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Skin: The Art of Avoiding Butch / Femme

Skin: The Art of Avoiding Butch / Femme

I struggle with the age-old butch/femme stigma endlessly.  Am I too boyish?  Too needy?  Too tough?  Too weak? The age old identity question pops up for a smallish-town gay girl.

I'm a chronic lip-gnawing, cuticle-biting, worrier.  I'm a painfully-perplexed Pisces.  A drifting dreamer. 

Right now it just feels like my mind is being grinded by a mortar and pestle.  I keep telling my girlfriend that this is the way I've always been, which is true.  I've always been unsure, under-confident, and never satisfied with my status in life.  It's not just that I can't find my dream job and that the job I do have, I hate; or that I barely make enough to cover the rent.  It's that I can't find comfort in my own skin. 

I struggle with the age-old butch/femme stigma endlessly.  Am I too boyish?  Too needy?  Too tough?  Too weak?  When I slide on my skinny jeans, a deep-v, and some colorful high-tops I know I feel more comfortable than if I were donning a plunge-neck halter dress and heels.  I spend 15 minutes mussing my hair and adjusting my tits so that I don't look too busty for my own fickle taste.

Why does it matter so much?  I try so hard to walk the line of androgyny.  I don't consider myself butch or femme.  Oh sure, many say they don't label people or that they hate stereotyping, but everyone does it.  First impressions are full of judgments and assessments.  When people glance at me, I want them to take a closer look.  I want to dress to impress, dance to entrance, and screw to construe that I'm not a top or bottom.  I'm comfortable on my back or taking the lead in the horizontal-boogie.  I need to be adored and told I'm beautiful, and I need to be able to arm wrestle and win at least half of the time.  I don't want to dine at either end of the table, I want to sit smack-dab in the middle and have a feast.

I like flowers and puppies.  I like beer-chugging and belching. 

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I know there must be others out there like me.  I know I'm not unusual, but when you live in a town with only one tiny dyke bar you tend to feel like you're stuck in the 60's.  Butches courting femmes.  Mullets and crew cuts galore.  High heels dancing with tawny hiking boots.  It's enough to make me hitch-hike to the dreams I've made myself believe exist in L.A. from watching too much L Word.  I tell myself there'd be more to do, that only there would my dance rendition of "Billie Jean," truly be appreciated.  Where I could wear my skin-tight, stone-washed, pink skinny jeans, and make out with my girlfriend anytime or anywhere and no one would even bat an eyelash. 

I'm stuck in this gritty city, but more than that I'm stuck in me.  I'm stubborn and I like me that way.  While I'll lay down to get what any lip gloss-toting, long and slender fingered siren would give to me; I won't lay down to being butch or femme.  I'm tired of worrying about what others think of me.  I don't want to be afraid that my girlfriend will leave me for someone stronger, or even someone more weak but willing to admit it.  I've spent so much time trying to fit into some role that I think I've somehow lost sight of who I really am...and who I am is neither.  I'm comfy in the middle.  If I can accept me for what I am then everyone else should be able to as well. 

When I came out I jumped in with both feet.  I wasn't even that scared.  I was so relieved that my naivety was completely on the back burner.  I never thought I'd worry about what kind of shoes I was wearing or how much make-up I had on.  It never occurred to me that my hair cut could say so much about my sexual desires.  All I knew was that I wanted to be with a girl.  At the very least, that's one thing I'm still definitely sure of. 

With the New Year I can only hope that I'll lay down my weapons of mass self-destruction and find peace in the middle. 

I hope that we all can be comfortable in our own skin.

There's a girl out there for all of us.  Butch, Femme, or somewhere in the land of in between.  Does it really matter all that much?

I be me and you be you. 

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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Abagail Waller