Butch Shortage?

Posted: November 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

Over my third helping of Thanksgiving treasures, and in between watching my TCU football team kick some UT arse, some friends and I began talking about masculine feminiity. Now granted we are all over 40, so this was definitely a generationally influenced discussion. However, we wondered about something one of us overheard – that there is a shortage of butch women. Did the changes come from evolving opinions and opportunities to transition from female to male? It forced us to examine ourselves. If we had it to do over again, would we have thought about transitioning? To answer, we traced our gay geneology. We recalled the first time we felt different from other girls and what that moment felt like. For me, I was in kindergarten and met my first school friend, Denise. She woke up my heart. It was the first time I remember liking a girl. From that point, it was a series of small crushes that evolved into a long series of conversations and a love/hate relationship with God. Prayer didn’t change me into a boy, but why was I praying to be a boy? Well, it wasn’t because I felt like a boy in a girl’s body. It was because then I could like girls and it’d be okay. I just wanted the freedom to like and love girls.

When I went to college, I found out that I could indeed like and love girls and, though it might not be okay to many, there was a community in which it was just fine. And even more, I found that I could be very masculine and still be a woman – a butch woman who loved women. A butch lesbian. I cannot imagine what it must feel like for those trapped in bodies they don’t want. I do know what it feels like to be trapped in an image and role that I don’t want, and it was worth it to take the risks to be me. If there is a shortage of butch women, I still don’t know why. Maybe the defining lines that used to be are outdated. Maybe it’s that what used to be a definite gay community is now scattered and mingled in the mainstream. We didn’t figure it out. But it was a jolly good time down memory lane and quite re-affirming that at least we were holding up our end of the butch tradition.

In So Many Words


You’re fast asleep
and I lay here at your side.
I feel so weak
and I tremble deep inside.
I lay awake
staring at your cheeks, so red,
hoping you’ll wake,
but you’re motionless in bed.
My thoughts wander:
Will I ever let you know?
And I ponder:
Will you cling or will you go?

Now I can see
abstract silhouettes of gray.
You’re next to me,
but your thoughts are far away.
And I can tell
that you’ve procrastinated;
it’s simple, well,
the scene is set and dated:
You’ve read your book
and you’ve packed your travel pail.
A second look:
You’ve bathed and read your mail.
My thoughts wander:
Will I ever let you know?
And I ponder:
Will you cling or will you go?

I hear my heart,
I wonder if you can too.
I stop myself
from reaching out to you.
You’re fast asleep
and I…

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The past year has been a defining moment in my Butchness. I had to examine my thoughts and re-assess my identity. I can be more “man like” in attitude but what really is “man like”? To define it more honestly, I objectify. Being an extremely sexual person, I tend to look at women in sexual contexts. I visually assess them and then react. While this is all good and well in my mind, I have realized that this might not exactly be appreciated, no more than if it was being done by a man. My wife reminded me about how I used to watch her get dressed for work. What I thought was complimentary made her feel like a stripper. Now, when it’s consensual and part of bedroom play, that’s a whole different thing, but my just leering at her made her feel cheap. So, what’s a butch to do? Butch it up, of course.  A real butch loves and respects her woman. She’s butch enough to treat her woman like she wants to be treated. She finds other ways, ways that her woman finds complimentary, to let her woman know she is sexually attracted to her. It’s not about you, my butch sisters. We’ve never been about ourselves. When we love a woman, it’s like we are worshiping her. She’s not a thing. She’s your life partner. Her pleasure is your pleasure. That doesn’t mean not feeling those feelings – that lust that hammers between your thighs like a bass drum – but you learn to keep them in check and to express them in ways both of you will enjoy. In short, you butch it up!

Well, it’s been a mighty long time since I’ve written. Just haven’t been inspired, if you want to know the truth. However, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what butch women want – from my point of view.  I haven’t done any polls or anything scientific like that. I do, however, have a brain and fairly good working senses, so I’ll tell you what I think.

Butch women remind me of the 1950s. Butches want to be the head of the household. They want to be the Alpha Female. NO they don’t want to be the “man of the house.” They do want to be the leader. They want a mate who will support their role as leader and provide for her butch needs as she provides for her partner’s needs. In this scenario, a butch is more of an attitude than a look. You can be a femme who is very much butch, but usually, it is the butch who is “butch.”

It’s not a June Cleaver wife that’s wanted but a woman that understands that butches are unique. While there are certain male-like traits (as defined by social mores), the butch sees her role as provider who wants to be provided for in other areas which are butch-specific. Some want dinner every night when they get home. Some want a clean house. Some want their woman dressed to impress at all times. Some want a certain amount of sex on demand, a back rub, a shirt mended, or to feel like they are the masters of the universe (even if it’s really their mate that rules the roost – we just want to feel in charge).

Sometimes this is an impossible dream, but you know, the illusion sometimes can go a long way. Butches want to give everything to meet their mate’s desires and expectations. We’ll work two jobs, over time, go to events that aren’t exactly our cup of tea, dress the part of our mate’s desires, fix stuff or have it fixed, find a way to catch a star and put in on chain for you to wear around your neck. If you’ve got a butch, or want one, be vigilant. Listen carefully and watch. Ask questions. Find out what drives your butch away and what’ll keep her. If you’ve found the one for you and you can give her what she wants (tons of honesty required, folks), then grab on to that flannel shirt and don’t let go!

It’s been a very long time since I’ve written.  Life has had its usual ebbs and flow, but there’s been a bit more going on.  I’ve had the opportunity to play Orlando, if you will, and under this guise I’ve been able to explore my more masculine side.  No drag involved.  Cyber-drag, yes. And I have to admit, I felt incredibly free. There were things I could say, do or pretend to do, and write that as a woman you wouldn’t get away with, it would not be taken in the same way, and would be judged by an entirely different criteria.  It’s a slippery slope, mind you.  While you know in your mind that the comments and flirtations are but witty often saucy banter – creative minds fluffing their peacock feathers and trying to show the other up – but beware, it also can create uncomfortable situations.

As a jealous fanatic, I didn’t understand this phenomenon of the alternate identity and just what jolly fun and how liberating it can be until I did it.  I saw it as just an excuse to flirt and be flirted with.  I was threatened by it and the sources of the attention paid to my partner.  Then I experienced it from the other side, and I can honestly say I understand the appeal.  I understand how it strokes the ego and can confirm your creative talents.  Talent and intelligence is just plain attractive – like a moth to a flame.

It’s not that different than when we were kids, playing “dress up” and make-believe, only with adult words and adult pleasure. Vive le ryveries!

Watching the turn of events in my neighborhood, I am smitten with an extreme sentimentality.  How did I “grow up” gay?  I’m not talking about being gay but being a part of what was the gay community.  Being a butch in training, I longed to be with women who could teach me a thing or two.  However, being a cute young thing, most butches wanted me to be a soft butch or turn femme.  There was a feeling of competition and domination.  Rites of passage. At the time, I’d never been able to really “be” myself, so like a chameleon, I altered to fit the environment.  The drive to have a GF at any cost didn’t help matters.  Driven by the need to have a mate, I ventured into many relationships that were destined to fail.  And they did.

I finally found a comfortable spot in a men’s country bar and becoming a part of a predominantly men’s social club.  It was the height of the AIDS crisis, so we were a social club with a cause.  We wore blue jeans, boots, blue western cut shirts, silver belly hats, and black leather vests with our club colors on the back.  This was a leather/levi club, and I fit in perfectly.  I was allowed to be “one of the guys” and in this my inner butch finally came out.  These were mostly butch men – bears, cowboys, leather daddies, rednecks – men who if you saw them on the street, you’d never guess they were men who loved men.  It may sound strange, but I felt more comfortable with these guys than hanging out with lesbians.  I just never “fit in” with the lesbians of the time.  This was the era of the lipstick lesbians and the fashionistas.  Very superficial and cliquish.  Very judgmental.  Very stuck up.  I didn’t have confidence enough to survive those shark filled waters – yet.

I loved being one of the guys and was privi to a world that few women knew.  As my involvement increased, I found myself more and more comfortable with being a butch and discovering who that butch was.  Bar runs were the most fun.  The freedom of sexual expression and the opportunity to observe and participate to whatever degree I’d like was empowering.  Pinning was a big deal.  Especially if you found some beauty that you wanted to break the ice with.  For those not familiar with “pinning,” it’s a motorcycle club tradition.  Each club has friendship pins.  They are made sturdy enough to go through thick material like jeans or leather.  Anyway, you get down on your knees in front of your intended’s crotch, unzip their pants, and reach in with one hand while you push the pin through their pants with the other hand.  The hand in the pants has the clasp to secure the pin.  Often “while your down there” finger or oral play would commence – for a few moments.  Although, there were occasions that drew crowds, and I liked to be part of the crowd rather than part of the performance. If you have a voyeur in you, these were wonderful opportunities to indulge.

Why do I wax sentimental this evening about such things?  Well, another gay bar is under the wrecking ball in Houston.  Another one of those delightfully dark, sexually charged places that you used to read about in forbidden books and magazines or get a peep of in movies like “Cruising.”  A place where stereotypes were the norm, and we weren’t ashamed of them or of being them.  It was like being a part of a secret society, and we truly felt special with our secret, as we were able to walk in two worlds.  Be a part of the “straight world” by day and then don our costumes by night.  It was a different place and a different time, a time now making way for “progress.”

We tend to look at life in linear points.  Like some cosmic “life line,” we connect the dots from birth to death. Unfortunately, we miss so much when we view our lives this way.  Instead of isolated points we would benefit much more from looking at our lives as evolutionary.  We exist not in moments but in motion and are constantly churning our existence into new beings.  Some part of us adapt to change and continue to evolve with our existence.  Other parts become extinct, no longer needed in the current period of “you.”

There are as many definitions of ‘butch” as there are butches.  Trying to reduce being butch to a singular finite collection of words is like to trying to reduce the galaxy into one shining star.  You lose the glory for the sake of simplicity.  Some things in life aren’t mean to “simplified.”

Butch then is a result of evolution.  The evolution of the butch that is you.  I don’t think you ever really complete your butch.  It’s not surprising, then, that you will go through many looks, styles, lifestyles, and life choices.  From the vehicle you drive to the women that you find attractive, you will be in transition, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

I mention this because of the long-time debate over what is “butch.”  There are no rules, no matter what the so-called experts like to claim.  There are stereotypes, trends, and socially marketed images, but there is no mold where one can simply add water and get an instant butch.  I know some women for whom this would be a dream come true…. sorry ladies.  It’s an urban legend.

There are times when I am so close to a stone butch that I would make diesel dyke look like a femme.  There are times when I’ve walked that fine line between the hetero-tomboy look and the baby butch.  a lot depended on my mood, comfort, employment, and just what felt good at the time.  The joys about evolution is that you are never bound to one “butch type,”  The only thing that binds you is the extent of your imagination…. and pocket book, on occasion.  And on even more frequent occasions, the woman that you are with or want to be with.

We transition for various reasons.  We have this power of choice because we are creatures of evolution.  There is tremendous power in this realization.  Enjoy it.  Take pleasure in it and explore.  Become the butch you always wanted to be and don’t be surprised if the butch you are today is not the butch you will be tomorrow.

Always, JT