_There just aren't enough good places for butches to shop. Often we spend hours and hours online or in the mall looking for a suitable vest or pair of shoes. I'm hoping to change that!
Since my first "holiday gifts for butches" post got more likes than any other post, I've been brainstorming ways to make shopping easier. Now, with a little help from Amazon (and a lot of cyber-sweat), I've created The Butch Store to share my recommendations for clothes, books, and more.
So far, I've got sections for holiday gifts for butches, and one for great butch watches. Check 'em out, then tell me what you want to see next. Happy shopping--I'm looking forward to your feedback!
I have a pet peeve: straight people who are married but nonetheless use the word "partner" rather than "husband," "wife," or "spouse." I'm not talking about the abstract sense, in which one says, "People should support their partners." I appreciate this looser, gender-inspecific term. Nor am I talking about people or couples with whom I am close friends and know that they use "partner" in all circumstances as a symbol of their commitment to marriage and/or gender equality. I'm talking about people I meet at a conference or know through work, and we are merely acquaintances and I'd have no idea if said person and his or her "partner" are legally married.
Reasons this bothers me:
I especially hate when people use "partner" in front of gay people, but "wife" or "husband" when they're with family or straight friends, it bugs me. If you want to adopt the term "partner" full-time, awesome. But you do not, I feel, get to have it both ways: happily traditional at Thanksgiving dinner with grandma but tolerant and sensitive around the lesbo at work.
Yes, it's all a little irrational of me. But when I get to know a straight couple, and they use the term "partner" all the time, and then later I find out that they're actually married, it bugs me. It's as if they were hiding their traditional selves to spare my feelings or pretend to be politically correct.
I feel an asshole for writing this post, because:
I guess "partner" bothers me because it can seem so inauthentic sometimes. Am I the only one who feels this way? What do you think, dear readers?
Whether we're 15 or 50, it's hard to shake the need for our parents' acceptance. For the non-gender-conforming among us, that can be a long (and sometimes hopeless) road.
When I first started to come out--what, five years ago or so?--it was not easy. Here are a few highlights:
I don't mean to give the impression that we agree on everything now, or that I never feel like a weird outlier, or that everything's hunky-dory all the time. But I feel pretty dang accepted, and five years ago, I would have never guessed that my relationship with my family would be this good.
Our progress, I think, is attributable to: (1) unconditional love; (2) a willingness to talk about things that bother us (even if "talking" means arguing); and most of all, (3) a sense of humor. I'm incredibly grateful for the steps my family members (particularly my parents) have taken to understand me, and I hope that in turn, I've tried to "get" them.
What signs of acceptance have you received from your family that you wouldn't have thought possible two or five or ten or twenty years ago?
As promised, here's the second half of my butch holiday gift guide!
11. Smartwool Socks. A well-dressed butch needs more sock choices than black and white. Smartwools are my (and my DGF's) personal favorite, because they're warm and versatile without being too thick or bulky. Check out Sierra Trading Post and REI for some good discounts, but be ready to pay $10-$15/pair. The PhD series are always winners, and a men's size medium seems to fit most women's feet.
12. Belt Buckle. Whether you're a butch's best bud, cousin, or acquaintance, an interesting belt buckle makes a terrific gift. Here's one from Retimade ($95), the company that makes the necklace I featured in the last post. (I promise they're not paying me... Alas, no one is!)
13. Audible.com Subscription. I like Audible so much that every year on my birthday, I renew my subscription as a present to myself. If the word "audiobooks" makes you think of blue-haired eightysomethings checking out cassette tapes from the local library, think again. Audiobooks have come a long way. With a free mobile app, Audible makes it a cinch to download great literature, philosophy, humor, mysteries, even lesbian erotica. I listen to audiobooks every day on my commute (currently making my way through David Foster Wallace's unfinished last novel, The Pale King), as well as when I go running, walk the dog, or clean the kitchen. Great for multitasking, book-loving butches.
14. A Book or Three. Speaking of books, I can't resist plugging some favorites from 2011:
- 1Q84: Haruki Murakami's excellent new tome. Fans of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle will love it. Magical realism, two compelling characters, and tiny people who spin cocoons out of air. A great, long (>900 pages!) read.
- Bossypants: Raise your hand if you wish Tina Fey played for our team! Yeah, me too. Her memoir is a fun, gay-friendly romp through the world of college, improv, SNL, mommyhood, and more. A little cheesy, but very fun.
- The Marriage Plot: It's no Middlesex, but then, what is? Jeffrey Eugenides depicts three college friends in the 1980s whose lives intersect in interesting ways. Themes include religion, young love, and bipolar disorder.
- Blue Nights: Admittedly, I'm not finished with this one yet, but how can you go wrong with Joan Didion? This is a memoir about her daughter, and reads like a series of short essays. As beautifully written as it is sad.
- 5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth (And Other Useful Guides): at last, the hilarious Matthew Inman, author of the popular humor blog The Oatmeal, has released his first book. Laugh-out-loud funny.
15. Cufflinks. I can't think of a better reason to wear French cuffs than showing off a sweet pair of cufflinks. I am quite partial to the currently-popular typewriter key trend, including the ones pictured left from Uncommon Goods. Whether you get their initials, a pair of shift keys, or "BW" for "Butch Wonders," these make a great gift.
16. A Night or Two at a B&B. Who says butches don't like to be pampered? Take the reins, make a reservation somewhere Yelp-approved, and give her a couple nights she won't forget!
17. Heifer International. I got grief for the "found object" idea in my last post, so I'm sure some folks aren't going to be crazy about this idea, either. But Heifer International is a non-profit organization with a great mission: they give animals to families in need so that these families can lift themselves out of poverty. For example, $20 will buy a flock of chicks. Not only will the eggs feed the family, but extra eggs can be sold for profit. Cool idea, no? Plus, you can give your butch a card that says thinks like, "I bought you a new cock. But I gave it to someone in need."
18. A Gift Certificate for a New Experience. Has your butch ever mentioned that rock climbing looks cool? Or that she's always wanted to snowboard? An introductory lesson or two for a new activity might stir up a new passion. Other ideas include: windsurfing; skydiving; karate; shooting; defensive driving; sushi cooking; improv comedy.
19. A New Tie. Dapper gentlebois never have enough ties, and it's hard to go wrong in adding to their collections. Wool ties are nice for winter and currently in style. Check out the Tie Bar for great patterns (one is pictured here, on the right, $15), and see my post about tie selection for guidelines. I also like the Tie Bar's double-sided pocket squares (one is pictured here, on the left, $8).
20. A Personal Shopping Day. Make a day date with your butch buddy, lover, or relative and take her out for a day of shopping! Trust me: it's refreshing to shop with someone who wants to focus on US all day, and doesn't make us try on anything in the ladies' department. Be sure to build in at least one 30-minute break for every two hours of shopping. And either read up on men's clothing in advance or take along a buddy who knows something about it. (And yes, I rent out as a personal shopper/wardrobe consultant for butches and straight men!)
I hope these posts have given you some great ideas for the butch in your life! Butches, what's the coolest butchy-type gift you've ever gotten?
Ah, holidays. Whether for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Boxing Day, chances are, you're on the lookout for gifts for the butch in your life. Since many of us don't like conventional girly stuff, we can seem tough to shop for at first. But don't despair! Here are 10 great gift ideas.
1. Cool bracelet or necklace. Some butches don't like jewelry, but many of us do, especially if it's androgynous and versatile. Personally, I'm coveting this Rothko-inspired one by Retimade (pictured), which would look awesome with a button-up shirt and fresh haircut. I'm also partial to Audiyo's bracelets (made from recycled guitar parts).
2. Headlamp. Whether we're fixing the car, or just trying to find the cat in the backyard at night, headlamps are a delightfully dorky, hands-free flashlight. Totally functional.
3. High-quality shirt. You need to know her measurements first, but once you do, why not treat your butch to a really awesome shirt from somewhere like Brooks Brothers? Or even better, take her to a shop where she can get measured and pick out the fabric for a custom-made shirt! I've personally never had one of these pricey (~$200) numbers, but supposedly the fit is terrific, and especially great for women who usually have difficulty fitting men's shirts to their body.
4. Massage. Top or bottom tendencies aside, many butches appreciate a good rub-down. Choose a not-too-girly spa with tons of privacy, and buy your butch a gift certificate there. (Note: if you're not the butch's lover or a really close friend, choose something else or you'll look creepy!)
5. Something From Lucky Dog Leather. Virtually everything these guys make is super cool, and they have some great designs that are stylish without being showy and come in enough sizes to accommodate any butch, no matter how big-boned or tiny-wristed. One of my personal favorites is their ring belt ($82) in brown and antique brass. I'm really into some of their cuffs, too.
6. Tickets. These can be tickets to a concert, a play, a sporting event, a reading, a circus--anything your butch loves. It doesn't even have to be something the two of you would both enjoy. If you hate football or ballet or whatever she's into, give her two tickets and send her off with a buddy. We won't think you're trying to get us out of the house; we'll think you're observant and thoughtful. And trust us, we'll have more fun if we're with someone who also enjoys the event.
7. Music. And speaking of good music, audiophile butches who don't already own them might enjoy some of 2011's excellent offerings, which include Fleet Foxes' Helplessness Blues and Bon Iver's Bon Iver.
8. An Interesting Found Object. Since this isn't exactly a period of worldwide financial bliss, many of us are looking for ways to cut costs. And gift-giving can add up fast. Why not make a pact with your sweetie to give each other something cool that you found in the natural world? An abandoned bird's nest or unusual rock can make a memorable gift.
9. Glasses. After Bee Listy's excellent post on the matter, I've had Warby Parker on the brain. This socially responsible company donates a pair of glasses for every pair sold, and they even have a free home try-on program so that you can try out up to five different frames at a time. Their glasses are $95/pair, lenses included. As me and my bespectacled butch buddies know, this is a heck of a deal. Give a gift certificate and let her pick!
10. Pocket Knife. Admittedly, the toughest thing it's ever had to saw through is heavy-duty packing tape, but I nonetheless love my Gerber Paraframe Pocket Knife, which can be had for around $20-$25. It's lightweight, has a partly-serrated blade, and isn't so large that it feels unwieldy in my hand. I'm guessing it would be a great fit for many a butch. The one pictured here is a 3.5-in. blade like mine, but there's also a mini version--and I'm guessing, a larger one as well.
There you have it, folks--10 gift ideas for the butch in your life. Stay tuned for my next post, in which I'll suggest at least 10 more! What are YOU planning to buy for the butches in your life? And butches, what are you hoping to find under the tree?