Tag Archives: jillian michaels

How Butch Are You?

Plenty of readers have asked me a variety of this question: How do I know if I am butch? How do I know if someone else is butch? Why don’t people know I am butch? Or, what about lesbians that look butch, but don’t identify as butch? “Well, she is wearing a vest, after all!” And, what about lesbians that identify as butch, but no one sees them as such? “You can’t be butch, you have a purse!”

As I am now clearly the worldwide expert on this (NOT!), I do feel compelled to try to answer. And, frankly, I am honoured (trying to appeal to my newly broadened audience with a more international spelling) that any of you would ask for my opinion. My hope is that this blog will start a lively conversation and that a LOT of you will comment on this post, adding your view and opinions to what I have to say. As I have said before, there are many ways to be butch, and there is no right way. And, it is definitely more than the clothes. That is just the wrapper on the yummy butchness inside.

It comes down to two things, IMHO

It comes down to two things, IMHO

Being butch, in my opinion, is about two things. How you see yourself and how others see you. Of course the first one is the only one that matters; but the second is important if you want to appear to the world in a way that is congruent with your view of yourself.

1.  How You See Yourself

Michelle Pfeiffer isn't butch just because you put her in a suit.

Michelle Pfeiffer isn’t butch just because you put her in a suit. And, meow!

So, how do you see yourself? Do you feel butch? Do you like the label, tag, or identification of butch? Does it feel like it fits you? That’s the crux. If you feel like a butch, but you wear dresses, good for you. If you feel like a femme, but wear only men’s suits and fantastic vests, good for you. You alone define yourself.

I spend a lot of time on my blog “defining” what it means to be butch, but this is always tongue in cheek. You can read some of these, like How to Be Butch* (http://wp.me/p27vDp-3W) and I am a Butch (http://wp.me/p27vDp-3W). I am simply defining what it means to me, and of course, trying to do it in a way that is amusing for all of you (or maybe most of you? Some of you?). For example, I don’t wear lipstick or makeup (except for eyeliner, which I call “guyliner”). I wear all men’s clothes. I have super short hair (a Mohawk, to be precise). I am bigger and taller than most of my friends, many men included. I like to be strong and want muscles. But that is just me. There are a tremendous variety of lesbians who are butch that would take exception to much of that. Again, it only matters how you see yourself. Do you feel butch?

2.  How Others See You

kd lang didn't become a femme when she put this dress on - my favorite song of hers, btw.

kd lang didn’t become a femme when she put this dress on – my favorite song of hers, btw.

As humans, we have a need to label and categorize ourselves and others. Yes, labels are bad. No one fits precisely into any one category, but don’t hate. You know it’s true. You walk down the street and you see someone, anyone, and you assess them in a split second. Safe, dangerous, attractive, ugly, straight, gay, athlete, lazy, rich, poor, smart, dumb. Translation: desirable or undesirable. Of course, the classifications are much more complex – a handsome, straight, well-educated, well-off, married man. And, so on. While you’re doing it, so is everyone else. Making judgments about you based solely on how you dress, walk, look, and talk. Most people probably see me and think, “There is a big, butch dyke.” [Note: To our ally readers, don’t use the word “dyke” unless your lesbian friend told you it was ok to use it, and then, only use it with her. It’s hate speech and with a butch, it might get you punched in the face.] I’d rather it was, “There is a handsome, dashing, well-educated, charming single butch.” We can all dream. How do people see you? Do your friends think you are butch? What does your mom think? Side note here, my 9-year old recently told a lady at Nordstrom that her mom is butch. I am lucky because the way I see myself lines up with the way others see me – as Über Butch. Whew.

The vast majority of lesbians that I know define themselves as neither butch nor femme. It is much more common to simply consider oneself a lesbian. There is a spectrum of lesbians. On one end of the spectrum are the most masculine lesbians who identify as butch – maybe 15% of the lesbian population. On the other far end of the spectrum are the most feminine lesbians – maybe 15%. But the vast majority of lesbians (70%) would fall somewhere in the middle. I am just picking numbers based on my experiences, no research or anything. This article needs citations!

I have no idea how Jillian Michaels defines herself. She might not look butch in those dresses, but her attitude and poise are hella butch. Hey girl!

I have no idea how Jillian Michaels defines herself. She might not look butch in those dresses, but her attitude and poise are hella butch. Hey girl!

3. But, Who Cares?

The bottom line is that there is no one way to be butch. For me, being butch means that I want to take care of the woman I love – to protect her. I want to be bigger and stronger. Sometimes when I am lifting, I want to pound my chest and roar (Jillian would probably approve). As dumb as that is, I want a woman who thinks it’s cute – or maybe even hot. I want to open the doors. I want her to wear heels, lipstick, dresses. But that’s just me! How about you? What makes you butch?

I would like to add that there are gobs of lesbians that are more butch than me, and I am good with that. Butches, we are good. No need to track me down in a bar, or (gulp) side street and challenge my butchness. You win! Please don’t come looking for me unless you want to grab a beer. If you are butcher than me, I will buy…

Some random blogger's shirt. Heh!

Some random blogger’s shirt. Heh!

I would also like to add that if any of you think you might be a femme, but aren’t sure and would like help figuring it out, come looking for me! I am available for consultations, including door opening, and roaring. We will get you through this – together.

It’s butch to define yourself. Be Butch.


Big Butches Do Cry

In certain circumstances, a butch is absolutely prohibited from shedding a tear. For example, while getting a tattoo.

Crying is forbidden – no matter how much it hurts – because you WANTED to get a tattoo. You chose to get a tattoo, and paid someone to give you one. No one cares that the pain is horrible and you just want to haul ass out of there and pound a few craft beers to get through it. No self-respecting butch can cry in that situation. If you do, just go ahead and give the tattoo artist your butch card before you high tail it out of there. You won’t be needing it anymore. I have gotten two tattoos, and they have both hurt like hell. The most recent tattoo was only a week ago. My gorgeous fiancé went with me and kept me company. I was doing my best to keep it together and not lose my butch card. Because she is wonderful and she saw me white-knuckling the chair with a desperate look in my eyes, she kept talking to me to distract me. It helped a lot. She left to go to the bathroom and I knew I was in trouble the second she walked away. Now that there was no gorgeous fiancé watching me, I was at serious risk of letting a few tears eek out. I kept it together though, and thankfully she came back pretty quickly. I sucked it up and was allowed to keep my butch card in my back pocket. Phew.

This painful tattoo experience got me thinking: when is it alright for a butch to cry?   Here are a few no brainers: (1) when your kids were born, (2) the Saints got crucified by Commissioner Dumb Ass – most likely resulting in a lost season, and (3) Ironman fell back through the hole in the atmosphere just before the portal closed and then was saved by the Hulk. So touching. Of course butches can cry at moments like those. It is perfectly acceptable. What I am talking about is good old-fashioned tears because we got injured, or are just plain sad. Revolutionary?

I think not. I may not cry that often, but I will burst into tears if I get injured (not like a paper cut, but actually hurt), or if my feelings get squashed. Probably not in front of you, mind you, but maybe later. This is sometimes challenging because it is hard for others to remember that butches do have feelings, and no matter how big and strong we are, crying is sometimes the result.

When we cry it is likely harder for us butches to explain it to you. “Why are you crying?” you might ask with all the sincerity in the world. But the honest answer might be, “I have no idea.”  Frustrating for you ladies, I think. Ironically, if we started crying during the tattoo torture, you would know exactly why – you just wouldn’t respect us!

Femmes and other non-butches tend to be much more in touch with their feelings. At least in my house, my gorgeous fiancé is very capable of putting into words what is upsetting her – whether it is some butch fail of mine, or something else entirely.  I am not so good at it.

Take the other day. My gorgeous fiancé and I are working with a personal trainer. She is very intense. The most intense trainer-type person I have ever worked with. Think Jillian Michaels. She is perfect for us because she pushes us really hard. I have written before about how strong my gorgeous fiancé is – stronger than I am in most ways. But I am very strong, too. Jillian knows this about both of us, and she knows what our goals are, so she is pushing. The other day, the workout was the most difficult that I have ever experienced. By a mile. As we were getting ready to stretch at the end, I started to cry. Not sobbing or anything, but my eyes filled up with tears that spilled over. I stopped at a machine to wipe my eyes (no crying in the gym!), and then went out to stretch. As I lay on the mat stretching my hamstrings, I couldn’t help it. The tears streamed down my face.

I have no idea why I was crying. I wasn’t hurt or injured. No one hurt my feelings. I wasn’t sad. I wasn’t crying because I was so proud of myself or emotional about doing all that I was asked to do, although I could get there perhaps if I stopped to ponder it for a while. None of those things. My gorgeous fiancé realized that I was crying and was understandably alarmed. “Are you ok? What’s wrong?” she asked me. “Yes, and I don’t know” were my honest replies.

If the situation were reversed, she would have been able to explain to me exactly the cause of her tears. I could not. I wanted to. I am not trying to be tough emotionally – that’s silly. I want to be able to share whatever I am feeling or experiencing with her, but I was at a total loss. Of course that made it worse – being confused. Ack!

I still haven’t figured it out. I realize that this may be frustrating for you, dear readers, but I don’t have an answer for you. If any of you have any ideas, please let me know! Anyway, I thought it would be good to remind the world that butches do cry. We try to hide it. We want you to think we are tough (we are tough), but we do cry. And sometimes we have no idea why.

It is butch to cry. Just make sure it’s not while you are getting a tattoo. Be butch.


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