I really don't care if a lesbian identifies as femme or butch or kiki. What irks me is being told that I don't exist. Or, as one arrogant wag put it about my identity, 'That's so last generation.'
For a lesbian to dismiss the experience of so many of her peers is the worst form of homophobia—the internalization of thousands of years of scorn and abuse. I may not wield a post hole digger with strength or confidence, but I'm butch. I may not pick up women in bars, but I'm butch. I may not drag panting femmes by the hair to my dykecave, but they don't make 'em any more butch.
Equally, the femmes I have loved may not always have had a wiggle in their walks, but they were deeply femme. They may not have appreciated having doors opened for them, but they were femme. They may or may not have worn negligees, had long glossy locks or pampered themselves with French manicures, but they were femme where it counted.
Don't put down my lifestyle, don't try to change me and don't tell me I'm wrong about who I am. That's as much a put down as the insults I heard from the boys in high school. Even then, alongside my fears, I had a smug defiant pride about being harassed. I was just angry that they, like most men, felt they had the right to judge me or any woman. Just as I am angry now to be so flippantly dismissed for being myself.
Some lesbians think femme and butch is about role-playing. It's so not about roles that they have butch or femme essences that they have not even noticed. Can't they see a pattern in who they are attracted to? The femmes may cut their hair radically short and clothe themselves in trousers and ties, but they can't fool me. The butches may cook gourmet meals for intimate dinner parties of 12, slip on heels and a form-hugging straight skirt to play hostess, but they can't fool the femmes who finds her fascinating.
Why does this oh-so-now generation refuse to recognize its cores? Why do they act all offended when I dare breathe the words femme or butch? What is it they disdain in themselves? I can only think that they are sharing the majority culture's horror of women who don't define our existence by kowtowing to the roles—yes roles—assigned us by men. Non-gays are so darned afraid of us. We don't need no steenkin' men. We dress for one another, not for the dominant straight society. We understand our signals.
So last generation my ass. I live and breathe today. The earth rumbles when a butch strides its surface. Blossoming trees erupt full-grown from the ground, birds swirl overhead, clouds burst, suns gain power when femmes walk by. And we're not all old. For Petra's sake, Google 'young lesbians' and check out the burly girls in frills and the petite stompin' bulldykes. They found themselves, they know what they want and they don't hold their sexualities by the edge—far out from their faces—like so many discarded tissues teeming with infection.
There's nothing wrong with not claiming a camp and no one has to dress any part. But let's not condemn one another for reveling in who we found when we dared look deep inside. Femmes and butches are a fact of lesbian life. Maybe we can't articulate our essences in anything but five-letter words and our presentation to the world, but that doesn't make us less than the rest of lesbian nation. Face it, no matter that the media makes money off sensationalizing us by calling us the flavor of the day, queer is never going to be the fashion statement of choice. We'll always scare the straights. They'll always be trying to stomach us, fix us or kill us.
We're all in this together, gang: lipstick lesbians, stompers and the clueless. Let's embrace the glory of who we are. Let's honor the differences among us while the real Others out there express their terror of us with nasty names, legal games and other weapons. Let's celebrate the fact that we have so many generations to ponder and honor.
Copyright Lee Lynch 2007