I get the heebie jeebies when I hear a butch throwing another butch under the bus by pointing out how said butch is not a “real” butch for some stereotypical reason like her shaving her legs or not knowing shit about cars or not opening doors for femmes. Not to mention when a butch “casually” mentions that some other butch is not a “real” butch (“casually” as in “to eliminate her competition”).
I get annoyed when my straight friends, classmates, or coworkers tell me I can’t be a “real” lesbian because I was boy-crazed in high school (apparently I chased Aladdin in Euro Disney; I have no recollection of it whatsoever, but a classmate swears I told her he was dreamy), had boyfriends a lifetime ago (mmmmm okay), and, my favorite, I “don’t look like a dyke” (barf). It is also annoying when my LGBT friends openly say they don’t see me as a “real” lesbian because I’m a femme. Apparently femmes are not part of the LGBT community. Add to that the fact of that I only date butches and stone butches… boom… in their heads I’m only one butch away from going back to the straight world.
I get slightly pissed when my butch friends imply I’m not a “real” femme because I sleep with stone butches. By “slightly pissed” I mean I’m too polite to give them a piece of their own medicine (since when are you a card carrying lesbian?) when they make a joke or a remark or directly point out what for them is obvious (i.e. they think I’m a step away from going back to bio-males) but for me is insulting (I’m not going back to men!). All this letting it slide and not rocking the boat is not good for my mental health, and let’s leave it at that.
Along the same lines, some in our community may think I’m not a “real” femme because I rarely wear makeup, am not into cooking or baking to hook butches, don’t play the damsel in distress game well (don’t play it at all!), and have a very low threshold when it comes to taking bullshit from a butch. I write “may think” because – other than a rude old witchy hag’s telling me years ago that I don’t bother going to places unless there are butches in attendance – nothing has been said to my face regarding my femmeness, but I hear comments about other femmes for the mentioned reasons all the time.
I literally cringe when I hear or read a butch talking about stone butches as not being “real” butches (if they don’t label them “freaks” directly). Mainstream lesbians spit so much venom on the butch/femme community already, do we need to throw some more shit on stone butches? Don’t they have it hard enough? I don’t get how a butch who complains about butch bathroom shame or any other problem s/he faces in her everyday life (all the crap she takes from mainstream lesbians and our heteronormative society), in turn decides to label and/or look down on all stone butches as working class, beer swinging, monosyllabic hard butches with no brains or transguys in the making. Why the hostility to “stoneness”? I just don’t get it.
Where is this “realness” obsession coming from? Why do we need to put so much pressure on each other? Don’t we get enough shit from society, our relatives, our bosses or coworkers? Don’t we know better than this? Haven’t we learnt anything from feminism? No one remembers or has read about how patriarchy uses “realness” to divide and conquer? You don’t even have to go back to the 70s or 80s feminism. Just pick any two of the so-called women’s magazines and see their mixed messages: a real woman doesn’t work outside of the house. A real woman can work outside the home and still be a good mother and wife. A real woman works outside the home and doesn’t need help to keep the house clean and raise her kids. A real woman knows when to delegate and it’s ok for her to leave the kids with her parents or a baby sitter. A real woman looks the other way while her husband cheats. A real woman doesn’t let her husband cheat, she gets a divorce. A real woman doesn’t bother her husband with her daily problems. A real woman speaks up. And it goes on and on and on.
Some of you may be puzzled: “but don’t you look down on butches when you say they are slobs?” Make no mistake: when I write things like butches to stay away from and/or femmes to avoid I’m not saying that they are “less butch/femme than.” Yes, they are fucked up. Yes, I wouldn’t be caught dead sleeping with any of them. But that doesn’t take away from their butchness or femmeness. I’m not questioning how butch/femme they are. There is not a single, correct way to be butch or femme. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.