Butch in the Woods

Moof wrote a great post (and drawing) about Trans visibility day (Happy Trans Visibility day everyone!), and the gender bias against femininity. Moof also had a quote from a friend – that riled me up a little – about how this person thinks ‘women are a bit inferior’; and about how when a boy plays with girl toys it’s worse than when a girl plays with boys toys – Because for a boy it’s perceived by some as taking a step down.

Simultaneously in an alternate social network universe, someone who is usually sort of androgynously hot posted a femme-femme photo that suddenly got an flurry of ‘likes’ & comments. The social network validation currency jackpot.

Rather ironically, being the closet misogynist that I am, as soon as I saw it I mentally dismissed it as a typical “Lesbian-in-recovery” photo.

You know,

“Hey guys, look at me! See? I still look girly. You can still fancy me.

I’m non-threatening. I’m one of you. The dark side hasn’t consumed me entirely.

Don’t be frightened. There’s no big black strap-on here.”

( I’m such an asshole 🙂 )

A friend I was debating this with said I was being a hater especially since the photo was getting so much positive feedback but I must strongly dispute that.

While I certainly have that delicious nugget of internal tick-tocking rage that bubbles up now and then, I don’t think I’m being a hater when I merely notice how overwhelming the positive response is to super-femme photos, especially when the person in question isn’t usually so inclined to being femme.

Androgynous or tom-boys who post the occasionally high femme photo ALWAYS gets positive responses. Always. I assure you. And I include myself because I’ve seen it play out on my own feed too.

They, (the likers and commenters) want to validate the typical femme look. Not consciously of course, but they would prefer the world was made up of ‘girls who look like girls’ and ‘boys who look like boys’.

That’s the right way. The non-threatening way. Finally, you’re playing ball.

When people compliment me when I dress femme (At all other times I dress just to get by) there is a subtle undercurrent of

“Why don’t you aways dress like this?

Why don’t you always leave your hair open?

Why don’t you always dress to please even if it means you are uncomfortable?”

And the praise is very seductive. Who doesn’t want to be praised and validated and told they look nice? We all do.

On the rare occasions I have dressed femme – which the ex prefers – I always feel like I’m faking it. The tragedy is that with my boobs, no ass and round lollipop head, femme is all I’ll ever have.

Andro will never work on me and it BREAKS MY FUCKING HEART. All I want is to look like Tilda Swinton, that genderless, mystical, magical, glorious alien goddess that she is, or like that beautiful alien boy-god on Stargate.

So while it may seem contradictory that someone saying femininity is inferior annoys me, then simultaneously when someone dresses feminine I’m equally annoyed (and by my own admission I’m andro biased) but allow me the chance to explain.

Part of the stereotypical ‘feminine’ look seems founded on discomfort or being impractical:

Dresses and skirts do not fall into this category. They existed before trousers did, were uni-sex, are easier sew (being just a swathe of fabric fastened around), & are easy to wear (e.g. Kaftans, Lungees, Kilts & Kurtas for men).

However long hair, blow dries, perms, lipstick, make-up, high heels, eyelashes that stick on, nails that are glossed and elongated, epilated hair and bleached body parts, suitably tight clothing: None of these are easy to manage or comfortable to wear, which lends colour to my confirmed belief that being feminine means being comfortable with discomfort.

Maybe proving you are a masochist is the precursor to setting up your typical hetrosexual relationship. I don’t know.

I cannot believe girls who hobble around on heels who then insist

“Omg my heels are really comfortable, you guys they really are.

I mean, I totally agree with you – I hate uncomfortable heels too

(they always partially agree, and then…)

“But I wear these ones all the time. They just look high, but they soooooooo comfy. Omg.

Really guys. So comfy”

Oh Yeah? Are they as comfortable as flats? What are you comparing your heels to? Walking across a fucking board with nails??

Fucking nonsense. Comfortable my fucking ass.

No you wear heels because you think they make your legs look better, because Sex in the City has told you how essential they are to your beauty, your femininity, your sexual appeal, your independence. (I’m SUCH a Carrie! You must be a Charlotte. Holla!) and because all your friends tell you how nice you look in them.

So don’t fucking tell me how much you love heels and how comfy they are. You love the compliments about your heels. All perfectly fine. As mentioned earlier, who doesn’t love compliments?

But when I argue this point, girls (and my mother) will as a chorus, insist

“This is for me because I think it looks good and I feel good for me. I TOTALLY don’t care what people think.

I wear tight breast exposing tops, layers of make up and high heels that are crippling for me because because I’m an strong, independent, feminine woman who wears things just for me. It’s not for anyone OK? It’s for me.”

Really? If you were trapped on a deserted island you’d really be applying mascara and walking about in stilettos?

I’m willing to bet that without the regular shower of praise you’d be in slippers or in jungle boots in less than a week.

Even after you’ve been desperate to take a cab home after a night out because you just cannot bear to walk anymore, or when you get home you take them off to reveal red welts across your feet or after years of wear have developed corns on the balls of your feet, the pay off from all the compliments will still be enough to feed your desire to wear heels.

For example (personal example), I love depilating – not shaving – but depilating. Where the hair is removed at the root (like waxing) It’s mildly painful but afterwards I feel ‘clean’. The pain is the payment for the reward for cleanliness, inside and out.

This is a totally masochistic pursuit and I enjoy it but I also distinctly remember at 12/13 overhearing a conversation in school between a group of both male and female friends discussing with absolute revulsion this one girl’s dark hairy legs. The revulsion was so acute and infectious that I was immediately worried that they would think this about me. I started depilating not long afterwards.

So while I may NOW depilate, just for me (because I am a strong, independent, feminine woman who does this just for herself), I know the basis of this certainly didn’t begin without the outside influence of the fear of disgusting hairy girl legs.

You may feel good about your 6 inch stilettos and again, that’s totally fine, but I also think you can at least examine why you feel good about it. You don’t feel good about it because you just feel good about it. That is just perfectly ludicrous.

So to recap, when people put up photos or selfies that conform to accepted standards of femme they get more likes & comments & when they conform to what I perceive as stereotypical femininity (i.e discomfort / impractical) it also does annoy me.

I’m going to go look at photos of Tilda now. Her magical aura never fails to soothe me.

Coincidentally I finished this drawing a day before visibility day.

Butch in the Woods (or What I wish I looked like)

Butch in the Woods (or What I wish I looked like)

Step-By-Step Process


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44 thoughts on “Butch in the Woods

  1. “Part of the stereotypical ‘feminine’ look seems founded on discomfort or being impractical”
    I’d like to rephrase that to Everything about the stereotypical feminine look is founded in our discomfort of anything even remotely different. Period.
    Lets just admit that we’re fucking uncomfortable when girls (bi, lesbian, andro, straight even) don’t conform to the stereotype. I get such hate when I cut my hair short, or even when I express the desire to cut my hair short. Now that Iv had short hair for over a year, I’m gunning to shave it all off. And as much as I really want to do it, I cant help but feel a little sad that a large part of the inspiration to do it comes from the need to make a statement and go against what is expected, rather than just do it because, I dont know, I want to know what it feels like to be without this load of hair that we are taught to cling on to.

    • omg long hair! i get so many questions about why i dont leave my hair open BECAUSE ITS ANNOYING!

      my friend did notice that in india the girl-with-long-hair thing is wired in and that when she has short hair men stop looking at her but i think you should do it.

      i’d love to cut it short but my sweetie thinks (and may be right) that short doesnt suit my round head. but maybe shaved down the side 🙂

      skirts seem ok, easy to wear, loose, in hot countries not totally impractical. in cold maybe a little

  2. You say: “or like that beautiful alien boy-god on Stargate.”
    ::cries bitter manly tears of lust::
    That’s the worst about androgynous people… “Do I want to be you… or DO you?”

    Oh jesus, the ‘I only do this for me.’ I had this argument with a woman once. ‘I only apply this makeup for me (in her case, it was blush and bright red lipstick). ‘I like the way it looks, it has nothing to do with attracting ANYONE!’ I said… …. okay, but you realize blush and lipstick are trying mimic the sexual post orgasm flush?… I mean, there’s a reason you use pink and not friggin…… neon green, on your cheek bones. It is ROOTED in something?! ….thang called biology? The ‘look at me, I’m so healthy and fresh looking and ready to mate/have just mated and might just possibly mate again… with YOU’ dance? Maybe you don’t want to go home with someone tonight, but you do want SOMEONE to find you hot? Sexy? Attractive? LIke your selfies on FB? Yes?

    When I see a woman with a cross of poop smeared on her forehead and she says ‘I only do this for ME’ THEN, I will say. Yup. You DO only do that for you, because nobody else, most likely, finds that attractive.

    It’s like, why is it so hard to admit you like something because someone (or society) TAUGHT you to like it?
    Admit it, and then you can go about deprogramming it (if you want)…. (or keep doing it, if you say, well, I STILL like it.) Whatever. It’s your life, you can do whatever the heck you want, have red on your lips or poop on your forehead… >_>

    Anyway– amazing post and the lady! I love femme ladies, but then I think ‘nah, probably an hour late to EVERYTHING and if the zombie apocalypse strikes, she won’t be able to get away in her heels’ Give me a beautiful girl who just throws their hair on the top of their head and puts on a shirt and hangs out in the woods in flat shoes….! Your drawing is perfect ^___^

    PS: The wrinkles on the shirt are wonderful. I’ll have to look at your vid to see how you made them…..

    • i fell in love with the alien boy on Stargate. he was so gorgeous. sigh. and i loved his scary deep alien language voice.

      “That’s the worst about androgynous people… “Do I want to be you… or DO you?”’

      haha I’m always having that argument. and they always tell me they agree and then tell me how comfy high heels are.

      But I would LOVE to see a poop smeared woman.
      i did see a man walk into sainsburys with poop all down his trousers and the funny thing is that no one wanted to tell him to leave because man HE STANK. the security guard backed off faster than anything.

      Admit it, and then you can go about deprogramming it (if you want)…. (or keep doing it, if you say, well, I STILL like it.)

      totes at least look at why you like it.

      thank you about the wrinkles 🙂

      • “God, this guy stared at my chest, what a pig; I wore this thing cut down to my hoohah FOR ME, men are scum… These five inch heels are so comfy.”


        totes at least look at why you like it.

        Or don’t like it, you know?

        “Like, I’m fine with x ethnicity/race, I just don’t find them attractive…..it’s my personal preference, that’s all.”
        “I’m fine with trans women, I just don’t like DICK.”

        Yep, sorry, forgot, you were totally born liking or not liking certain traits/characteristics/body parts. Sorry for suggesting otherwise >__>.

        I’ll try to figure out wrinkles, hah, I feel like I always have problems with these sort of things in art that require math >___> like figuring out where shadows (or gravity) are falling/causing resistance…

        • HAHA that reminds me of this hilarious video where Conan gets busted checking out his guest’s boobs – have a watch – its hilarious. esp when he gets busted https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ty4PhRWt1hU

          “I’m fine with trans women, I just don’t like DICK.”

          do you think sexual preference in that way is conditioned? i’m never sure about that.

          did you ever watch that tragic doc about this american kid, a boy, who when he was born the doctor botched some thing and his penis was castrated accidentally, so the doctors convinced his parents it would be better to rear him as a girl – it was also partially an experiment – so when he grew up and was quite tomboyish they would insist he played with dolls when he wanted tanks or boys toys etc and he visit this shrink who gave some fucked up advice, how girls like boys, and how girls have sex with boys etc, to ‘convince/ coerce” him to be a girl. He started living as a man once his parents told him what happened but he killed himself eventually (depression / trauma).

          and some other studies also makes me think so i don’t know if liking dick is a preference that way – maybe it is. Although many straight men love trans women regardless of dick. so i dont know if thats a cultural / conditioned thing or its just another body part or is in-born as a trait (liking a specific genital set)

          • I think sexual pref is definitely conditioned. I don’t think kids have any preference for any set of genitals (that sounds so wrong, but you get what I mean). Sure, we’re biological creatures, but so many sexual and even long term relationships people are in have nothing to do with the desire to reproduce…

            Obviously, all people develop preferences as they grow up–straight, gay, bi, whatever, but I figure–nobody is attracted to a VAGINA (or a dick), completely independent of the individual attached to it. A man is turned on by a lady, by the way she looks, her clothes, her perfume, the way she makes him laugh, her gestures, her conversation, her mind, her clothes–her femininity–if all of that is zilch for him once he finds out she has a penis.. yeah, (I would say) he’s got some issue. (Same the other way around, if a girl or gay guy is totally attracted to a person who fulfills their standard of masculinity and this attraction stops abruptly if they find out they don’t have a dick.)
            I think straight men ‘loving’ trans women (in porn) demonstrates exactly that ‘truly’ straight men are quite rare 😀 A trans woman allows men to fantasize about the taboo (dick) while still being ‘straight’. It’s like, dude just say you’re fine with throwing the dick. It’s no crime 😀

            ‘I’m straight, but shit happens.’ ahaha

            I actually wrote a blog post ages ago about that case you mention :< (the guy who killed himself). I believe it was called the Joan/John case. Yeah, it was very sad.

            • Oh, and I like to call a ‘dick’ on a lady a ‘jane’. As inmen have dicks, ladies have janes….
              Girls have vaginas, boys have… what is a boy vagina called? Haven’t come up with a good name for one.
              But yeah, some men really love that jane porn….

            • send me the post – i ‘d love to read it.

              “A man is turned on by a lady, by the way she looks, her clothes, her perfume, the way she makes him laugh, her gestures, her conversation, her mind, her clothes–her femininity–if all of that is zilch for him once he finds out she has a penis.. yeah, (I would say) he’s got some issue.”

              but see yes that would totally happen. and is very common in fact. (guys who flirt with some sexy lady at a bar to later be told she may have a penis and that turns them off)

              they might be totally turned off by the one thing – maybe thats a conformity thing but the Joan/John thing puzzles me. he clearly knew inside he wasn’t a girl or wasn’t attracted to men from a young age.

              and they totally tried to condition him – to ‘break’ him but couldnt because it wasnt who he was – so that really throws me me.

              or maybe am i getting confused with identifying gender and sexual preference. the line always blurs a bit for me.

              • The John/Joan thing: Yeah, I think many people have a preference (and
                I think its VERY hard to say what creates it– [I think some
                peoples sexual prefs also CHANGE throughout their life, I
                swear, I’ve been like every sexual orientation under
                the sun by now :DDD]

                But the important thing is its a sexual preference (not a
                genital preference). When a guy says he’s straight, what he
                means is he is attracted to the generally accepted ‘package’
                of what a woman is (physical/mental/emotional/hormonal).

                So it gets hairy for trans people, because unfortunately,
                even though most people recognize that gender is really
                complicated and involves a variety of stuff, there’s
                the socially ingrained genitals = gender thing that you
                learn, oh I dunno, when you’re like THREE, and first recognize
                that your genitals are different than other kids’.

                Penis = boy, vagina = girl.

                No matter what. No exceptions. I don’t care if I fell
                in love with you. Sorry.

                It’s very depressing (I think) for many trans people that
                they can look, act, smell, and have the same hormonal makeup
                as their target gender, but that for (some) potential partners,
                not-corresponding genitals means game over. You’re not a girl (or
                boy) (whatever you’re going for.) It doesn’t matter that
                in every other way you correspond exactly. (Because as of
                right now, genital surgery is horribly expensive and not
                yet up to par. So for most trans people, corresponding genitals
                are not yet possible :<)

                • yeah thats true i see your point – but there are lots of good trans positive shows on tv which i think help a lot. (My trans summer by Channel 4 was a very nice one)

                  “So for most trans people, corresponding genitals
                  are not yet possible :<)"

                  however just to play devils advocate i will defend the person who may have fallen in love with a trans person and after some time they find this person hid something important from him/her rather than being up front early on (i'm not suggesting they walk around in a tee shirt saying xyz) but I think if you know so and so has a certain assumption about you and its progressing into a relationship i would imagine that you would need to have that discussion in an honest, open way.

                  i can see how the issue would not be just the genitals but the lack of discussion prior.

                  • I think the ‘when do I reveal?’ problem intensifies depending on what kind of trans person you are.
                    Trans women (from what I can see) have it much worse than trans men. (b/c dick-fear, rooted in misogyny).
                    Or someone who lives stealth (nobody in the immediate community knows your birth-assigned sex and you DO NOT
                    want anybody to know.)
                    …so when do you tell a potential partner?
                    The first date? (Probably too soon, if you just met and not sure if you’ll meet again?)
                    When you know you actually like them/they like
                    you/it seems like you’ll have sex/
                    you can trust them to not spread the
                    info around/not flip out?
                    What if it takes weeks or months
                    to reach that point? When does cautious start being deceptive?
                    (Add the factor that if you’re a trans woman and get
                    hurt by a potential partner,
                    the police probably WILL NOT give a fuck.)


                    Which is why if J dies tomorrow,I I'm going ramen-sexual. 😛

                    • Oh, and then there’s online dating, but if you don’t put trans, you go back to square one from above, and if you DO put trans (esp. if you’re a trans woman) you’re goinna have to wade through an ocean of creeps who just want to re-enact ‘Shemale Backdoor Sluts 6″ with you :<<<<

                    • yes 😦 the judging when to tell and how to tell.

                      its tough playing devils advocate.

                      I can’t imagine at what point i’d tell if i had to tell.

                      dick fear and jane judgement fear.

                      there was a guy at my work who has a deep, deep dick fear. His worse nightmare is being raped by a guy. I initially thought he was a homophobe but after chatting over the months i realised he is just terrified of penis. Really terrified. He said when he walked through a gay area in paris he just felt he was being watched and threatened and that it made him really sympathise with women feeling the same way. And i kind of knew what he meant (having felt that way on occasion) but its also seemed like a totally irrational fear.

                      or wish.

                      i can’t tell.

                      ramen sexual could be pretty delicious, but I have an inkling that it would not be hard for you you to find many admirers 🙂

                    • That is really bizarre (the guy who had the penis fear). I’ll have to talk to J about that (him and I had a convo once about is rape a fear men generally experience, or is that more only a woman’s experience? Neither of us could come up with a male friend/acquaintance who had ever expressed such a fear…)

                      ‘When/who to tell’ : Yes, a really hard question if it’s not visibly obvious (I mean, for me, it’s pretty friggin’ obvious….)

                      Guy yesterday on the train (eye conversation)
                      ‘Hey girly, I like your outfit ;P’
                      ‘Oh shit… I mean… no homo, no homo…’
                      ‘Wait…. your face reminds me of my math
                      teacher from third grade…. are you 13 or 31…?!
                      my god, wtf ARE you?!’
                      Me: I’m a dark Mage from Planet Dickalicious, holla! ~_~

                      PS: It’s my personal goal to ensure this post of yours reaches 39,402 comments…

          • omfg, just watched the video!! ahaha, hilarious.

            But seriously!!!!! It’s like, ladies, we’re not made of stone :DDDD I understand fully women who get pissed off about uncalled for comments and catcalling etc. ….but…… ….but… no looking even?!?
            When they’re looking…. right at you?

            • i love that video 😀 especially his totally busted expression.

              Oh Coco.

              i’m with you on this, clearly those babies were there to be looked at, no touching but come on you cant punish a guy when you’ve put them RIGHT THERE under his nose.

            • HAHAHA it is my personal policy to respond to all comments as a rule. so if you keep commenting i’lll keep responding, comment whore that i am. we can DETROY this thread. I think i ran out of replies to the earlier thread. the blog was like “nope. no reply option for you”

              (penis fear guy has a lot of anxiety issues and then starting having insomnia and panic attacks. i don’t think his case was usual – but i think male culture is dick-phobic as a rule – Bill burr this comic has a great bit about how every time he wants to do something thoughtful or sweet he hears all his friends in his head yelling “WHAT ARE YOU A FAAAAAAG” and then he cant do it. )

              • I don’t know why one would fear the dick. It is so vulnerable looking. So cute. Like a mushroom. Why fear it? If guys think ‘fags’ are sweet, they should watch gay porn. It’s all about destroying holes o_o like, eeek!! calm down, guys, calm the fuck down…. (definitely NOT for your co-worker; he would probably have to get an anal chastity belt…) Ahaha, okay, I’ll have to stop commenting, so you can go to work :DD I have to work toooooooo

  3. So I went to work in a dress on a Monday, deviation from my usual formal shirt and trousers look for Mondays. And despite not really having made an effort (no make-up whereas I do wear make-up with my formal attire), I got told many times that I looked nice. In my mind, i look better in my power – dressing formal outfit but apparently it’s not a view that is shared. Just proves your point of conformity dictating attractiveness.

    Tilda Swinton is resplendent! I think David Bowie from his Ziggy Stardust days also gets the same reaction from me. “Do I want to be you … or DO you? ” … this is ace!

    • yeah i find that so interesting. and equally what is interesting is that women in politics or higher position jobs usually seem to dress more masculine (especially in politics across the board) I think in part so that their appearance isn’t too sexy or feminine because again, feminine is perceived as inferior.

      Sexy i can sort of understand actually, but what ‘feminine’ can mean in terms of outerwear is kind of fascinating to me.

      • * not being sexy i can understand, meaning as per the post – if ‘sexy’ is discomfort and impractical then i dont want my MP to be a non-practical person or who is out to seduce suitable mates in some way. i want her to just do her job.

      • I’ve noticed that too. The interesting thing in, they dress for ‘power’, trouser suits and super formal clothes but still wear heels! And yes, very interesting how looking professional/powerful is associated with clothing that mimics masculine norms.

        well-dressed people inspire confidence in their abilities (but obviously they need to show by action that they can be relied upon). I think it’s quite easy to dismiss a woman who has put a lot of effort in her looks as scatty/vapid but I’m seeing a surge in women who spend time investing in how they look and still have much substance to offer. Zadie Smith wrote a piece recently about how her perception of being a well-dressed woman has changed, it’s worth a read.

        It’s that old chestnut, you have to have something else to add to it. If you’re merely well put-together but talk shit … well, look at Louise Mensch for god’s sake.

  4. I so agree with you. I have a ridiculously femme body but I’m a lifelong tomboy and have a very butch self-image. On the rare occasions that I dress femme, it really pees me off to get the compliments, it’s so false. I’m just the same, but in a frock and with the printmaking ink scrubbed off.

  5. My favorite photo of myself was taken at the end of a two month trip to Shanghai. Since I was riding a bike every day and I was vegetarian (not much luck in the food department there), I weighed 92 lbs in the photo. But it’s not the thinness that I like, it’s the boyishness. With my hair pulled back and my boxy clothes and that many inches lost from my breasts and hips, I look just like a boy, a rather cute one, if I say so myself. So I hear you about wanting to look androgynous, at least sometimes.

  6. Pingback: The Rescue Flotilla | Tin Roof Press

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