Wednesday, August 24, 2011
My experiences at Butch Voices/Butch Nation workshops Saturday and Sunday as posted on GenderTrender
August 23, 2011 at 11:01 am
I attended Butch Voices and attended one Butch Nation workshop put on by Sasha Goldberg's Bulldaggers group for Female pronoun using Female identified Butches, a keynote speaker Sharon somebody afterwards(Butch Voices), and the final workshop/Town Hall meeting on Sunday put on by Butch Voices to discuss the term "Masculine of Center", why Female identified Butches were alienated from Butch Voices, and why 4 board members left, and our experiences.
What disgusted me the most perhaps, other than Joe’s behavior and arrogance, was at Sasha Goldberg’s Bulldaggers workshop an MTF ‘Butch’ who read COMPLETELY FEMME(as I don’t know ANY Butches who wear a spagetti strap t shirt with missile tits bra), was again trying to divert born Female attention in the one VERY RARE Female Identified Butch space we had to talk about OUR issues, how ‘she’ and ‘her’ MTF Butch ‘sisters’ were so oppressed. I’ve known other “Butch” MTF’s and they’re just as sexist as any hetero dude and ‘don’t get’ either Dyke or Butch Dyke culture at all! I mean if you’re so ‘butch’, well then why didn’t you just stay a dude? And for that individual to get a workshop at Butch Voices WHEN NO Female Proud bio female Butches did is a REAL slap in the face to us Female Identified Butches.
I too question Sasha Goldberg in particular, and witnessed when she proudly lifted her shirt up at a womon to womon organization I used to belong to to announce she had chest surgery, the same year a member of that organization had a forced double mastectomy and we did a fundraiser for her because SHE HAD BREAST CANCER, AND IS STILL AILING TODAY AS A RESULT!
Butch Voices, probably because of her greater youth and former FTM status allowed her to do the Bulldaggers workshop and then create it as a project for Butch Voices. Sasha was also part of the programming committee as well. My workshop for 2009 would have been about Butch DykeAmazons and the connection between our Butch DykeAmazon sexuality and spirituality and would have included some ritual and some movement/martial arts/self defense….(exclusively for wbw). That was the one in 2009 that was rejected, along with workshops from other Butches of ALL colors coming from many different sectors of the Female Identified/Female Proud Butch Dyke community. After all the controversies swirling around Butch Voices this year, and Joe's and Krys' statements, I did not even want to bother submitting another workshop proposal and risk getting rejected AGAIN!
In any case, I did LOVE being in a roomful of almost all Butches at Sasha’s Butch Nation workshop, who were ALL PROUD to be Female, and each spoke to her experience. Only problem I had was they were all koumbayaing how we should all ‘get along’ with our FTM Brothers, and they were just another extension of Butch and ‘not infight’. Well, I hate infighting, but I hate even more having to constantly defend my space, and argued with that I have no right to it.
There is NO WAY I can be an ally to ANYBODY if I can’t have my space, or my identity respected, and not coopted or intruded upon. If the trans want respect, then they must GIVE IT, but they never do. They encroach upon our territories, our communities, and our very womyn, convincing them that they too must be ‘genderqueer’ or trans, or ‘masculine of center’ or some such thing….that Dyke and Butch and Female are just not good enough anymore, and that Lesbians oppress them, and even though they are have female to female sex, they are not ‘Lesbian’, even if they committ Lesbian acts! What nonsense!
Anyhow back to the conference. I did have good conversations with many womyn, including Jeanne Cordova, but when I found out her ‘Feminism and Masculinity’ workshop was for the younger Butches, and I asked her more about it, it was how she felt ‘more masculine’ by dressing up and wearing her cufflinks, and her suits and ties…Well I dress up and wear clothes including my Leather that at times I appear more Butch, more Warrior, more powerful, and other times, just t shirts and bluejeans. But my Butchness is innate…it is internal, NO MATTER WHAT I WEAR! Nor do I want to be lectured about how I “oppress Femmes”. Femmes have way more privileges out in the world than most Butches do, and the brunt of heterosexism falls heaviest on Butches….Femmes can exist, and deal with regular sexism, but Butch Females are targeted for elimination in so many ways, whether we get harassed on the street by dudes for even existing and appearing the way we do, and physically threatened(which happened to me one night in the BART station after the Dyke March), or we’re denied jobs, promotions, burdened with the least status work, or invisibilized in the press, t.v., films ect. or numerous other ways, or made to be the boogey women that men use to threaten ANY uppity female, that ‘you must be a man hating dyke, bulldagger, Butch, ugly Lesbian, ect’ OR as so many have internalized, ‘You just want to be a man, or need to be fucked by one to straighten you out’, that is , threatened or targeted for rape(and I know Butches including myself who have been).
THESE are the issues that neither Butch Nation nor Butch Voices are talking about, and all these individuals have status from being attached to Butch Voices, so it’s not like a clean new group has emerged, but those who were heavily intertwined with Butch Voices who decided to split and have their own agendas.
Perhaps, they can take the criticisms and create a more transparent organization which doesn’t require confidentiality agreements to sign, like Butch Voices insisted upon, which is why many walked, and that it is thoroughly inclusive of Female Proud Butch DYKES who have even a smattering of Feminist politics, and in my book that means basic ‘bread and butter’ Feminist politics for the total empowerment of ALL womyn throughout the world, and that you’re a Dyke, a Woman, and a nonhetero conforming woman, that is Butch, who is targeted for the worst heterosexist harassment possible, and THAT is a Feminist issue in and of itself, discriminated against in the workplace, a Feminist issue, threatened with violence, rape and distrust outside it..THAT is a Feminist issue. Not just ‘oh you’re oppressing Femmes’. Which leads me to the last thing that disturbs me: those of us who are Butch on Butch are near to invisible, which is partly WHY we’d go to a thing like Butch Voices or Butch Nation…to be around our tribe, to flirt with members of our tribe, to be with the womyn that turn us on the most, that are closest to our hearts, that share our deepest sensibilities, that reflect who we are in the world, and that we can meet and ally with, whether as friends, lovers, pals, spiritual DykeAmazon Sisters, business partners, co creators of a movement together, ect.
There was a friend of mine who wanted to come to Butch Voices and do a simple workshop on Butches in the Trades, but I had to tell her about all the controversies brewing, and she did not want to come after hearing all that, and she too is a Female Proud Butch!
Simply, from all I’ve heard, spoken about and witnessed, it is two communities going in two different directions, though the trans/genderqueer part can put in the smokescreens of race and age as stumbling blocks, making the Female Identified Butch a white Dyke thing, as one individual in the Townhall meeting said, but that is not it! There are Butch Dykes of color that feel just as strongly as those of us who are white skinned do(and I’m from a Jewish background myself).
a) one community wants ‘anything goes’, ‘call yourself anything you want to’, ‘we’re all masculine of center’ and doesn’t think it’s a big deal whether you take hormones, have surgeries, identify as male, want to become male, but are still Butch but supposedly NOT Lesbian, or if you are it’s ok to do gay men too and identify as one of them, but you can still be Butch, and they appear, act and want the privilege of men and passing as male, and thus not or no longer ‘women’.
b)Wish to remain in a Female body as a Butch WOMAN, are Dyke oriented, Female proud and are working towards a movement where FEMALES CAN DO ANYTHING THEY WANT IN THIS WORLD AND RETAIN THEIR FEMALENESS, that we fight against violence for all Females, and where Females and Female empowerment is at the center of our lives and men come secondarily and their needs, because after all, we ARE Dykes, and where Feminism and Lesbianism are NOT dirty words, but part of our rich proud Butch LESBIAN herstory, and where we are working towards our further liberation physical, sexual, intellectual, spiritual and on every other level IN our Butch Female bodies, and where we are EXPANDING the definition of womonhood and do NOT wish to remain at the fringes of womonhood, or put outside of it!
I spoke to how “Masculine of Center” means to me that on my last job I was the ONLY womon, Female, Dyke, Butch, ect. and that EVERYONE ELSE on my job was “Masculine of Center”, meaning bio hetero macho male! And that there was one Feminist issue in that, where one guy kept referring to taking wires out of a box as ‘raping that box’, and 3 times I had to tell him to STOP SAYING THAT and THAT IT BOTHERED ME, and the third time I said “I’ve known too many women who have been sexually assaulted and molested and I don’t want to hear that from you anymore!” I shared this story, and in the Female Identified Butch workshop which Sasha put on, some Butches were horrified to hear this! And that he could think I’m a bitch or whatever, and I felt very vulnerable being the ONLY woman/Butch Woman/Dyke on the job, the ONLY Female, but I HAD to say something, EACH AND EVERY TIME!
All in all, it tensed me up, but I KNOW Butches are my people, so I took what I liked and left the rest, I also made sure I got interviewed on their video tape(will see if they use what I said), and had to stand up and say my piece for Female Identified Butches being visible and getting OUR needs met and issues heard.
Joe got to say the last word after all these Butches spoke at the last Townhall meeting on Sunday, and s/he basically shamed all of us who did not want to participate with Butch Voices, from those who walked away after trying to make them sign a confidentiality agreement, to all the harassment of Female Identified Butches and NOT regarding our issues, that ‘if you want a voice, you must participate’ and we shouted out ‘we tried to, but you didn’t hear us, and you rejected our workshops and US’, and basically as if s/he hadn’t heard all that we said in about 2 hours. So, at this point I don’t have much hope with Butch Voices unless something radically changes with their board and their process..and it’s a wait and see with Butch Nation. Also the moderator(talk about a class issue) tried to pull a bunch of therapy crap instead of allowing Butches to just freely speak and share their issues, and also allowing nonButches to speak as well, which I don’t think should have been allowed. The moderator and organizers got way more time to speak than just us ordinary Butch Folk. It was heated, it was intense, but there were parts where both the moderator and another did bring the tension down just a bit. But it could have been much more orderly and fair where there was an official queue for those who wanted to speak, instead of an informal haphazard one, and where EVERYONE was limited to two minutes, no more, no less….and THAT didn’t happen. The last speakers were forced to only speak 30 seconds and THAT was NOT fair!
So, I came home fairly tense, but in my heart, I hope us Butch Dykes CAN organize, learn to get along, hear each other’s experience, have PRIDE in our Butch Dyke FEMALE Selves, and teach that to younger Butches coming up, and stop some of this insanity where young Butch/tomboyish/nonfeminine women outside the box feel they must transition, identify as male or identify with males to survive…..and have some basic Feminism and LOTS of Lesbian/Dyke Pride.
-In Butch DykeAmazon Sisterhood,
August 23, 2011 at 8:51 pm
I came from intensely womon only space in the woods for 5 days, where I ritualled with womyn of all stripes, Butch, Femme, androgynous, all sexual orientations, and we pulled off a very powerful and empowering Amazon ritual for 60 womyn which I conceived of 6 months ago, and had a great crew of Wildwomyn and Amazons to pull it off, that EVERYONE felt very empowered and energized after the ritual stating even ‘it was the best one we’ve ever had at EWF’, a Festival that has lasted 23 years, and wondered, after something so Female loving and Female centered and empowering and in community, did I want to go into the warzone of Butch Voices/Butch Nation? It took me 3 days to float down from that ritual high, and the amount of gynergy we moved, and affirmed with the song and Primal Mother priestess towards the end “My Body is the Body of the Goddess” affirming ALL our Female bodies.
I watched things develope online and a Butch pal on Facebook who I chatted with and then called on the phone said to me it was very important that Female Identified Butches show up at these workshops and especially at the Townhall Meeting Butch Voices provided on Sunday at 2pm, needed to show up to MAKE SURE OUR VOICES WERE HEARD. I knew if we did not show up in droves, we would NEVER be heard and even further invisibilized and so I had to change my hat from Butch DykeAmazon Priestess, to Butch DykeAmazon Warrior, and wear all my protective Warrior gear to go to Butch Voices/Butch Nation, after that nice three day high(and utter exhaustion too) wore off…..it saddened me to have to go into the warzone and argue with these folks who hate their female bodies or want to eliminate them(visually), after being with womyn who loved the Sacred Female, within and without…. going from such a healing and empowering environment. But as an Amazon Warrior, it is NECESSARY we defend and expand our territory and take back what is rightfully ours: our identities, our proud herstory, our bodies, and the bodies of those young womyn and others who would be forever changed should they choose transition with surgeries and hormones, to hear another voice calling from deep within ourselves, and our Ancient Amazon Sisterhood which has been around for millenia!
Thank you, thank you, thank you again for this forum, and I looked up GallusMag in my ‘Encyclopedia of Amazons’ by Jessica Amanda Salmonson, and what a womon she was! I think you are about just as feared by the trans as Gallus Mag was feared by men in her day, and just as powerful an Amazon, so I am glad to have you as a Sister Amazon, GallusMag!
-In DykeAmazon Sisterhood,