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How to Be Butch

January 20, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

I wanted to talk about a post that was written about me and this blog at yondergen.wordpress.com, but unfortunately, I schedule my posts about 3 weeks ahead of time. Normally, I would deviate from the schedule in order to accommodate “current events”, so to speak, but unfortunately, I’ve been incredibly busy at work, so haven’t had a chance to write down a well-reasoned response. In a sentence: I think that Y has their finger on my most pressing conflict as a butch. But! In more depth later. Now to your regularly scheduled programming, which coincidentally has to do with Y’s post about me.

I got a suggestion that I should discuss why I named this blog “How to be Butch”, when it so clearly is not actually about that at all.  Good suggestion.  If you ever have a suggestion, or question for me, please get in contact.  I go through periods of brief, torrential inspiration for post ideas, and then longer periods of nothing.

The name comes from my own arrival at “butch” as an identity for myself.  It’s funny how long it can take you to synthesize information, particularly when it’s about yourself.  For example, after scouring blogs, pictures, resources, books, movies, songs, ANYTHING for mentions of gender-variant people or performances, mostly of the transmasculine variety, and after admitting to myself that the reason I was looking at these things was for style tips, I still did not say to myself, “I actually want to look and be like these people that I revere and see as role models.”  After using every trip to the Rocky Horror Picture show as an excuse to dress butch, after stealing my dad and brother’s clothes to get men’s clothing closer to my body, after having every girl I dated say that I “wore the pants” (not that this is a necessity to be butch), I still did not ever think to myself, “Gee, I wonder if I might be butch.”

The feelings that I was missing some part of myself that needed a name tended to surface around times of transition and instability.  Like, after I graduated high school, I spent night after night imagining my life in college.  There, I’d be different.  Maybe I’d shave my head! And dress differently! And be that image of myself that I always had, but never was!  Then it came up again, after I got out of a bad relationship.  Then again when I couldn’t find myself a job in my senior year of college.

But they’d also appear, “randomly”, after finding an image of a particularly well-dressed butch.  I’d think, or say out loud, “I wish I could dress like that.”  And after I’d find these images, I’d spend 3 days to 3 weeks googling “how to be butch” over and over again.

I’m a person who values processes and rules.  I like to follow schedules and time tables.  I guess to some this might come off as not thinking for myself.  The reality is that I’m totally overwhelmed by the multitude of choices presented to me.  What should I get to eat a restaurant? I consult Yelp to see what others like.  What should I make for dinner this week? I make a list and then use a random integer generator to select the dishes I want.  Both of these things just happen to have to do with food, but without a list, I can be pretty helpless (Tip: I’m sure you all have a to-do list! Consult yours and organize by priority.  Work on things, in that order, without distraction.  If you think of something else you have to do, add it to the list.  At the end of the day, make a new list for tomorrow, organized by priority. Repeat.).

So when confronted with the desire to be butch, I thought, “how?” But without any clear answer, I couldn’t move forward.  And the more I thought about how to do it, the more options I would see.  But I always thought to myself, “No, there’s got to be one right way.  One right way that will guarantee everyone will take you seriously.”

It took a while to figure out that this wasn’t true, and maybe that’s a different story for a different post.  But there are two ways to explain the title.  First, I hope that there’s someone like me out there, begging the internet to tell them how to be themselves.  And I hope that if they find this (and pretty much every other great butch/gender/femme blog out there), they realize they just have to take the plunge and hold tight, because there isn’t a process for everything. Second, I guess I still need the reminder, that butchness isn’t limited to my clothes and that I don’t need to be fully decked in men’s clothes head to toe to be seen as butch.  And furthermore, I don’t need to have rules in place to be successful in this journey.  Just exploring is going to be success enough.

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Categories: Basic Information
  1. bee
    January 20, 2010 at 10:49 am

    I think that How To Be Butch is a great title for a blog about exploration– because there are as many ways to be butch as there are people who self-identify as butch.

    • January 27, 2010 at 9:14 am

      Thank you! I have only just discovered your blog, thanks to learning more about the Butchosphere, but I love it. And also your stitching.

  2. January 20, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    Hey there; just wanted to say I really enjoyed this post. I’m someone who likes (nay, loves!) rules, schedules, etc, too, and I desperately wanted them when I began my gender journey. I soon enough adopt sets of rules for myself, but initially striking out my own, taking that plunge, was scary as hell. I was sure everyone would laugh at me and know I was a fraud. I am so happy to have been proven wrong.

    • January 27, 2010 at 9:16 am

      Thank you so much for this comment! Maybe I’ve just missed it, but I didn’t hear comments from butches (in real life or otherwise) often enough prior to this. I thought all this stuff was something that came naturally, and if it didn’t, then you were a fraud. It’s nice to hear from someone else that they also were looking for guidelines.

      Now that I’m “older”, I’ve realized WHY I could never find a “how-to”. It’s because anyone who is qualified to make one knows that it’s not the right thing to do.

  3. January 20, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    The takeaway here for me is that we are TOTES OBSESSIVE LIST-MAKING SOULMATES. I mean, really. How many amazing spreadsheets of hotness do YOU have? Lists are very, very soothing. Checking things off of them (like writing this blog post, I imagine)? At once decadent and coldly efficient. LOVE.

    • January 27, 2010 at 9:18 am

      Hahaha, “decadent and coldly efficient”. That’s me in a nutshell! Well, to those who don’t know me well.

      Actually, I don’t use spreadsheets, I use Onenote. It’s a little more free-form, but I find that that’s a better format for me. Otherwise I end up having 50 different spreadsheets. With Onenote, it’s all in the same place, and I can find previous items I have noted easily. For example, under things to do, I have: cupcake crawl, run a marathon, do a sprint triathlon, etc. …

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