“Butch Voices” Splits after Butch Women, Lesbians Erased from Platform

August 20, 2011

This weekend’s national Butch Voices conference, being held in Oakland, has finally reached critical mass for the “othering” of women and Lesbians that has been a part of the organization since its inception in 2008. The organizers have split over the complete erasure this year of Women and Lesbians from the conference platform. The words “Butch” and “Women” have been replaced in the BV platform by the term “Masculine of Center”.

Masculine of Center , or MOC women (“mock women”) is the latest terminology forced onto Butch Lesbians by the transgender F2Ts and hetero “queer” women who have colonized and taken over Lesbian Butch/Femme spaces and meeting places. Previously they tried to force Butch lesbians to define themselves in opposition to trans “Butches” by inflicting the term “Female Identified Butch” , or FIB women – often shortened mockingly to “Fibbers” according to the trans philosophy that all femininity non-performing women and Butch Lesbians are “Transmen in denial” (because if we were “real” women we’d be performing femininity, doncha know).

The removal of Butch Women and Lesbian from the population served by the Butch Voices organization, and the adoption of the incredibly offensive “Mock Women” terminology is the biggest “Fuck You” imaginable to Butch Lesbians. And it was done willingly and knowingly because according to ButchVoices own website, programming committee member Jeanne Cordova has been protesting the change for the last 18 months. Their response according to Sasha Goldberg, an F2T2F Butch Voices organizer, was to schedule the annual board member retreat during the one week of the year that Cordova would be unable to attend due to a scheduled surgery.

This is not the first time Butch Lesbian voices have been silenced by the Butch Voices organization. At the last national conference in 2009, every single proposed Butch Lesbian presentation was rejected by organizers, most of whom refer to themselves as “ex-females” and “ex-Lesbians”.

Butch Voices President and Conference Co-chair Krys Freeman has previously stated “I don’t even like to call myself a lesbian because I feel like it’s politicized. Well, I could be. Some people think I’m a lesbian. It’s a fair assumption. I like women.
”

And “ex-Lesbian ex-female” Butch Voices founder Joe LeBlanc defended the removal of Women and Lesbians from the Butch Voices platform and the need for Butch Women to be identified by the MOC terminology, apparently because eliminating Lesbians and adopting the Transman/MOC-female language will decrease Butch Lesbian visibility and erase the fact that Butch/Femme  spaces were created by Lesbians.

 

Ex-Lesbian "Ex-Female" Joe LeBlanc

The only misogyny Joe is concerned with, according to his PR release responding to the split, is the so-called “misogyny” of females protesting total erasure of women from a national Butch conference.

  It is misogyny when people dictate what pronouns we can use for ourselves, the identities we can hold, and what spaces we are welcome to uphold,” Joe responds.

If representation of women is what ex-Lesbians Joe LeBlanc and Krys Freeman consider “misogyny”, the institutional silence that organizers Jeanne Cordova and Sasha Goldberg met for the last 18 months begins to make more sense.

The following is an excerpt from a post by Sasha T. Goldberg that shows her months of  correspondence- her UNANSWERED correspondence on the issue to other ButchVoices organizers. (Click on the link to read the correspondence in its entirety). 

 

JUNE 14TH, 2010

Hi, friends–

Joe, thanks for your well thought out essay. I appreciated reading your thoughts. I also want to second some of Jeanne’s thoughts, here. Jeanne offers many of my deepest sentiments, but there are some things I’d like to say, as well.

In the spirit of an injury to one is an injury to all, here is what I think is important to add:

All of you know me now, to one degree or another. You know how committed I am to Butch Voices, to what we do, and to our mission. I know these things about you all, too. And perhaps you also know that I commit my time, energy, and resources to run a monthly Bulldagger group. And maybe you know, or maybe you don’t, that I had to fight very hard for us, Butch Voices, in that group, hours spent trying to convince people (many of whom had even been to the conference) that Butch Voices is about Butch women. That there is room (insult to injury, really) for Butch women at a Butch conference. In this way, I have defended Butch Voices to so many Butch Women that I’ve lost count–and now we’ve gone and changed our motto to “Masculine of Center people.” What shall I tell us Butch women now?

Because here is the truth: If I myself just happened to stumble across a conference that was for “masculine of center people,” it would never occur to me to attend. I am not a masculine “of center” person. I am a Butch. I am a woman. I am female. That has been the history–and the persistent present–for so many of us Butches. Additionally, I am not even sure where this supposed “center” is “supposed” to be. I am sure, however, that this world keeps erasing Butch women–from history, from literature, from film, from television, from our streets, from our families, churches, employment markets, housing, and with continued, persistent pressure to be men–and now we, Butch Voices, we have gone and erased Butch women from the first sentence of our mission statement. Now that is just something that I don’t have the heart to defend, friends.

I know you all, just like you know me, so I know and trust your intent and I hope that you know and trust mine. But again and again I say: We are not the same, us Butches who are women and use female pronouns and folks who live on a ‘transmasculine spectrum’; we are not the same, and though we can support one another in a thousand ways, I absolutely refuse to have my Butch identity and history blended in, watered down, or erased. And if this sounds like a political platform, you know, maybe it is–I have been fantasizing about a keynote on solidarity at BV for some of these exact reasons. But as we all know, the political is the personal and this is what is true for me, and for so many other Butches:

Without protecting and defending the space that Butch women have carved out, created, survived and built in addition to trans-spectrum folks, we are not doing justice. We are not doing me right, we are not doing Jeanne right, and we are not doing many, many other Butches right. We are not doing right by our past, we are not doing right by our present, and we are surely not doing right towards ensuring our future.

For all of the above reasons, I strongly ask that you to re-consider the current language. I also strongly second Jeanne’s suggestion of “butch women and all trans-masculine folks.” We simply cannot stand in solidarity without making a stand alone space, literally, metaphorically, and linguistically, for Butch women.

With continued dedication,

Sasha.”

Goldberg, Cordova, and at least two other Butch Voices organizers have left the organization in July over this issue and are founding a group for Butch Women called BUTCH NATION. Butch Nation organizers are holding unauthorized scheduled sessions for Butch Women in various hotel rooms throughout the conference venue, since they have been denied a platform to speak.

On Wednesday night Butch Voices posted a message on their Facebook page that a “Town Meeting” was being scheduled for both groups to speak: at 12 noon on Friday before the conference start. None of the Butch Nation women were notified or invited, and Butch Women complained that they had no time to schedule a day off from work at such short 36 hour notice to attend. It seems the “Town Meeting” was scheduled in such a way that very few women could attend.

I hope to receive updates and reports here from readers who are now attending the conference.

 

 

90 Responses to ““Butch Voices” Splits after Butch Women, Lesbians Erased from Platform”

  1. DM Says:

    This makes me wonder, where is my Dyke community today? Does it even exist any more? Because this describes something I can’t relate to at all. No way would I ever call myself “masculine of center”, or consider myself “transmasculine” or any of that crap. I remember when I first heard about Butch Voices, it sounded like something possibly interesting. And then when I found out more about it, I found that it was more of the same trans-trending “queer” idiocy. No thanks!

  2. Bev Jo Says:

    I’ve gone to two days of the BV conference and will return tomorrow and then can better report on it. However, I do have to say to please not be taken in by Jeanne Cordova and Sasha Goldberg. The first day, yesterday, I spoke twice in front of a most of the conference, with the support and encouragement of the Butch Voices group. The first time was at the “Town Hall,” which was quite crowded. I was treated with respect, and, I feel, love, by most of them (particularly Q and Mary Stockton.) I said clearly that I am a lifelong Lesbian and Butch, that I am proud to be female, I have NEVER identified as male — from my earliest memories, boys and men were those who tortured and killed animals, and that almost every female has been sexually assaulted and harassed by them. As a group, I consider them the enemy, so why would I want to identify with them? I acknowledged that part of the problem is that many of us feel oppressed by femininity and extreme Fems, but that femininity, as well as masculinity, are both male inventions and definitions. I believe that Butches are the opposite of male and are closer to what all females would be if it wasn’t for patriarchy. I also answered the myth about Butches supposedly having male privilege, which is ridiculous.

    Q rushed up to me after I spoke to hug me and give support. Throughout the conference, she comes to hug me. I was so relieved that she is not taking testosterone, which she said she was considering two years ago.

    I have no reason to believe that Sasha or Jeanne did not know about this meeting. I don’t believe anything they say.

    Later, last night, I again spoke at the community forum. Others continued to disagree, but at least I was listened to and treated with respect. That is not what happened with Sasha and Jeanne.

    Today, Sasha and Jeanne, who had left Butch Voices, met with as many of us as were interested. We all were allowed to speak very briefly, because of the lack of time, and there is a plan to meet again tomorrow. However, we still could easily have continued talking or to meet for dinner. Most of the group was being trans-supportive, and did not sound very different from the rest of the conference. I was pressured to stop speaking, though I took less time than others. So was a friend of mine who spoke well for female-born Butch identity. Meanwhile, a man claiming to be a Butch spoke and no one objected. He was in fact applauded. He is doing a workshop on being an MTF Butch, which refers to how they like to bind their breasts and wear dildos. (I’m sorry, this is almost laughable, except that they are serious and this man was given workshop time. I’m guessing that Jeanne and Sasha had no objection since they seemed fine about him being at their meeting.)

    Jeanne is lauded as an “elder.” She was part of the group who, in 1973, invited Elliott to perform his “Lesbian” music at the LA Lesbian Conference. She started him on his career, in a sense. I worked on possibly the first Lesbian Feminist conference in the world in 1972. I mentioned that and repeated a bit of what I’d said about Butch being female-identified. They wanted me to shut up.

    I also remember two years ago Jeanne’s plenary speech and her infuriating comments about Butches sexually objectifying Fems. I have never done that and know of far more Fems making objectifying comments. I thought that was Jeanne posturing about presenting Butches as male.

    Two years ago, several of us had offered female-identified Butch workshops, which were all rejected, but Sasha, as part of BV, did one. Sasha, who had had her breasts proudly cut off and who clearly had taken testosterone. A Separatist friend had seen her in public with her shirt off, showing off. Somehow, this is never mentioned by the group who split. Sasha then organized a “Bulldaggers” group to continue after the conference. I went a few times, but she ran it in a dictator-like fashion. It was only for “female pronoun-using Butches,” but then a trio came and confessed they used male pronouns (one cried for effect.) A friend spoke just before them to say that she had a friend who desperately needed surgery, which was being refused her because she was Butch. She was completely ignored, while the next three whined about wanting their male pronouns. She walked out.

    So today, I referred to why I left the group — that Sasha changed the definition to allow male pronouns, and I was spoken to like dirt by another of her group who lectured me that it was sex use. (Fine with using male pronouns for sex.) We had had to accept that for outside the group, but this was about allowing use in the group by the trio. To me, it was clearly a case of Sasha coopting a female-identified group, and now, we weren’t to refer to it.

    The meeting was over, but I found out that some had continued talking and so returned to hear Jeanne saying how oppressed an FTM friend of hers was because “he” was treated badly by doctors because of “his” terrible chest scars. (All self chosen because this woman does not want to be us and wants male privilege.) Jeanne then proceeded to talk about her FTM and MTF friends. I brought up Elliott, and Jeanne responded that he was just one, and her MTF friends were fine.

    So, in spite of their complaints about why they split, politically they seem the same to me — with the exception that they treated me like dirt and the remaining BV group at least listens to me with respect. I personally like them. I do not like Sasha or Jeanne.

    I am left thinking that Jeanne and Sasha left for personal or power reasons and not at all about what they said. Joe and Mary said they left the group without talking to them about why and then posted their complaints on the internet. They seemed quite hurt about it.

    I will find out more tomorrow when finally both groups meet to talk at the conference. I’m guessing that all have terrible politics, but I will never trust Jeanne Cordova or Sasha Goldberg because of what I have experienced of them. They had an opportunity to have me and my friend ally with them or to share support. They clearly wanted us gone. They are not the friends of truly female-identified Butches or they wouldn’t be so supportive of trannies.

    Someone commented that this entire fight is like seeing two republican factions arguing.

    I am also wondering about class differences here, since usually that is involved when someone is so patronizing and silencing. A guess was made by a Butch that the three who left BV are older, but Sasha and Stacy are quite young, and Mary is older. This is not a generational difference at all.

    I also want to say that the entire conference has a very large number of Butches of Color. I have rarely seen an event with so many, and that makes it particularly wonderful. Many, if not most, also seem to be class-oppressed. Some of them are extremely female-identified, in spite of the general attitude being more male. In fact, the few who are FTM-identified or define themselves as male, are clearly Fem.

    I hope I get enough sleep now to be functional tomorrow!

    • GallusMag Says:

      Thank you for the wonderful perspective Bev, I hope others will post their experiences as well.
      I do have to argue with one point though:

      “I am left thinking that Jeanne and Sasha left for personal or power reasons and not at all about what they said. Joe and Mary said they left the group without talking to them about why and then posted their complaints on the internet. They seemed quite hurt about it.”

      The correspondence from Sasha that I have excerpted above is over 12 months old, and is a small part of all the unanswered correspondence she posted on her site. I’d say that 18 months of attempting to communicate to a brick wall -documented attempts- is proof enough that Jeanne and Sasha attempted repeatedly to have these issues addressed in the Butch Voices organization. Are Joe and Mary claiming that Sasha LIED, and MADE UP the posted correspondence? If so, I’m sure Sasha can post screen caps of the sent emails. Obviously it is Joe and Mary who are lying and Jeanne and Sasha tried many many times to communicate with them. Maybe instead of being “hurt” that the women got tired of having their concerns ignored Joe and Mary should have responded to those concerns anytime in the last 18 months. So I do have to call bullshit on that.

      Thanks so much for the on-site report/update and your perspective Bev.

      Also, did Tallon Nunez of Butches Unlimited (whose motto is “Butches Are Women” have any public presence at the BV conference?

      • sashatgoldberg Says:

        This was also to be included:

        Whew! Reading your reports are interesting–and also, I think, evocative of some of the internal struggle just amongst woman-identified, female-pronoun using Butches, ourselves.

        The thing is, if we cannot support other Butch women (or at least accept, be curious about, or learn from) how we inhabit our Butch female bodies–how we do or do not have sex, with whom we do or do not partner, how long or short our hair is, whether we identify as Amazon or not, and yes, body modification like surgery, tattoos, piercings, branding, or a variety of other things to be in our skin…we’re going to continue force women to identify as men.

        If we do not continue to claim space for every expression of womanhood as Butches, we continue the cycle of saying, “You are too x to be a woman” or “not y enough to be a woman” in one way or another. I, for instance, have lived, worked, and passed as male, but was not FTM-identified, and you have never asked me about how I feel, or have felt, about my own gender as a Butch–so there are some assumptions there, rather than engaging in thoughtful conversation with a fellow Butch sister.

        In other words: Disgust is, of course, is just another judgment–and we’re certainly all allowed to have them–but it’s not so dialogue inducing, usually.

        Signing off,
        Sasha.

      • GallusMag Says:

        Sasha you already posted this comment- in reply to Feisty Amazon, and I assumed in response to her comment. But I will post it again here since you have resubmitted it and seem to not see where you posted it below. Don’t worry, I would not censor you. Thank you for replying to this post and for your work to create community for Butch Women.

      • GallusMag Says:

        Frankly I find your philosophy that all human activities should be supported (as long as those activities are being carried out by Butch women) bizarre. Why would I actively support self destructive and self hating activities just because a Butch woman does them? Addiction, self-harm or cutting, cosmetic surgical procedures, abuse of prescription synthetic hormones, the medicalization of gender, unprotected high risk sex with multiple partners, etc.- Do you really think I should “support” all that? And do you really equate all these things with hair length?

      • sashatgoldberg Says:

        Hi again, Gallus Mag (do we know one another in real time?),

        You say: Frankly I find your philosophy that all human activities should be supported (as long as those activities are being carried out by Butch women) bizarre. Why would I actively support self destructive and self hating activities just because a Butch woman does them? Addiction, self-harm or cutting, cosmetic surgical procedures, abuse of prescription synthetic hormones, the medicalization of gender, unprotected high risk sex with multiple partners, etc.- Do you really think I should “support” all that? And do you really equate all these things with hair length?

        My point is that we as women get to decide how we want to live in our bodies–period. And it’s not for other people (even other women, or other Butch women) to decide what is “destructive and self hating.” Part of being an informed, grown woman is deciding for ourselves what actions speak of liberation to us. It’s not one size fits all–and that is what feminism has taught me.

        Sasha.

      • GallusMag Says:

        No Sasha, we’ve never met.

        It sounds like you’re suggesting that unnecessary medical/surgical procedures performed on women should not be critiqued by Women’s Liberationists. And that social forces which might impel a woman to choose footbinding, corset-wearing, breast binding, genital mutilation, breast ironing, medically unnecessary double mastectomies, breast implants, lobotomy, ECT, illegal silicone injections, heroin addiction, etc. should not be critiqued by feminists. I find that to be an absurd suggestion. What possible reason would there be for avoiding such critique? Except avoidance and denial?

      • sashatgoldberg Says:

        No, Gallus Mag, not my point at all. Really, just as I said: “My point is that we as women get to decide how we want to live in our bodies–period.” And sometimes we come to different conclusions.

        Anyway, we should meet sometime in person at some Butch event or another; I was startled to see myself described by you as “F2M2F”–not an accurate description for me.

        At any rate, I’m headed out of town and offline for a much-needed break…all best in Butch dialogue to you.
        STG.

      • GallusMag Says:

        So you think we SHOULD critique non-essential medical interventions performed on females?

    • sashatgoldberg Says:

      Bev Jo,

      As I replied when you asked me face to face at the conference: The Bulldagger group has not, nor have we ever, changed our policy. The only qualifiers to belonging are: 1. Being woman-identified, and 2. Using female-pronouns. The group has met for over two years now, is closely bonded, and still growing. We are of every age, race, ethnicity, ability, and yes–sexual orientation and preference, including what women like to do (and be called!) in bed. G-d bless–we support Butch pleasure. And yes; we were all aware by the dozens of posts that you initially wrote to the group that it wasn’t a fit for you–so be it.

      But why not go in peace? We Bulldaggers and Butch Nation work year round for Butch community–of which you took part when you sat in on the conversations this weekend with a smile on your face. Perhaps next time you will organize your own session, or your own group, about what is important to you.

      As for why you were cut short–as you know, the room had fifty-plus women in it, and we ran out of time. So sadly, there was not time for the full retrospective that you wanted to give with only four minutes left.

      With regard to “personal issues”–Misogyny, Ageism, Feminism, and the erasure of Butch women are never just personal issues.

      As ever,
      Sasha.

  3. kurukurushoujo Says:

    I am as confused about the term “masculine of center” as Sasha. What does that even mean?

    I feel sorry for all Butch women who have their spaces colonized by a bunch of people who want to erase biology and lived experience based on this biology. Those people are not progressive and humanitarian, they are upholders of a regressive institution to which they want to conform. It doesn’t really matter if they add a spectrum to their binary, they love this system and they love perpetuating it.

  4. Cat Dog Says:

    Reading over some of the correspondence on this at
    http://sashatgoldberg.wordpress.com/

    This quote really stood out for me:

    Masculinity and Femininity, Male and Female are not to be dismissed nor to be chastised, they are to be reconciled. This is the magic of trans and queer bodies, they are places of alchemic potential for a revolutionary way of being in the world.

    Insert sound of weary head hitting wall.
    The whole point of feminism is that masculinity and femininity are social categories enforced onto the biological real categories of male and female. They are NOT the same! The gender conformists–whether they call themselves butch, femme, or trans–see masculinity and femininity as having an existence that’s biologically real, or even cosmologically real. They love masculinity and femininity, and especially the sexual charge that patriarchy embeds in all hierarchies. They want these categories to be “natural.” So they conflate male with masculinity and female with femininity. Cuz if they’re natural, well, you can’t change biological reality.

    Meanwhile, out here fighting for women and girls, masculinity and femininity aren’t just to be “dismissed” and “chastised.” The goal remains to reject and destroy.

    Why is this so hard to get? Masculinity is the psychology of the entitled and powerful;femininity, the behavior of those broken into subservience. Of course we want those to be over! Last time I looked, that was called women’s liberation.

  5. Sig Says:

    Thank you for this post and keep us updated over these developments. It makes my Lesbian heart happy to see the growing emergence of Butch *women* who are rejecting this “MOC” and other stuff, being proud of being women and lesbians. I’m so sick of the lesbophobia from these “MOCs” and “queer” women.

  6. Chonky Says:

    “Joe” still looks like a big ‘ol dyke to me, sans keys off the belt loop.

    Never understood the flannel, ball cap wearin’ dykes back in the day BECAUSE it appeared to me they slammed the doods, yet they identified with them at the same time. They seemed insecure, and treated their girlfriends not in a way to be admired.

    The role playing seemed insincere, only to be acted out on a friday, saturday night or…a sunday 3$ all-you-can-drink beer bash.

    Women loving women, such a simple concept is now an endangered species.

    Very sad.

  7. jj Says:

    very sad. it amazes me daily how male obsessed the “lesbian” world is becoming.

    • DM Says:

      I agree. If this is their trip, why are they still hanging out in the dyke community, or excuse me, “Queer” community? Why don’t they all just go to a freakin’ Monster Truck rally or Nascar event, and they could all just scratch their crotches and grunt & belch together.

  8. SheilaG Says:

    Thanks Bev Jo for reporting on Butch Voices. And I’m glad that lesbian female identified butches are finally speaking up, and getting workshops etc.
    Lesbian nation’s greatest challenge is to simply affirm and nurture lesbians. Not trans, NOT gay men, not FTMs… its mission front and center is to honor those brave butches who have always fought the good fight against feminine conformity, and the male invented ideology of female servitude. Feminine is about what men turn women into, it is not the natural state of any woman on earth.
    Women who resisted this degrading process since childhood are the real butches. Women who conform as children and women who don’t conform as children have very different life experiences. None of this has anything to do with men, and as butch women, we deserve to have female affirming butches doing workshops etc., we need to hear and honor butch voices like BevJo who really get it.

    Thanks BevJo, and I’m really looking forward to reading further reports about the conference.

  9. Cat Dog Says:

    The community around me reclaimed the word “dyke” to express a new, woman-warrior, lesbian-feminist identity, one that totally rejected butch and femme and all domination/submission. Why can’t we be dykes? Where did it all go? My heart is broken. I can’t stand the feminine displays of objectification any more than I can bear the swaggering egos of masculinity worshippers. We are better than this. We can aim for liberty. We did once before–I was there, and we dreamed of a very different world.

  10. Bev Jo Says:

    Thank you so much, Gallus and Sheila. I’ll try to report more tomorrow about the last day today. It was a mess. I agree, Gallus, about not knowing who to believe. A friend said she thinks it’s actually business differences. I’m left with feeling enormous political differences with both groups. Theoretically, less with “Butch Nation,” which is Stacey, Jeanne, and Sasha. I liked everything Stacey said at the meeting, in terms of her female-identified Dyke Butchness. And I like her personally. I also like Q and Mary and Kris and Joe. But politically…

    No, Tallon and Butches Unlimited did not show at all and hadn’t planned to.

    In terms of answering others of you about why isn’t it enough to just identify as “Dykes” — the problem is that the Dykes who are the most natural and not role-playing and not Fem get treated very badly by the vast majority who are varying degrees of Fem — except for the few Dykey Fems with strong Separatist or Radical Lesbian awareness. And what’s the dig about flannel? Those were the days when it seemed that we did have equality, before the various forms of polyester and nylon appeared.

    The Butch-hatred was also quite strong, with Jeanne repeating her 2009 speech about how Butches objectify Fems — I really have seen it mostly the other way around, and it happened today as some extreme Fems there talked about Butches the way that men talk about women — as if we belonged to them.

    To understand more, for those who don’t know what I’m talking about, check my blog with our chapter/article about supporting Butches. I will do an update this week and new intro.

    I agree about rejecting masculinity and femininity — both male inventions. The problem is that being natural Dyke is considered to be a freak, even among most Lesbian feminists, who still are feminine, to varying degrees.

    So much more to say about the whole event, and I will report tomorrow.

  11. SheilaG Says:

    Dm has a valid point… why do they hang around the lesbian community? My theory is that lesbians put up with it in a way other groups would not.

    And I do wonder what happened to plain lesbian feminist liberation. I find all the role playing exhausting in the extreme… but I want the liberation of lesbians from the prisons of heteronormative dictatorship and male domination… not too much to ask for :-)

  12. Bev Jo Says:

    I forgot to add that A LOT of the “Butches” there are Fem. Interestingly, most Butches want to use female pronouns for themselves. Most of the Fems posing as Butches want male pronouns. To me, it is all very predictable. I do not believe one of the group members is Butch, but yes, the others are, including Joe.

    Some of those who identified as FTM, besides being Fem, presented very much as faggoty gay men, with mannerisms and speaking style reflecting how much they have been around gay men. The man claiming to be a Butch, also appeared very faggoty and feminine.

    The real Butches just appeared as solid Dykes, far from male and far from feminine. The Fem “allies” were mostly extreme drag queen style Fems and not like the Fem Dykes who are most of my Fem friends.

    If this sounds confusing, it isn’t. It all makes absolute sense in my political/personal framework and completely proves what my politics have been about this. What is heart-breaking is how much self-hatred there was among many of the Butches, which I saw being encouraged by their extreme Fem lovers who talked about Butches “male privilege” — which of course does not exist. When I challenged them on that, they said how in conversations, the Butches are deferred to. Well, certainly not in any I’ve ever seen. I explained how it’s the Fems who can make more money, have more status in the world and with family and friends (as “real” women), and who are more likely to own houses as a result of having had husbands, and sometimes families who gave them money. (Butches are more likely to be disowned, and a more Butches are class-oppressed.) There was a parallel Fem conference too (unlike at BV, where Fems were welcome, no Butches were allowed.) From seeing both groups, it looks clear that a higher percentage of Butches are racially oppressed also.


  13. “If representation of women is what ex-Lesbians Joe LeBlanc and Krys Freeman consider “misogyny”, the institutional silence that organizers Jeanne Cordova and Sasha Goldberg met for the last 18 months begins to make more sense.”

    These patriarchal reversals are a mind-fuck. We’re now at a place where women who defend women are labelled misogynists, and men who despise women are called feminists.

  14. Juliet Says:

    I think that hardest thing for me in all this with all respect to all is that it feels to me like what commonly happens in oppressed groups. The power struggle pressing on them from larger forces somehow manages to make it safer, less hopeless, to fight small battles among each other than stand together against the larger oppression. I have never heard any one personally including not one trans person suggest that male patriarchy is fine or fixed or gone and that the only issue is now among us. The fight seems to be male patriarchy is leaking in and tainting us and people want to make note and fight it within each others body’s. And war/all wars have long been fought on that soil. The need to call warning feels pressing, warning that patriarchy, like Mcdonalds landing in any foreign soil bringing with it the beginning of the generica poison of sameness and ruthless capitalism, may have infiltrated. We could be poisoned. And I agree that must be noted. However, to be able to clearly point out where and how that poison is coming is not as simple as seems to be suggested in this in battle among us.
    And I would also suggest that masculine of center does suggest there is a ground central female base upon which that term is dancing. I think there are arguments to and against any given term of all those being bandied around. However, in each case for someone, each one has deep personal reasoning. I went to the show on Saturday night. My experience was from beginning to end women on stage were, in no way denying their body or their femaleness, not one. In every instance the discussion, performance, humor was about the magical beings I have known and loved for many many years, that are this mysterious and wonderful combination of traits that get my chemistry ramped up in seconds flat. I felt nothing but respect everywhere I went and with almost anyone with whom I talked.
    I get scared about the terms male, masculinity too. The patriarchy is scary and those terms, like McDonalds, feel threatening to me as a femme, however what scares me more is that those, I love all of them in all their complexity, are allowing themselves to operationalize the pain and direct it toward the wrong target.
    Perhaps the problem is, we have no idea where to start dismantling the omnipresent patriarchy so we feel the only fight possible is within our own borders, but history will tell us that is what enables those in power to remain there and I am not talking about the steering committee. I am sure there are as many personal reasons as anyone could ever come up with for separate groups, or one group, but the work that is actually moving things forward is what is happening with the vibrant moment to toward visibility among the artists and the voice taking place as our artists move out into the world. And the art and creative projects taking place with the Oakland community is a really exciting and moving example.
    As I write this I am aware that so much real pain is being experienced within our internal struggles right now. I only hope that as we coalesce on the other side, we find our power and our real ‘outside’ voice.

  15. SheilaG Says:

    Even among lesbians, there seems to be a lot of ignorance about what oppressions butch women face, or an admission that femininity itself is male created. Feminine is about an artificial world created to keep women in their place… everything about it would be considered a horror of colonization if it was used to define racial characteristics or national characteristics.

    And lately, I’ve grown very weary of large conferences where you don’t really get to know women well to begin with. If we return to the small group, I think we’ll have much more lesbian cohesiveness. Most of this stuff is so weird it’s about posturing, headline grabbing, power… tiresome.

  16. Bev Jo Says:

    Yes, it’s true, there’s the mindfuck going on. That is part of why I fight against giving the men claiming our identity what they want by honoring them with agreeing to call them “transwomen” — because then when we argue against them, we are called “misogynist.”

    The thing is, Joe and Krys are Lesbians. By my definition. I would not call Krys Butch, however, because she clearly is quite feminine.

    I do wish we had a community and world where we were all Dykes together. But I also wish we had a class-free world where those who grew up with class privilege did not feel superior to the rest of us. But the reality is that whoever has privilege in the Lesbian community is dominant. Those with class privilege too often feel and act superior to the rest of us. (I know wonderful exceptions, but they are not common.) Also, those who grew up fitting in as “normal” or “real” girls, and, even more so, those who got “normal” female privilege from being het, do dominate in Lesbian communities, and, in spite of wonderful exceptions, have made Dykes who were made to feel queer and like freaks growing up still oppress us in a number of ways — from images used for Lesbian publications and events (which says who is welcome and who is not) to direct and indirect criticisms, personally and at social events. I have been taunted and baited for having refused to be het and for not looking male-defined “feminine.”

    I have NEVER played roles. But just as I have refused to believe I am inferior for being working class, that has not stopped me from being treated as inferior for refusing to look het or more feminine. Daring to discuss these differences does not mean we play roles. Identifying as Butch does not mean playing roles. It means identifying as a marginalized, oppressed, invisiblized minority in Lesbian communities. We get it in the het world for being the most out, obvious Lesbians, and we get it in our communities. I am not even talking about the usual inequality that happens with Fem lovers who refuse to have an equal relationship. That is a whole other level of pain and oppression. And I believe how we are treated by our own (Lesbians) is why a disproportionate number of Butches have died way too young, from cancer to murder to suicide.

    Our history is also being re-written. In my original Radical Lesbian Feminist community, we knew it was the older class-oppressed and race-oppressed Lesbians who created our movement. Jeanne Cordova, who is given a much larger speaking opportunity that I have, tells everone that it was “young white middle-class college students” who started our movement. That immediately biases everyone against Feminism.

    So many quote and praise Fem Audre Lorde who came back to her Lesbian community after leaving it for a man. Why do so few remember Pat Parker, who helped create our Lesbian Feminist community and who wrote so eloquently about racism, classism, Lesbianism, Feminism, and her oppression as a Butch?

  17. SheilaG Says:

    So right on about Pat Parker and Audre Lorde Bev!
    It’s such a relief to finally get this perspective, because I feel those in “leadership” lesbian roles are trying to silence all the women who built the movement. And it wasn’t a bunch of white college women who launched the lesbian movement or created it’s complex communities. This is such a distortion… a cover-up that “women’s studies professors’ just perpectuate. It’s why Bev Jo’s book continues to be left out of the college classes in the first place… and Pat Parker gets left behind.

    We forget that class privileged lesbians … quite a lot of them who thought they spoke for us, had been married to men for years! YEARS! And to say this didn’t make them elitist or put on pedistals in the community is NOT telling the truth.

    It’s why a Pat Parker has power, a Mary Daly has power, a Bev Jo has power…. women who did not marry men, and were proud dykes. And butch dykes and dykes who were attacked and belittled continually in childhood for not conforming, then had the “privilege” of being dissed by women who wanted to ally with men (Lorde), or get male academic power (Adrienne Rich), or promote the weirdest S/M B/D practices… Suzie Sexpert and their ilk. And it’s all about the trans now… the trans who get on boards of directors of rape crisis centers… barge into restrooms, put on make-up ostenstatiously at seemingly lesbian events.

    You can’t even go into a bathroom safely at a gay and lesbian center now, because trans are in there preeing in front of the mirrors, or singing in the stalls… I kid you not.

  18. Preciocilla Says:

    Greetings,

    I’ve enjoyed reading your posts! There is nothing that I love more than butch women and lesbian feminists! I want to start my post by admitting that certain femmes have internalized patriarchal ideas and interact/view butches in harmful ways. I’ve argued publicly (see Michfest forums) that femmes play a role in compulsory transitioning—non-lesbian femmes often want a man so they “encourage” butches to transition.

    However, I’m a lesbian-feminist and a femme dyke, so I feel compelled to challenge some of your statements. **Hi Bev Jo** (I appreciate your presence on Michfest’s FB pg.)! You said that femmes were being possessive over butches at the conference: What does that mean specifically; was it a tone, energy or body language or was something specifically said? When does support/desire turn into an imposition? In your opinion, do butches ever behave possessively over femmes (or is it just femmes who do so)? I ask this out of curiosity, not malice. ☺

    To Cat Dog and others–who insinuated that feminine signals weakness–is it possible that a percentage of femmes espouse radical politics and are powerful, not subservient? If you don’t think so, please, allow me to introduce myself….I’m Preciocilla (pronounced, Pres-ee-oo-silla, inspired by the Gertrude Stein poem).

    Personally, I’ve debated for years, in-person (I welcome confrontation!) and on various websites, that butch was being conflated with male and that lesbians need to retreat from the queer community—to reaffirm our lesbian feminism. One recent example: I called a radio station during a trans special (KUOW Seattle) to publicly talk with FTMs about the pressure on baby butches to transition. Does this strike you as subservient?

    Again, while you’re correct about a lot of femmes, some of us have used our privilege (yes, I acknowledge it) to advance lesbian causes and visibility. Is it possible that we be seen as comrades in this struggle, instead of pariahs? For butches who partner with femmes: Can you stand up for us in this conversation (like we have for you in others) or should we assume we’re on our own here?

    In Dyke Solidarity,
    Preciocilla

    • GallusMag Says:

      Thank you for your comment. For the record, as the blog owner and a Butch Lesbian, I do not believe that Lesbian Femmes oppress Butch Lesbians, nor do I believe that all traits coded “feminine” are inherently weak. I absolutely see you as a comrade.

  19. GallusMag Says:

    ” I’ve argued publicly (see Michfest forums) that femmes play a role in compulsory transitioning—non-lesbian femmes often want a man so they “encourage” butches to transition.”

    You nailed it.

  20. Bev Jo Says:

    Thank you so much, Sheila. I agree.

    Thank you too, Preciocilla. I absolutely agree about some Fems wanting Butches to “transition” or at least to use male pronouns and identify as male so they themselves can feel more normal and get more privilege.

    There is a big difference between strong Dyke Fems with good Lesbian politics and the ones who look like drag queens and are emulating male ideas of women. My best friends and allies are strong Fems. They do agree that Fems oppress Butches, and two of them wrote about that in our chapter/article at my blog on supporting Butches. Do check it out to get more answers to your questions.

    At the conference, there were two kinds of Fems, and neither seemed Dykey. One kind claimed to be Butch or FTM, and the other kind was in full drag with their breasts hanging out (presumably to excite us, but I find it repulsive), heavy makeup, high heels, etc. When one of the latter spoke at the end, she was extremely objectifying of Butches, and also spoke as if we were her property. It really reminds me of how men talk about women. It does not even seem to occur to any of this type that some of us find them repugnant and prefer Butches. The assumption is that all Butches are attracted to them, and the arrogance of that presumption is infuriating.

    Some Butches do act that way about Fems, but I don’t see it as often, and the power is not the same since Fems have more privilege.

    Though ideally, I would like to be lovers again with a Butch, I am definitely open to being lovers with a Dykey Fem. Similarly, I would like to be lovers with a class-oppressed Lesbian, but would not say no to one who is class-privileged, but also kind, loving, and with good politics.

    What I object to or question is those Butches who would not consider being lovers with another Butch, and Fems who only want Butches.

  21. FeistyAmazon Says:

    It is getting late for me, but I also attended Butch Voices, and was at two of the workshops Bev Jo was at. 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 missle 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!
    It so disgusted me then. And 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. So this time I did not even bother to submit a workshop which would have been about Butch DykeAmazons and the connection between our Butch DykeAmazon sexuality and spirituality….(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.

    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 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 this and that…Well I dress up and wear clothes 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” because in this I do agree with Bev Jo. 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 or 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’.

    or
    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 thes 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,
    -FeistyAmazon

    • GallusMag Says:

      Thank You F.A. for the on-site report!

      • FeistyAmazon Says:

        You are so very welcome GallusMag, and thank you so much for this forum and providing it for us. 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,
        -FeistyAmazon

      • GallusMag Says:

        F.A. Thank You for your kind words.

    • sashatgoldberg Says:

      Whew! Reading your reports are interesting–and also, I think, evocative of some of the internal struggle just amongst woman-identified, female-pronoun using Butches, ourselves.

      The thing is, if we cannot support other Butch women (or at least accept, be curious about, or learn from) how we inhabit our Butch female bodies–how we do or do not have sex, with whom we do or do not partner, how long or short our hair is, whether we identify as Amazon or not, and yes, body modification like surgery, tattoos, piercings, branding, or a variety of other things to be in our skin…we’re going to continue force women to identify as men.

      If we do not continue to claim space for every expression of womanhood as Butches, we continue the cycle of saying, “You are too x to be a woman” or “not y enough to be a woman” in one way or another. I, for instance, have lived, worked, and passed as male, but was not FTM-identified, and you have never asked me about how I feel, or have felt, about my own gender as a Butch–so there are some assumptions there, rather than engaging in thoughtful conversation with a fellow Butch sister.

      In other words: Disgust is, of course, is just another judgment–and we’re certainly all allowed to have them–but it’s not so dialogue inducing, usually.

      Anyway–thanks for being present at the weekend, and for sharing your comments with those packed rooms.

      Sasha.

      • FeistyAmazon Says:

        Actually Sasha, I have much greater respect for you AFTER this weekend, and partly because you did go out of your way to put on these free workshops for the rest of us who felt alienated from Butch Voices and/or couldn’t or didn’t want to pay for it after feeling classed out. Also what you said, how you conducted yourself and that we both got to speak at the conference at that final meeting. My concern is that in any new group, that the same dynamics are going to arise, and those questions around your passing as male, living as male, and having breasts removed and proudly displaying it(which was my last observation/contact with you before Bulldaggers/Butch Voices 2009), really bothered me on a very, very deep level and they need to be answered honestly for any Female Centered/Identified Butch group/movement to go forward. Surgery is way more than just another ‘body modification’.

        There is work to be done for those who decide that FTM does NOT fit for them any longer, or they felt pressured into it with all the trends and community pressure and such, and individuals like yourself who have come back from the brink and claimed your womanhood once again could really help these individuals, often the trans community silences or completely rejects them or young Butches who are considering the surgery to think twice about it and embrace and feel proud in their female bodies without making the mistakes of rushing in too quickly. They could so use a mentor like you whose been there.

        But for me, a lifelong Butch Dyke, and so many others who have kept the integrity of our bodies, and maintained being both Female Proud and Butch all our lives, I question how much you can represent me and these questions indeed need to be answered, without feeling coopted once again.

        Stacy, I absolutely totally respect you and thank you for encouraging me to come, even though I knew it would be very, very difficult, and I still have many mixed emotions about all of it!
        I hope that the Female Proud/Female Identified Butch Movement can move forward and that we can inhabit FULLY our communities once again, with our long Butch Dyke herstory and continue to share that herstory, no matter whether we’re Butch on Butch, Butch/Femme or enjoy both flavors!
        -In Butch DykeAmazon Sisterhood,
        -FeistyAmazon

      • sashatgoldberg Says:

        Hi FA,

        Thanks for the dialogue. I am glad that you found some much-needed space in our workshops.

        As for the rest–I agree with some of what you’ve written more, and some less. We’ll have to talk in person sometime. In the meantime, one thing that I still want to say is that making assumptions about another woman’s body is something that I would like to erase both between us, and in general.

        All best,
        Sasha.

  22. yttik Says:

    I can’t really address the issues in this thread, since I’m a flannel shirt wearing het woman, but what’s really beautiful about women is when we forget to have a big bowl of femininity with our morning cheerios. Some of the best times I’ve had have been with other women when we are so engaged in work or play that everyone completely forgets that we are supposed to be girls, and all that goes along with that. There’s something really rare and incredibly natural about those moments, as if for a brief time we’ve actually achieved what we were intended to be. I suppose this is more common with working class women, since it can be kind of difficult to do manual labor and femininity at the same time. Your hair refuses to stay straight, you get dirt or flour on your nose, and anybody without sensible shoes winds up barefoot. The trappings of femininity get tossed aside when you’re working hard or even playing a spontaneous game of softball.

    I want to see more moments like that. I was watching Chaz Bono on TV and I was struck by this sense of grief over what has been lost. He was becoming a real woman, not with all the trappings of femininity, but somebody real, somebody not defined by the culture. The opposite of femininity is not masculinity. You do not have to pick one or the other. The problem with the trans agenda is that it reinforces those stereotypes, it demands you chose. People talk about how the transagenda seem to be erasing women, which is true, but women have not even arrived yet. We don’t yet have an identity of our own. For generations we’ve been forced to respond to expectations or to rebel against them. What and who women really are as an identity is still an unknown, but one thing I’m certain of, the opposite of femininity is not masculinity, it’s something else entirely. What, I don’t know, but you catch a glimpse of it when you get a bunch of women together, alone, and for a few moments they all forget who they are supposed to be.

  23. Bev Jo Says:

    I really agree, Feisty. You said such important things each time you spoke, bringing it back to the reality of the oppression of Butches and all females by men, that that is what “masculinity” is and has nothing to do with us — and you were ignored. You and I were some of the only ones who just cut right through the smokescreen con and clearly described what was wrong with both sides. And NO ONE responded to us. No attempt to ask more questions, to explore what we were saying, etc. They wanted us to shut up and go away. Yet, so many spoke with anguish about their confusion of being oppressed for not being barbie dolls and were confused about did that mean they were male, masculine, etc.? We answered them all each time we spoke, but it so much reminded me of the one time I was in a predominantly het feminist meeting where the women spoke about how abusive their men were, but they didn’t want to be lonely, so what were they to do. And when a Lesbian Feminist said they could come out or at least make women their primary friends and community, they were too freaked out to even listen to her.

    The whole thing has a cult-like feeling, with certain lines being repeated that don’t make sense, and any sensible answers being forbidden to be spoken. Sad and infuriating.

  24. Bev Jo Says:

    I agree, yttik. That is what I have seen for years when Lesbians are together, and even more with this majority of Butches. A realness and presence, with no artifice. But that again makes me wonder if other forces are at work here, such as agents in our community. One of the Butches had been in the George Jackson Brigade and spent ten years in prison for robbing three bands for the movement. She says there are thousands of agents. All it takes is for one person to derail a meeting by carrying on about how MTFs or FTMs are more oppressed than any of us. The flow and connection gets stopped and turns into confusion.

    We are so divided and distracted from thinking. And it’s very hard for any individual to go against the majority.

    I saw two interviews recently with Chaz. I still think she is trying to get her mother to accept her. Cher would not accept her as a Lesbian, so she wonders if she will accept her as a man, which she can’t be of course. Was it you, Gallus, who had told the story of Chaz failed career in the media, but now she’s figured out a way to get back into it. Her personal story is what I think many girls feel growing up and has nothing to do with being male. It’s all about female oppression. She also chose to look quite feminine until recently, which prove the lie to her rejecting femininity. Twenty years as an adult, yet she doesn’t fight the male-defined femininity that patriarchy imposed on her. She embraced it, and now switches to the other side of the same coin. She can change her exterior, but she is still Fem. I wish more Butches could see that with the majority of FTMs.

  25. Bev Jo Says:

    In the early Seventied, it felt like women wanting to be radicals and activists, and really, any woman who didn’t just want to be a housewife, were very open to thinking and exploring ideas. It was such an exciting time.

    Now I feel like our movement has been stolen by cliches, where if you say something true that goes against the cult line, the response is to ignore you or want to destroy you. The cult lines are usually the opposite of original radical feminism.

    What if everyone just challenged every cult line they hear? What might happen?

    It’s as if the cult lines limit life choices and decisions instead of opening ways of thinking and feeling. The cult lines also are all about personal limitations, rather than an open political perspective that affects everyone.

    An example is what a friend just wrote. She had come out in her late forties after being a housewife with kids. She was talking with a het woman last night who repeated the cult line about “sexual orientation” (notice how that trivializes love, which I think is the main motive in deciding to be a Lesbian, and it sexualizes us, which is actually using male thinking about us — and separates us from other women.) She said, “you either are born that way or you’re not,” so my friend disagreed and told her we choose it. The woman then confided that she agreed because she had been in love with women before but chose not to be a Lesbian.

    What if all girls and women dumped the patriarchal cult line that has derailed our movement, and went back to believing it’s a choice? (Well, HRC and other LGBTQIetc. groups would freak out because their basis of begging for equal rights from the hets is based on the propaganda that we can’t help being such freaks or we certainly would choose not to be.)

    What also might happen if most women stopped believing the cult line that trans is a reality and recognized “transwomen” as men who sexually fetishize us and that those who claim to be Lesbians have found the cleverest con yet for leering men to get access to us — as well as recognizing the “transmen” are just women wanting male privilege and who of course hate being in the feminine role men demand women play? It is perfectly clear to many of us? What if it was clear to all? Wouldn’t that change everything? Would the cult end?

  26. SilentAllTheseYears Says:

    I am not at all surprised that Joe Leblanc once again took no responsibility for his/her part in what transpired with the split. He/She seems to have no issues taking money or fame from the many voices of Butches but let there be one time when he/she needs to be accountable and suddenly he is shaming people for his lack of leadership.

    Joe Leblanc lied about his gender identity for years when forming BV and claimed “Butch” while it was convenient for BV and “Trans” when he was trying to get some ass from Femmes. The whole thing is gross.

  27. stacy249 Says:

    Before i say anything else, I want it to be known that i am a woman identified butch who LOVES femmes. There is such power and grace in them. As we fight for our place and space, i have felt nothing but respect and support from the femmes. There is so much I can say about them that i don’t know where to begin. Quickly, I want to put out there that attraction is a deeply personal thing. I am hard wired to femmes. I can’t stop myself from desiring them. There is nothing wrong with that as there is nothing wrong with butch on butch love or femme on femme love. This world is so hard on us that we have to get love where we can find it. Without somebody to love this stuff that we face becomes even harder to deal with.

    I also want to say that fighting for your space and using your voice is hard. At the end of this weekend, i was exhausted and drained and knew what it must be like to be a lightning rod…To be attacked by people who think they know something about me and what i’m trying to accomplish in the world. Already, as a black person life is challenging and then i get to add on being a woman and a butch too. I’m on the search for equality and i need allies who are trying to help me get it. I believe that the word woman has more space and depth in it than anyone can even understand. I know that i can be any kind of woman i want to be, the rub is that the world doesn’t yet know it. It will take all our voices raised to make a change.

    • GallusMag Says:

      Stacy249- Another conference attendee? Please feel free to share your impressions/experiences – we would love to hear them.

      “..attraction is a deeply personal thing..” I agree, and anytime someone tells a woman who she “should” be attracted to, and sexually available for, it raises huge caution flags in my mind, since coerced sexuality is such a massive part of the Patriarchal Platform.

      “I believe that the word woman has more space and depth in it than anyone can even understand.” Agree.

      Thank you for your comments.

      • FeistyAmazon Says:

        “I believe that the word woman has more space and depth in it than anyone can even understand. I know that i can be any kind of woman i want to be, the rub is that the world doesn’t yet know it. It will take all our voices raised to make a change.”

        This is SUCH a powerful statement Stacy, and EXACTLY what I experience on women’s Land in women’s ritual just last week. It goes beyond words to something very, very primal…and we as womyn, ARE powerful beyond words….but that innate power has been erased with all the patriarchal distractions and distortions we’ve endured for 2000 plus years….but in each other’s company we CAN and DO find that magic we each possess AS womyn, including OUR particular magic, AS Butch Womyn/Butch Dykes. Other womyn envy our strength, our particular power, our ability to nurture them, our Amazon Warrior spirits and our ability to stand up to men and INSIST on being their equals, not subservient to them. Thank you for these very powerful words that I know within my bones, whenever I’m on womyn’s land and in a community of womyn for 4 days or more….my heart opens in a way I cannot explain beyond that, but those who know, and have accessed these powers between us, KNOW something we lost long ago and many of us are working on regaining it.
        -FeistyAmazon

  28. stacy249 Says:

    My name is Stacy Reed and I am a part of Butch Nation. I didn’t attend the conference..so much as just take up space. The group Bulldaggers, put on the closed workshop called Bulldaggers on Saturday and I sat on the feminism and butches panel on Sunday. I felt that both those workshops were well received by folks..

    • FeistyAmazon Says:

      Hey Stacy, may I quote your beautiful paragraph about the word woman and my response in my blog, DykesforDykes? I REALLY loved what you said so much that I think I might write it in calligraphy, put it on my wall and also give you a copy too! I will give you full credit for your words.
      -In Sisterhood,
      -FeistyAmazon

  29. Bev Jo Says:

    Stacy, I REALLY liked and appreciated your public statement at the end of the conference, as well as your story at the workshop I went to.

    I’m still thinking about it all and want to comment more on the three days of workshops and events I went to over the next few days.

    It was hard because I didn’t feel like I belonged in either place. I agree with Feisty about almost everything we’ve talked about and appreciate what she said so eloquently at the conference.

    Sasha, I didn’t write “dozens of posts” about how your Bulldagger group wasn’t a “fit” for me. I objected because:

    1. Several of us wrote to the 2009 BV conference requesting to do a female-identified Butch workshop, but were turned down. Instead, you, as part of BV, did one, though it seemed you had transitioned or partially transitioned with mastectomies and having taken testosterone — so of course it looked like the BV group had co-opted the desperate need for such a workshop. I remember over 100 Butches going, with some crying from having been so alone and without support.

    2. Afterward, Carmen, and perhaps others, talked about having an ongoing Bulldaggers group, but when it began, you were again in charge, with no explanation, and that again felt like the idea had been co-opted. My impression was that it was to be collective, but instead, you ran it as you wanted. It was said that it was for female-identifed Butches only, with only female-pronouns to be used (since there was plenty of space in the rest of this area for male-identified Butches.) After a few meetings, I was very upset when Deeg came and told how a Butch friend was refused surgery she desperately needed because she was Butch and fat. NO ONE responded to her, partly because we weren’t allowed to, due to the structure of the group which I (and I know others) never agreed to. The next three who spoke ignored what she’d said and and “confessed” that they wanted to use male pronouns in the group (not just outside the group in sex play, which was allowed by the rules.) They were supported, which said to me that the entire reason for the group had been changed by you, without consensus. Deeg walked out. I never returned.

    What I tried to do this weekend was to publicly ask you about all this so that you could let us know your side of it. Otherwise, I didn’t really understand how you were different from the remaining BV group. I felt that T tried to shut me up on your behalf by dismissing my saying that you allowed the use of male pronouns in the Bulldaggers group by her abswer that male pronouns were fine outside the group in sex play. It was patronizing and dishonest because that was not what I was talking about. I never did get an answer to that. When I tried to ask her more about it on Sunday, she said, “Whatever you hold onto is what you should let go of.” She must be used to talking to Lesbians like we’re idiots. Since she’s one of your main supporters, that doesn’t inspire confidence in honesty. I still haven’t gotten an answer. A friend says she thinks your group’s split with BV is really about business.

    I and Leigh were cut short in a different way than others who talked at the workshop. Certainly no one came to talk to me afterward to explain what I was asking about — which, to me, says, you couldn’t answer and still can’t. No, I was not happy about how your meetings went at all. I felt far better treated, even with our political differences, by Q, Mary, Krys, and Joe. And by Stacy as well.

    It’s not about going “in peace,” or why didn’t you go “in peace” rather than come to confront BV? No, you don’t “work for” me when you co-opted and changed the meaning of the group, and when your group adds to anti-Butch stereotypes (such as Jeanne’s repeat of her 2009 speech about how sexist we are — which is infuriating since neither I or any Butch I’ve known does what she describes).

    You had the right to protest what you felt was unfair about BV, and I have the right to protest about you both. Jeanne is set up as an elder, but I have been in the Lesbian community at least as long, if not longer, and have helped create the Lesbian and Butch community. But since my politics and beliefs are far more female-identified and female-focused, you wanted me gone.

    One of the most important things about our Lesbian Feminist movement was collectivity, and sharing of ideas and community. You object to being silenced, but then silence others of us. Your separate workshops were to present your side, but you didn’t let others of us really participate any more than BV did.

    Thanks to Gallus, I have a place where I can object to how you and Butch Nation, as well as Butch Voices misrepresents me and all Butches.

  30. GallusMag Says:

    Thanks to all the wonderful comments to this thread. Really fantastic. You are all so damn smart and thoughtful and KICK ASS.

  31. stacy249 Says:

    If anything I have said moves you and resonates with you, please feel free to use it!

    Stacy

  32. ns harris Says:

    I was interested to read the opening post on this blog by GallusMag, but some of the comments that follow seem contradictory. Yes, I can hear a lot of pain and sense of loss in many women’s voices here. But I’m also reading a lot of personal attacks that sadden me & derail the conversation.
    From what I’ve read/ heard about the split, the first core issue seems to be that Butch Voices deleted the word Butch from their mission statement — because as BV founder Joe Leblanc wrote: “As an organization, we decided that “masculine of center” lacked the stigma and wounds that so many of us associate with having been called terms like “butch” or “aggressive” or “stud” in a derogatory manner.” (http://www.butchvoices.com/letter-from-founder)
    BV _also_ required all who worked on, or presented at the conference, to sign a Confidentiality Agreement that would give BV essential ownership of all ‘confidential or proprietary information that is of value to Butch Voices’. (And other paragraphs included very corporate phrases like ‘transferring copyright’, ‘intellectual property’ and entitling BV to recover legal costs if anyone disagrees etc.)
    These two core items – an organization called Butch Voices removing the word Butch from their mission statement AND a community org (not even a legal non-profit) taking ownership of volunteers’ writing/creative work – are incredibly important and worth taking a stand on.
    And after months of attempts by former BV board/steering committee members standing up for butch women and for community transparency – their endless letters and conversations were ignored by BV. So they took a different fork in the road & are forming Butch Nation.
    So why attack these Butch Nation women personally? I remember some of the commentators on this blog verbally attacking Butch Voices board members at the first conference in ’09. Now a hug from a BV member can erase all that and this year Butch Nation is in the line of fire instead? Jeanne Cordova & Sasha Goldberg & the other BN founders are standing up for butch women. Let’s look at the work they do – principles over personalities.
    Bottom line: it’s clear that a new organization like Butch Nation is truly needed – one that affirms & supports butch women – rather than avoiding the word and the herstory because of ‘stigma’ and ‘wounds’.
    And as I heard said at the Sunday Townhall meeting, many community members hope that there can be enough room for both organizations – BN & BV – just doing different work. And if neither org speaks for some women, then let there be enough room for those women to go ahead and form their own org too.

  33. Bev Jo Says:

    Oh you are, Gallus. I felt so fucking alone at the conference — much more so that when hanging out with my apolitical friends. I feel best with my Separatist Fem friends because we really understand each other and share politics. But while at the conference, I kept thinking that I could come here and you all would understand.

  34. Bev Jo Says:

    I’m going to try to finish about the conference. I went Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. It was hard to tell about numbers because I would see Lesbians in one workshop who I never saw again. It looked to me like there were a lot less Butches than in 2009 and a lot more extreme drag queen Fems. I think I also saw a lot more Fems claiming to be Butch, Boi (god, I hate that term so much), and FTM. However, it looked to me like almost all the true Butches were using female pronouns for themselves, so I am wondering if this is happening elsewhere too, which would be wonderful.

    Perhaps the glow is diminishing from the FTM thing? By the way, I heard Chaz Bono say recently that a deciding factor in her “transition” was that she didn’t want to be an “old woman.” But besides the incredible female-hating and ageism in that statement, how many are noticing that the FTMs seem to be ageing very fast? The ones who started 15 years ago or longer look a lot older than men of their same age. And for those of us who do not find any men appealing, it’s all pretty repulsive. Meanwhile, the old Butches are a handsome bunch.

    Again, to me, it’s all about privilege.

    Perhaps another part of the change is how many of the FTMs are returning to being het women under the guise of being gay men (“bonus hole” and all.) Certainly, that must create a divide amongst the FTMs. And again, what does it mean that most appear clearly Fem? Did no one else notice that at the conference? The difference was glaring. Many claiming to be “bois” or FTM looked extremely feminine and several were doing the extreme faggot swish and lisp. Not Lesbian, and definitely not Butch. I have NEVER seen a Butch do that.

    Most of the Butches I remember from last time who were vehemently pro-female and against male-identification were not there. They were not at BV or the BN meetings.

    The conference still had a large number of Lesbians oppressed by racism, and they are among the most female identified. There were also a lot oppressed by classism.

    But one of the things that made me feel very much not part of it all, was the cult atmosphere. There is a definite line. And you had better not contradict it in any way. That was true for BN as well as BV. There was a lot of talk about “Butch cock,” which I do not in any way identify with and which I find infuriating. It’s one thing to brag about their dildos, but the assumption that we all use them is enraging, and it definitely will make those with radical politics feel not welcome. At the dinner I went to, it came up, and an exreme Fem was so patronizng to me about it. In response to the dildo “cock” bragging, I said it was as offensive to me as swastikas and nazi uniforms (which are popular with a lot of sado-masochists.) Being Jewish, she objected to those, but not the “cocks.” How many of us have been sexually assaulted by pricks and all that they represent? How many have had damaged lovers and friends because of “cocks?” I was lectured about how much better the sex was with using objects. My theory is that something is seriously wrong if a Lesbian prefers silicon in the shape of a prick over the feel of her lover’s hands and body, and why would someone want to use a prick-shaped object on her lover, instead of feeling her? No way was this het-looking woman in full make-up going to bully me into believing the incredible loving, wild, and passionate love-making I have shared with lovers would be improved with ugly objects. She finally resorted to telling me that it probably was too late to change at my age.

    We have had thirty years now of the change from feminism to following the mainstream trends of porn, sado-masochism, etc. Are things any better for us? Instead of a sense of community where we care about each other, it’s much more materialistic and self-focused. Most of the bookstores, coffee houses, bars, and publications are gone. Mimicking hets never did us very good.

    I’m guessing not many now knew what it was like before Feminism. When I was 14, the girl I had been in love with since I was 5 was 19 and had joined a self-hating role-playing Lesbian community where the Butches were expected to be lovers with extreme Fems, who seemed to actually be bisexuals. My friend told me about dildos and I was repulsed. I did not have any politics, but I did not understand why women who loved women would want to imitate men in any way. She seemed so tormented and sad. She was in love with another Butch, but that was not allowed.

    Where was the love? Where is the love? Why would any Lesbian want to return to such a terrible time?

    About being hard-wired to Fems? I’m seeing more blondes than I have ever seen in my life as most of the older Lesbians (and some younger too) are dying their hair blonde. We are trained through intense media propaganda to worship the blonde. Is this hard-wired too? When can we recognize what is outside influence that adds to our self-hatred? The general attitude is do what you want, no matter what. Yet, some do manage to stop their addiction to tobacco, drugs and alcohol. I’m not saying to stop doing those things, but to recognize that there is actually pressure to be sober, even for those who haven’t been addicts. That pressure is acceptable, but not support to recognize and stop other self-hating behavior.

    Another thing that happens is that younger Lesbians repeat the myths about the Seventies and they do not want me or others of us who actually were there to contradict their fantasy. It is the cult line to say how Butch-hating the Seventies were. Not in my experience since Butches were a major part of who created Lesbian Feminism.

    Part of why having Butch support is so important is how extreme Fems are so lauded and Butches are so put down. I regularly see and hear both in my community. It was the other way around in the Seventies — not that I support being mean to Fems, but the drag queen/barbie doll look with the make-up, dresses with cleavage, and high heels was treated with suspicion — were/are these women really Lesbians? Well, a lot decided not to be. How we choose to look does say a lot. Of course Lesbians are suspicious when a woman chooses to fit in so extremely with male standards. I have dear friends who look like that who I do trust, but I don’t hear them putting Butches down.

    I’ve been at too many Lesbian events where Butches are fair game for ridicule and criticism, but the same Lesbians get nasty at the slightest mention of wanting communities without trannies.

  35. Bev Jo Says:

    Now, the details.

    A major problem was that the workshops were not described. No paper available. All there was was one wall with descriptions, but not all were listed. You just could not tell by the titles, and some by African American Lesbians were not clear if the workshops were open to all.

    Friday: I went to the panel workshop “Fighting for my wife, fighting for my life,” which was about lack of imigration rights.

    Then “Owning your birthday suit: embodiment for masculine of center folks.” Right there I feel excluded because I am NOT “masculine of center.” I am all female and that is Butch and Lesbian. So here, we are lectured about our “cocks,” as if we all do sado-masochism. The good parts were dividing into pairs to look into each other’s eyes, and do other things. I felt a nice connection, but it got hard when it became more physical. That was the only hostile Butch I experienced there, and others had a problem with that one. The workshop had a lot of potential, but I think too much time was wasted. We also had to write a phrase about ourselves that others read. My saying I was attracted to Butches was not read. Deliberate?

    Then the Town Hall Forum, where we got to speak briefly. This is where I was able to say how I objected to the male-identifed-ness of the conference and give my pro-female, pro-Lesbian, pro-Butch, anti-trans politics. Q rushed over to hug and support me, even though we disagree. I felt welcomed and respected there in a way I never did at the BN meetings.

    Lunch with buddies, and then we waited for the next workshop that didn’t happen.

    Keynote with Alice Y. Hom, who spoke about her dear friend and ex-lover who was another Asian Butch, and who had killed herself in 2009. I really appreciated a lot of what she said, but again the male-identified focus was hard.

    Singles dinner where the couple came and harassed me about dildos.

    I left to go to SF to hear my dear friends Judea Eden and Amy Meyers play and be in that much more loving community. (Yes, they are extreme Fem, but very Lesbian.)

    Saturday: Defining Class for our Butch selves, by Bo Brown. This was interesting but there were so many of us that just saying one sentence took up most of the time. There seemed to be a divide between those who were saying all could become rich and those who were saying they did not want to assimilate and lose their culture. I agreed with the latter group and met some lovely Tongan, Samoan, Metis, Latina, and African-American Lesbians. Some cried from pain. One very dignified, older African American writer said she was afraid to put a photo of her Butch self on her new book because then it might not sell. She is so handsome, so what a shame that she has to even worry about that. But of course she does.

    Meeting with BN, where I felt shut down and wished I’d gone to the “Bromance” workshop.

    I hung out with friends and wandered around since none of the workshops seemed right and I was too tired and stressed to think.

    Keynote by Sharon Bridgforth, which was excellent, except again the required “masculine” definition. There is nothing masculine about these Butches!!!

    I rushed off with friends to see Vicci Martinez play at the nearby Oakland Art and Soul festival that had a Lesbian stage.

    BV entertainment in a theatre, with comedy, music, skits, etc. It was mostly very good. Fun to just rest. I’m chronically sick, so the chemical exposures, lack of food, and incredible stress took a toll.

    Sunday:

    I just made it in time for the BN panel, where we were mostly an audience when we needed to talk. I hated hearing Jeanne’s repeat of her 2009 speech implicating us all in being sexist to Fems. I protested that I have not seen that but certainly have seen the reverse, but no response. I tried to talk with some individuals separately, but it seemed hopeless.

    Then the end meeting with both groups, which was maddening. First the BV team. Then a moderator who controlled it with therapy language and stopped the flow of discussion by telling us to breathe. Over and over. I wanted to hear both sides just talk to each other, to really find out what this was about and so we could ask questions (because I still don’t see a real difference.)

    Jeanne started speaking, but someone yelled out at her, so she stopped. We encouraged her to continue. After much therapy waste of time, she continued. We never did find out details that we needed to know. Then several were given 30 seconds. An extreme Fem lectured us about her Butches in such a hateful, possessive and patronizing way. It was so frustrating. Then it was over. I still do not know who to believe. I know who I feel love from and toward: Mary, Q, Stacy.

    I was left feeling loss. So much wasted. No opportunity to have spontaneous workshops. It felt much more vibrant last time. Was that because of the split? The cost was a serious problem, but Joe said no one would be turned away. My workshop was again refused, but I persisted in getting a free ticket. I found the website incredibly intimidating and parts did not respond to “click.” If I had not had personal email, I would have given up. Maybe a lot did? That would be a shame.

    I think the most important thing was that the event happened and should continue.

    But my advice is: Butches need something of our own. We have almost nothing. We are reviled, hated, and lied about in patriarchy and also in the Lesbian community. Some objectify and pornify us, but that isn’t an improvement. We have almost no written material that represents us. The “classics,” like “The Persistent Desire,” I find incredibly Butch-hating and stereotyping. Also, “Dagger,” which is done by bisexuals and posing Fems with a photo of a Fem on the cover. “Stone Butch Blues” by Leslie Feinberg, who supports men saying they are Lesbians over Butches. Most of what is written about us is by sado-masochist bisexuals, FTMs, and Butch-haters.

    Why not have a Butch conference only for Butches? In an effort to be “inclusionary,” too many Butches are excluded. The FTMS and genderqueers have the rest of the “community,” as do Fems. Not one workshop on female-identified Butches, but two on pregnancy? Over a hundred came to the previous female-identified workshop. Wouldn’t that be important to repeat? As a lifelong Butch, I didn’t feel represented as a Butch by one workshop.

    I recommend that all the workshops be by female-identified Butches only. Not FTMs, who decided to not be us anyway and are mostly Fem. Not “genderqueer” or “bois,” who are mostly Fem. Yes, of course, Studs, Aggressives, etc. who are terms used by the Butch cultures oppressed by racism. But none who are not truly Butch. I was going to say then open it up when all the Butch workshops are filled, but I’m guessing that if the right advertizing goes out, the response would be an incredible diversity of Butch workshops, on so many topics.

  36. DM Says:

    Interesting how some of these folks would reject the terms Butch, Lesbian, and Dyke on the grounds that they bring up past stigmas, or are triggering, or politicizing (or whatever excuse they are using), yet many of the same people constantly use the term Queer, with its long history of being used as a homophobic, often violent slur. Looks like it depends on which words you’re “reclaiming”.

    • FeistyAmazon Says:

      I agree there, I HATE the term Queer, and my own mother used it against me….Dyke has a PROUD herstory, as does Butch, which is what I am, a proud DykeAmazon Butch…and I don’t know where Joe gets off eliminating the terms Butch, Stud, Aggressive because we get shit on the street and in our lives for identifying such, and then melding and invisibilizing these identities for Masculine of Center! Makes no sense to me! Part of being Butch has ALWAYS BEEN standing up for ourselves, and for other womyn! No matter the opposition, but NOT suppressing our identities further, Joe doesn’t have to spare me.

      There are many times I’ve told folks: “I’m NOT Queer, I’m a DYKE!”, cuz Queer these days can mean just about anything.

      Just two things I need to address: all the LeatherDykes I know(and I know many) do NOT use Nazi paraphenalia or swastikas, many are from Jewish backgrounds including myself and would be offended to see them at ANY public venue, party or event. That incident occurred with Pat Califia and Gayle Rubin 30 years ago, and neither are active participants in the LeatherDyke community any longer. Pat is now FTM and ailing from fibromyalgia, and Gayle is mostly a recluse.

      Please do not demonize our LeatherDyke sisters, as there are those of us who are strongly womon/Butch identified, and of course those who are not….ALL Female Centered Butches need to come together to counter the deadly effect that hormones, surgeries and invisibilization that is happening to our Butch Dyke communities, like villifying the words Lesbian and Feminist. Let’s not villify each other any longer…..even if we do disagree on particulars.

      I’m thinking also that there needs to be completely separate conferences, those for us who ARE FEmale Centered and proud Butches, and those who choose to genderqueer, transition, ect. because really we ARE going into two different directions, one with the identification of male, the other with fully embracing our Female bodies/minds/spirits and our rich Butch and Dyke herstories and NOT invisibilizing our Femaleness. Once we stand strong within ourselves and OUR Female Proud Butch communities, then and only then can we choose whether to be in coalition or not…I am NO LONGER WILLING TO BE ERASED for others’ convenience.
      -Proud Butch DykeAmazon,
      -FeistyAmazon

  37. SheilaG Says:

    I don’t recall the 70s being butch hating at all. I don’t know where these sterotypes come from. We were actually united in the use of the term radical lesbian feminist. It was very simple.

    I don’t recall ever seeing many Femme looking women in the movement. No make-up on anyone, no talk of babies, no dildos, none of that garbage. No weird sex being thrown at people. I recall a great sense of connection and solidarity among all the lesbians, and we all came from very different backgrounds. We were united because we read, we knew the principles of lesbian feminism, we wanted a world free of woman hatred, sexism, and a world where all women were equal with each other. It seems that getting women on the same page with that… well I blame the weird sexualization of lesbian worlds on the creepy sexually degraded gay men. I didn’t come across any BDSM nonsense until when I moved to Los Angeles. I avoided the leather weird stuff in San Francisco.
    We were dykes, separatists, feminists. Men were not allowed anywhere near us. Back in the day, almost all the women had a butch type look and NO women wore high heels or dresses!

  38. FeistyAmazon Says:

    I know this post is a little weird. Read it from top down. This is probably why Butch Voices forced a confidentiality agreement. It talks about ‘branding’, ‘being on message’ and everything else that bothered many of us from a supposed grassroots volunteer organization. This is a marketing company that had a pro-bono agreement with Butch Voices(probably somebody standing to make some money off the advertising). This is the only way I could cut and paste this info, but I thought it was an interesting factoid in just how corporate Butch Voices was trying to be. -FeistyAmazon

    ABOUT

    ARDOR

    BRAND

    PR

    &

    MARKETING

    Ardor

    Brand

    PR

    &

    Marketing

    provides

    a

    real–‐time,

    hands–‐on

    approach

    to

    growing

    your

    brand’s

    web

    presence,

    brand

    and

    product

    placement,

    and

    specialized

    public

    relations

    and

    marketing

    services.

    BUTCH

    Voices

    is

    an

    Ardor

    Brand,

    PR

    &

    Marketing

    pro–‐bono
    client.

  39. FeistyAmazon Says:

    only way I could save and cut and paste it unfortunately..but exposes the kind of corporate agenda and this company probably getting alot of free advertising as a result, that somebody at the upper echelons either works for or owns…

    • GallusMag Says:

      The BV secrecy and intellectual property agreements are insane. Excerpts:

      “Intellectual Property shall include any intellectual property created by me:
      (i) in the course of Volunteer Service or using BUTCH Voices’ time, equipment, information or materials, and
      (ii) within one (1) year after termination of Volunteer Service and relating directly to work done during Volunteer Service.
      Termination of Volunteer Service must be made expressly, in writing.
      Intellectual Property may be in any form, including but not limited to written, oral, electronic, digital or other form.”

      “6. Survival of Obligations and Enforcement
      The obligations that I have under this Agreement shall survive the termination of Volunteer Service, regardless of the reasons or method of termination. I agree that BUTCH Voices shall be entitled to recover from me all attorneys’ fees incurred in enforcing BUTCH Voices’ rights under this Agreement.
      I represent that the above restrictions are necessary to protect BUTCH Voices’ legitimate interests, and that these restrictions will not prevent me from earning a livelihood”

      The full pdf text:

      http://www.butchvoices.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/bv2011_team_packet.pdf

  40. Bev Jo Says:

    I really agree with you, Sheila, old style Butch.

    I disagree about the “demonizing” of sado-masochists. I was here in 1979 and saw the beginning of the takeover which led to where we are now, where most Lesbians don’t even have an idea of what liberal feminism is, let alone radical feminism. (By the way, I forgot to say that Jeanne says that everyone can and should be a feminist, which sums up my problem with BN.)

    “Leather” is a euphemism, which denies non-sado-masochist use of leather. Leather was an original part of our Dyke identity. Feisty came into our community later, after the take-over started. “Sado-masochism” better describes what I’ve witnessed and experienced. The whole idea, after all did come from the Marquise de Sade, as the extreme Fem patronizingly told me.

    We wrote about all this in our chapter in our book, “S/M = Sadism and Masochism = Heterosexism.”

    The use of nazi paraphenalia is widespread among sado-masochists and certainly didn’t stop with Califia. (I’m sorry if I don’t have much sympathy with her “ailing” from what I’ve been ailing from for thirty years, and which I partly blame on the stress of that time. She carved a swastika non-consensually into her Jewish lover’s back! Has anyone read the gang rape scene in her “Macho Sluts?” She’s a bisexual Fem FTM who has given a bad name to Butches.) Nazi-style leather caps are standard among Lesbian sado-masochists, just like the gay men wear. So are the other images.

    The sado-masochist culture, which came directly from gay men, brought everything into our community that led up to FTMs. It destroyed our Lesbian Feminist community. It supported the “everything goes” attitude that was a return to role-playing, bisexuality, etc.

    From what I could tell, almost everyone at the conference is a sado-masochist. That was part of the dildo adoration. All the prick and “cock” talk is the epitome of sado-masochism. That is the worst kind. Role-playing is sado-masochist. I felt more alone because of the sado-masochists there. They were the majority, including those who identified as bois, FTMs, and male. Do you really think they can play with male identity, including family rape scenes, and not have it damage them?

    It’s not “demonizing” to talk about our history. I have yet to meet a sado-masochist who does not act sadistic non-consensually. I know quite a few who agree with me about this. They also agree with me that it is highly addictive.

    It is also absolutely mainstream and their is no escaping it anywhere — not in the media, not in public, not with Lesbians. The jokes and innuendos are everywhere.

    And you all know what they say about us, to shame us, to intimidate us, which is very sado-masochist? They call us vanilla, which is racist, denying the Lesbians against sado-masochism who are oppressed by racism. They say it to tell us we are passionless and boring compared to their “sex positive” attitudes.


    • I’m pretty sure that “vanilla” comes from the fact that’s sometimes used as a synonym for “plain” or “bland”. So the implication isn’t that everyone who criticises sadomasochism is white, but that anyone who doesn’t get off on pain is boring (which is still pretty messed up).

  41. Bev Jo Says:

    I’m sorry, but this is the one of the only places I feel safe to talk about this. I have had HORRIFIC experiences with being bullied and taunted in the Radical Lesbian Feminist and Separatist community by sado-masochists. I’ve worked on projects to build radical Lesbian and feminist community where sado-masochists came deliberately to destroy it. And then there are the less obvious ones who still have done so much damage, and, as some have admitted in interviews, just because they enjoyed pitting Lesbians against each other.

  42. Bev Jo Says:

    So our friend was right, that it’s about business, meaning money. I never think of these things, but some have made quite the high-paying careers by co-opting our Lesbian movement. And of course you have to be “inclusive” to get the money. Any info on how much Kate Kendall gets?

  43. FeistyAmazon Says:

    go on http://www.ardorbrand.com and guess who has projects being managed through it? Krys Freeman. So there you go….

  44. Bev Jo Says:

    Thank you for finding all this out, Feisty. I know we have our differences, but I certainly appreciate where we agree, and your love for females, Lesbians, and Butches.

    Now, can anyone explain in very simple language what the situation with BV about the money means, which might help us understand the split.

  45. enadai Says:

    http://ardorbrand.wordpress.com/2011/07/

    Ardor Brand blog. “we’ve had a lot commotion with one of our non-profit clients, BUTCH Voices, …”

  46. Bev Jo Says:

    A friend just sent me this post from last year from Val. (Unfortunately, the exquisite photo won’t copy.) But she says it SO well…

    “Now doesn’t that look like something you could get your lips around?

    I guess I’m not very sexxxay. If I were, I’d ‘spice things up’, sexxxay style, with bits of broken glass, razor blades, and all the urine and faeces they claim to like so much.

    Nah, boring ol’ Val will just have to suffer through life with that plain, smooth, sweet, creamy vanilla; licking it, letting it melt on my tongue, again and again and again…”

    http://wewillnot.wordpress.com/2010/08/30/mmm-vanilla/

  47. SheilaG Says:

    Vanilla refers to bland not a white person. Although white people can be deadly dull, and this dullness maintains white supremacy.

    Following the money behind these lesbians conflicts is very useful. Just checking out the pay structure of gay and lesbian non-profits will reveal quite a bit, also how groups labeled “lesbian” spend the majority of the time working for gay male rights or trans rights. It’s all about getting grant money, and they use “demographics” to get the dollars. It’s why lesbian organizations hire none lesbians. We can’t even control our own institutions anymore.

    So anytime there is a lot of secrecy or signing disclosure agreements, it’s about a small group wanting to profit from the “brand.” Perhaps they wanted Butch Voices to go national and become the “lesbian brand.” Seeing all this monetary shilly shallying around made me disgused with the actual service lesbians are getting in these so-called “community” organizations.

    So while sadism took over or leather NAZI caps… we lost out on what real lesbian sisterhood is all about, and it has nothing to do with this pathetic posturing… or the leather fettish “industry.” Or the creepy Pat Califias of this world.

    When you beat someone up or carve something on a woman’s skin, this is not making love, this is porn sactioned violence, and it will seep in and take over everything in its path. Creepy, creepy and not at all feminist.

  48. kesechewan Says:

    When you beat someone up or carve something on a woman’s skin, this is not making love, this is porn sactioned violence, and it will seep in and take over everything in its path. Creepy, creepy and not at all feminist.

    ##

    Why Sheila, what a perceptive and accurate comment. I agree with you!

    The owner of Ardor marketing is a (insert qualifier) Lesbian. You’ll find her on Facebook.

  49. Bev Jo Says:

    I wanted to clarify something I wrote earlier. When I said “I have yet to meet a sado-masochist who does not act sadistic non-consensually. I know quite a few who agree with me about this. They also agree with me that it is highly addictive,” I meant to say that I know quite a few SADO-MASOCHISTS who agree with me about it being acted out emotionally in a non-consensual way, and that it is addicitive — once you start, the tendency is to get increasingly extreme with it. And the pressure is there from others, which I think is coming from some of the same ones who pressure Lesbian to “transition.”

  50. amy Says:

    Its interesting to me, the separation between butches and ftms. In particular how these differences play out in content offered at a conference. I’m mtf transgendered but not ts. I myself can see the very distinct boundary that is drawn between ts and non ts in my own mtf community and I find it quite troublesome. TSs thinking non TSs are just men in dresses. They have this attitude that they are “real women” and won’t socialize with those that aren’t on HRT. perhaps I don’t want to change my body but I’m uncomfortable with being considered a man. Anyway, I was at SCC conference for FTMs and MTFs. The realized that I have no desire to go to the lectures as they fall into two categories. 1) transsexual resources and experiences. 2) support for non transsexuals who have families. There seemed to be little offered to the lifelong mtf who doesn’t transition even though a majority of those attending the conference fall in that category. Perhaps there is nothing for us…after all most in society things we are just men in dresses and unworthy of any respect.

  51. Bev Jo Says:

    Men in dresses get far more respect than most women and Lesbians.

  52. lindsey Says:

    I do not get all this, why carnt butch women just get on with being themselves and stop calling ftm’s women who want male priviledge. The trans thing is something separate, if your a butch woman you dont become trans to get male privilege, transmen are not lesbians to start with. There is a big difference between wanting to wear mens clothes over your female body and wanting a male body. It is likley that the trans community might get it in for butch looking women, not because of the way you look but because of the things butch women keep saying about trans people. Its hard enougth to live as a masculine woman as it is, last thing we need is butch women spouting hate to ftm’s. Im a masculine woman but i dont fit the butch mould as nature did not make me masculine enougth. I would feel restricted in the butch and femme community as i dont want to be told that i have to date femme or that im not butch enougth. I also do not want to be told that only femmes can recieve. And i dont want to be told one minute that butch women are rejecting male dominated ideas of femininity, only to be told the next minute that the politics of butch women go out the window when it comes to sex.

    I SEE A PARADOX THE SIZE OF A SUPERMASSIVE BLACK HOLE!

    If butch women are rejecting gender roles of male dominated society, why do you not see your femme partners as oppressed. Why arnt you helping them become butch and freeing them too from the trap of femininity. No one can stand up and say the butch and femme community is libarating just because it is made up of women born women.

    Im a masculine woman, i like to wear modern mens clothes that fit me, i like to wear my hair short, i like my muscles to be toned and my body without curves, but i dont wish to change sex as i want to be masculine and female. I have no issue with FTM’s, and i would partner with another woman like myself, i would not demand another woman preform the femininity i reject(or maybe never had to reject), i dont think that butch and femme have to go together. That would be like saying man and woman have to go together.

  53. lmo Says:

    I am really late to the dance, but I have to say that as a butch-loving femme, I’m honestly shocked by the claim that femininity is what men “force” on women and an aspect of patriarchy. There IS most definitely MASCULINE privilege, and I consider masculinity and femininity to be entirely divorced from maleness and femaleness, and the categories of ‘man’ and ‘woman.’ The idea that butchness is closer to what women would be if not “forced” into femininity is incredibly insulting and femmephobic. My femininity is strong and pure and real and it runs deep and allows me to nurture my butch partner, to heal others, and to experience my personal, unique womanhood fully, and it has nothing to do with what’s been forced on me.

  54. lmo Says:

    Also, how is saying that butch is what women would “really” be if not for patriarchy NOT misogynist?! I was raped and physically abused by a former butch partner. I know from experience that butches are most definitely capable of misogyny.

  55. Bev Jo Says:

    I don’t believe that those in the oppressed position who are daring to talk about that are “phobic” towards those in the privileged position.

    The Butch-hating propaganda is so intense in patriarchy that Butches aren’t even allowed to be portrayed in the mainstream media OR “Lesbian” media. That is pretty bad oppression. If there is a reference to Butches, we’re a joke.

    So we aren’t allowed to be seen, and yet the lies about who we are, are piled on. Very much as how Lesbians have been treated in patriarchy, though much worse. One of the main lies is equating Butches as being like our enemies/attackers — men — which is incredibly insulting. Of course there is outrage if any of us dare to say that it’s Butches who most refuse male rules, and so are closer to what all females would be if it wasn’t for patriarchy. Women who embrace male rules in terms of male-defined false “femininity” of course are actually more “male.” But that is typical of patriarchal mind-fuck. And what is “misogynist” about objecting to Butch-hating?

    Most women don’t even know what a Butch is. Some of the worst misogynists and abusers who have been called Butch, aren’t, like Pat Califia.

    One of the Butch-hating myths is that only Fems are nurturers. No one is saying Butches are perfect or capable of abuse, but why say an abuser is Butch? Is she even Butch? Do we really have to name all the Fem abusers? Why so target and malign an entire group who is so feared, hated, and lied about that we are not even allowed to be seen in the media? Any media. What does it do to Butch girls growing up completely alone with no others like them to see or be around, not even in films, tv, etc. What other group of women are so threatening that their existence is so lied about and so denied?

  56. lmo Says:

    The answer to your question about ‘naming fem abusers,’ is, in my mind, yes, of course–abusers should always be named, and I’m shocked that a fellow woman would actually encourage another to NOT name an abuser as just that, whether she is butch or not. I understand that butches are often maligned in the media–but you are seriously advocating that I not call out an abuser’s misogyny and sexual violence because the group she belongs to is maligned?! I am never going to stay silent about abuse no matter who commits the abusive act. I’m not going to protect an abuser because she’s butch.

    And I think it depends on what you mean by privilege. I am married to a butch. She has most certainly been attacked by men, verbally and physically, for being butch. She has not experienced the same level of sexualization and objectification that I have due to my femme appearance (which I could not change if I tried any more than she can change hers). When she walks down the street, she is yelled at for being butch and threatened with physical violence; when I walk down the street, I am threatened with sexual violence, catcalled, and touched inappropriately. Within the lesbian community, her voice is most definitely heard more often than mine and she is considered extremely desirable, while I am assumed to not be a lesbian, to be bisexual, to not be “enough” of a lesbian, etc. These are real experiences and I am shocked by the level of anger towards femmes in these comments, when we are dykes too who also experience violence against women. I don’t have any status or money from my past fictional “husbands,” which were some of the other accusations. I’m not saying these things are never true, but I’ve honestly never met a femme who was anything but an extremely strong defender of butches in every situation and a fierce butch ally. I’d be shocked to meet one, and would put her in her place. I’ve met some women who claimed to be “femme” but were actually bisexual or straight, so that might be where these claims are coming from, but there are actual femme dykes out there.

  57. lmo Says:

    I guess also my real question has to do with what you said about “is that abuser even butch?” Well, yes, she was, in the sense that she indeed called herself butch and lived as a butch dyke and was received by the public and the lesbian community as one. I don’t know if you’d give her the title of ‘butch’ were you to meet her and interact with her. But as for the accusations about femmes, how do we actually know who a femme is or isn’t? My partners have all called themselves butches, and I’m sure some of them would be considered “real” butches and some would not. I’m sure that some of the people you’re discussing who call themselves “femme,” or who you assume are femme from their appearance, don’t deserve the title of femme dyke and/or don’t actually identify that way, or I would not consider them to be “real” femmes if I met them. So I could just as easily say that the commenters here are attributing abuse to people who aren’t actually femmes.

  58. lmo Says:

    And one last comment about your argument about butches in the media–I totally agree with you on that, but would say that femmes aren’t on television or in movies/the media either, at least not that I’ve seen. There are so-called “lesbians” who are pretty and wear makeup, but those are not FEMMES–they’re just objects for men, the male fantasy of lesbianism. It’s just another way for women to be used. Butches are invisible in the media, it’s definitely true, and feminine “lesbians” (not “femmes,” as I’ve never seen any femme-identified person on TV or in any media outlets) are only there to titillate men.


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