How'd You Get Here From There?
As regular readers know, I love checking out the search terms that lead people to butchwonders.com, and I sometimes find it incredibly perplexing what people search for. I love sharing some of the more off-the-wall searches that got people to Butch Wonders. Here are my favorites from July and August.
That's it for July and August, folks! Hope you get as big a kick out of these as I do!
Thanks to longtime BW reader Cat Fortier (of Unleashed Studio) for sending in this excellent illustration of a bow-tie-munching goat after reading my September 2 post about goat-milking. I love this! Wouldn't it be cool on a T-shirt or a coffee mug?
I'm writing this post to help me think through a reaction I've felt recently. I don't fully understand it, so bear with me. I've written a bunch about trans issues in the past--for example, explaining how dysphoria can be experienced by non-trans people, the differences between butch women and trans men, discussing some infuriating anti-trans sentiments in the lesbian community and the tension between butch women and trans men, and giving advice to a reader trying to figure out whether he or she was trans. I'm interested in trans issues not only because equality and respect for trans individuals is fundamentally important to the queer community at large, but also because understanding people's transphobic impulses can tell us a great deal about how we understand sex and gender.
So here's what's been bothering me. Lately, I've met a number of people who identify as butch women (and sometimes, but not always, as genderqueer), and who exclusively use feminine pronouns (she, her, hers), and who also modify their bodies in various ways consistent with popular understandings of masculinity: specifically, taking moderate amounts of testosterone, which (particularly if paired with certain kinds of physical activity) can result in major masculinization of the jawline/shoulders/etc. So as a result, many of these women look way more "masculine" than a woman who does not take supplemental testosterone. The fact that this is a trend does not bother me; people should be able to do whatever they want with their bodies. What bothers me is my own reaction. There's a little piece of me that feels like they are "cheating" or "having it both ways" by taking testosterone but not being trans. My internal reaction is super disturbing to me, because on an intellectual and spiritual level, there is literally no reason for me to feel even a little bit uncomfortable! It makes no sense. My own reaction is intolerant, wrong, and inconsistent with my values.
So here's what I think is going on. On most people's idea of what a "woman" is, I am pretty far on the masculine end of the spectrum. I like being a masculine woman; it is who I am. And I would like to think that my satisfaction with my own identity is wholly internal. But, of course, this is impossible; we are social animals, after all. When I see a trans man, I am not "threatened" or bothered in the least, even viscerally. He's in a different category from me. He is a man. But the women I am describing take male hormones and identify as women. They put themselves in the same category as me: masculine woman. But since they are taking testosterone and making their bodies and presentations more masculine, I feel less masculine in comparison to other people in my "masculine women" category. Maybe my discomfort comes from this perceived threat to my masculinity. If so, this is interesting but disturbing, in part because I like to think of my own identity as self-contained--as stemming from me, not from my relationship to the rest of society. Except, of course, that I don't exist in a vacuum.
As you can tell, I haven't thought this through completely, but I wonder if anyone else has felt anything like this. I talk to butch women occasionally who say that they feel "pressure" to transition. I can honestly say that no one has ever pressured me to become trans (although occasionally people assume that I must be "at least thinking about it," since so many of the masculine women they used to know have become men). There is not much personal allure for me in the idea of existing as a man. I like being a woman. But I guess I also like being a masculine one, and I guess that that masculinity is more precarious than I would sometimes like to acknowledge.
Okay, dear readers--a number of you have expressed surprise and disbelief that I, who have openly revealed that I am less than enamored with camping, would hang out with goats. So I am sharing photographic evidence of said goat-butch interactions.
First, to the left, is a picture of me feeding a baby goat. Part of our volunteer duties involve feeding the adult goats, baby goats, and grouchy llama that live on this farm. We load a bunch of alfalfa and grass into a wheelbarrow, then dump everything into a huge, wooden cage-like structure, and then a GOAT FEEDING FRENZY ensues. But the adult goats are mean to the little ones, and are always butting the kids to try to keep them away from the food. So I started taking grass and feeding the babies on my own, which my Dear Partner (DP) believes is teaching them to be wimpy. She may be right, but we're only there 2-3 times a month, so I figure an occasional indulgence won't hurt them.
To the right is a snapshot of the llama. As much as I like the llama, I am also a little scared of him, mainly because he reminds me of Skeletor from He-Man when viewed head-on. From the side, which is how I prefer to view him, he looks a good deal more camel-esque. The llama was originally acquired by this farm to keep away mountain lions. I'm not sure who thought this was a good idea (in llama vs. mountain lion combat, my money would pretty much always be on a mountain lion). And it didn't work. Goats on this farm were eaten by mountain lions on a semi-regular basis until they built a goat enclosure that was 10 feet high instead of six feet high. Despite his ineffectuality, the llama is a permanent resident.
Sure, there have been mishaps (e.g., each of us has let the goats get out of the enclosure accidentally, which means that there are goats running all over the place; our recipes are not always successful, etc.) But overall, it's been fun. Over the entrance to the farm, they have a big plaque that says "TRY NEW THINGS." I think that's a pretty important thing to remember about life, don't you?