Home > FtB > I’m a drag prince.

I’m a drag prince.

February 3, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

“Drag prince” is what I secretly called myself in high school when I was dressing up as a drag king. You may have noticed that I’ve made a few comments here and there about my age. I’ve always been very conscious of it. Partly, I think this is because I started school a year early and have always been younger than my peers. Having only recently made my escape from the educational system, I’m still very much operating in this mindsight – that I’m the youngest person in the room. Furthermore, I often still am the youngest person in the room. Most of the girls on my rugby team are older than me, most of my coworkers are, most of my college friends are…the only time when I’m not the youngest person in the room is when I go home.

I bring it up because I’d like to talk about butch adolescence. Butch adolescence, for those unfamiliar with it, is rooted in the idea that butches typically come to an understanding of themselves as butch later than men come to an understanding of themselves as men. For that reason, when they develop their masculine selves, they might enter a period where they act a lot like male teenagers: boasting, swearing, and generally being idiots with fellow butches in an attempt to approve how totally butch they are. However, that period might not coincide with their actual adolescence.

I wish I could say I was smarter than this. What does it have to do with me being butch? Consider the case of my 14 year old brother. In the same way that he is discovering and trying to understand what it means to be male in a room full of people, I am discovering and trying to understand what it means to be butch in a room full of people. Furthermore, we’re working through some of the truly terrible things about masculinity in order to arrive at the kind of respectful, thoughtful masculinity that, say, our dad possesses. Obviously, there are many differences between the way that my brother and I are going about this, but there are also similarities. For example, we both insisted on using men’s SCENTED deodorant for a time, so that people around us could SMELL that we were MASCULINE. I’m not knocking men’s scented deodorants, but we come from parents that believe that wearing scents is offensive to scent-sensitive people who we might be interacting with everyday.

It was funny to me when my mother relayed that my brother had insisted on using “male-only” productsalbeit for entirely different reasons. You see, I was reading some (male) blogger that pointed out that the insistence on using only those grooming products designated for men, rather than the best ones available, was foolish; that it probably stemmed from an insecurity about one’s masculinity. And that was when I stopped buying men’s soaps.

This example is pretty innocuous. But my butch adolescence affects my life in much subtler, but ultimately more pervasive ways. I have a friend of a friend who I will call K, though this initial bears no resemblance to her name. We’re typically somewhat uneasy around each other, for entirely different reasons. I think the reason is that we each inspire some degree of insecurity in the other. She is someone who I might, in the past, have described as an “authentic” butch. Someone who never needed to try at all to be read as butch. As someone who has deepseated fears about her authenticity, I find her security terrifying. On the other hand, you have me: I’m athletic, have a girlfriend, and am easily read as being upper class. I’m told by my friend that these are all things that she would find, and does find, threatening.

As you can imagine, when we are in a room together, we don’t snap at each other or get in bar fights or anything outwardly hostile. But I can tell that we’re constantly trying to one-up each other on the stupidest things. Who has slept with hotter women. Who has slept with MORE women. Who can tell a better story. Who can command the conversation. It’s weird because, when removed from her presence, I can see that the first two are horribly misogynistic. But when I’m with her, this weird tarp descends on the rational part of my brain, trapping it, and not letting anything sensible come out. I HAVE to WIN.

My girlfriend is annoyed by this behavior, and since we’re both feminists, rarely lets me get away with it. Elder butches…when do I become a man? I only ask half-jesting. Or is this phase of my life important to live through? I know that it is, and can feel something important at work when I begin turning a critical eye to my foolish behavior. Examining myself can only lead to good things for me, and those around me.

Update: My girlfriend informs me that my butch adolescence is not that annoying, and thus I conclude that it’s also somewhat endearing. I’m such an adorable little prince.

Categories: FtB
  1. me
    February 3, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    here’s my own haphazard take on things. i am 39 right now – at some point i started to identify as boi and then one damn annoying day i noticed an unusual amt of wrinkles, grey hair … some sagging i really didn’t wanna see. at that point i made this laughably conscious and self-conscious decision to identify as butch instead. it prob all stems from this cute exchange i had online years ago – i ended up talking to two dykes at once and then i found out they were a couple – a daddy butch and a boi. not a dynamic i like, but that’s just me. the older one said i was a boi, the younger one said i was butch and that her gf was being paranoid about her own age.

    i have never identified as male or man – that’s also just me.

    i think … you define yourself … other people define you … i think your own definition is the significant one ;)

    • February 4, 2010 at 10:14 pm

      I’ve been drawn to “boi-hood” for a long time, and there are parts of it that I still identify with, mainly because of my youth. But it doesn’t really feel right to me. Butch does, but for a while, I will probably look and act close to most people’s conception of “boi”. Much the same way boys think they are acting like men, probably.

      I love that Daddy/boi story though.

  2. e
    February 3, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    It is absolutely astounding to me that you posted this today. Well, it’s just part of the synchronicity of life I guess. I don’t have anything profound to say about butch adolescence (except that I’m sure you are an adorable drag prince) but I had an experience this morning that made me question my own behaviour.

    I was in my morning boot camp exercise class. We were doing some damn thing that required us to be on our hands and knees. The girl in front of me had a really nice ass! And I found myself thoroughly enjoying the view! Even going beyond admiration to fantasy. And then my rational brain kicked in. I AM a feminist. I don’t like women to be objectified, and I never liked it when it was done to me. I don’t look at women as objects of my personal pleasure. It was embarrassing to catch myself in that kind of juvenile, stereotypically male mindset. I immediately looked down at the floor! I hope my red face was taken as a sign of exertion rather than the acute idiocy that I felt.

    • February 4, 2010 at 10:17 pm

      Donkey kicks? I never mind a little fantasy, but I always worry myself when I reach the point where my eyes are half-lidded and I’m wiping drool off my chin. Sometimes I find myself ogling co-workers in the lunchroom. Yurgh. What am I? I’m not even half close to having a high libido, surely I can control myself!

      I agree – I hate it when it was done to me, and having looked very feminine over most of my life, it’s been done to me quite a lot.

      Edit: By which I mean, the incidence rate of my getting leered at has decreased NOTICEABLY since embracing butch. Although it hasn’t disappeared entirely.

  3. February 4, 2010 at 9:35 am

    “like male teenagers: boasting, swearing, and generally being idiots with fellow butches in an attempt to approve how totally butch they are.”

    You’re totally right! Though, mind you, the jobs I have tend to totally enable all that, but still. I’m being a douche!

    • February 4, 2010 at 10:19 pm

      1) Thank you for alerting me to the typo…whoops.
      2) I mean, a little idiocy is fun. Otherwise no one would ever drink or laugh at fart jokes. hahaha. But too much idiocy = idiotic.

  4. February 4, 2010 at 10:42 am

    OMG! You totally just explained why all the rugby players in college acted like 14 year old boys! I get it now!

    Seriously. It makes so much sense. Very insightful.

    • February 4, 2010 at 10:20 pm

      Haha, I must apologize on behalf of my people…

  5. G
    February 9, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    I have to be honest … some of this behavior doesn’t change, no matter what the age. I’ve been around guys who STILL act this way, in their late 30s – early 40s. I personally think it’s a) part of the male socialization (or Locker Room Effect) and b) partly created by insecurity or the unknown.

    I’m not saying that you’re insecure! I’m just saying that sometimes, in the process of seeing where you fit into the big picture, this kind of behavior presents itself. I think it’s absolutely important to go through this phase until you’re more comfortable, until you understand where you stand in relation to others. I happened to experience it all growing up because I had five older brothers, and because they socialized with me like a guy, whether they knew it or not. Some of it never goes away (you think guys don’t still compete to see who can get the hottest woman or hit a golf ball the farthest?) but I think you being aware of it will help you move through it more quickly.

    And btw, I only buy men’s products. It has less to do with insecurity about my masculinity as it does that I happen to like those scents better than anything else. Sometimes it just is what it is.

    • February 11, 2010 at 9:37 am

      Oh no! I wasn’t trying to say that YOU are insecure for buying men’s products. It’s just that, for me, when I started being like, “Yeah, I am butch.”, I thought to myself, I have to be so butch! Super duper butch! That means men’s products – even though I had spent years buying unscented, un-gendered soaps and deodorants – because I prefered “unscents” to scents. The fact that I felt as if I suddenly had to change everything I was doing was what informed me that it was likely out of insecurity, rather than authenticity. I am currently back to unscents – although if I were buying scented products, I would, like you, reach for the men’s products.

      • G
        February 11, 2010 at 9:19 pm

        I realized that I may have come off as kind of defensive – sorry! I didn’t take it personally at all. And hey, great post.

  6. Erin
    March 3, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    My whole life, I’ve been intrigued by the butch lifestyle. I remember looking at the older girls at the softball park (cliche I know!) when I was 10 and wishing I could cut all of my hair off like them. I’m 28 now, but I remember having many of the same feelings of confusion and insecurity that you write about when I was first coming out as gay and as butch when I was around 20. I made it a point to wear only mens’ clothes, shoes and cologne. I remember when I finally cut my hair into a short, boyish cut, I felt more confident in myself than ever before. My gf at the time tried to make me feel very insecure, insinuating I was the butchiest person on the earth, when, now that I look back, I was more faggy than anything.

    I’ve always been attracted to butch girls also, and my current gf of 3 years is very butch in appearance, often being mistaken for a man, although her demeanor is quite feminine most of the time. She has always loved me for who I am, never making fun of the way I look. And I find in my old(er) age of 28, I am finally embracing my femininity more than I ever have before, even in my adolescent years. As I have aged and become more confident in who I am as a complete person, I can feel attractive dressing as butch, feminine or in-between. I primarily wear mens’ clothes out of work, and womens’ clothes at work, simply because it’s easier to find womens’ suits that fit my body the best. But even at work, I rock the trendy mens’ haircut, mens’ cologne and deodorant and never wear makeup. I really don’t care what other people think of me, as long as I feel good about myself I’m happy.

    My point is, I think as you age and gain confidence in who you are as a person, you will become a man, or an adult, or whichever term you choose.

    • March 15, 2010 at 9:04 am

      Thank you for this comment. I have been turning it over in my head for the past few days, and I really appreciate it. Actually, it’s related to something I plan to post about shortly, which is that I have been very committed to being ALL or nothing at all, which is strange. Thanks for your descriptions of you AND your gf. Hearing about others gives me more of a roadmap for myself.

  7. Chris Stones
    April 6, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    I’m so fortunate to stumble upon this blog. I was supposed to be in bed two hours ago!!! I recently started (Dec 2010) my “transformation” to the masculine spectrum. I decided to label myself as a boi. My role model identifies as transgendered, ftm. Anytime we get together the second we start talking it feels like a competition. Anything we do is a competition, even eating. Playing Wii sport, bowling is something fierce!!! I found myself getting into the competition because it made me feel part of a masculine group but afterwards when I was by myself recalling my day I’d think to myself, “Why does everything have to be a competition?!”. Again, when the situation is happening in motion, I just react. No thought is put forth other than, I MUST WIN WIN WINNNN!!! In the end, the person wants to say, “Yes, I am better than you!”

  1. June 2, 2010 at 11:02 am

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