I was looking over my recent post on gender (this one
) and I realized that I told a little fib."There's just no category that describes me. Not even "close enough" for more than half a day at a time."
Um. Actually, I do call myself butch fairly often. I consider myself a sort of butch person. I get offended when people make presumptions about butchness, what it is and isn't and how that might apply to me. (For example, I am not an "ersatz man," thanks.)
But I am not *just* butch. That label has always felt "close enough," rather than "yeah! That's it! What a wonderful cozy fit!"
Butch saved my life. Well, maybe I exaggerate -- I was never suicidal or anything -- but that's what it feels like. Discovering butch as an available identity made my head stop clanging. This is why I am occasionally defensive about it being a valid identity choice. It made sense. It felt right.
For a while. Paradoxically, as I learned about butchness and gender as performance, I became a lot more comfortable with girliness and performing femininity. (Aside: Most of the time, I don't feel like I perform "femme," exactly. I usually perform the role of someone who thinks that femininity comes naturally, if that makes sense; femmes perform the role of someone who knows femininity is an act. I've done both, and they feel different. When I go to a party "in drag," where lots of my queer friends are, I am performing femme. When I go to a photo shoot, I am performing femininity. I may wear the same clothes, but the role is different. Clear as mud?) I have at least one butch-identified friend who laughs knowingly at this notion, because she, too, could only put on a dress once she realized she was butch.
I think this is why I do not consider myself kiki -- a butch/femme switch, to simplify a bit. I know which state I default to.
I do sometimes identify as a cross-dresser, or a drag queen. Usually when someone is in the midst of boggling at the fact that I'm in a skirt. I love playing dress-up; when I was a kid, I always wanted to dress up as a boy. Now that my default gender is recognized as masculine-ish, I want to dress up as a girl.
But the fact is, butch as a gender doesn't always fit me either, and not just because I own a closet full of femmy playclothes. (And butchy playclothes. G. had fun trying on my uniform hats the other day.)
Some of it has to do with oddly restrictive ideas about butchness (which usually parallel boringly restrictive ideas about masculinity). But it's not just that. It's hard to put my finger on, to be honest. I'll keep thinking about it.
I've telescoped a lot of personal history into this discussion, and I understand if the steps are hard to follow. Thanks for bearing with me.
Speaking of "bear," I notice that misia
identified that as another gender available to us. (look here.
) I've been aware of bearish women and of bear as a role for, oh, over a decade now. It's another one that's close but doesn't quite fit. I dunno why it never clicked for me. I wouldn't be offended if someone identified me as a bear, but I don't think of myself or self-describe as one. Hm.
It's OK that none of these quite fit, by the way. I'm not looking for a closer match.
Have I shed any light on recent discussions with this, or just added to the noise?