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Butch/Femme

So I've promised this entry for a little while and never quite gotten around to it. This could be in part because it's so confusing for me that I don't know how to start without sounding like a complete dumbass. But here we go.

I'm a girl. I was brought up with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and My Little Ponies, ballet and karate classes, a little bit of pink and a little bit of blue. My family doesn't subscribe really to a gender being any particular way, so I was never told "girls don't do _____". I wore jeans and dresses (more often jeans cause I ran around a lot). I never really thought too much about makeup til I was Goth, and then, everyone wore eyeliner. And I never really considered myself "sexy" per se- I wore granny panties and baggy clothes, because I was a fat girl and didn't want people to see my body.

But then, as I got older, the more I read about gender, the more confused I got. It wasn't (and isn't) generally upsetting to me- I mean, I'm comfortable having a female body, for example, which is one of the big hurdles of gender discovery. I thought for a long time I was femme, perhaps female to femme- I love dressing up, frills, makeup, really drag-queen stuff in general. I loved the look of femme, all curves and ferocity and glitter and grit. I couldn't walk in heels, sure, but I didn't feel like that necessarily made me less femme- I could pick and choose what I wanted my femininity to be, how I wanted to be femme.

Still, I felt and feel out of place in the femme world. I feel, often, like I'm not quite doing it right, like I'm not exactly femme. I try to be aware of how I move through the world, try to claim space as a femme, try to get that look and feeling I admire, but it feels almost forced. I just can't quite get it.

Then I read "Butch is a Noun" by S. Bear Bergman, and I felt a pull there, too. I wanted so badly to be a butch, to be able to light the cigarettes and open the doors for femmes and be loved for that butch energy I carry. I want to be able to sweep a femme up in my arms and whisk them around the dance floor, looking dashing in a suit and spats.

Or do I? I think about it, I step out of the world of reading and I feel like I'm under a glaring spotlight, one that says "how dare you imagine yourself as butch when you have high heeled boots and corsets in your closet!" And I feel even more lost.

I'm jealous when Bergman talks about having older people to talk to about being butch. Maybe I'm missing it, but I don't know where or if that dynamic of teaching and coaching exists within the queer community anymore. I would love to talk to 50 year old femmes and butches and explain these feelings and see what they'd say, if they could guide me. I often feel quite alone in this struggle. How do you explain that you feel like you were born in the right body but with no real clue as to how you gender?

I remember seeing Miss Vera's Finishing School for Boys Who Want to be Girls, and thinking "yeah, that's what I need. I need a class to help me attain this femmeness I have inside but just can't manage to get my body to cooperate with". Which is why I tend to say I gender as a drag queen- I feel often more like a bisexual male in a woman's body and loving it than I do with any of the conventional options. But I also feel frustrated, often, like I have this femme fatale inside me that wants out, and I also have this butch inside me begging for a chance to see the light, and I keep stuffing them all inside and saying "look, will you just make up your minds so I can move on already?"

The more I think about my gender, the more I feel torn, confused, unsure. And there's a voice in me that says "oh really, Kitty, c'mon- is it that hard? You have a pussy. You like being fucked. Who cares how you gender?"

I care. It matters, for some reason, to me. I feel like I carry too much masculine energy to be a femme, and yet my body is too curvy and feminine to be butch. I love my hourglass figure, don't get me wrong, but it bothers me somehow that when I explain to someone this struggle I feel they laugh and say "You? You're femme, it's obvious". And when they say femme, they mean "you're a female, and you look feminine, so what's the big deal?"

Is it? I feel like while my body says "feminine", my brain is screaming out that it's so much more complicated than that. And I'm desperate for it all to be taken seriously. I feel like I'm on the fence, living in the slash between butch and femme, and sure, I could say I'm something else, and maybe I am, but these resounding feelings I get about both mean something, and I just don't know what.

Categories: assumptions, gender, musing, personal

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