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New Guest Writer: Lesbian Labels …. Yes or No?

This is the first post from our newest guest writer, E from Sapphic City. She hails from down under and I think she makes a great addition for CCL! Don’t you? 

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Those of you who tuned in for a fetish blog this week, I am sorry to say, you will be sadly disappointed… Unfortunately Ladies, due to injury (I have totally and completely fucked my back, and this is not ideal when strapping oneself into a corset) I was unable to make it to Obulette on Saturday night. Oh well, perhaps next time.

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A little taste of what we all missed out on. (yes thats me with whip)

So the fact that I have been flat on my back for days (and not in a good way) has meant that I have had plenty of time to explore my fellow creatives and Sapphic Sisters and so I discovered Butch (her chosen pseudonym). I loved Butch’s blog, I found her writing humorous and informative, however, I did notice that she felt the need to classify her fellow lady lovers into one of two categories; femme or butch. And while I recognize that her writing is very ‘tongue in cheek’, I have found in my reading that many other women (particularly in America) categorize women in much the same way. I also feel that straight people (as a generalization) and people who are naive and know no different also feel the need categorize people so they feel that they have us ‘figured out’.

I do believe that there are definitely some women out there who stereotypically fit into each category, however nothing is ever that black and white, I am the prime example (all flamboyant and colorful on the outside and shy and uncertain of myself on the inside).

So I started thinking about myself and how people would classify me… Upon first meeting me, I supposed people would assume that I am a ‘High Femme’ or a ‘Lipstick Lesbian’. Still unsure, I asked the women who know me best. I have termed myself an invisible femme on a number of occasions, Katie told me that while she considers me femme in general I have my own certain flare and Sara called me ‘Femme on the streets and butch in the sheets’. I suppose upon reflection, these descriptions are fairly accurate and many would agree that they suit my ‘partner type’ in that I’m a sucker for a ‘soft butch’, you know the type, butch on the outside, soft and cuddly on the inside. *Insert melting heart here*

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Like Kacy for the The Real L Word, she’s the girl I’d marry.

And while I know that the term ‘femme’ is not meant to offend, I cant help but associate the colloquialism with the phrase ‘just a girl’… It’s a term that basically separates the dress donning, stiletto clacking,

makeup wearing women from the general lesbian population. I have to admit, I find this a little derogatory. And before you proud Pumps (yet another label) get up in arms regarding my opinion, let me remind you that it is just that. My opinion. There are many sub-categories within the term butch; stone butch, soft butch, tom boy, boi, and I am in no way saying that these terms or women that identify with any one of these labels are one in the same, nor similar in anyway, they may be to people who are none the wiser. So don’t go all “I’m a tomboy! Not a butch” on me, because I didn’t say that, the ignorant bogan on the street did. And besides, if the bogan’s calling you that, odds are I’m going to want to jump your bones or at least flirt with you. But really, what difference does it make if your called a tomboy or a butch by someone who does not recognize the difference (please comment below and enlighten me if there is a significance for you, because I would love to hear it)?

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Like the ever sexy Mojo Juju here… swoon.

What I’m trying to say, however inarticulately, is that I do not feel that inside ‘the scene’ there is a necessity for labels such as androgynous, hard femme, etc. Many people would argue that having these terms allows us to convey our personality traits and in some cases sexual preferences without having to articulate said preferences, which could possibly save a potentially awkward conversation. But I feel that realistically, no matter which label you identify with, when you allow people to get to know you, the real you, the deeper you, that you’ll find that you never fit exactly into that one specific category. Which is pretty amazing really, because we are all individuals and what would be the point in getting to know someone if you could tell exactly who they are from their label?

I also think that having these labels encourages the gender stereotypes that society thinks we conform too. I.e. femme in the cosmetics section and butch in the hardware section. My friends will laugh at me at this point, because I am a makeup artist and cannot put together a piece of flat packed furniture to save my life but I’m sure there is beautifully dressed, scarlet lipstick wearing lesbian out there that can put my drawers together better than I can.

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Further pondering the gender stereotypes placed upon lesbians by society in general, I find it amusing that this form of ignorance and labeling, also fuels more confusion. Meaning that, from experience, many heterosexual people that I encounter find it difficult to comprehend how one ‘femme’ can be attracted to another, or how two stereotypically ‘butch’ women can be in a relationship when there is no clearly defined male and female gender role. I feel that society cannot fathom a relationship, unless it has clearly defined male and female roles, this allows people the ability to ‘peg’ us, or make us a little more relatable and somewhat less scary.

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Ellen and Portia being the perfect example of how society has us ‘figured out’.

While I am frequently asked, when actually in a relationship, “which one of you is boy?”, as I’m sure many of you have. In response to this question I roll my eyes. Rude yes, but sometimes it’s all I can do to stop myself from slapping the ignorant fool across the chops. I find this question somewhat ironic, because while I do not feel that in my previous relationships there has been a clearly defined male and female role, I do tend to be attracted to soft butches and tomboys, who society as a whole would often view in the male gender role, purely based upon looks alone. The irony lies in that, while I am attracted to the jeans, the ties, the vests, the short hair (long enough to run my hands through of course) and a somewhat stocky build, what I am attracted to the most is that soft, feminine personality that I feel society would never expect to find inside someone that they would often place directly into the male gender role, and sometimes mistake as a man given the right circumstances.

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 And here we come full circle, back to Butch, who recently wrote a blog retelling her experience of being processed through American airport security and detailing the humiliation faced when being incorrectly identified as a man, after which she was asked by security to confirm her gender and was subjected to a full body scan. I must admit, that I admire Butch for her class in the way she reacted in this situation, being that she did not break down (as I would have) nor did she cause a scene. She identified her sexuality for the security guard, completed all security checks quietly and cooperatively and then fell to pieces when alone. I don’t think I would that kind of strength.

So I put it too you, that the label ‘lesbian’ be enough. This term in itself ostracizes us from the general population and makes us more fabulous regardless of any subcategory in which we may place ourselves. Plus straight society is already confused enough about how we have sex, let alone if you try to educated them in regard to the sexual preferences of say a stone butch… It’s too complicated and I mean, realistically, most men are still trying to figure out how to please their women, while their women are laying there, flat on their backs, legs in the air, fantasizing about what would it would be like to be a Sapphic Sister, if only for a night… Because why not, its the 21st century, and we know what we’re doing. So its an uphill battle for hetero society from the start.

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 So my point, my loves, is that I love you no matter what your label, and you should too. Because butch, bi, lesbian, andro, transgender, intersex or hobbit, your are fabulous just the way you are. So don’t let society put you in a box (unless its the sexy kind of box, and you are enjoying yourself).

Next Weekend, I am off to Mardi Gras!!! So stay tuned for many tales of debaucherous behaviour.

Until next time….

xx

E.

http://thesapphiccity.blogspot.com.au

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3 Responses to “New Guest Writer: Lesbian Labels …. Yes or No?”

  1. Rexie February 24, 2013 at 5:51 pm Permalink

    Welcome aboard, E! I think the lack of comments here is a testament to the pervasive feeling that this subject has been literally beat to death, on this blog as well as in the blogoverse. You did offer some new content and some food for thought, but the comments on this subject generally devolve into arguments because people have strong feelings about it, and they tend to take anything said against their opinion very personally.

    I must say that people are bigger than their labels. It isn’t the way a person presents, but how a person behaves that defines them. I find it HIGHLY HIGHLY amusing to watch the approach of two femmes who are attracted to eachother. It is absolute dramedy and I WILL get out the popcorn for it. Both, true femmes, are accustomed to being the one pursued and so they become very confused when the object of their desire SEEMS to be unaffected by their most obvious feminine charms. On the other side of the mirror, the other femme is wondering the same thing. Both are used to being serviced and are not adept at servicing. It’s a wonder that two femmes ever end up together. Once they get it figured out, though, they seem to get along just fine. :)

  2. Lucky February 24, 2013 at 7:39 pm Permalink

    I’m am going to botch this in ways I can’t even begin to explain so bare with me. In the begining I thought about steriotypes and the butch/femme whole mentality. This was almost 11yrs ago. Wow, I have been dating women for 11 yrs now…. anyway. In that begining i was about as ignorant as one little lesbian could be. I knew what I didn’t want. I didnt want to be bossed around, I didnt like dresses, and short hair was all I have ever had. That made me Butch right? At least thats what I thought. These days after having been with my wife for 5yrs (this april), I no long think of my self as anything other then married and gay. ok I take that back due to the queer communitys love of changing the spelling of things I have moved from the childhood “tomboy” to the adult lesbian “tomboi” mainly to amuse my sister who sees her self as femme (yes there is 2 of us my mother was so proud). Dressing in mens clothes, paying for things, and being protective what is mine doesnt take me any farther to the Butch side of the butch/femme scale then loving to cook, being able to sew, crying at Les Mis, make me any more femme. These days there is only one lable I care for and that is wife. YES my wife is softer then me and damn she looks hot in heels and makeup, but that doesnt make her femme. So what does? In my eyes its a partnership just like dancing there is a lead and a fallow. ANd there are days where Im sure she would fallow me off a cliff and days when she leads me in all sorts of trouble.

    I have no idea if you understand the straws I am grasping at but its my 2 cents.

  3. Elisabeth March 30, 2013 at 12:30 pm Permalink

    I totally agree with everything you wrote about stereotypes! I believe labels are dangerous in exactly the ways you pointed out. Once you have a label there instantly arises a dichotomy; an “US” and “THEM” mentality. As you said, it’s hard enough just being a lesbian let alone any subcategory of lesbian. Also, in my observation labels don’t actually mean that much since everyone is an individual with their own totally unique preferences. But more importantly, people are individuals! To me this is like making assumptions about people and how you will relate to them based on their astrological sign. Furthermore, I think labels are self limiting. If you put yourself in a box, it’s hard to evolve. Thanks for the great post!

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