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.
Reasoning: 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:
Highest # of visits on a single day: 1522
Lowest # of visits on a single day: 355
Number of countries from which people have visited: 83
Countries with the most BW readers:
Cities with the most BW readers:
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:
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.")
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?