"Sure, I'm for gay rights, but I'm voting for Romney."
"I don't agree with him on gay marriage, but overall, I agree with his values."
"Gay rights is just one issue; I'm looking at the whole picture."
Each time I hear a statement like this, it irks me anew. But why? Do I really think my right to get married is more important than homelessness, health care, or the economy? Geez, I don't think so. But even if I didn't disagree with Romney on these issues, I'd have a hard time voting for him.
The crux of the problem is that for me, gay rights isn't "another issue," but a prior question--that is, a question that has to be answered before another one can be asked. For example, if I ask, "What kind of cookies should we make?" I've already answered (or implied the answer to) the prior question of: "are we going to make cookies?"
To discuss issues with someone, I have prior questions. A central one is: are we equals? I am using "equals" in the sense of people who see each other as people, discussing and exchanging ideas--in the "all people are created equal" sense. Does the person value me and consider me valid as a human?
To me, someone who does not believe in equal rights for gays and lesbians sees me (and/or my behavior) as subhuman. They do not believe that my full, real self is equal to their full, real self. They do not see me and my life the same way they see themselves and their lives. For this reason, the answer to the prior question of whether this is a person with whom I can engage in rational debate is "no." If you don't see me as your equal in terms of the human rights I deserve, it's very, very difficult for me to think you're worthwhile to engage with about anything else.
This doesn't mean that someone needs to think I'm awesome, or love my choices. I think some people make terrible choices or are cruel people. But this doesn't mean I think they deserve fewer rights than I do. I dislike people who objectify women, but I would not favor a constitutional amendment that denied them the right to get married or prevented their partners from getting health care.
And this, dear readers, is why gay rights isn't "just another issue" for me. Is it for you? Have you ever heard people say the things I quoted at the beginning of this post? How did you respond?
A few years ago, psychologist Barry Schwartz wrote The Paradox of Choice--a pop psych book with a deceptively simple bottom line: though we think of choice as a good thing, having too many options makes us miserable.
Schwartz says there are two kinds of decision-makers: "maximizers" and "satisficers." A maximizer wants to make the best decision possible. If you spend forever on Amazon reviewing tea kettles before buying one, you're probably a maximizer. In contrast, satisficers want to make decisions that are "good enough." A satisficer might think, "I want a kettle with a copper bottom for under $50." She buys the first one that meets that criteria.
We might think maximizers make better choices--after all, they read reviews and know the specs. Sure, their decisions are a little better, but not by much. More importantly, they are less likely to be happy with their decisions.
How does all this apply to your dating life? This article talks about being single in LA. It points out that while big cities offer lots of choices, having too many choices of whom to date creates an illusion that it's possible to find a "perfect" match. In Schwartz's parlance, it makes us into maximizers; we're less satisfied with the person we're dating. On the other hand, if you're stuck in a small town, there's not a lot of choice, so you naturally become a satisficer. You find someone who matches you reasonably well and you're pretty darn happy.
Of course, dating for queers is different. There aren't as many of us, so maybe we're always satisficers, even in most big cities. Or maybe because so many of us date online, it creates a "maximizer" mentality regardless of where we live.
What do you think about all this? What kind of cities have you had the most luck dating in? Did you find your significant other in a giant pool or a small one?
via Creative Commons
You're single, talking to a gorgeous single dyke. She asks if you want to grab coffee; you eagerly accept, your mind already swirling with visions of U-Hauls and organic, home-baked bread. But then she drops the bomb: "Let's meet at 3. I pick my son up from daycare at 5."
You try to act nonplussed, but a hundred thoughts swirl through your head: Did she used to be married? How old is this kid? When do I have to (or get to) meet him? Am I really old enough to date people who have kids? Do I even want kids? And what implications does this have for our U-haul, camping excursions, and mornings at the farmers' market??
Like it or not, dating a woman who has a kid can be vastly different from dating a woman without one (or two, or three). Here are a few things to keep in mind as you embark on this chapter in your dating life.
Of course, not everyone hesitates at the prospect of dating a woman with kids. A dear friend of mine was intrigued when she learned that the object of her budding affections (who is now her wife, also a dear friend) had a kid. Now the three of them are one of the most solid families I've ever known, and I know that none of them can imagine life without the other two. So what's the moral for single moms? There are two:
(1) Don't assume that being a mom will work against you in the dating world;
(2) Remember that you deserve to have someone who loves you in part for being a mom, not despite it.
So, dear readers: Have you ever dated a woman with kids? What obstacles did you face? How about my readers who are (current or former) single moms? What advice do you have for BW readers?
Me, headed to a bachelorette party
Recently it feels like people have been writing with more and more questions about me and my blog. I thought I'd answer a few of them today as best I can. Here are some that I've received from readers over the past couple of months:
Q: Why did you start BW?
A: I didn't think there were enough websites out there for women like me: lesbians toward the masculine end of the spectrum. I was unsure what to wear, what etiquette was like in certain situations, and whether other people were interested in the same kinds of discussions around identity that I am.
Q: How many hits do you get every day?
A: It varies. In the last month, my highest has been just over 3000 and my lowest has been 1000. On days I post something decent, 1500 or so.
Q: How does the traffic you get compare to other lesbian blogs?
A: I have no idea.
Q: Who's your staff?
A: My "staff??" It's just me, sitting in my living room with my dog and a cup of coffee, typing into cyberspace and hoping someone will read it.
Q: Do you make a lot of money writing Butch Wonders?
A: I've spent about $700 on site costs over the last year. And through the Butch Store and selling occasional ads, I've made maybe $300 total. So, still in the hole. I never envisioned this as a business, though, so that's okay (though it would rock to get paid for doing something I love so much!).
Q: Why do you keep the blog anonymous?
A: This has been a hard decision. The short answer is: my job. My supervisor told me my chances for advancement could be harmed by this kind of outside writing. So I'm on the DL (as BW, not as a lesbian!) because I think I can do more good by advancing in my career first and coming out as BW second. But I struggle with this. Plus, I'd love to make videos for you, and right now, all I can do is appear on the radio (which, I hope, is happening again soon--stay tuned).
Q: So does anyone know that you write this?
A: Yep. Mainly family members and close friends. A few professional contacts. And one or two folks who wanted me to write for them and needed to verify that I'm really the thirty-something dyke I claim to be (I am, though arguably more nerdy than sometimes represented here). ;)
Q: Is it true that you used to be married to a guy?
A: Yes. You can read about it in several entries. Check out my Index of Topics, under "Married to a Man."
Q: Aren't you limiting yourself by writing this for butches rather than for all lesbians?
A: Sure. But a lot of the issues I'm interested in apply mostly to masculine-of-center women. I didn't want to write about suits and ties and then claim to be a "lesbian" blog, since plenty of lesbians aren't the tie-wearing type.
Q: Do you have a girlfriend? Is she butch or femme?
A: I do! I refer to her as my DGF (dear girlfriend) on the blog. She identifies as neither butch nor femme, and mostly eschews labels (I really want her to write a post about this sometime). I suspect that most people consider her butch or soft butch, and that many people in the community would consider us a butch-butch couple (so do I, most of the time).
Q: Why don't you write a column for Curve?
A: I pitched it to them, but they never got back to me. I followed up: still no response. So at the moment, I'm not a columnist for anyone. Need a columnist? Email me!
Q: Where do you live?
A: I'm going to stick with the whole anonymity thing and not say. But I will say that I'm in a rural area that's very close to a large urban area. I think this provides a nice balance for me, though it does mean that I burn more gas than I'd prefer to.
Okay, dear readers--that will do for now. Got any other questions for me?
Ask and you shall receive, dear readers! Here's a list of my favorite search terms from last month.