During one of my lunch breaks last summer I saw a hot geriatric butch and my first thought was: “thank God that I’m invisible because my hair is a mess and my handbag doesn’t match my dress. I would be mortified if any butch saw me looking like this.” That moment of great relief made me think and ask around about other advantages of being invisible.
Wrong on many levels, these are some perks that my friends and I came up with:
1. Since we don’t register as butches, studs, bulldykes, etc. and are not seen as a menace, we can walk down the street without fear of being harassed, hit, beaten or corrective raped.
2. Since everyone assumes we are straight, we are also less likely to be the target of bullying and harassment from kids our own age at school or college based on our looks or sexual orientation.
3. We have never experienced and we will never experience butch bathroom shame.
4. We can decide whether we want to be out or not, unlike butches who are out to everyone wherever they go.
5. We can combine and wear masculine and feminine pieces of clothing without being ostracized or beaten up.
6. Since butches don’t see us, we don’t have to shave our legs or wear make up every day. No need to worry if our grays are showing, or if we didn’t have time to get waxed or a manicure and pedicure during the weekend either.
7. We get away with using the men’s room any time we want because we aren’t threatening dykes who need to be kicked out of there. We are the cute, cheeky straight girls who just don’t want to wait in line at 3 am in a club.
8. We still get invited to (and most choose to attend) family gatherings. For those who are family oriented, even if their families are LGBTphobes, going to Sunday dinners and being part of the holidays are very important.
9. We can be our best friends’ bridesmaid wearing a pretty dress. No dress drama involved. No fear of giving her conservative grandmother a cardiac.
10. We may have other concerns, but not looking the part is not one of our worries when we go to a job interview.
11. We can use passing for straight women for our professional advantage – whether it is getting a promotion, a huge discount from a vendor whose representative is clueless about our being gay or a huge commission on a sale we wouldn’t have been able to make if the buyer knew we are not straight good girls.
12. We can use our looks to get extra days off, be late or leave early. I have a friend who gets away with being consistently late to work to take her (imaginary) children to school. She and I have the theory of that if she was a butch she wouldn’t be able to get away with murder – not because butches can’t be mothers but because her straight manager would have a harder time buying her “I have to take my children to school” story from a butch than he does from a femme he perceives as a straight single mother struggling to be a good mom to her 2 kids.
13. We rarely pay for drinks when we go out with our straight friends. From my experience, bartenders and friends of friends or acquaintances who don’t know I’m a lesbian yet buy me drinks because “a pretty girl like you shouldn’t pay for her own drinks.”
14. It’s ok if we don’t know anything about cars – almost expected – we get free oil changes.
15. Taxis stop for us any time of the day or night.
16. We can use traditional chivalry and male deference to our advantage. A bio-male opening your building’s door for you is indeed welcomed when you are carrying 20 bags and so is the store assistants’ carrying your bags to your car at the supermarket.
17. After a long day at work, our chances of getting bio-males to give up their seats on the subway or bus are higher than if we were butches.
18. We can travel alone or with other feminine looking women without obsessing about finding a gay friendly area or worrying about some local bashing our heads.