Sunday, September 09, 2007

My Tomboy/Soft-Butch Teen-Aged Years

As a teen, I was very butch as far as how I presented...inasmuch as my mother allowed me to be. Fortunately, I didn't get the breasts that other girls were developing, so I was able to just cover them with muscle shirts. To this day, I can still fit a "training bra". I refused to wear a dress other than the couple of hours a week when I was required to go to church. I didn't shave or wear make-up or purses or shoes with heels.

In high school I did okay until they adopted a uniform policy. It caused a bit of trouble for me because I didn't want to wear the cutesy plaid wrap-skirt that the school had picked out for the girls to wear. Instead, I wore the boy's uniform. The school tried to prevent me from wearing it but my mom intervened on my behalf.

I remember my favorite time of the school year was Spirit Week because there was a different theme for each day, one of which was "Opposite Sex Day". Lots of girls would come to me and ask to help them with their clothes or have me draw a moustache on their face with their make-up pencils. It was the one day of the year where I felt like it wasn't just okay to be me but actually GOOD to be who I was. I was able to be a girl and fit in without having to be femme.

Over the past five or so years, I've become more femme-looking but it still pains me to hear about what many butch women experience every day. I remember how it felt when I was constantly being called "dyke" or "dyke-bitch" whenever someone wanted to insult me. In that environment, it was impossible to convince myself that it was okay to be me. It was like, to them, having any sort of "questionable" sexuality was bad enough but to have the audacity to not try and cover that fact up by looking feminine...well, that was more than they could/would tolerate.

Wouldn't you know, it was always the girls who used that as an insult. It was a non-issue for most of the boys; They never seemed put-off by how I looked. I really wish we (women) could get to the point where we stopped being so concerned about how other people present themselves to the world. I think this would make the planet a lot easier to deal with for many people.

8 comments:

belledame222 said...

yeah, that is interesting. it's funny, i had sort of the opposite experience: i was always a femmey girl so that even though i writhed with internalized homophobia and terror of being Found Out, I -never- got called a dyke. There were one or two sort of paranoid moments in junior high, locker room shit, but that was more garden-variety bullying, and i still don't remember me being called the word. it was like, sneers and innuendo as a way of upping the ante, and it didn't last very long. funny, eh?

on the whole i think femmey boys were much MUCH more ferociously policed, though.

Renegade Evolution said...

Bint, perish the thought...apparently we are not ALLOWED not to jump all over eachother for our appearances and choices in clothing!

misscripchick said...

mmm, i'm getting ready to do a paper on how the image of femininity impacts women. it's amazing how much women have evolved over the years, yet this ideology still affects us today.

we had genderbender day once and the homophobic school administrators decided it was too radical to every do again. gotta love the south.

bint alshamsa said...

I think you're right Belle. I don't know how to say this nicely but I am really surprised that their suicide rates aren't higher than what they are. People are vicious.

Natalie said...

I'm so glad that your mother was on your side and stood up for you. Too often that doesn't happen.

bint alshamsa said...

Yeah, I really was lucky. I have very mixed feelings about my relationship with my mother. She would never approve of me being anything other than het but she never said anything at all about the relationships that I had with girls who were fairly open about being gay. I guess you could say we had our very own "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. It wasn't perfect but it sure as hell could have been a lot worse, especially given our religious affiliation.

Anonymous said...

MY GOD U TYPE OF NEGROS KILL ME. U SEARCH SO HARD FOR A REASON TO IDENTIFY WITH ANY OTHER RACE MORE SO THAN UR OWN. "IM MIXED WITH INDIAN, IRISH, FRENCH ETC ETC" WELL GUESS WHAT BITCH, EVERYONES MIXED WITH A LITTLE OF SOMETHING BUT THEY STILL CHOOSE TO IDENTIFY WITH THOSE THEY MOST FAVOR PHYSICALLY. EVERYONE BUT U FANCY MULLATOES. UR THE SCORGE OF THE BLACK RACE. SPREADING ALL THIS POISON TO BLACK CHILDREN ABOUT HOW U FEEL MORE COMFORTABLE IDENTIFING WITH WITH BASICALLY WHITE PEOPLE. LETS KEEP IT REAL. IT SENDS A BAD MESSAGE TO BLACK KIDS, ESPECIALLY THE DARKER SKINNED ONES. ITS PEOPLE LIKE U WHO HAVE CAUSED THE MOST PSYCHOLOGICAL HARM IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY. UR A CANCER. ITS TIME WE CUT U OUT.

bint alshamsa said...

If that's the way you feel, then why did you post anonymously? Why the cowardice? It's clear that you've been sitting here reading my blog, but you aren't so convinced of your argument that you are willing to stand by it.