Okay, I'm hesitating to post this because it makes me seem way more curmudgeonly than I actually (think I) am. Oh well.
I should also say that at least for me, and maybe for other people, none of this applies if you're a close friend or close family member. It's more when acquaintances or (godfuhbid) strangers offer their advice that I blanch.
What you say: There are soooo many options for people who want kids!
What I hear: You're probably too stupid to figure this out, but you can procreate without having sex with a man!
What you say: But you'd be such a good parent!
What I think: I'd also be a good race car driver, occupational therapist, or professional shoeshiner. Natural predilection does not a destiny make.
What you say: Some people are too selfish to have kids.
What I hear: You are selfish and shallow. Unless you have kids. In which case all is forgiven. But I thought better of you. Now you just make me sad.
What you say: You could always adopt!
What I think: No sh*t.
What you say: Lots of lesbians are having kids these days!
What I think: Lots of lesbians are also chain-smokers, alcoholics, drug users, glue-sniffers, head cases, doctors, truckers, and couch potatoes. So?
What you (usually another lesbian) say: My mom didn't fully accept my partner and me until we had kids. But now that she has grandkids, we're closer than ever.
What I hear: Your mother will never fully love you until you procreate.
What you say: There are SO many children out there who need good homes.
What I think: So why didn't you adopt instead of having biological kids? Oh--you're scared you'll end up with a crack baby or a psychopath from a Russian orphanage who's never been held? But I should go for it? Thaaanks.
What you say: NO one thinks they want kids. Then they have them and they're glad they did.
What I think: Am I the only person in the world who's ever heard of cognitive dissonance?
What you say: Are you thinking of having a family?
What I think: So, me + DGF + slightly swollen canine ≠ "family?" Screw you.
What you say: You haven't lived a full life unless you have kids.
What I hear: Your life is invalid. There's only one way to redeem yourself, and it smells like diapers.
What you say: You may think you know what love is, but you don't really know what love is until you have kids.
What I hear: All your feelings are pathetic, shallow, and invalid--mere shadows of what they could have been. Alas!
Okay, so I'm being melodramatic, but you get the idea.
I actually don't think the pressure is nearly as bad for lesbian and gay couples who don't want kids, as it is for straight couples who don't want kids. People basically assume that opposite-sex couples are going to have kids, and that if they don't, it's because there's something biologically "wrong" with them. Instead of just getting asked, "Do you think you'll have kids someday?", people will ask questions like, "Do you think you're going to... start trying?"
A friend of mine went to a presentation by the fabulous Janet Mock recently, and took this photo. Part of the presentation talked about how non-trans* people be allies to trans* folks. She fleshed these points out a lot more at the presentation, but I want to share her list and add my own thoughts as well [my additions are in brackets]. I hope that trans* readers will comment!
10 Things You Can Do Now [to be an effective ally to trans* people]:
What do you think of this list? What would you add?
When I started this blog, I swore that I was never going to apologize for not posting frequently enough. I'll just post whenever I want, I thought. It's not like I'm going to feel guilty if I don't.
Well, I'm going to go back on my word: sorry it's been so long since I posted! A few things have happened in the last month-ish of time that have taken me away from blogging. Want to know what they are?
So there it is, dear readers; you're totally caught up on my life.
Now stay tuned for our regularly scheduled programming...
Last March, I wrote a three-part Field Guide to Butches, which you can check out here if you missed it: Part I, Part II, Part III. I decided it was time to make some additions:
The Butch Class Clown
Example: Jane Lynch
Pros: Hilarious, great with your friends, quick to reconcile after arguments.
Cons: Sleeps in late; may be slightly self-centered; financial stability varies.
Looks Especially Good: Smiling, which is nearly all the time. (Seriously, check out the pic--is there anything in the world cuter than Jane Lynch with a puppy?)
Care Instructions: If you don't understand her sense of humor, the relationship is doomed. May need occasional assistance juggling projects and managing household tasks, but a quick learner. Ego more fragile than first appears.
The Oblivious Butch (not pictured)
Pros: Unconcerned with her identity (and possibly yours), has no interest in discussing related topics, even though everyone else considers her butch.
Cons: See "pros."
Looks Especially Good: If you can wrangle her into slacks and a tie.
Care Instructions: Unusually low-maintenance. Fashion sense may vary, so be vigilant. May grow bored in conversations about LGBTQI-related topics. Probably does not know what the "I" stands for and doesn't particularly care.
Example: Michelle Ragussis
Pros: Excellent hair, great tattoos, creative, spunky.
Cons: Works long hours, may not want to cook at home (check on this factor before committing).
Looks Especially Good: Sampling your sauces.
Care Instructions: Whether she's a line cook or the head of her own restaurant, Chef Butch is committed to her trade and will expect your support. Works crazy hours. Ensure that she doesn’t just cook veggies; she also eats them occasionally. Low-maintenance with little need of wardrobe assistance.
Barista Butch (not pictured)
Pros: Can make a mean latte, has great fashion sense; creative.
Cons: Moodiness; varied reliability; easily bored.
Looks Especially Good: Steaming up your foam.
Care Instructions: Hard to engage in casual conversation, the barista butch is every bit as creative and mysterious as she first appears. Many in the species hold a PhD in the humanities or social sciences and may be starved for intellectual discussion; provide literary or other conversation as needed.
Example: Jack Halberstam
Pros: Smart, well-read, patient and attentive (if occasionally forgetful), finds most things interesting.
Cons: Her hotness makes it hard to pay attention in lecture; everyone in the class has a crush on her (straight women, too); may use words like "hegemonic" in casual conversation.
Looks Especially Good: On her couch during office hours.
Care Instructions: Requires steady diet of books and caffeine (switch diet to baked goods following paper rejections). If weather is temperate, set outside at least 20 minutes daily to infuse with Vitamin D.
The Sports Fan Butch (not pictured)
Pros and Cons: This type doesn't occur in isolation, but co-occurs with any other kind of butch, and may emerge only on weekends. Identify one or more other species and refer to those pros and cons as applicable.
Looks Especially Good: Wearing a jersey... Just a jersey.
Care Instructions: Follow her instructions while her favorite team is playing. She may believe that she can somehow affect a team's performance through elaborate rituals such as wearing "lucky" clothing Play along. Do not block the television. Though she may appear inflexible, the Sports Fan Butch is an excellent bargaining target and will agree to anything in order to watch her game uninterrupted. (Q: "Honey, when the game's over, will you take out the trash, then take me to a movie?" A: "Uh-huh, whatever.")
Example: Edie Falco as Nurse Jackie (Yeah, she's straight, but she’s totally butch. Plus, we all know she'd go lesbo for Dr. O'Hara).
Pros: Straightforward, decisive, quick-witted, employable.
Cons: Unapologetic, reluctant to express emotion, works long hours.
Looks Especially Good: In scrubs, barking out orders.
Care Instructions: Will be exhausted after 20-hour shifts; don’t expect her to engage in conversation. Instead, give her a shoulder massage and send her to bed. Plan fun for days off. Be firm; she may try to boss you around.
On a whim last week, I posted a question on my Facebook page: "What do butches do that bugs you?" I invited anyone--butches, non-butches, whoever--to answer, and got over 200 responses from BW readers.
Responses varied, but some distinct themes emerged. (To be clear, I'm not saying that butches have these traits--or that I'm not guilty of any!)
Whether there's truth in any of these is highly debatable. But these are some stereotypes people hold, and I think it's worth knowing about them, engaging with them, and taking them seriously.
For example, one straight reader (I LOVE that straight people read BW--you rock, straight readers!) wrote that in contrast to, say, gay men, she finds butches a little intimidating. I was surprised at first--me? But I appreciated her honesty. And although, sure, I wish people didn't assume things about butches based on our appearance, it also reminded me that I might need to go out of my way sometimes to make myself approachable (I'm not suggesting that everyone needs to do this--it just matters to me personally).
Do any of these ring true? Can it be productive to talk about them?