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Femme Invisibility and Butch Marginality

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Ok, I'm femme, as you'd like to say.

The BAD thing about this (for me) is that I am always assumed to be straight, and guys hit on me all the time. Not just that, but because no one assumes or knows I'm a lesbian unless I tell them (or something comes up in convo) then there are no lesbians hitting on me, or anything like that. I also haven't even connected with the gay/lesbian scene in my city at ALL, since it's really small or underground or something, and I just pass as being straight so I don't get invited anywhere. I DO feel invisible to the gay community. Not only that, I'm not conected to the straight community either, as in I don't involve myself with guys and I don't take part in all that dating stuff that my friends do, and I don't have much in common with any of that.

So, pretty much, I feel invisible to both worlds.

If only there was a way to let everyone know how lesbian I am without compromising myself or my style. Ugh....

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It seems to me that all these women saying that butch girls are trying to look and act like men really just don't have a very full understanding of what a 'woman' is.. or what it means to be one.

Basically, I was born a girl. I have boobies (whether or not they're in view at all times), I have a vagina; I'm a woman. I know gender can be complicated to some people, but this is my personal view about it, as I am very comfortable having all of these things and wouldn't want to change them. So, they make me a woman. No matter how I act, I am acting like a woman because that is what I am. There is no WAY to be a woman - if you're born like that and you accept that as the way you want it, BAM! You're acting like a woman. If you deviate from the 'usual' or overall 'popular' ways of acting like a woman, you're just giving that title more scope.

I am also butch, as I define it as having an overall masculine energy. Masculine has been defined as protective, assertive, aggressive, strong, etc. All qualities which I posess, though am not limited to. More than that, the label feels right to me. I can be soft, sweet, caring; I can be seductive, flirtatious, goofy; I can dress to the 9's in a man's fitted suit. I am an actor and an artist. I am also a model and I can stomp down the catwalk in a $2000 gown, heels and self-applied makeup. It's my energy and my mind that makes me a butch. Try and tell me I'm anything other.

The point is that I am naturally - and enjoy - being MASCULINE, not manly. Believe me, men are not the masters of masculinity, either. This is the 21st century, people. Men are baking cookies at home with their kids. I can't believe butch women are being compared to men at all, seeing as many of them define masculinity far better than many men could. Would you ask men why they feel the need to act like women by bonding with their children and being sweet and caring to their wives/husbands? Everyone is free to have their own views of how the world works, but this seems like a pretty ignorant one to me.

I am woman. Hear me roar.

- PK

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If only there was a way to let everyone know how lesbian I am without compromising myself or my style. Ugh....

Wear a double-female symbol necklace? =^_^=

*Applauds PrinceKing's post!* This is so true! Though we often jump to the thought that style defines whether or not someone is butch or femme, it truly is the personality we adopt that makes us more masculine or feminine, and often it is not so easily seen. Aaand, you are right~! Attributes of a butch does not necessarily mean "like a man", but more of a confidence and coolness of personality.

But... even though I say this, I am sure I'll still view butch or femme as styles, too. ^_^;

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I don't identify with either butch or femme. I recently cut my hair very short into the popular lesbian haircut in New York right now. I didn't do it because it identifies me as gay to other women (even though that makes it extremely fun to walk around downtown), I did it because I like the way it looks. And it also happens that it looks gay, I like being identified as gay.

The funny thing is, that a lot of guys won't realize my orientation and will hit on me. So it must not be totally obvious. There are a lot of girls in Manhattan who dress the way I do and have my haircut, who are straight. It is a popular look right now. I enjoy wearing dresses just as much as sweaters and button down shirts. Sure, the places I am going and the people I will be with factor in to how I get dressed in the morning, but at the root of it, it is just about expressing who I am and how I feel. I enjoy experimenting with my identity. I like expressing my sexuality in what I wear and being proud of who I am.

In many ways I could say that there is something butch deep inside of me, something that I can't express in words. But those things are, again, just a part of myself that I want express, regardless of labels.

I spent a few years struggling with the idea of presenting myself as gay to the world. It was always a very private thing for me. Not private in the sense of not wanting to share it, but private in the sense of being completely at peace with my sexual identity and not feeling any kind of need to express it through dress or participate in groups. If anyone had asked me how I felt, I would have said, I am bisexual.

After having my first relationship with a girl, and experiencing the negative and positive reactions of other people to our holding hands in the street and generally acting like a ridiculously cute couple in public- I began to deal with issues of how to present my sexuality to the world. My sexuality was very quickly put into a public sphere.

It is a new area to explore, clothes, hair, degrees of outness, self-respect, support for the community, etc. The only thing any woman can do to respect herself and the gay community, is to be herself. And that goes for anyone in any community. Prejudice often comes from people who have issues with their own identity and can't deal with it. The only way to avoid prejudice is to focus on loving and understanding ourselves (instead of judging others).

It is always the things that we dislike in ourselves that we hate in others.

Eve

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Ok, I'm femme, as you'd like to say.

The BAD thing about this (for me) is that I am always assumed to be straight, and guys hit on me all the time. Not just that, but because no one assumes or knows I'm a lesbian unless I tell them (or something comes up in convo) then there are no lesbians hitting on me, or anything like that. I also haven't even connected with the gay/lesbian scene in my city at ALL, since it's really small or underground or something, and I just pass as being straight so I don't get invited anywhere. I DO feel invisible to the gay community. Not only that, I'm not conected to the straight community either, as in I don't involve myself with guys and I don't take part in all that dating stuff that my friends do, and I don't have much in common with any of that.

So, pretty much, I feel invisible to both worlds.

If only there was a way to let everyone know how lesbian I am without compromising myself or my style. Ugh....

I can completely relate, I get the "Oh Goodness, but you don't LOOK like a lesbian"..aaaaaack.. drives me mad..and butches whom I am attracted to seem to need to be 2x4'd with a large piece of wood.. though it can be amusing at times.. since I have come out as a femme... my dating life has almost died.. what to do?

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Having lived on both sides of the fence, as a boyish girl and a lipstick lesbian, I can speak with some authority about the challenges of each position. I would first like to mention that discussions over whether butches are male identified or not assume that there is a single way to be butch, when in fact all of these labels we use have multiple meanings and are lived in many different ways. Of course, those among us who present ourselves as most masculine often get the brunt of heterosexism from strangers, be it crappy service in business establishments or the terror of physical violence. So one generalization I am prepared to make is that our butches are a courageous bunch.

However, the butch presentation of self also sometimes affords an advantage in a heterosexist world. That same visibility which can be so problematic provides a chance for people who don’t want to be nasty or violent but are just really uncomfortable with queers to avoid us, or censure their topics of conversation so as to avoid knowing about our personal lives, or just to brace themselves so as not to look stupid when the ‘L’ word comes up. Now that lipstick is a part of my life, I have to face people’s enormously uncomfortable shock when they realize that their assumptions have been wrong. You meet someone, have a great conversation, but all the while in the back of your head you’re wondering if they’re still going to like you, or how they’re going to handle it when it pops out of the closet. Often, the poor unsuspecting soul can’t figure out where to look or what to say until 30 seconds later when some weak remark about the weather comes out and I’m left wanting to apologize for the shock and dismay I’ve caused.

I’d say that butchness leaves its bearer paradoxically exposed to heterosexism and protected from it. It all depends who you’re dealing with.

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So, pretty much, I feel invisible to both worlds.

If only there was a way to let everyone know how lesbian I am without compromising myself or my style. Ugh....

I have the same problem!

I'm thinking about going butch, at least a little.

Actually, when I got into junior high and started developing my own dress sense, everything was very mannish. I wore men's jeans, T's, big heavy necklaces, and even had a mannish haircut. When people started calling me "Rei" (rhymes with Ray), my mom flipped out and threw all my clothes away. She made me dress girly for the rest of the years I lived with her.

And even though I haven't lived with her for the last four years, it has just now occured to me that I can do whatever I want, now.

I'm just not sure what that is!

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This topic hits SO close to home for me. I am for sure considered "femme" by many of the people I know in the gay community. I get made fun of for it a lot because most of the women that I am friends with currently who are gay are considered butch. I know that they are just making friendly jabs. They are my friends, and friends tease. But it is very frustrating for me to walk into a bar with some of my pals and be ignored because it is assumed that I am the straight friend along for the ride.

HOWEVER. I feel like this has made me into a person who confronts others instead. Because I am more or less "invisible" in the gay community, it forces me to be the one who approaches a girl I am interested in. And as for being hit on by men, I consider it to be flattering and just inform them that I am not interested and that I play for their team. Sometimes this just makes them more interested, at which point I become frustrated. I think the invisibility topic is one that pertains to each girl individually. I may be invisible in bars, so I make myself stand out. I still wear my skirts and heels and I still look relatively "straight", but I get myself noticed.

The necklace idea was a good one. So is wearing a rainbow bracelet. I wear one everyday and it is the most common way that I find other lesbians in everyday situations. You can find one that fits your style.

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