I'm lucky enough to have a fabulous relationship with my mom. We don't always perfectly understand each other, but we know each other better than almost anyone else knows us. And I really wish I could be celebrating Mothers' Day with her today (albeit one of those arbitrary holidays that we celebrate largely because Hallmark tells us to--but that doesn't change the fact that it's a day we all think about moms).
Anyway, in honor of Mothers' Day, I thought I'd combine Butch Wonders themes with mothering and pose the following questions to readers:
- When you were a kid, did you think you'd be a mom?
- Where were you when you came out to your mom (if you're out)?
- What are two major traits you and your mom share?
- What's something your mom taught you?
- Name a mom you wish you could be with today (besides your own).
I'll go first.
- No way! I wanted--maybe, at the most--to be a dad. To me, this meant going to work all day and not being involved in childcare.
- At a PF Chang's. We were out to lunch and I said, "Mom, I have something to tell you." And then I burst into tears right in the middle of P.F. Chang's. My mom asked, "Are you okay? Are you going to die? Do you have cancer?" I shook my head. "Is someone you love or I love about to die?" I shook my head again. She said, "Well, then whatever it is, it'll be okay." Then we ate lemon chicken. I think it took her some time to accept my sexual orientation, and maybe a little longer than that to accept my butchiness. I guess "process" is a better word than "accept," because I've never felt "unaccepted" by my mom. And I've never regretted not being open as my "whole" self to her. After all, she's the one who taught me that it was not only okay but great(!) to be quirky and different from all the other kids.
- Tenacity and creativity.
- The importance of being a surVIVor, as she says--meaning persevering in the face of adversity. When life throws her lemons, my mom does not get discouraged, nor does she "make lemonade." Instead, she catches the lemons and stacks them into a pile, then uses the pile to get somewhere she'd rather be. Or she, like, makes a car out of lemons and drives away. She is pretty darned awesome.
- My mom's mom. She died many years ago. I still think about her a lot. She was an amazing, philosophical, totally self-made woman.
How about you
, dear readers? What are your answers to some of these questions?
Just a quick post to announce that The Trevor Project
won the poll, and 1/3 of the proceeds from Mad 4 Equality will be donated there. Thanks for voting--I expect to post entry info in a day or two, and am super stoked about the tournament. Stay tuned!On a slightly different BW note, I wanted to apologize for being such a lax little blogger lately. A couple different things have been going on, one of which involved me stepping off of a sidewalk onto uneven pavement and twisting my foot, causing a ligament to pull a chunk of bone off. So I'm hobbling around on crutches and demanding things from my DGF, who is being a ridiculously wonderful sport about it. I'll try to pick up the pace, though, for your reading pleasure. I miss you guys! Love, BW
On a whim last week, I posted a question on my Facebook page
: "What do butches do that bugs you?" I invited anyone--butches, non-butches, whoever--to answer, and got over 200 responses from BW readers. Responses varied, but some distinct themes emerged. (To be clear, I'm not saying that butches have these traits--or that I'm not guilty of any!)
Whether there's truth in any of these is highly debatable. But these are some stereotypes people hold, and I think it's worth knowing about them, engaging with them, and taking them seriously. For example,
- Ignoring other butches. Several butch readers said that they'd love to have more butch friends, but that other butches ignore them or are unresponsive when they reach out. I've had this experience--but on the other hand, I've had the opposite, too (which is how I became such good friends with my buddy C). Check out my post on butch-butch friendships.
- Too much time in the bathroom or on their hair. [BW averts her eyes.]
- Dressing too sloppily. One reader wrote, "I love butch girls but [it] bothers me it they wear their pants super baggy and walk around grabbing their crotch. It's disgusting when a man does it but when a sexy, beautiful butch woman does it it looks ridiculous." Another reader opined that there are many butches "who think that tracksuit bottoms, a t-shirt and wearing the same deodorant as a 15 year old boy is acceptable first date attire." No BW readers, I hope! (Oh--and a few readers specifically mentioned that they've seen a lot of butches in bras that don't give them enough support. That's no good. If you wear a 38D, a $15 sports bra from Target doesn't cut it.)
- Excessive "swagger" or cockiness. This was a big one, mentioned by more readers than any other trait. One butch wrote that "super rude, cocky, puff-out-your-chest butch women irritate [her]." Another said she disliked the "hyper-ego." she occasionally saw among butches. I agree that arrogance--which is very different from confidence--is never attractive. And I hate that so many people associate this kind of behavior with the word "butch!"
- Trying to police butchness. This includes telling soft butches that they're not real butches and stating "rules" like, "You can't be butch if you have long hair" or "If you wear women's underwear, you're not butch." What? I acknowledge that it's hard to define "butch," but I believe that identity policing is rooted in insecurity. (One butch reader wrote, "I hate when femmes think I'm too butch and butches think I'm too soft. Can't we just agree that I'm cute and will make your mom love me and make your dad wish I was his dyke-in-law?")
- Hating on butch-butch couples; hating on trans men; hating on bisexual women. You don't have to understand (or even like) people who are different from you, but why not try to be kind to them?
- "Puffing up" when they see another butch. Another big one. When you pass a butch you don't know, there's no need to glare at her (or studiously ignore her), pull your girlfriend closer to you, and use your body language to let everyone know that it's "your" McDonald's.
- Being too butch. Of all the critiques I read, this was the only one I really got annoyed at. A handful of people wrote things like, "I know you wear guys' clothes, but don't overdo it," or "Stop wearing men's pants," or "I once knew someone that wore men's underwear! Can u imagine?" (Uh, yes. Yes, I can.) This is another form of identity policing. Please don't tell me the "right" way to be butch. Geez.
- Being chauvinistic. This garnered the second-largest number of complaints (right after the swagger/cockiness one). Readers wrote that some butches want too much control in the relationship, or want to be "the guy" (or a hyperbolic, cartoon version of a guy, in any case), or expect "their woman" to wait on them, or belittle their girlfriends. No one claimed that it happened often, but most said that when it did, it tended to be in the context of a butch-femme relationship. One person wrote, "I don't want my Dapper Gentlelady... to save me, or treat me like I'm weaker or lesser than her... Just because she has an impressive tie collection (no, seriously; it's something to behold) doesn't make her the 'man' in the relationship. There isn't a man here, just two equal women; one in a bow tie, the other in heels."
- Cheating or being a player. (Most readers acknowledged that this isn't specific to butches; it's just that I asked about butches. Maybe I would have gotten the same answer by asking about femmes.)
- Wearing dresses just because it's what's expected of them. Readers weren't exactly "bothered" by this--more like "disheartened." It made them sad to see butches conform to social norms when they clearly didn't want to (although readers also acknowledged that sure, some butches might feel comfortable in a dress).
- Not respecting their elders. This quote summed it up: "I would like to hear less [sic] derogatory comments about older butches. I hear too often insults about their clothes, their mannerisms, and even their looks. I think we all forget the struggle they went through, coming out in a much less forgiving era. They essentially paved the path we all so 'gayly' walk now."
- Playing it too close to the vest. Many people commented that butches seem more difficult than most to get to know. They used phrases like "ultra protective of everything" or "not letting people know them." Hmm... I can certainly relate to the disinclination to make oneself vulnerable (once bitten, twice shy, and all that).
one straight reader (I LOVE that straight people read BW--you rock, straight readers!) wrote that in contrast to, say, gay men, she finds butches a little intimidating. I was surprised at first--me
? But I appreciated her honesty. And although, sure, I wish people didn't assume things about butches based on our appearance, it also reminded me that I might need to go out of my way sometimes to make myself approachable (I'm not suggesting that everyone needs to do this--it just matters to me personally).Do any of these ring true? Can it be productive to talk about them?
Last week, I had a Facebook contest
in which I asked readers to send their favorite pictures of themselves with their pets. The best photo wins a collar charm from Pooch Park Wear
. I received photos from nearly 100 readers! I'll put at least one photo from each person in the slide show below. (Warning: make sure you're sitting down, because the sheer cuteness is likely to turn your knees to pudding.)I had a lot of trouble deciding on the winner, so I thought I'd share my top five and let you guys vote on the best pic! Here are the contestants:
Butch and puppy at left, then same dog and butch a decade or so later.
I love how this photo shows the connection between a butch and her dog.
This one's just darling.
Carrying her pup on the trail (at least one of them's getting a workout).
A butch hugging her baby goat.
...And there were SO many other great ones, too! My brain was paralyzed by cuteness overload!
Vote for your favorite, and whoever has the most votes by 11:59 pm EST on Tuesday wins the prize.
Check out the rest of the awesome entries in the slideshow below. And HUGE thanks to all the wonderful readers who shared a pic of themselves and their pets--from cats to dogs to bearded dragons!
Thanks to everyone who responded to the queer college survey
I posted a few days ago. Over 60 schools were represented! Most people who responded are in college now or graduated within the last 5-10 years. Today, I'll share the colleges people
said were "awesome" for queers:
- Bard College: "Safe, supportive and open--Bard is known for the Drag Race where everyone dresses in drag."
- Bryn Mawr: "Open, safe as far as I know, and supportive. There were occasions of misandry, which is a problem as well."
- Columbia University: "Safe, supportive, and open."
- Evergreen State College: "There was a queer group on campus planning activities and doing advocacy. They also had a support phone line, discussion groups. Students and faculty at the college tend to be very politically aware and active." (BW note: this was in the 1980s!)
- Grinnell College: "It was safe and very supportive. It wasn't until I graduated and entered the 'real world' that I really realized most places aren't like that."
- Hollins University: "The atmosphere was completely open and supportive. I attended an all women's university and about 50% of the population was lesbian/bi/curious. Due to this large population, the entire campus was very aware and supportive of lesbians and trans*. "
- Humboldt State University: "There was a women's and multicultural center and most LGBTQ folks congregated there. It was a very progressive area."
- Metropolitan State University in Saint Paul, MN: "Safe, supportive, very open."
- Northwestern University: "More gay men were out than lesbian women. My environment was very supportive - friends, fellow students, even professors."
- NSU Davie: "Really no one cared. My college was very group specific, meaning whatever group of friends you had that's where you stuck."
- Ohio State University: "It was awesome! Columbus has a great LGBT nightlife and people were so friendly and accepting. My experience could not have been better. Being a college athlete may have helped."
- Puget Sound: "It was pretty great. We have a queer club on campus and I've never come into contact with any negativity regarding sexual orientation or gender identity."
- Reed College: "Safe. Supportive. Open."
- San Francisco State: "Safe, supportive - All San Francisco, all the time!" (BW note: OMG, and this was in the 1970s!)
- Skidmore College: "Very open! The professors are awesome and the other queer students are really cool people. I'm a senior but I'm sad to leave such a supportive community!"
- Smith College: "At Smith sometimes it seems like everyone is gay -- there are so many out and proud people that LGBTQ culture becomes somewhat normalized. It's amazing and incredibly empowering. Trans students still struggle with institutional and community transphobia, but there is a strong network of student support that I believe makes Smith an important school for gender-queer and trans folks to consider." Another Smith grad writes: "It was super safe and supportive. It was never an issue and it helped me figure myself out."
- SUNY Purchase: "Awesome and open."
- University of CA at Santa Barbara (see pic and caption below)
Of the University of California at Santa Barbara, a reader writes: "I felt safe and supported by an amazing queer community... We hold an annual Pride Week in which rainbow colored stakes border the bike paths going through the center of school."
I was stoked to see the breadth of colleges that provide super atmospheres for queers these days: public, private, and all over the United States!In one of my next posts, I'll share people's experiences on the other end of the spectrum, and I'll also offer some tips for high schoolers on how to find a gay-friendly college.
- University of CA at Santa Cruz: "open and supportive. Lots of LGBT activities."
- University of Southern CA: "USC has campus-wide Pride events, a queer student resource center, a queer "Lavender Graduation," and LGBTQ student organizations frequently honored as being the most organized and best on campus. When I left, I felt that the events and the leadership was becoming less cis-gay male centric and more female/womyn/queer centric... more things like gender-neutral housing and gender-neutral bathrooms (both of which are works in progress). These things seem to be stalled... because USC's administration is fairly conservative and wants to appease donors... There are lots of opportunities to take classes with professors who are leading scholars in queer studies, gender studies & women's studies and American studies. Quite a few of these professors are openly queer."
- Vassar College: "Extremely open - they even had a whole queer-tastic building that we used a gathering/hang out center, lots of campus wide initiatives to celebrate things like national coming out day and aids awareness, and school supported/student run erotic magazine that often featured same sex photography. It was a happy LGBTQ playground!!"
- Wellesley: "Totally supportive."
The convergence of two things I was reading today led me to this post:
- An older post over at The Feral Librarian, in which that blogger responded to a question I asked her: if you had one month + unlimited money, what would you do to improve your institution's library?
- The book The Willpower Instinct, by Kelly McGonigal, which is about the science of willpower, and what we can do to increase our willpower. (I'm only a few dozen pages into the book--it's great so far.)
So I started wondering: if I had unlimited willpower, what would I do with my life this month? How would it look different from the way it looks now? What things would I do, not do, start, or finish?According to McGonigal, most people struggle with willpower. I know I do. She invites readers to pick a particular "willpower challenge" of one of the following types:
Then she suggests various ways to help meet these challenges. In Chapter One, for example, she advises being uber-vigilant about when you are making a choice--even to the point of carrying a notebook and writing it down. Why? Because we often aren't aware that we're making decisions at all. It turns out that if you ask people in the abstract, "How many decisions do you make about food/eating daily?" they guess about 14. But then if they actually count these decisions, it ends up being over 200! The idea is to get acquainted with how the decision-making moment feels, whether it's the urge to check your email or the urge to order those hot Converse from Zappos.That brings me to my question for you: if you had one month and unlimited willpower, what would you do in that month? What "I will"/"I won't"/"I want" challenges would you take on? These aren't rhetorical questions--I really want to know! You show me yours and I'll show you mine...
- An "I won't"-power challenge: Something you want to challenge yourself not to do--e.g., avoiding one-night stands, not spending any more money to build your bowtie collection, or not doing lines of coke off dirty toilet seats on weekdays.
- An "I will"-power challenge: A habit or practice you want to do--e.g., pay your bills on time, work on your home knitting projects for at least an hour each day, or learn to tie a new tie knot each week.
- An "I want"-power challenge: A long term big goal you want to achieve, or big project you want to complete--e.g., go to Zanzibar, lose 200 pounds, or pitch a guest post for Butch Wonders.
Hi friends! Sorry for the kinda-long absence. My ADD-addled brain has been preoccupied with a number of things the past few weeks, including but not limited to:
1. Finishing a profile for one of my jobs;
2. Propagating succulents;
3. Doing a big around-the-house project with my DGF;
4. Taking a bunch of photographs for a website for one of my other jobs;
5. Undergoing massive amounts of career-related identity crisis.
Anyway, I'm back now (yay! I missed you!) and was wondering what you all thought about the following topic: When, if at all, is separation based on sex ideal/necessary?
First, a few caveats. Let's acknowledge that this question is inherently problematic: cissexist, falsely essentialist, and denies the experience of intersex people. It assumes that sex is a dichotomy, which it is not. (Also, note that I'm talking about sex, not gender
So, I'm curious: What do you think about separation based on sex in the following scenarios?
When do you think that sex (or gender) separation is necessary and/or ideal? Would you be happier in a world with no sex separation?
First, let's get three things out of the way. (1) I voted for President Obama, and expect to do so again; (2) It is awesome that, for the first time in US history, a sitting president has announced his support for gay marriage; (3) This may be an important step toward building a national consensus.Still, I felt more annoyed than excited about the President's announcement today. Some sources have portrayed this as an "edgy" or potentially divisive move (as has Obama himself). The President also stated: "
I had hesitated on gay marriage in part because I thought civil unions would be sufficient, that that was something that would give people hospital visitation rights and other elements that we take for granted..."
As if, after wrestling with the facts, he has finally evolved into a supporter.
I say: bullshit. Like any self-respecting Constitutional law professor and civil rights advocate, Obama supported gay marriage
before he became a presidential candidate. Then, once he decided to run, he eschewed these privately-held beliefs. Not coincidentally, the polls
at that time showed that a majority of Americans opposed same-sex marriage, too. More recently, the political balance tipped, and a majority of Americans now support
same-sex marriage. Then--voila--after testing the waters with VP Biden's announcement yesterday, President Obama suddenly comes out supporting same-sex marriage, too?
The President's open support of same-sex marriage is wonderful, but let's be honest: if most Americans had supported gay marriage in 2008, he would have supported it back then. And if public support hadn't grown, he wouldn't have come out in favor of it now. President Obama is, foremost, a politician. If we pretend that we're that much more to him than another issue, another constituency, another factor in the political calculus, we're kidding ourselves.
Wow, I haven't blogged for four days! Dagnabbit. I've been thinking a lot about this site, though: how BW can be better, more interesting, etc. I'd also love it to be financially sustainable (i.e. if I could break even for my hours and site costs).
I can't please everyone, and don't try to. But I do care what this site's awesome readers think. Because of you, Butch Wonders has gone from nothing (in May 2011) to over 1000 unique hits every day! I want to keep BW strong and vibrant and growing, and to that end, I'd love your input.
Whether you're a regular reader or have only read a few posts, I hope you'll fill out this wee survey. On the multiple choice ones, you can check as many answers as you want.
Thank you SO much for taking the time to fill this out. I really appreciate it, and will be back to out regularly scheduled blogging soon! I promise!
Love and a fist bump,
Here's the first installment of my "butches and jobs" series. As regular readers know, last week I posted a survey
asking butch readers about their job search histories. I got a big response--well over 200 readers filled out the whole thing (thanks!).
Unsurprisingly, my youngest readers didn't fill it out (since most of them don't have work histories yet). But aside from this, there was a fairly widespread representation of ages. See?
Okay, admittedly that pie chart is a little gratuitous. But it was my practice for using Word to make charts, and I was too delighted with myself for having done this not to share it. Pretty colors! Wheeee!
So as you might remember, I asked about what factors "affect" you when you're looking for a job. You could choose as many as you want, or none at all. The job characteristics I listed were: helps society, lets me wear what I want, gives benefits to my partner, lets me live somewhere cool, and lets me be as "out" as I want. They're shown by percentage (in ascending order):
I thought these results were pretty interesting. Maybe the most interesting to me was "I can wear what I want." Seven out of ten of us
are affected by this. Maybe if we polled straight people, some of them would be affected by the ability to wear what they wanted on the job, too, but I highly doubt it would be 70%! It's depressing that this is a factor so many of us have to consider. But to me, this really underscores the idea that self-presentation, particularly when it comes to clothing choices, is at the core of who we are and what allows us to be ourselves. Can I be "me" in a skirt suit? Not easily.
I was a little surprised that partner benefits were so low on the list--only 36%. Maybe this is because a lot of you don't have partners, or have partners whose workplaces already provide insurance, or work in a field where benefits aren't typically available, or work in a country with universal health care. A few people wrote in the comments that regardless of whether their partners need
health benefits, as a matter of principle they try not to work for companies who don't offer
same-sex partner benefits.
"I can be as 'out' as I want" topped the list--more than 3/4 of you are affected by the extent to which you can comfortably be out as LGBTQ at work. Not too surprising, since fewer than half of all states in the U.S. have protection for people who are fired because of sexual orientation. Some of you have experienced this. Here are a few quotes from the survey:
- "I have been fired, and not hired, for being butch."
- "I have been fired for being out."
- "I joined the Army but was booted out after 18 months because I was gay."
- "I have been fired for being gay."
- "Twenty years ago I was advised to leave a globally recognised accountancy firm as they would never make my 'type' partner. Weirdly, the advice was given in my best interest."
- "I was fired after a boss figured out I'm a dyke."
- "I was asked to leave an interview for being 'too masculine.'"
- "I have been fired for my sexual orientation... since then I make sure my gayness is clear and undeniable from day one."
That last quote is something that a few others of you mentioned as well: you come out immediately, even in as early the interview or through signals on your resume (volunteer activities, etc.). Presumably if someone has a huge problem with it, they'll never hire you in the first place. I understand the "who would want to work for a homophobe anyway" approach (I use this same approach when talking to prospective landlords). But it's also really crummy that in an economy where jobs are scarce, we'd be excluded from any
of them for who we are.
More to follow about butches and jobs in future posts. Happy Leap Year! (Oh--and a note to you statisticians out there: I'm fully aware that this isn't a random sample, that I haven't controlled for various factors, etc., etc. I'm not claiming scientific validity!)