Yep, it’s that time again – a new month, a new masthead. I can’t believe how quickly September went by. Roundup of September posts coming soon.
Not really much to add about this masthead. The photo Muse took of me at the bar at the Femme Conference during a much needed break. The pin on my lapel is from the little Sugarbutch store and says “I ♥ Femmes,” which I wore all weekend, when I wasn’t wearing my “I ♥ Femmes” tee shirt. That’s probably Jameson in the glass. And that is definitely my favorite red tie.
September’s masthead is up! and comes from a quote from the Muse, where she called me the Gender Buddha because of how some of my philosophies match up with a quote from Sharon Salzberg: “The Buddha’s enlightenment solved the Buddha’s problem. Now you solve yours.”
What I mean by this quote is that my butchness is my unique solution to what I see as a gender problem in the culture and society in which I live. I feel like I ran around wildly, trying on different genders, until I finally landed inside of butch … and it just so clearly makes so much sense to me, it resonates with my sense of self and with my sense of how gender works in the world, my deeper philosophies about the value of the body.
It acknowledges that my solutions might not be your solutions – that your ‘gender problem’ might have a completely different landscape or solution than mine does. In fact, it should have a different landscape, a different path, even if it does arrive at similar solutions, because we are two different people with different life experiences, different family backgrounds, different habits and thoughts.
I do hope that some of my gender ramblings are useful to you on your own paths, but I always want to recognize that your path might be very different than mine. Then again, we might be walking along hand-in-hand … and that sure is nice too. It’s great to have company, it makes this journey so much less lonely. Thanks for coming along in the adventures, wherever you’re at.
PS – Did you know you can find an archive of past mastheads on the about page? It’s true!
August’s masthead is up. Late, I know. I’ve got some more elaborate ideas for photos that I really want to feature, which go with particular quotes, so I kept putting off updating the masthead thinking that I’ll actually take those photos, but now it’s been a week and I just dug through some old shots. This one was actually taken while I was in Mexico with Datedyke, and shows off the cufflinks Colleen gave me.
I’ve still go to finish “What happened in July,” too – that’s coming. This weekend, probably.
I was just this morning on my commute into the city thinking about my former relationship, the one I was in when I started Sugarbutch. We were together four years, and over the last two we had sex five times. Seriously, I started counting. And I, well, I have a little bit of a sex drive.
So one of the reasons I started writing erotica was to have a release for all the sexual energy and frustration I was feeling. And to continue my writing practice, in general. Go figure, there’s actually a lot of craft that goes in to writing erotica – character, dialogue, rise & fall of action.
I used to always get stuck at the part where the characters are having sex, going all hot & heavy, and then they’re just about ready to orgasm and have the whole scene end. I’d get so stuck there. Finally, Jesse James and I were talking one day, and she said, “well yeah, of course that’s the hard part, because you never really know how somebody comes until they do it, do ya?”
Reminds me of that scene in Amelie where she thinks “How many couples are having an orgasm right now?” And there’s a great montage of climaxes. [Can anybody find that clip on Youtube?] Here’s the clip (thanks Sun! I couldn’t access youtube from work). Each one is different.
I’ve been working on finishing this Sugarbutch Star chapbook lately, I’m getting it ready to be handed out at the Femme Conference next weekend, and I’ve also been thinking about how this used to be a major goal of mine – writing smut to get people off. Specifically, to get lesbians off. Even more specifically, to get lesbians to go fuck their girlfriends and to talk to their girlfriends about sex and to get more of what they actually want out of their sex lives. Sometimes I think Lesbian Bed Death perpetuates the prudish idea that women can – or want to – transcend those silly sexual relations and have some sort of deep, meaningful emotional connection, that that’s all that “really” matters.
Well duh, deep connection is important, but sex is important too. I gues that’s one of the differences between male & female sexualities, though, is that for women it does actually seem to be a case of “use it or loose it,” where the more we have sex, the more we want to have sex – as opposed to men, who while many have fluxuations in their sex drive, still tend to have sex drives independently of however much sex they are or aren’t having. I’m sure this isn’t true for all men or all women, but it tends to be true in many cases. (Y’all know of any sources on this? I’ve looked for articles but haven’t located any yet.)
What I’m trying to say is:
1. Still, one of the highest compliments folks can pay me about my smut writing is that they had to go get off after reading it, but also, that it made them want to go play with their partner or girlfriend or random first date or stranger or whomever. I love getting those emails or comments, thank you for that. Let’s make lesbians in future generations ask, “what is this ‘lesbian bed death’? Lesbians didn’t like having sex? They weren’t the most highly sexual creatures on the planet? I don’t get it!”
and 2 … Got ideas for stories you’ve always wanted me to write? The Sugarbutch Star contest is launching again. More details to come.
July’s masthead came from a reader who mentioned in passing that I’m (temporarily, at least) on her list of celebrity five. Yes, that is my handwriting, and my fingers, and a carefully chosen pen from my slightly obsessive pen collection.
It’s actually pretty hard to come up with a list of butches … most of those who Penny, Muse, Lee, & I brainstormed were musicians rather than actresses, seems there’s more of us in the music scene.
In case you can’t quite see it clearly, the list above reads:
Hopefully it’s clear that I don’t know if these folks necessarily classify themselves as butch, but they are in the female masculinity section of the gender galaxy, so they made this list.
I’m told that this originated with perhaps a Seinfeld episode, but I can’t seem to find a link to that (youtube, anybody?). What I did find, in going through some old journals of mine, is a link to dooce’s post on this once upon a time, and my own (old!) List of Five.
I decided it needed updating. It included. Here’s what I came up with as of today:
a) July’s masthead will be up soon, I haven’t perfected the photograph yet. If you have ideas for future masthead taglines, or photos that you’d like to see featured, now’s the time to tell me!
b) Call for photographs – butches, bust out your swimsuits. After that butch breasts/bras feature, I’ve been thinking about butch suits. It is summer now, after all, and I betcha most of us aren’t in bikinis (mmmm bikinis) or one-pieces. Let’s see how you do it up at the beach or at the pool. Email aspiringstud at gmail.com with your photographs, preferably high quality, at least 300x500px. Include your name, a little byline if you want, what you’re wearing and why.
c) For the record? Lesbianism is not a “lifestyle,” and to call it such is belittling. It’s a sexual orientation or sexual identity.
May was an incredibly busy month for me – not only did I take two trips out of New York City, I also had visitors, performances, writing deadlines, and started seeing Penny a bit more seriously. I took a break mid-month and didn’t do any writing here for more than a week, so it was a fairly light month in the number of posts.
The new masthead quote comes from a conversation with Ally, long ago. The photo is a snippet of my tie collection. Kind of a departure from the usual black-and-white I’ve been going for, but hey, it’s summer now, seems fitting.
On misperceiving someone as femme or butch, and then a follow up further clarifying was the hinge of this past month. In fact, I got so frustrated by the conversations around these posts that I stopped writing for a while and took a break. It’s hard to do this kind of gender writing and work sometimes, I guess I just needed to step back and think about it, and attempt to get to a place where I was not taking it so seriously.
A few weeks back, Muse & I went to a meditation group and I held her jacket for her when we were heading outside. She dipped down to let me more easily slide the coat up onto her shoulders, and I laughed.
“You’re not supposed to move,” I said. “Just let me do the work. This chivalry thing is designed to make you look good.”
She laughed too. “Ah, right. How would I know that? Nobody holds my coat for me. You’re bringing butch back.”
I like that. I like the alliteration, three b’s in a row, and the second epitrite of poetic meter in the phrasing. I really can’t take credit for bringing butch back – honestly, I don’t think it ever went anywhere, I think if anything it just went a bit underground during the gay and women’s rights movements, and many folks are now reimerging to problematize and celebrate gender, myself included. And youth these days are more open to gender and sexuality differences than we ever have been, so aside from some old-school activists coming out of the woodwork, the youth also have a hand in opening up these conversations, refusing to be limited by labels or definitions, and yet finding value in the historical contexts of labels and words as well.
Chivalry is deeply feminist to me. When in femmes, I expect femininity to be deliberate, done with the whole knowledge of the compulsory heteronormative restrictions which dictate that women must be and do certain things, particular that we must wear high heels, delicate cloth, restrictive clothing. Femininity is not made for comfort or movement, it is made to accentuate the sexualization of a woman’s body – and that’s why things like holding her doors open (so she doesn’t dirty her white gloves or expensive manicure), pulling her chair out (so she doesn’t have to awkwardly move a bulky piece of furniture, and risk getting it caught on her skirt or stockings and ripping something) or holding her coat (so she doesn’t have to reach around and risk ripping the tight seams in her shoulders or upper back) are necessary to me, as an acknowledgement of how restrictive femininity can be, and of how difficult it is to walk around the world in these clothes, as a celebration of the beauty of femininity on the body, and with deep respect for the courage to costume and perform femme to begin with.
There’s a long history of these gender roles, these accentuations of the body as a flirtation, as a mating ritual, as peacocking, to attempt to attract a lover.
All this is to say, I’m really not taking credit for “bringing butch back.” But I like the phrasing, and I’d like to think that I’m encouraging it. I’ve written it before (& I’ll write it again): I would never tell someone what their identity is, I would always wait for them to tell me how they choose to identify. But because I’ve found such play and liberation and fun and self-empowerment inside of butch, I do want to encourage and support it.
So, I made a masthead. Those are my hands and the bird tie, in a portrait taken last summer by Bill Wadman. With a nod to dooce, in theory the mastheads will rotate monthly with a different tagline.
The Spring Equinox celebrates the return of life and growth to the thawing earth. For the first time since the Fall Equinox, the time of light and dark in a single day are equal. From this day forth, Spring will arrive, and with her, a wild spurt of growth begins. Shoots of young grass appear, leaves sprout on trees, birds and their songs return. Winter and the dark time have finally been put behind us, and the season of growth has begun. This holiday is truly a celebration of life and nature.
Since the Spring Equinox represents new life and growth, this is the perfect holiday for planting seeds of your own on the path of your life. New ventures may be aided by the spirit of life and growth that abound, and many people decorate eggs at this time with symbols of fertility. All is new and possible. In addition, this holiday is an ideal time to break the last of the chains that may halt our growth.
So that’s what I’m thinking about today: what chains may be halting my own growth, and how to let them instead be little sprigs of pure green.