Hey, I was on the radio yesterday! Here's a link to the show.
The interview improves as it goes along. I was slightly shaken by talking about my divorce right at the start, but I told Emily Cherin, who hosts "All Things Gay," as long as my anonymity was maintained, anything was fair game, so good for her for cutting right to the chase! In any case, it was fabulously fun. I'm just glad no one's said I have a "great face for radio."
One of the things we talked about was when to deviate from deviance. (I'm using "deviant" only in the technical sense: different from the norm.) Many butches deviate from average female gender presentation daily. But should we ever feel compelled to "femme it up" a little? Here are some possibilities, along with my recommendations.Situation
: You're going somewhere where appearing butch might open you to the possibility of physical harm. Verdict
: Femme it up.Reasoning
: For me, safety comes before psychic or physical comfort. If you think you might be in danger somewhere, dress accordingly. And don't bind. Heck, don't even wear a sports bra if you have a choice. That's a dead giveaway. (I know butches who pass as male when they travel. If you want to try that, fine, but this can become very
risky if someone figures it out.)Situation
: You're asked to be a bridesmaid at a traditional wedding, and your friend really
wants you to wear what the other bridesmaids are wearing.Verdict
: Maybe if it means more to your friend than anything in the world, it's worth it to suck it up and put on the satin yellow thing she's trying to foist on you. Then again, if she's truly a friend, wouldn't she understand that you'd be more at home in a tux and nice vest? Try reasoning with her, offering to wear what the groomsmen are wearing. If this fails, offer to take another role, like usher. This is a sticky situation, and ultimately, it's your call. If you decide to go for it, I recommend surrendering fashion decisions to the other bridesmaids, closing your eyes, and thinking of England.Situation
: You're visiting your grandparents and your parents ask you to not to wear something masculine. Verdict
: Play nice, but don't femme it up.Reasoning
: Your family loves you no matter what... but sometimes they need to be nudged into accepting gender nonconformity. It's amazing what people can get used to (and sometimes we don't give them enough credit). But if you never push them, they'll never change. That said, maybe you don't need
to wear a tie to Thanksgiving. How about khakis and a sweater? You're not compromising your identity, nor will you give Grandma a coronary.Situation
: You're interviewing for a job in a conservative industry.Verdict
: Don't femme it up.Reasoning
: Unless you plan to femme it up every day on the job, don't do it in the interview. A nice dark suit--men's or women's--is fine. (I recommend matching the gender of your suit to the gender of your shoes; your look will be more coherent.) You'll interview better if you're physically comfortable. My interview go-to outfit is a dark grey men's suit, black Ecco men's shoes, and a lavender or light green men's dress shirt (tie optional). Would you really want to work for an employer who balks at hiring a butch?
What's the toughest decision YOU'VE ever had to make re: whether to femme it up? What did you do?
I've gotten three emails this month from femmes asking how to explain to people that just because they date women who "dress like men," it doesn't mean that deep down, they "really want a man." I can only speak for myself, but I bet some of the following is true for other readers who date butches.
Dating a butch is nothing like dating a guy. There are many reasons for this. Some are physical. For example, men have way more body hair. Ugh. Also, regardless of their gender presentation, women have curves that men do not. A butch doesn't always let the world see these curves, but if you're her lover, you get to be up close and personal with them, and there's something special about this. Plus, women are soft!
A man in a tie and a woman in a tie project entirely different energies. Both people might exude strength, and both might even exude masculinity, but the nature of that masculinity is quite different. To me, there's something quietly subversive and original about a woman's masculine energy. It may be queer, deviant, or nonconformist. It may co-opt traditional trappings of power without embodying them.
One of the joys of dating women is that you get to create everything from scratch. When a woman dates a man, there's an inherent gender script already written. Defaults exist about everything from child-rearing to household chores. True, many people deviate from these (though I'd argue that more don't). But many straight people, even very nontraditional ones, don't seem to find the mere existence of this script uncomfortable. But when I was with a man, I was deeply aware of it. As progressive and gender-enlightened as my DXH was (and is), I felt great unease that these norms existed. I couldn't help but be intensely aware of them. I didn't like how people perceived and related to me as the female member of a hetero couple. It felt awkward, as if I was always "doing" femininity wrong.
And of course, if it's a heterosexual man asking you this question, you could always respond by asking why he doesn't just date a man in a dress.
What are your answers to the "Why don't you just date a guy" question?
My hosting site keeps track of the searches that get people to Butch Wonders. I never paid much attention until this month, when "turned butch dyke mind control stories" caught my eye. Bizarre that this would lead someone to BW, and more bizarre to imagine what this particular Googler was seeking. I was horrified/delighted by some of the Google searches that got people here. My favorite from this month:
- guys looking HOT [I'm guessing this person was disappointed]
- HAPPy birthday sexy guys long hair [I'm guessing this person was even more disappointed]
- zhang yun jing not lesbian [admittedly, my gaydar's not always the best, but are you sure about that?]
- how butch women grow hair [on a hair farm. obvi.]
- vulva butch [the really surprising thing here is that two different people conducted this search... what??]
- You travelled around Nigeria photographing a group of men who keep hyenas animals that have been known to devour humans on the end of a piece of chain. How did you discover these guys? [I swear I'm not making this stuff up.]
- butch man in womens workout clothes [this person was probably looking for this classy snapshot]
- bike shorts for initiation [humiliating clothes and archaic initiation rituals? sign me up!]
- is it cool to wear a shirt under a tank top men [no. no. no.]
- had a nordstrom interview today? [I knew I was forgetting something.]
- what about carrying sex toys on a plane [put them in an opaque plastic bag with your pocket knife and drill bits and send 'em down the conveyor belt]
- how to become a butch lesbian if im fat [sorry. it's impossible.]
- I then have within five minutes [what?]
- "me in a skirt" gay porn [there are no words.]
And just for fun, here are some other stats from the last 30 days:
Highest # of visits on a single day: 1522
Lowest # of visits on a single day: 355
Number of countries from which people have visited: 83Countries with the most BW readers:
Cities with the most BW readers:
- New Zealand
- New York, NY
- San Francisco, CA
- Brantford, Canada [Can somebody explain this one to me?]
- Portland, OR
- London, England
- Sunnyvale, CA [Two of my closest friends live there, but the site I use tracks IP addresses, not hits, so who are the rest of you? Is Sunnyvale a secret dyke mecca? How did you beat Boston and Oakland?]
- Chicago, IL
- Los Angeles, CA [This one surprised me, too--when I think of LA, I think of Carmen on the L-Word, not Julie Wolf or Chris Pureka.]
- Melbourne, Australia
- Seattle, WA
And here are some surprising places that aren't in the top 10, but from which I have WAY more visitors than I would have expected:
- Krasnoyarsk, Russia
- Cape Town, South Africa
- Helsinki, Finland
- Huntsville, Alabama
- Ballinger, Texas
In any case, it continually blows me away to see how many people read my little five-month-old blog. I love
writing it and really appreciate that you read it. Thank you!
My DGF says that everyone has his or her "57 Rules of the Universe," and that most disagreements stem from people having different assumptions about the way the universe works. She also says that no two people on earth have the same 57 rules.
Yesterday I sat down and wrote the first 57 "rules" that came to mind. Some are idiosyncratic and specific; others are very general. Some came from other people (my mom, grandmother, friends, teachers); others are things I've observed. Some aren't even really "rules;" they're more like preferences. But we can learn a lot about how people see the world by trying to understand their rules, and I got a kick out of trying to articulate mine. BW's 57 Rules of the Universe
(Runner-up rules include "Raw tomatoes are the devil's food" and "Pluto really IS a planet.")
- Your friends will date whomever they want to. Your admonition not to date someone will either drive you apart or lead your friend to be secretive.
- Nearly everyone is just as insecure as you are. You will never fully believe this.
- Don't wear hats in a restaurant, or at a meal in a friend's house.
- Arrogance and manipulation are terrible traits. Trust the guileless.
- Unless you are someone's best friend, you don't get to tell that person that he or she looks tired.
- Hard work can make up for talent in 95% of circumstances. Talent can make up for hard work in only 50%. Hard work + talent = unbeatable.
- Some people know some things. Other people know other things.
- Sometimes you have to take the leap and build your wings on the way down.
- Trust your gut.
- Sleep is the best way to prevent illness. Vitamin C and "Wellness Herbal Resistance Liquid" (stupid name, good product) are also useful.
- You can learn just as much from good fiction as you can from good nonfiction.
- You don't get to choose whether you're a writer; you just get to choose whether to write. This probably applies to lots of other things as well.
- Be good to animals. They need you.
- If all the women in the world just made a pact not to dye their hair, then women with grey hair would no longer look older than they are.
- Read as much as you can.
- Running on dirt is better than running on pavement if you have shin splints.
- Most of us are doing the best we can.
- Learn what comma splices are; avoid them.
- If you want someone to know that you're a true friend, show up to help him or her on moving day.
- In the end, no one really cares what you do with your life except you, so you'd better do something you enjoy.
- If you have a sore throat, combine the juice of a whole lemon with some very hot water and a little honey. Drink it.
- Try to hold yourself to a higher standard than anyone else sets for you.
- Do what you know IS right, not what is thought of as right or what you are told is right.
- Adversity isn't something to "overcome;" it's something to draw on and make yourself stronger.
- Most of age is mental.
- You're not obligated to spend time with people who make you feel inferior, bored, or angry.
- Best cookbook: one filled with recipes from family and friends.
- When returning a food container to someone, don't return it empty--make something else and put it in the container before returning it.
- Bring a small gift or a bottle of wine whenever someone invites you over to (more than an extremely casual) dinner.
- Instead of putting a quarter or two in a homeless person's change cup every day, occasionally go up to a homeless person and offer to buy him or her a whole meal--lunch, dinner, whatever. Get this lunch from somewhere you, yourself, like to eat.
- Most physical items are not worth the money. Among the exceptions: Apple computers, good pots and pans, well-fitting pants.
- Shoes that make you look silly: Crocs, Uggs, and Vibrams (those toe shoes). Yeah, I know they're comfortable. But you still look silly.
- Professionals worth their weight in gold: a good tailor, a good gynecologist, a good therapist, a good stylist or barber.
- The biggest compliment you can give a business is recommending it to your friends and/or writing a Yelp review.
- Running is more fun with a dog.
- Handwritten thank-you notes are a lost art, appreciated by everyone, mandatory if the recipient is over 50 years old or wears sweater sets.
- If you RSVP to something, you should actually go.
- An 18-20% tip is the norm for good restaurant service. For lousy service, tip 12-15%, pre-tax. If you go to a restaurant and split a meal, tip as much as you would if you'd each ordered your own meal.
- Listen to other people. You can learn a lot. And at the root of it, most of us want to be heard.
- Audiobooks are a great way to survive a commute and/or a long run.
- Stay as close to your family as you can, especially parents and siblings. If they have issues with your "lifestyle," stay hopeful. People change.
- Things I never regret time spent doing: writing, having sex, exercising.
- Don't assume that people are thinking the worst of you; they rarely are.
- There's no excuse for wearing pleated plants.
- All steeples point to heaven.
- In renting an apartment, washer-dryer access and a parking place are non-negotiable. A dishwasher (and everything else) is negotiable.
- Popcorn tastes best while watching a movie. Air-popped popcorn eaten while sitting on the couch at home tastes best of all.
- It is practically criminal to let tickets to an event go to waste; if you're not going to use them, give them away.
- In order to be in a successful relationship with someone, at least 29 of their rules must overlap with yours.
- Most ranking systems (best colleges, best cities to live in, etc.) are stupid, or at least random, and completely change depending on which variables are included in the calculation.
- Don't pass up opportunities to travel (it's good for the brain) or to go to the beach (it's good for the soul).
- It's not okay to call your DGF a "bitch" (or worse), even if you're having a fight.
- If you eat something in the morning, it automatically qualifies as a breakfast food. Thus, breakfast pizza and breakfast cake are real phenomena.
- In general, do not waste food. This includes pizza crusts and the heel of the bread. (But if it's old, dump it!)
- Food that has no calories: cough drops, cookie dough, bites from someone else's plate, fruit, vegetables, and stuff you eat while cooking.
- There is zero shame in shopping at thrift stores. In fact, a good score at a thrift store should be a major point of pride.
- It's not okay to judge someone until you've walked a mile in his or her moccasins.
Obviously, I'm not saying that any of these is
right--just that this is how I see things. Which ones overlap with YOUR rules? Which ones do you disagree with the most? And what are a few of YOUR rules of the universe?
There's one day every year when it really sets in that autumn is upon you. For me, that day was today. My world is riddled with indicia of fall: candy corn in the supermarket, the smell of rain in the air, leaves changing color, and my dog refusing to go outside because it's below 45 degrees. For me, it was a particularly appropriate day for change to be in the air, because yesterday, I decided to make a big one: the DGF and I are moving. As in, moving in. As in, moving in together
We've been (back) together for two years, and have known each other for almost four, so it's not exactly a U-Haul scenario. Still, for me it's a pretty big deal. After my DXH and I split, I never thought I'd live with another human being. I didn't see this as a bad thing. Sure, it can be lonely to live solo, but: (1) I'm a poor sharer of personal space--as in, I need a ton
of it; (2) I sing poorly and constantly--Billy Joel songs, made-up lyrics, or combinations thereof--something only my dog should have to tolerate; and most importantly, (3) once you've merged households with someone you love, breaking up takes on a whole new level of difficulty. It's hard to communicate in writing how heart-wrenching it was for me to split with my DXH (although someday I'll try to articulate it in more detail). I didn't think I'd ever be willing to subject myself to the possibility of feeling that kind of pain again. And yet: here I am.
Prior to our decision, my DGF and I had long discussed, hypothetically, the possibility of moving in together. We live 30 minutes apart, which is a pain, but we both have great landlords and fabulous places that we'd be sorry to leave. I'm also wicked allergic to one of her cats and semi-allergic to the other, which seemed, for now, dispositive. (I didn't think lesbians were even allowed
to be allergic to cats.) But then, idly browsing Craigslist apartments (as I mentioned in my last post
that I'm wont to do), I happened upon a house with a detached studio. That's right--a separate house for cats
. Not to mention: a big fenced yard, hardwood floors, hiking trails nearby, a bar, cafe, and grocery store within walking distance, and... wait for it... a built in side-by-side gas and charcoal grill on the patio. What more could two butches in love possibly want?
So we checked it out, both thought it was ridiculously perfect, and are planning to sign the lease this week. Whoa. This is happening fast, but at the same time, it feels right. Occasionally in my life, I'm lucky enough to have a gut reaction about a big decision. Every time I've disregarded this feeling, I've regretted it (cough, law school debt, cough). And my gut has a strong feeling this time, so I'm going to follow it.
Well, dear readers, this time I'm asking YOU for advice... anything the DGF and I know/do before moving in together?