Butch Glamour Girls?

It’s interesting to see what happens to images of lesbians in the media – especially those lesbians who shine in the butch or androgenous side of the rainbow. It seems that they need to be polished up to be made palatable for mainstream America. First there was all the discussion about Rachel Maddow’s television makeover, and now Ellen DeGeneres is the new face of CoverGirl cosmetics. (You can read the NYTimes story here.)

Remember when Margaret Cho said “Give me a woman who looks like John Goodman?” I’ve got to agree. There’s something to be said for a butch woman who is willing to wear her sexuality on her sleeve day in and day out. It’s just plain hot.

It’s a funny paradox, but I think that when you apply the typical feminine trappings of makeup and hair to women like Rachel and Ellen in an attempt to glam them up, it actually de-sexualizes them.

Case in point: The very attractive Rachel Maddow below left, in a publicity photo for her Air America radio show (hip haircut, basic grey tee… she looks, hot, smart, and gay), and on the right, in a publicity shot for her MSNBC television show, she looks like a soccer mom who hasn’t found her way out of the closet yet.

Now, what will they do to Ellen?

Radio Rachel

7 responses to “Butch Glamour Girls?

  1. Hey GP Girl,
    Glad you think butches are hot, ’cause this one loves your blog — it’s always something odd and funny! Thanks!

  2. Hell, yeah!

    Toby, I truly believe that butch women are the warriors of our lesbian culture.

    They take the slings and arrows for the rest of us. A femme woman alone on the street hardly ever has a stranger mutter “dyke” under their breath at her. It takes enormous courage and power to live a butch life without compromise.

    There are few butch role models in the media… Shane? Come on, be serious. Ellen, Rachel, Rosie, Melissa E., kd… Who can tell… they’re all softened in the media.

    BTW, this prompted a huge morning argument in my house about whether there are any butch women in mainstream media at all.

    Here is our list, based on the criteria that they present as their authentic butch selves to ALL audiences, not just lesbian ones

    Our votes: Martina and Alison Bechdel.

    Any others? Jump in.

  3. can’t think of any others 😦

  4. Warriors? Aw, shucks.

    Well, it’s true there aren’t many others (Hillary? Dianne? I know they’re supposedly straight, but…I think we might need to look to politics to find the really tough chicks!). In defense of the media — I know, I know, they don’t deserve it — remember that they put makeup on EVERYONE, not just butch women. They make people look strange. Has anyone seen Cindy McCain since the convention? She looks like a Patty Hearst Halloween costume! I’m just saying….

  5. i remember being so depressed when martina did the fashion shoot where they femmed her up. it looked ludicrous, imho.

  6. This is making me crazy. It really is. It’s just fueling my work as a photographer too! Any butch/masculine/tomboy/androgynous folks out there want to get their picture taken while being told how awesome, powerful, and sexy they are?

    My brother-in-law explained to me that the reason I don’t see any butches on TV (like me) is because “TV is not about ugly.” Seriously. He wasn’t trying to be an *ss (even though he succeeded), he was just explaining it to me like it was a fact to be accepted.

    Well, no more. I’m so totally fed up with this. This has got to change. We have to DEMAND to see those all over the queer, masculine terrain celebrated and to take away the power of others to define what “beauty” means. I want massive saturation of images of us and the people who love us. By the way, I don’t want to define “us” either. If your hearts are open to making the world a more authentic place – you are in!!! That’s my own personal definition of “queer” now. Openness AND authenticity.

    • Angela – For more fuel for your artistic fire, check out Queer Eye Candy. I think there’s a reference there to a project about the masculine feminine.

      As for the brother-in-law, you gotta feel sorry for guys like him. He probably thinks big fake breasts look better than the real thing, too.

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