Cape Town Pride Festival 2013

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If you’re in Cape Town this Saturday 2 March, please come march with us as part of the official Cape Town Pride Festival 2013 Parade. The theme for this year is ‘STAND UP AND BE COUNTED’.

Wear your best butch get-up, stand up for butch visibility, or just come and show some butch appreciation. Bring a ‘Butch is Beautiful’ message and come find us, we’d love to meet you.

If you’d like more details on where to meet, send a message on Facebook or send a Please Call Me on 082 555… just kidding…or email thebutchlife@gmail.com.

In the words of Kirsten Kurzawa: “I believe that butch or masculine looking women have remained visible members in the lesbian community through their self-confidence, their attention to detail, and their willingness to stand up…as the face of their community. In addition, femmes who have stood up…deserve to be recognised for their contribution to butch-femme history.” 

Enjoy this upcoming week of Cape Town Pride 2013 Events and Pride Ya Rona.

Gender Warriors – Elisabeth Ohlson Wallin

Elizabeth Ohlson Wallin is most famous for her exhibition Ecce Homo (currently on show in Belgrade, Serbia) which is based on a series of photographs recreating Christian motifs with persons and contexts of the LGBTIQ community. This series is called Könskrigare or, in English, Gender Warriors.

See the rest of the Könskrigare series here

(source: butch-in-progess.tumblr.com)

Butch History

                              Phyllis Broughton

It’s safe to say being butch is a road traveled alone. Very little has been documented to help us celebrate the legacy of those who have paved the way for us. So when I stumble across people doing amazing work like Kirsten Kurzawa my heart leaps with gratitude.

 “Butch identity, the visual impact of a woman in masculine attire, sporting traditionally masculine gestures and engaging in non-traditional female activities, holds the most interest for visual ethnographers, artists and photographers.
I aimed to analyze images of masculine-looking women from 1920-1970 to determine how butch identity within the 20th century has changed or remained the same. By particularly looking at working class women, I believe butches or masculine women have remained visible members in the lesbian community through their self-confidence, their attention to detail, and their willingness to stand up for and be photographed as the face of their community. In addition, femmes who have stood up to be photographed in these images, as well, deserve to be recognized for their contribution to butch-femme history. For their determination to be seen as gay, different, or femme was subversive, daring and an important step in lesbian movement to come. “

To read more on her work, click here.

Beautiful Butch Women

Ok, so if you’re a Facebook fan, you’ll know that I post images of beautiful butch women. The most popular pics by far are the ones where female celebrities pay homage to masculinity. Here are my top picks (and for some reason they’re almost all in a tux or suit;)

ImageMichelle Pfeiffer

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Twiggy

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Tilda Swinton

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Katharine Hepburn

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Annemarie Schwarzenbach

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Raquel Welch

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Angelica Huston

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Charlize Theron

Gender Bending Photography

No Mans Land, 2005

No Mans Land, 2005

Meet Sophia Wallace. I have just encountered the work of this New Yorker and I think I’m in love. Her photography is gender-bending but, mostly, f-ing beautiful.

Safe Embrace, 2005Two of my favourite exhibits are Girls Will Be Bois and Berlin Lookbook. The concept behind Girls Will Be Bois really spoke to me, if you live in South Africa, I think it’ll sound familiar:

‘Young lesbians do not experience sexism and homophobia as separate events: instead, the two forms of harassment are mutually reinforcing. It is simply impermissable for girls not to like boys. Thus lesbians, and particularly lesbians who identify as, or are perceived as, “butch” are punished for violating gender norms and because of their sexual orientation. It is not surprising then that lesbians are frequently threatened with being raped, an act of violence aimed at achieving literal sexual domination.”

Desiree At Work, 2006Berlin Lookbook is shot to look like an ad campaign so it’s styled and well lit. At first it gave me visions of us finding a reason to head to Germany because my girlfriend’s attention was caught by the reason for the photo collection’s name:

“The specificity of urban context is vital as Berlin is one of few cities in the world where female masculinity is a prominent visual presence.”

From Berlin LookbookAlso, I felt like I stumbled across these pics at the right time because my last post called for Cape Town drag kings to show themselves. And Ms Wallace highlights that:

“Masculine femininity, often seen in popular culture as ‘drag queens’ has a longer history in Western cultural memory. Yet it is often dismissed as frivolous entertainment. In contrast, female masculinity barely has a pulse.”

From Berlin Lookbook

These pics inspire me in the way they celebrate being butch. Please excuse me, I need to get off the laptop, my girl wants to check the prices of flights to Berlin.

From Berlin Lookbook

You can view the full exhibitions here:

Girls Will Be Bois

Berlin Lookbook

And this one’s cool too:

Modern Dandy

Is Your Daughter A Dyke?

Ok, so most of us were tomboys but everybody had their own special tellsigns that seem hilarious now. In honour of the hilarity of hindsight, here are five reasons MY mother should’ve known I was a dyke :)

- I buried Barbie doll heads in the backyard. She stopped buying me dolls when I was about 4 or 5 years old. My best friend Jason’s toys were much more fun…I used to bribe him to let me play with his cars and marbles and lego and and and…

- I only wore panties to school, NEVER anywhere else. The only reason why was because I had to wear a dress to school and couldn’t get away with not wearing them.

- My father’s old discarded Lee jeans were my favourite “comfy fit” pants and I wore them to death.

- I often overheard my mother’s friends saying- preceded by a sigh – “Ag, don’t worry, she’ll grow out of it.” I only later realized what they were referring to – after all this tomboy did grow up to be a butch dyke :)

- In 1992 I thought kd lang was the best dressed dyke in the world (Hey, Martina’s tennis skirts weren’t doing it for me. FYI ol’ kd and Martina ended up dating in the mid nineties, they were like Ellen and Portia LOL).

I think you might know how old I am now :)

Leave a reply below with your baby-dyke confessions and the things that drove your mother up the pole (or not), I’d love to hear them :)

Cultivate our Culture

So, next step: Google search>Web Images>Topic: ‘butch women’.

22 800 results in 20 seconds, followed by related topics: UGLY WOMEN.

REALLY?!

The world’s most utilised search engine has been programmed to regulate such prejudice and misconceptions? Is this how the world sees me? And where is the picture of kd lang?

My world is beautiful! In it, I am who I want to be. Simple. No penis envy here. No daddy issues either. I am definitely not a man trapped in a woman’s body. I experience my immediate community with my lover, family, friends and colleagues as a place of wonder, warming me from the inside out, like a favourite record that I love to listen to.

The world I live in, however, is confused by me; slapping me with negative adjectives and notions, often squeezing me in the wrong gender box. On the street, in the shop and even in the bank whilst looking at my identity document: “Good day, sir.”

I often respond: “not with these 38D boobs.” That can normally be pulled off with a polite smile and a laugh as the embarrassment sets in. Then there are other times I want to scream.

When it comes to my love life, there’s the well-you-may-as-well-be-with-a-man-if-you-want-to-be-with-that way of thinking. More difficult to deal with as it is expressed with looks, not words.

I am not alone. When I cross paths with butch strangers, off the cuff I check them out. Just how they are styled and how they bring their “butch” across. There’s usually an energy exchange, if only with our eyes. Most times a reciprocal nod. At large I find we do not speak about being and living butch beyond our inner circles. We rarely explore and celebrate how amazing we are. Damn I think most butches are too busy checking out the femmes anyway.

If you’re butch – soft, stone and everything in between and beyond I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU, TALK TO YOU! I want to know if there is a butch community in Bonteheuwel, Benoni, Beaufort West, Bangladesh!

Reach me at thebutchlife@gmail.com or on Facebook or Twitter.