I've talked often on Butch Wonders about the difficulty of defining "butch," my distaste for policing "butchness," and the value I find in labeling myself "butch." I've been communicating with some of my dear readers about these and related questions, and I'd like to put a call out there for YOUR answer to one of the following:
Over the next month or two, I will post several of the most interesting, thought-provoking answers I receive. Please email me your entries, along with the following information:
I reserve the right to edit these as I see fit for grammar, length, clarity, etc., but I'll do so as sparingly as possible. No minimum or maximum length, but anywhere between 150 and 750 words is great. You don't need to identify as butch, or as gay, or as anything else, to submit an entry.
I can't wait to read these! (And yes, if you'd like to answer more than one, feel free--just make sure to send each answer in a separate email.)
Grand Island, Nebraska is home to about 50,000 Nebraskans and a steaming pile of homo-hatred. The city council recently rejected an ordinance that would have prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Not only that, but they rejected a proposal that would have put the decision in front of the voters, instead voting 8-2 that denying someone a promotion because of who they love is a-OK.
As if that wasn't bad enough, one of the council members explained that he didn't want Grand Island to become "gay-friendly." Riiiight. Like all the queers were suddenly going to flock to Nebraska if this thing passed.
So I have an idea. I would LOVE to mess with them by showing them how doggone gay Grand Island can be. If you're in Nebraska (or anywhere near it), I would LOVE for you to drive to Grand Island and do or put something super gay and rainbow-y in front of their stupid-looking "welcome" sign.
In fact, I would love to do this for ANY city that's passed anti-gay ordinances, or that has refused to pass laws giving --gasp!--equal rights to LGBTQ folks. I'm sure there are a whole bunch of other cities we can target. What are they? And should we plot to get back at them by fomenting a big ol' pro-gay movement with them at the center of it? E.g., Grand Island is for (Gay) Lovers? What do you think?
I just went shopping to help a male friend of mine buy casual clothes for work. I learned that I am not alone in having difficulty finding menswear that fits me well...
My friend is a small guy, but not tiny. He is probably 5 ft 6 or so, and very slim. Men's shirts with a 14.5 collar simply didn't fit him. For the most part, the sleeves were way too long — even the 32–33's — and so were the shoulders. The Banana Republic smalls were even too big, which I didn't know was humanly possible. He was a good sport about it, and he and his girlfriend and I were eventually able to find a few — but just a few — shirts that fit.
Of course, I couldn't resist trying on a some shirts myself, whereupon I was once again confronted with the all-too-familiar problem of having boobs and hips. My neck is a 15.5, but if you have ever tried to button a 15.5 — or even a 16.5 — men's shirt over a pair of size Ds, you know how impossible it is. The 17.5 fits fine around the chest and hips, but is just way, way too big everywhere else. Of course, some brands work better than others (CK is my current go-to for shirts), but overall it was just one of those days where nothing fits quite right.
On days like this, sometimes I wish that I didn't have boobs or hips, or at least had less, um, ample ones. But my boobs and my hips are a part of me, and I feel comfortable with them; I just wish that the clothing I like worked for the body I have. Sigh.
I was also "sir'd" twice. (Usually, clerks aren't sure what to call me, so they don't use a pronoun at all.) One of those times was particularly awkward today. A salesclerk said, "Can I help you sir?" I turned around and he said, "oh, ma'am, I'm sorry." I said, "it's okay." He apologized again, and to try to make him feel less awkward, I said "I have a men's shirt on, so I understand." He looked at me a minute and then said, "Well, your haircut confuses us."
What?! Who is this "us?" And what is so incredibly confusing about a woman with short hair? The "confusion" point annoyed me in a way that being called sir never does. Grrr!
BW NOTE: This is a guest post by a reader who wanted to remain anonymous. She recently faced the dreaded decision of pissing off a friend or wearing a (ugh!) dress...
A few months ago, my cousin cast me as a bridesmaid in her wedding. Sensing my possible reluctance in the wardrobe department, she immediately informed me that I would be wearing a dress. Period. Because my cousin and I grew up together as friends, I made no verbal protest (BTW: This BW post is a must read for any straight bride with a lesbian (non-femme) bridesmaid).
As details of the dress leaked, my dread grew. The bride had selected a purple gown with "challenging" qualities from top to bottom. On the bottom, the bridesmaids would sport a train (i.e. a bunch of fabric dragging behind us). On top, we would endure a strapless bodice with boning. For those unfamiliar with boning, a little history lesson: Boning (in the context of fashion) refers to the straight-jacket-like metal that serves to hold in your fat and position your breasts appropriately yet provocatively. Historically, dress designers used actual whalebone.
When the bride began sharing details of the dress, I might have failed to exhibit the requisite level of enthusiasm (one of my flaws is an inability to conceal disdain). When the bride inquired, I politely reminded her of my hatred for dresses, lace, and frilly things.
During the early stages of the engagement (a year or so before the wedding), I felt comfortable airing my concerns to the bride. During one conversation, my cousin pointed out that I had worn a dress to her sweet sixteen and to our high school homecoming dance. I had indeed. I went to a very homogeneous high school and dared not defy convention during my tender adolescence. The bride failed to grasp why, 10 years later, I couldn’t again conform for the purposes of her happiness.
Because I’m petite and naturally pretty feminine looking (though I definitely err on the masculine side of clothes, hair, and shoes), I think my cousin had trouble understanding why a dress would pose such a serious hardship. Had I presented in a more masculine way, she might have more easily seen how dresses don’t fit with my gender identity. I could have explained, but in the context of her wedding planning, it didn’t seem like the right time to delve into the intersection between my sexual orientation, gender identity, and wardrobe choices.
At one point, sensing my lack of enthusiasm for her dress selection, the bride proposed that I just rent a tux with a vest to match the bridesmaids' dresses. Now we were onto something! But before I could enthusiastically assent, she continued, more outlandishly: "While you’re at it, you could stand with the groomsmen, because that wouldn’t look weird." Her final suggestion—that I attend the bachelor party—made her sarcasm impossible to ignore. When I persisted in expressing enthusiasm for her suggestions (minus the strippers—she knows I find female strippers unappealing), she ended the conversation with an abrupt, "You’re wearing the dress and I don’t want to hear another word about it."
Even when I stopped complaining to her face, the bride continued to worry about my ability to function as a bridesmaid, inquiring as to who would handle my makeup on the big day. When I responded "me," the bride proved unsatisfied, correctly assuming that I lacked the materials and the will to adequately cake myself. Earrings were also strongly recommended to counter my short (read: dykey) haircut. I borrowed some from a co-worker, and with a running start managed to re-pierce my ear hole in a bathroom stall (only my left one had closed over the years).
I tried to respect the "no dress talk" rule, opting instead to write whiny entries in my journal and complain about the cost and fittings to my friends. As the wedding neared, my friends advised me to keep my big mouth shut and let the bride enjoy her big day.
On the eve of the wedding, the bride furnished each bridesmaid with a gift and enclosed a note. Most notes recognized the bonds of friendship, and the affection she had in her heart for each of us. My letter simply thanked me for not leaving her side even if it meant, wearing a bridesmaid gown. I felt a huge wave of guilt. The bride had been a good friend to me in other ways, and had welcomed my girlfriend at the wedding. Couldn’t I just have dealt with the fabric monstrosity, the bloody left ear hole, and the caked-on face for her special day?
At the wedding, I dealt with my suffering in the form of liquid relief, dancing the night away, and tying my train into a tail with a rubber band (and perhaps slapping my dance partners with it). With the help of only seven vodka-themed libations, I did have a blast. I wore the dress for 10 straight hours (I was given instructions not to change out of it at the reception), and I survived (though the tight bodice did a number on my back).
Post-wedding, when I think back to the note, I shudder. I have no idea how I could have handled it better. I wanted to be her bridesmaid, and I certainly didn’t want to ruin her special day. Had Butch Wonders posted this article a bit earlier, I might have sent the bride the link. That way, she’d have known how I felt and had a few creative solutions at her disposal (she was actually on the right track in her sarcasm). Even though my morning routine allows me to ready myself for work in three minutes or less, on my cousin's big day this low-maintenance dyke made for a high-maintenance bridesmaid.
A dyke on a bike in Oklahoma City (from Stacey)
Great news, dear readers: I've finished the outline of the Pride Project site, and I've been putting up the fabulous pics you've started sending in!
So far, I have five cities up, and I'm hoping they'll give you a taste of the awesomeness to come:
I'm excited about the project, and hope you are, too! More soon--I'll keep you updated.
I have about 80 readers signed up so far, and the more the better! Send me a quick email if you might be interested. Pics and written descriptions of any of this year's Pride celebrations (including the ones that already have pages up) are welcome. And as always, so's your feedback.