Break It Down, Butch.

January 30, 2010

[6] A thought on names

Filed under: Uncategorized — DK @ 14:08
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I’ve been meaning to post this for about a week, but life got away from me. It’s amazing how much your time just drains away when you’re trying to write a dissertation.

Anyway! Names.

Names are, depending on who you talk to, as important as you need them to be. Names like ‘butch’, for example, carry a whole wealth of broad-shouldered, short-haired, tough-and-competent meaning with them. Along with some solid warmth, I hope, and a decent chunk of caring. And whatever-the-hell else makes the identity yours.

With that in mind, working out what name I want to go by over here has been interesting.

Over on my regular blog, I’ve been going by ‘Darksideofstorm’ since I was seventeen. And yes, that’s very much a teenager’s name. It got shortened down to just plain ‘Dark’ by JB, long before we ever started dating, and that stuck pretty well. Much better than my birth name, anyway, which’d suit someone with a lot more legs, curves, and blonde hair than I have.

(Though, ironically, one of the original translations of my name is ‘dark lady’ — so my parents got it half right.)

Then somewhere along the way, JB and I started dating. And of course we got into the habit of pet names. ‘Love’, ‘gorgeous’, ‘beautiful’, etc, in the pre-butch days, before I ever managed to tell her that being called ‘beautiful’ kind of made my skin crawl with wrongness. (Don’t get me wrong: I appreciated the compliment. But it always felt like it came attached with an undercurrent-label of femininity that didn’t fit.) After the whole butch/femme realization, we switched it around a bit and ended up in a much more ‘hey, handsome’ place — at least for me, anyway: JB was always just plain beautiful, in all senses of the world.

But my actual name took a switch, too. JB and I met on the internet — in a writing group, sort of — so she always used a combination of my birth name and my internet moniker. And ‘Dark’ somehow ended up becoming ‘DK’, which, depending on who you talk to, is either a shortening of just plain ‘Dark’, or a laughing nod to ‘Dark Knight’. (Yes, I am the Batman.)

I’ll probably write more about knight archetypes another day, because they are so very butch. But for now, I’ll stick with backstory. ‘Knight’ and ‘damsel’ was one way JB and I cross-examined our relationship, because she was into archetypes and I sure liked hearing I was knightly, and it’s really not much of a step from there to butch and femme. (Though femme typically doesn’t have the ‘RESCUE ME’ vibe of the damsel, at least in my experience. Your average, classic femme is much kickass. Classy, too.) Though, thinking about it, I never did give JB a damsel nickname. Unless you count ‘pretty lady’, anyway.

So, yes, those are all the pieces of my names. I just had to choose the one I wanted for here — and how much I want here to be connected with my original blog, where I’m still very much ‘Dark’.

Then I decided I didn’t care much. *laughs*

DK works for me. It’s sharper sounding, older-feeling, more masculine — and in a funny way, it kind of combines my main internet name and birth name by taking the beginning letter from each. It’s a gap-bridger, and I like that.

How did you come up with your name?

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January 17, 2010

[2] Butch pronouns.

I’m still figuring out WordPress’s format. It’s not like livejournal’s intuitive (read: idiot-proof) system; you have to work at it here. I think I’ve finally gotten a background I like (oh look, a ginormous phallic writing tool; I’m so subtle), and a set-up with a side-bar so you can actually see the links. The rest I’m just slugging away at.

WordPress: Giving Your Fingers A Workout Without The Happy Ending Since ’05.

Other than that, I’m enjoying it. It feels like world-building — word building — and I think occasionally even butches like to settle in and nest. Or homescape. Or build giant freakin’ castles. Whatever floats your moat.

So, topic change. This feels like a good juncture to talk about pronouns, because that’s a Big Butch Issue right there. I reckon Ivan E. Coyote said it best here, and I’m never going to be able to top that metaphor, because goddamnperfect. But I should at least take a shot at it from my side.

I’ve gotten ‘she’ most of my life, interchanged frequently with ‘he’. Occasionally I get ‘it’. Sometimes I just get stares. Weirdly, it’s the latter I like best — at least I can laugh about having the moral high ground. Or square up to a challenge, if necessary.

Anyway. Pronouns. I was throwing together the profile for this blog when I crashed into the first one and stalled. This is my blog. My butch blog. So I can finally pick the pronoun that feels right. Oh yes.

But, like always, none of them really do.

Sir has a more comfortable fit, looser than Ma’am, slouching over my shoulders like lazy armour. It makes me settle a bit inside, when someone says ‘hey, mister!’. Makes me stand taller — taller and straighter, ironically. It broadens my shoulders. Puts a smirk in my smile.

But it’s not quite true.

Ma’am cinches me in at the waist, makes my fingertips press together — a little, almost-feminine tic. Makes me breathe lighter, and smile a little embarrassed, and be far too aware that I’m concealing actual breasts behind my shirt. Makes me wish I was half a foot shorter and fifty pounds thinner, so I’d actually fit inside the damn label.

I guess that answers of the question. Of two not-quite-right choices, I’ll take ‘sir’ first. Guy and dude and handsome, and whatever else, because at least it gives me a shield to hold up, a patch of solid ground to stand on. It’s closer to the truth — whatever that is — and it’s queer. Subversive, which is its own kind of identity to catch hold of and keep.

And okay, yes, I could look at gender-neutral pronouns. Ze and Hir and the half-dozen others slowly trickling into gendered language, but they don’t feel natural to me yet. Like calling myself ‘hetero-normative challenged’ instead of, y’know, gay. And doing-what’s-natural is, to me, what butch is all about. Doing what feels right, in self and soul.

Of course, I’ve still got a lot to learn. I wonder what I call myself ten years from now?

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