My apologies for the extreme lack of posting lately. Between Aries birthday bonanza and friends visiting from across the country, it seems I’ve been slacking big time over here on this ole’ blog. Last week I had a five day staycation, plus, it was sunny and my two best buddies were in town. Needless to say, a whole lot of debauchery ensued. This includes cocktails, out to lunches, karaoke, park-lounging and dinner parties.
I made this recipe twice, because its so good. It takes a long time to cook but it is worth it. See also, baby bok choy and purple cabbage salad. See also again: out loud food appreciation moaning.
Tomorrow is the beginning of National Poem Writing Month (or, NaPoWriMo). Last year I think I made it 15 days, this year, I’m going to try for 16 or above, because you’ve gotta have goals, people. I’ll be posting some of the drafts I’m working on here for sure. More than anything, I love April because I get to read amazing poetry of friends who participate all month long. Bring on the verse.
Today I’m working on answering this question from ButchLab.com, a fantastic sight run by my dear friend, Mr. Sinclair Sexmith. I really value conversations about identity in general (except when I feel over processed of course, haha), and am so stoked about what this particular site has to offer to masculine identified folks and their allies.
On to the questions:
What do people think “butch” means? What are the stereotypes around being butch?
When I was very young, and just coming out as a dyke, my mother was afraid I’d be one of those ‘butch’ lesbians. When I asked her what she meant by that she said, “You know, a woman who looks like a man! They are aggressive, and will try to take advantage of you too. Don’t be like them and don’t hang out with them. Please!”
Now, I love my mother, but this is not one of her finer moments. In addition to being totally untrue and stereotyping statements, it really scared my baby butch self. For years, I was afraid to appear masculine; I struggled with feminine gender presentation, referred to myself as a ‘lesbian’, and felt totally…awkward.
I also grew up in a conservative town, where any woman seen as not being feminine (i.e. passive, submissive, quiet, etc) was sometimes referred to as ‘butch.’ This word was bad, it meant nasty, un-feminine, not to be trusted, disgusting. The women labeled thus were often not even masculine gender presenting. Many were outspoken, domineering, in charge of something in their fields of work, or simply unmarried.
In the gay community, I think that stereotypes of butch-ness exist too. Specifically in communities where there may not be a lot of masculine gender presenting folks. Again, for me, this looks like the towns where I grew up. There was a lot of ‘dabbling in butchness’ going on. People just barely sticking their toes into the masculine gender presenting pool, afraid of being seen as butch but unable to control it, and judgment of these presentations ran rampant. People in the bar (not that I had a fake-id or anything) would openly state that they ‘didn’t want to date butch girls’ etc.
What do people assume is true about you [or the masculine of center folks in your life], but actually isn’t?
Often assumptions about me include, that I am a either straight or gay identified cisgendered man. Most folks, I don’t think, even get so far as to examine what could be my butch identity. This is frustrating, but understandable being that I am a mostly post-transition male presenting transman. Though this is sometimes frustrating, I also get it.
Another assumption is, (if people are aware of my identity as a butch at all) that I am not faggy, or shouldn’t be faggy in any way. I’ve seen this play our around other masculine of center (butch folks) in my life, community as well. Just like other identities, we know that being butch is complex, its fluid, and its not meant to be trapped in a box. Identities like, Dandy Butch, or Faggy Butch are really discounted, and sometimes put down. I think that folks have a hard time processing a complex identity, even in the queer community.
What image or concept do you constantly have to correct or fight against? How do you feel about these misconceptions?
As far as my butch identity is concerned, I think most people who are aware of my transness, assume that I was butch identified before transition and am now not. This is not the case, and can be hurtful to me sometimes. Being a butch is a very important part of my identity. I really value interactions with people that respect that part of me, just as anyone would about an important part of who they are.
How do you deal with them? Do you respond to these stereotypes or clichés? How?
When confronted with a stereotype about my identity (whichever part it may be) I try to be compassionate to the sterotyper. I (try to) assume that other people are good as often as possible. It is difficult, of course, to bring up an incident where I’m feeling hurt, but if I do, I assume that the other person is probably just unaware. Usually this has been the case, and when I say, actually I am butch (or I never stopped being butch), the assumption is dropped, or at least the conversation changes. I love having discussions with people about how it is that I am still butch and am a man (as long as these discussions can be respectful on both sides of course).
I think that continuing a dialogue with people about identity (butchness) is important. I definitely become complacent sometimes, tired of fighting for my identity to be seen in a complete way, etc. Also, I’m not perfect at getting and understanding everyone else’s identities right away either. I do, think that these questions are so thoughtful and important, and are a really positive step in keeping this kind of dialogue open!
I’m sure I have more to say, and will definitely be participating in more symposiums. But for right now, I am ignoring a Monday morning rush at work.
I’ve made the decision to move over here to WordPress, because well, the UI is prettier than blogger, and I’m a nerd. Also, Hi! Everything is still here for your perusal just like before, with some minor edits to lock-up some of the more personal stuff from the old blog. I’m feeling like its time to batten the hatches a little, so to speak.
I’ll be posting more soon, but for now, please visit: The Vis a Vis Society. I had the distinct pleasure of seeing one extremely lovely Sierra Nelson perform last night @ Cheap Wine and Poetry. She is incredible, and so is the society.
More to come, just as soon as this Friday afternoon at work is over.
This afternoon I started working on a new writing exercise from the amazing Rachel Mckibbens. Rachel is one of the best writers I’ve ever read/seen and also, is a brilliant teacher. She comes up with these incredible writing exercises and whenever I need a inspirational leg-up, her blog is one of the first places I visit.
I’m also a big fan of lists, lists of things to write about, poems in the form of lists, grocery lists, lists of ways to be a better friend, cook, son, terrarium maker. So of course, this particular exercise is like heaven. You can read about it here. The table I’ve been plucking away is over there on the right. I can’t wait to see what comes out of it, and Rachel ain’t kidding when she says that part-two can be a stumper.
Another exercise I love to do is this one (the idea for this comes from Natalie Goldberg in Writing Down The Bones). I recently taught this exercise to a couple classrooms full of high school kids, and it was amazing, to watch them eek some pieces out of their new collections of words.
Here’s my interpretation, give it a go!
Take out a sheet of paper and fold it in half, hot dog style. Place it on the table so the crease is on your right. Now, write down a list of ten (or twenty!) Nouns. Any ole’ nouns’ll do, even proper ones (in fact, I have found these can be pretty darn interesting. See: Florida).
After you’ve got your list, turn the sheet of paper over so the spine of the page is now on your left. Try to forget every noun you’ve just written down. Now, write a list of verbs. Again, any verbs will do. Ms. Goldberg suggests that if you want a challenge, to try thinking of an occupation and using only verbs that describe that occupation. Like, for example, a chef: Saute, chop, sweat, broil, strain, etc.
After you’ve made both lists, unfold the page and check out what you’ve got. Woah! So many random words, right? Go ahead and take those nouns and verbs and link em’ up in a sentence. try two or three sets at first.
Examples: Nouns: Morning, Poem, Phone Line, teeth
Take it a step further and use more than one set of verb/noun per sentence. Use all the verbs and nouns you’ve listed in a sentence (or two!). Pick your favorite one (shoot, pick the simplest one, the most unexpected one, the one you loathe, even). Flip the paper over, and write that gem of a sentence at the top. Now use that as a prompt and write from it for 10 minutes.
I recommended not going more than 10 minutes your first time out. You’re sticking your toes in here and feeling around for some pebbles at the bottom of your artistic heart. Ten minutes takes you in there, but not for so long that your toes go numb. However, if you’ve really got a rhythm going, why not? There aren’t really a whole lot of rules here. Which is just another reason to love writing. You can also disregard everything I’ve said and just do whatever you want! Please, do whatever you want.
I picture Florida
Sprinting sticky clocks
strawberry blonde hair
tangling you into
the side of her
sweaty back roads.
A map of your voice
lilt, rise and sing
around her curves.
I picture Florida
flying on the water
salt licking lips.
Rebel you, drunk on
and hue of
Too cool to know better and
too brash to keep quiet.
We would not
have been friends.
Staring the sun in its
you could see
Mist and melancholy
rubbing up against your cheeks.
heels full of alligator dreams.
I picture Florida
and I am ten.
You are telling me to
drop the coconuts
onto the sidewalk
and not the asphalt
it seems they break easier
Just got done watching, An Affair To Remember with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. Its the movie that Sleepless in Seattle was based on and came out in 1957, the year my mother was born. Officially, my review feelings are that I’m now sort of weepy, nostalgic and over whelmed. I love old movies, and somehow manage to forget sometimes until a quiet night at home. There’s something comforting about the particular brand of masculinity in many of these films that gives me pause (of course, not without analysis). I am reminded of my father, falling asleep on the couch while he struggled to stay awake, and told me about watching movies with his dad. Chided me into paying more attention than I did to most things at the time.
joking with bus stops about coming home.
Taking photographs of roadsides
(waiting for our skin to appear there).
Touching the shifter, tentative as the
flat of some field rips holes
in the calendars of our together.
The ink line of the highway
pushing past every
as Chicago Sticks up its middle finger
chokes on the horizon.
The road rattlesnakes into the belly of regret
somewhere near the center of me burning
every tenement of sleeping hope.
Missing you is like Illinois.
earlobe sweating into receiver straining
some promise to pass lips.
Your Popsicle stick, sticky fingers
drum the rhythm back
once, twice, twenty times
along a Morse code of desire.
I tumbleweed phone lines out the door.
Find you standing in the road,
boots dirty, eyes
cocked toward the horizon
tapping your heartbeat into
the asphalt of my expectations.
I dream this
This, the stopping.
This, the missing.
Trees fall when the wind discovers
their roots are shallow, sandy, sobbing.
Why willows are called weeping.
Why Cacti have spines.
The way I fall for you.