Break It Down, Butch.

December 14, 2010

[45] Working boy

Damn, that was a long break.

So hey — still not dead! I’ve been gyroscoping on the edge of general catastrophe for about three months, but that’s not new. (And also great for the waistline — I’ve lost almost two stone in three months through pure stress, I shit you not.)


Here’s the question of the week: if you’re butch-identified and you want to stay true to yourself but still look totally hire-able, how the hell do you dress for a job interview?


Today I went for a sort of lame-ass compromise by getting my hair slightly feminized (it’s all about looking fluffy, I’m told), my left ear re-pierced so I could wear matching studs, and just a touch of eye make up. And then I wore a suit.

I know, I know. I’m a gutless traitor.

It’s a dilemma, and it has no easy answer. I guess if there was a lot of work out there I could afford to be more, well, myself, but there isn’t. There’s no work. I graduated top of my class and I still can’t get a decent, doesn’t-make-you-want-to-kill-yourself job.

(I should mention, at this point, that a big part of the reason I haven’t been posting is that I’ve been busy DROWNING IN HATRED for my current job, which is so much filled with suckitude that I stopped eating, sleeping, or being generally sane, because OH MY GOD HAVE I MENTIONED THE HATE?

Anyway, I handed my notice in last week, so things are looking up.)

(Except, kind of not because I don’t have another job, but I WILL FIND ONE.)

Anyway (again), today I had a job interview, and I had to dress smart. Smart for me means a suit and tie, or at the very least a swanky shirt and a nice jacket. I look good in that combination; classy and professional and, yes, very male. But ‘weird, very male butch-thing’ is generally not what people are looking for in a supervisor, equal opportunities hiring aside. So in the interests of, y’know, continuing to eat, I wussed out and girled it up and — felt both weirdly comfortable and full of self-loathing.

Odd place to be.

Comfortable, I think, because for all the awkwardness and wrongness-feeling of it and general self-betrayal, it is easier to walk around and be recognizably gendered. Not better, but easier. Though, okay, if I’m going to be gendered I don’t like it to be as female because it does feel like I’m walking around with a target between my shoulderblades (seriously, regular femmy-people, how do you do it?), but at least I know I’m recognizable as something, rather than ‘Dude, what the fuck was that?’.

Self-loathing because, well, duh.

I’m hoping I’ll get the job and the whole fiasco will be worth it, but either way I’m damn sure spending the rest of the day in my comfy jeans.

Question for all you butches, transmasculines, studs, and male-identified cool guys — what would you do?


August 25, 2010

[36] Whee!

Filed under: Uncategorized — DK @ 20:40
Tags: , , ,

Lately, my car is a tragedy. It’s practically Byron-esque. It is costing me so much money.

In the last eight weeks it’s had: two tyres replaced; the tracking adjusted four times; the hand-brake cable repaired; the passenger-side quarter-glass window replaced; the satellite navigation replaced.

And tonight I accidentally rammed the front driver-side wheel into a curb and blew it wide open. Oh, the cleverness of me. Normally I’m a big fan of changing tyres. I enjoy the grit and sheer physical effort of it. I like jacking my car up onto a frankly untrustworthy bit of metal, praying it will hold, and getting down on one knee in the dirt to haul the old wheel off and plant a new one on. I like the feel of my muscles working against steel, the oil under my fingernails (and generally on my face), the crunchy twinge in my left knee when I make it bend in ways it doesn’t want to.

Tonight, however, I mostly wanted to beat my forehead against the wheel arch.

I’m having a very long week, that’s my trouble. My new job — have I mentioned that I’m at a new job? I’m at a new job. It’s awesome. Still care-work, but a much better company. Anyway, this week everything pretty much went tits up. One of the office coordinators blew out of town last weekend (after wiping the whole system), so the manager and the owner had to cover everything between them.

The awesomeness: I’m getting a promotion. I’ve only been working for them a month, but they like me so much I’m jumping up the ranks to supervisor/co-ordinator. Originally that was going to involve a raise of £4000, but there’s been a hang up with another lady also getting hired as a full-time co-ordinator (they asked her before I pitched in at the office and they realized I’m made of solid gold awesome), so we’ll see how that goes.

The less-awesomeness: We have six carers off this week and two more got fired, so I’m working 70+ hours in the field, and about 30 in the office.

I am knackered.

That’s not the point of this entry, though. I realized today that the only way I’m managing to survive this week without, for example, yanking someone’s head off at the neck and using their trachea as a jump rope, is because somewhere around Tuesday I got into this odd mindset of lone-soldier-in-the-trenches. Grit! Stamina! Determination! A sort of desperate world-weariness of doing-this-because-no-one-else-can. Or will.

I have, in short, become my father. And perversely, I’m enjoying the hell out of it. I wouldn’t want to do it a second week in a row, but I’ve finally hit on something that’s really damn challenging on a daily basis. And interesting. It’s fantastic.

Next week I’m volunteering for the Yorkshire Ambulance Service. They’re going to teach me how to use a defibrillator. On people.

My life is a carnival of madness. I love it.

May 14, 2010

[24] Playing Nice.

Filed under: Uncategorized — DK @ 02:53
Tags: , , ,

Sometimes, speaking online is like having all your teeth pulled.

I should rephrase that. Sometimes, speaking nicely online is like having all your teeth pulled. Often willingly, so you can sit fangless in good company and not upset the mood. Because discussion should be polite, well-intentioned, forgiving of personal foibles, and inclusive.

I am not being sarcastic.

No, really, I’m not. Discussion should be all of those things. It really should. But here’s the nasty little glitch in the Matrix — we’re not just discussing here, us online gender-writers. Okay, some of us are, and that’s awesome and groovy, but a lot of us, a whole lot, are ranting and debating and thinking and raving and theorizing and defending our brand new points of view*. Our right to have rights. Hell, just our right to draw breath.

This butch thing, it’s not easy. And I resent the unspoken code of conduct not to wade in with a flaming torch and ass-kicking boots when someone crawls their way inside one of our journals and starts spreading verbal slime all over the walls. I resent that I’m not allowed to go to bat for my brothers and sisters for fear of reducing this little internet circle to “an unsafe space”. Seriously, that’s not cool. And while I’m all for polite discourse on the subject of whatever, I’m also going to very impolitely point out that there are no safe spaces, not really, not if you’re not willing to stand up and make them so.

Jesus, it took the Stonewall Riotsriots; blood and fists and bricks in the street — just to make a start in butch and queer getting some kind of acknowledgement, some free-thinking room, and now we’re so goddamned nervous of offending our own shadows.

We were born in battle, guys. In hurt and fire and hard, secret places, and we had to fight just for the right to stand next to like-minded folks. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think that much has changed in forty-one years. Most of us still have to fight for the right to wear what clothes we like, to date who we want (be it butch, femme, twinkly lady-boy, kinky leatherbound furry, or what-the-hell-ever), and to piss wherever’s safe. To walk unmolested in the goddamned street.

So please, forgive me if I’m not feeling especially inclined to bend over backwards just to make Joe-ignorant or Lucy-asshole all warm and fuzzy when they come into our space, spreading whatever brand of bigotry most appeals. Particularly if Joe-ignorant or Lucy-asshole claim they are a part of our community to start with, because then they should damn well know better.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you need to do gender my way. I’m not. Do it however makes you happy and more power to you, god yes. What I’m saying is that if you aren’t respectful, aren’t open-minded, aren’t willing to back up and consider that you might have made a mistake by being a fucking moron — myself included — then you sacrifice your right to be treated with any kind of courtesy.

I appreciate chivalry. I admire gentlemanliness (and gentlewomanliness). But I also thoroughly endorse thrashing the metaphorical hell out of anyone deserving in a good old-fashioned, well-crafted, blistering debate. And I really, truly, throughly do not care if fragile egos and delicate feelings get hurt in the process because, Christ, welcome to the freakin’ club. Grow some armour; build some character; experience some empathy, jackass.

Here’s the thing, we have come a long way from Stonewall, but we still have the absolute right to defend every last inch of ourselves, head to toe, inside and out, internet spaces included.

And seriously, if you find yourself changing the subject, you just lost.

ETA: In the spirit of brilliant timing, JB just threw up a guide to the art of argumentative shut-downs. How’s that for a hive mind?

*And a lot that aren’t brand new, if I’m honest.

January 30, 2010

[7] Mobs and predators

Filed under: Uncategorized — DK @ 22:37
Tags: ,

A while back, when JB and I were dating, we were out walking and a group of young-and-restless guys fell in at our heels. I got wary and watchful, keeping a side-eye on shopfront windows to see what their reflections were doing, and slung an arm around JB’s shoulders. JB didn’t much care, though she did snuggle in, but she stayed loose and easy and kept talking even though I clammed up, focus clearly elsewhere.

The guys passed us by with no trouble, but JB’s reaction made me curious. I asked her if they didn’t make her nervous.

Nope, she told me. Groups are fine — they’re usually too busy distracting each other to cause her any problems. It’s the lone guys she watches out for. Predators.

Interesting, I thought. Because lone guys don’t bother me in the slightest. I’ll cast an eye toward them, sure, but I’m confident in my ability to kick ass and take names. Or at least make life difficult enough for a solo guy to leave me the hell alone.

But groups bother me. Groups of young men, especially. The worked-up, ready-to-pick-a-fight kind of young men who wouldn’t mind dragging a gender-deviant into the nearest alley and beating the shit out of him.

At least, that’s what I’m watching for.

It’s the mob mentality. The ‘my god, what the hell is that?’ mindset that kicks common sense aside and replaces it with a hunting pack. I’d wajer even money that at least half the butches reading this will have run into group-trouble like this at least once, likely twice. Probably more than that.

And jesus, don’t get me started on the sheer creepiness of young skinheads wolf-whistling your way. At least, whistling my way. This is not so much a self-image issue as a ‘I know I’m not attractive to you, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?’ issue. (There’s probably a cross-section emotion here of feeling suddenly, uncomfortably sexualized under a gaze I’m not particularly trying to attract, and wondering what the fuck is going on. And that is probably related in some interesting way to the idea of being the more masculine partner in whatever relationship I’m aiming for, which means mostly I’m doing the looking and the chatting-up and the taking-the-lead-role, which means why are you whistling at me, jackass?

Which is probably sexist, natch.)

Back to mob-hunts.

I think this is the nasty side of butch visibility — the flip side of butch privilege, if there is such a thing. We’re seen in everything we do, wherever we are, by anyone who’s paying attention. Which is a great thing for promoting gender-variant awareness, if we’re in a talking mood, but risky otherwise. Particularly for any butch who’s out walking alone.

I’m getting the urge to temper myself here. This all sounds terribly dramatic and ‘woe me, life is so hard when you’re transmasculine’ *wrist to forehead*. But then I have to remind myself, I have been in fights. I’ve had crap thrown at me on the streets. I’ve been chased. I’ve run into assholes at the gym, the supermarket, the library. I’ve been tossed out of public bathrooms and clients’ houses. On one memorable occasion, I got spat at.


Despite all that, for the most part I love butch visibility. I like being seen and known; I like the mishmash of sirs and ma’ams I get on a regular basis; I like being a walking, talking statement of queerness. I like the knowledge that my gender performance is now a conscious act, a deliberate statement; that I’ve thought about it for more than ten seconds. It has history and weight and a whole tribe of people behind it, crafting a unique culture that I don’t have to follow, if parts disagree with me.

I love the sexy, check-you-out smile I get from femmes. And that acknowledging nod from other butches.

Hell, I love the idea of having a bulldagger swagger.

So, I’m not complaining. Well, mostly. But I am very aware that every time I head out of the house, I’m keeping half an eye out for who’s walking in my shadow. Doubly so when I’m walking with a partner who thinks she can relax, because company keeps predators at bay. And she’s putting her trust in me to keep her safe.

It’s not much of a price to pay, if you stay alert and get lucky.

So, to the butches out there — any experiences like this? Femmes, am I lying? What do you watch out for?

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