Gender Discussion: Symposium

In the interest of joining the conversation on gender, which is a topic of importance and interest to me, I am joining in this conversation, which is wizzing about the blogosphere. I hope you’ll join in as well. We can all learn from one another, and there are always people out there who need to read the words of inspiration and strength that come from conversations like these.

Call for submissions for bloggers & writers: The first Symposium

Symposium #1, November 2010: What is butch? How do you define butch? What do you love about it? What does it mean to you?

I am a femme. To me, butch is the other half of my equation.

There’s a swagger, a sureness, a sense of yeah, that’s who I am, so what? to her walk. A sense of comfort in her own body, of knowing who she is and what she wants out of life. A defiance of pronouns. An ability to take up space like a man, without every having to be one. She is in-between and everything, all at once.

There’s a definite feeling of safety when I’m with her. A feeling like I’m protected in the circle of her arms, and the world had better stay the hell away. And there’s nothing like going out–my femininity matched yin-like to her masculine yang, her ripped jeans to my swishy skirt, her black shiny shoes to my black heels.

To me, butch means strength of a more “masculine” variety (given the few words we have to deal with false gender binaries at the moment). But it also means a person who is strong, who doesn’t necessarily mind being a woman, but enjoys women all the more because she knows who she is and what she wants. It’s a butch who blushes and stammers when having to buy tampons, but could quite happily live in a hardware store.

Butch is the willingness to stand up to society and not pass. It’s the belief in the fact you can dress and be the person you want to be, no matter what the media presents as the “correct” type of woman. It’s a deep, intense, clear knowledge of what makes a butch happy and the willingness to let the outside reflect the inside.

It’s the definite sense that there is so, so much more to the person with the short hair, tattoos and muscled body than you will ever know.

Butch is boxers, sports bras, gym socks, heavy boots, hiking, concerts, motorcycles, and sports. It is protectiveness of family and loved ones, of her partner, of her kids. It’s tender and tough, soft and hard. It’s a take-charge, let-me-give-you-what-you desire attitude that makes women weak-kneed. It’s a let-me-show-you-what-a-butch-likes attitude that makes women wet with desire.

And it’s all of those things I love about butch.

25 thoughts on “Gender Discussion: Symposium

  1. Pingback: Butch Lab symposium | LG in DC

  2. Pingback: Symposium #1: What is Butch? | Sugarbutch Chronicles

  3. I enjoy reading all the various perspectives on ‘butch’, because no matter how that person identifies, they’ve got some interesting and different experiences that inform their perspective. There’s a lot to learn from all of these posts, and I’m glad Sinclair found a way to get us all to talk about it.

    I agree with your comment about Roxy’s post — her poetry and prose are all very beautiful, and (no big surprise), I’m a big fan.

    • I think talking about it, and reading the many many perspectives, helps us all learn, even though so many of us already have experience in the gender arena.

      Reading Roxy’s posts about life and love have opened my mind and often make me think. Another great way we’ve all come together to learn.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

  4. “It’s the definite sense that there is so, so much more to the person with the short hair, tattoos and muscled body than you will ever know.”

    Exactly. It’s not just about how we present. There is so much more under all of that…..stuff. Thank you for ‘seeing’ us.

    I’d love to add you to my blogroll.

    • I’m quite lucky to have been shown the stuff underneath–the stuff often hidden beneath a tough exterior.

      Would be honoured to be on your blog roll. And I’ll gladly return the favour. Nice to meet you.

  5. Pingback: butch, identity & a little catchup-ketchup « lesbian neurotica

  6. Pingback: Butch Symposium #1 Update | The Musings of a Lesbian Writer

  7. “Butch is the willingness to stand up to society and not pass.”

    You know, I’ve never thought of it that way before, but I likes it. I often struggle with whether I am butch or just a trans-guy who hasn’t pulled the trigger on transitioning, and then I read something like this, and I know, yep, I haven’t pulled the trigger because that isn’t me, I am butch, I am my partner’s husband-wife and my sister’s brother-sister. I am the dichotomy, and I like it that way.

    • Exactly! Butch really is a noun–it exists right alongside all the other many, many definitions and labels we use.

      My partner and I have talked about the fact that there was a time (and it may still be happening) when butch women felt that the logical next step was to transition. We wondered why it wasn’t okay to just stay butch–to be butch, without it being limiting. That’s not to say people shouldnt transition if they feel that’s who they are, but some of the women we spoke to seemed to think that butch wasn’t “okay.” And this on a butch-femme site.

      I’m really glad to hear that you’ve encountered and conquered this questions yourself.

  8. Pingback: Butch Lab Symposium#1 | Packing Vocals – The Holdall

  9. My favorite part: It’s the belief in the fact you can dress and be the person you want to be, no matter what the media presents as the “correct” type of woman.

    F***k yeah! That’s amazing for anyone (butch or not), to overcome the societal voices chattering away, disembodied mouths following us and whispering poison in our ears.

    And thank you for joining the discussion too–I love reading the posts of those that identify as something other than butch (being that I’m in the “other” part of the pie-chart me-self.) Btw–I need to scramble to create a blog roll on my site so I can return the king-sized compliment. Thanks for adding me.

    • The societal pressure to behave and dress, etc, a certain way is deafening. I admit, as a femme, to feeling that pressure to an extreme sometimes. Am I too fat to be femme? Is my hair not the right color? Are my pores too big? Am I using the wrong feminine products?


      And that’s what I find so amazing about butch (and other non-conformists!)–they dont listen to the voices, they just are. And how f’ing strong is that?

      Rock on, Ali Oh. Great blog.

  10. Pingback: Butch Lab Symposium #1 – What is Butch? « Uncommon Curiosity

  11. It’s always fun for me, as a femme, to find another butch-lovin’ femme to read. I’m glad the Symposium led me to you.

    This was a lovely piece.

    My favorite line was “It’s the definite sense that there is so, so much more to the person with the short hair, tattoos and muscled body than you will ever know.”

    Yes, that. Exactly.

  12. Pingback: Butch Lab Symposium Number One Made Of Words | Made Of Words

  13. Pingback: Symposium #1: What is Butch? | Butch Lab « This Side of Changed

  14. Hi Vic,

    Interesting! Wonder where I fall in the continuum? ;) Good luck with the editing exam, I am sure you will pass with flying colors. I can vouch for your skills.


  15. Not strange at all – in fact, I’ve read a bunch of stuff where a femme describes her appreciation for butch (and vice versa) and it is always, without fail, a truly lovely thing to read. People should write odes to the people they admire more often :) I think I will do a dyke appreciation post soon (thanks!). And it is awesome, when words can, as they so frequently do, mean more than one thing, to be able to read all the definitions and expressions… Man I love identity theory :)

    • I find it interesting, having read several of the responses to the syposium, that so many people say something similar about what Butch is. It’s said in many different ways, but the underlying core seems to be nearly the same across the board.

      the other thing that I find interesting, (in regard to your dyke appreciation comment above) is that there was a time when being butch meant having a femme partner. Period. Now, you see butches with other butches and femmes with femmes, etc. There seems to be a lot more fluidity in gender mix/match these days.

    • I hope she likes it. That’s the thing with gender discussion, though–the words we use are so mutable, so dynamic, that one person’s viewpoint/definition can be utterly opposed to someone elses.

      I did check hers out as well. She writes quite poetically. :)

      Is it strange to you to read a femme’s perspective on butch? From the outside, if you know what I mean?

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