to be] either fully male or fully female say that they are genderqueer.)
I hope I've caught myself, questioned myself, and asked where the impulse was coming from.Of course, identity policing and boundary-drawing doesn't just happen in the queer community. It happens with regard to age, race, class, and just about every other social group we can think of. Nor do I mean to suggest that identity policing always arises from bad motives, or the intention to exclude others. I suspect we'd all agree that it's important to have social and psychological spaces where we can understand ourselves, question our assumptions, and feel at home with people we believe are like us.What do you think about all of this? Have you ever seen, experienced, or engaged in identity policing?
Do you think it exists in the queer community?Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.*
** I was recently a guest speaker in a queer studies class in which several of the students suggested that calling LGBTQ folks a "community" is false and s
** If you feel the urge to write, "Why do we have to label ourselves at all?" or "We're all human beings," or something similar, please read this first.
Dear BW,I'd love some advice. While I was at a tailor recently, he assumed that I was male. By the time he asked for my name I felt that it wouldn't be safe to reveal that I wasn't, so I quickly made up a guy's name. I didn't have any issues, but I felt uncomfortable with the situation, and a little scared of what would happen if I'd ever revealed that I'm female. I've read your post on when to femme it up, but are there times when you have to try and pass and hope no one figures it out? Should I have approached the situation differently, or was flying under the radar the right way to go? Have you ever had an experience where you've had to do this?Bridget
Wow, scary incident. It sounds like you did the right thing: followed your gut and did what felt most safe in the situation. At an "uh-oh" time like that, I don't think there's a right or wrong thing to do; whatever keeps you safe is right
. Something else to consider: make up some excuse about why you have to leave immediately--stomach flu, friend to meet, whatever--and get out of any situation where you don't feel safe. Leave the suit; it's just a suit. And when you come back, bring a friend (or have a friend go retrieve the suit for you). I'm very big on trusting my gut.Even when it doesn't feel unsafe, a tailor's shop can be especially awkward. Here are a few things I've done in the past:
- Choose a female tailor. Odds are, you're less likely to feel unsafe. Better yet, choose a tailor with a rep for being queer-friendly. Ask around if you don't know one. And when you find a good one, be sure to leave a Yelp review to let other queers know.
- Make it clear up front that you're female. I now say something at the start like, "Even though I'm female, I want this suit tailored like a man's suit." It will be awkward for a second, but in my experience, it's much better than the alternative (wondering if you're really passing; worried that you'll be "found out").
- Bring a friend. This is never a bad idea. Safer and more fun.
Anyhow, I'm grateful that you did what seemed best to you and stayed safe!Best,BWWhat do you think, dear readers: did Bridget make a wise choice? Have you ever had a situation where you had to try and pass and hope no one figures it out?
Hiya friends: I know a lot of you are headed to Pride in the next few weeks. If you've been to a few Prides before, you know that there are certain things you'll see over and over... chaps, free condoms, exes...
With this in mind I re-tooled a classic game for your enjoyment at Pride. Gay Pride Bingo! First one to get five in a row in any direction wins. I made two game cards, so you can play with a friend:
Game card #1 (click on picture to enlarge)
Game card #2 (click on picture to enlarge)
If you actually want to *play* Gay Pride Bingo
, here are printable black-and-white versions of the game cards: Card #1
; Card #2
. I'll give out multiple PRIZES (one each month) to someone who sends me photographic evidence of a Gay Pride Bingo win (i.e. all five squares in a row).
Does anything on these cards sound familiar to you? Is there anything else you feel like you always see at Pride?