I finally got a chance to watch this infamous film(by many trans standards) "The Gendercator", which got censored from the San Francisco Gay/Lesbian Film Festival 'Frameline', after it had been accepted. Certain members of the trans community sent 130 identical emails to Frameline, and they gave into the pressure. What about the Dyke and Butch Dyke community who desparately wanted to see the film?
After seeing it, I just wish it was a bit longer, developed the character a bit better, and was acted, shot and plotted a bit better, as well as lit with better cinematography than what Catherine Crouch offered up in those infamous 15 minutes, NEVERTHELESS, she got across the struggle many of us Female Identified Butch Dykes are facing these days. I'm not one much for the display of the stoner days, which I certainly participated in from the late '70's onwards till I got clean and sober in 1990, but such is the times of the film she is displaying.
The Butch she chooses to play the main character in her flannel as she wakes up in the hospital, is really adorable. She keeps stating she loves the 'sisterhood', and enjoys being female as all others around her cannot accept her for who she is, and that she must transition to survive in the future culture. This is about the size of it these days, as I see so many young Butch/boyish types making these very same choices, in a culture far more conservative than in the heyday of the '70's where feminism was burgeoning and our lesbian cultures were being built in an out loud and proud manner, and our lesbian institutions coming fully into place in the '80's. All that has been tattered and slowly eroded away as our lesbian businesses, from Osento hottubs, Artemis Cafe, The Brick Hut, The BayBrick, Amelias, Ollie's, The Driftwood, Old Wives Tales Books, Woman Crafts West, A Woman's Place, Mama Bears, Boaedecia's Books and even the gutting of the gay bookstore 'A Different Light', have all gone by the wayside. So many of our Lesbian institutions, refuges for our culture, our voices, mini Lesbian community centers, our Dyke Female oasises, all gone.
It has been replaced by LGBT/Queer/Genderqueer/Gay Male institutions that no longer reflect Lesbian sensibilities or a strong Lesbian voice, including that of Female Identified, Female Centered Butches. The talk is of surgery, hormones, transitioning, gender rights, and trans workshops, organizations, groups. Most women's/lesbian groups in San Francisco are for 'women and trans', or 'past, present and future females', completely diluting Lesbian and Dyke consciousness and our bio female proud to be female centered ways.....there is so much pressure on Butches and young boyish/androgynous/butch potential dyke types to transition, take hormones, genderqueer or consider themselves something male instead, to make that choice, that female=femme or something very soft, and butch=he, hy, hym, something male. Yes, a dualistic thinking.
Here's a quote from an article about the film, with Catherine Crouch herself:
"Jennifer Curtis: What motivated you to make The Gendercator?
Catherine Crouch: While we once believed that transsexuality was a relatively rare medical condition of gender dysphoria that is unbearable for a person, in the last six years I have seen a sudden increase in the number of young women who opt to take testosterone or undergo voluntary mastectomies. Why is this happening now? What has changed?
If we situate this in terms of the larger culture's misogyny, it seems to be a rejection of the female part of the masculine female. Why does a woman do this? Most often, the reasons given are: to avoid harassment, rape and ridicule as a gender variant ( i.e: butch or androgynous ) . It seems to me that what is also going on, but has not been explicitly addressed, is the desire to avoid being perceived by the world at large as female, and/or to avoid the label of lesbian. We should also acknowledge that it has become a trend among some young people who formerly identified, or would be considered by the lesbian community, as butch lesbians. Why can't we talk about this?"*
Yes, WHY CAN'T WE TALK ABOUT THIS? Why have we effectively been silenced? This affects us Butch Dykes most intimately, and YET we can't talk about our fears, our sadness, our grief at so many young Butch sisters going under the knife, because they can't accept themselves as both masculine and female.....or Butch/boyish/androgynous not fitting into feminine roles and female. That there seems to be no power in the female anymore and that feminism is dead. Why is it not o.k. to be percieved instead as a different kind of female, including our dykeness? Have we failed, or has the backlash against feminism, radical lesbianism, and the new carving out of womyn's roles, potentials and possibilities been so strong against us, that the only way our youth can reconcile their womon loving desires, and their tomboyishness, their rejection of socially constructed feminine roles, is to become 'male'?
This is an important film for all Lesbians, Dykes and Butches to see, whether you agree with it's premise or not. It is indeed thought provoking. And then the narcissism evidenced by the masculinized FTM's who brag about their surgeries and show off the results of their newly acquired 'manhood'. Then wrestle each other in a macho way, fitting into the male/female dualism that the main soft butch character defies as she resists becoming 'male', still proud of her femaleness, and craving her Dyke Sisterhood!
Also, Catherine Crouch herself identifies as a Butch, and several of her films have to do with being Butch/tomboy and not 'fitting in'. You can get on her website and see for yourself, order the film on DVD, along with 3 others, 2 out of the other 3 I liked, especially "Pretty Ladies", horny diverse Butch characters who are friends craving companions, and "One Small Step" about a young tomboy who falls in love with her girl neighbor and wants to marry her...I found all 3 of these films, to be thoughtprovoking and affirming, as a Dyke, a Butch, and as a Lesbian and growing up as a hardcore tomboy myself!
Check out: www.catherinecrouch.com
There are also articles of commentary on The Gendercator. Check 'em all out!
-In Butch DykeAmazon Sisterhood,
*Windy City Times