I realized today that I was really happy I wasn’t PMS-ing during the conference. There were so many touching moments, and I found myself tearing up so many times, that I’m sure if I was on the downside of a progesterone spike, I could have cried all the way through the weekend.
But there was a moment during the conference that left me thinking my ears had deceived me and I want to talk about it.
I was in a workshop discussion between Jack Halberstam and Kim Peirce. Jack (Judith) is an English professor and director of The Center for Feminist Research at USC. Kim is the director of Boys Don’t Cry.
The discussion was about moving beyond Boys Don’t Cry into a next generation of butch/trans/genderqueer representation in the media. Jack and Kim are friends. In fact, Kim pointed out that Jack set her up on her only blind date, resulting in her current engagement.
At some point during the conversation, when comments and questions were moving quickly, Kim said something to the effect that butches have superior qualities to men and “that’s why femmes are with us and not men”.
(Jack, why the hell didn’t you call her on this?)
I almost jumped out of my chair, but the moment to comment without rewinding the whole conversation had passed. Instead, I got distracted mulling it over and soon left the discussion and retired to my hotel room to rant a little.
There are many ways I think butches have it hands down over men. (And don’t write and call me a man-hater. Preferring one doesn’t mean hating the other.)
But that’s not why I’m with a butch woman and not a man. I’m with a butch woman because I’m a lesbian who loves butch women (and what butch/genderqueer author Ivan Coyote called “largely estrogen-based lifeforms” that fall anywhere on the masculine spectrum).
I came out later in life, after having been in heterosexual marriage, and I keenly feel the results of my coming out process and my “choices”. (Which, let’s face it, weren’t exactly choices, but internal imperatives.)
Femmes aren’t straight girls who have been won over by butches. Ask any butch who tried such a conversion and lived though the pain of watching her beloved return to a life with men. Admittedly a few of these projects work, but the vast majority don’t seem to.
I dated one woman who experienced this so many times, we joked about her being the “back door” lesbian – the last thing a straight girl saw on her way back to heterosexuality.
Femmes are lesbians, no less than butches. We are dykes, queers, and homos. We are your counterparts, the yin to your yang. We grow more feminine in your reflection, as you become butcher in our glow. We exist in tandem.
But make no mistake, our sexual agency is only as great as your own. We don’t choose you over men and you didn’t win us as prizes in some sort of competition.
We chose you because you’re not men.