Sometimes, my best ideas for posts come from the random-ass search strings that lead folks to TSOC.
For example: “how to compliment a butch woman.”
Searches like that make me happy, both because someone out there is taking the time to thoughtfully and intentionally recognize a non-traditional gender presentation (sexxxy!) and because they found me in relationship to a search like that. Means I’m doing my job right!
There’s been a fun conversation going on over at CCL about chivalry, a topic which seems to have more oomph in the butch-femme universe than anywhere else. Incidentally, I’ve also gotten off my lazy ether-ass and gotten back to posting weekly there, so you’ll have to check that out, too.
Because I have a twisted little mind, I’ve managed to link chivalry to complimenting a butch. (You like this about me, remember?)
I’ve been told, more than once, that sometimes the best compliment is accepting chivalry gracefully. I know it’s a common stereotype, but I’ve never once experienced chivalry as misogyny. I’ve never had a butch/boi/transguy make me feel like they opened a door for me, or pulled out a chair, or even lit my cigarette, because they thought I wasn’t capable of doing it myself.
Quite the contrary, in fact. This society is incredibly hostile to feminine women in a lot of ways. (I actually had a bioguy say to me last night, “I won’t have my gender used against me as a weapon,” and I had to laugh. Gee, what’s that like, asshole? But that’s another post for another day.) We are sexualized, objectified, assaulted, discounted, and ignored on a regular basis, to the point where it just feels like that’s the price you pay for dressing and looking the way you want. It’s subtle, unlike the overt harassment and violence that masculine-presenting women experience.
Butches/bois/transguys get treated like shit, in other words, but so do femmes. It’s just two halves of the same coin.
When one of my guys gets the door for me, I feel like it’s an unspoken acknowledgement that here is a safe space for me. Here, I’m not going to be treated poorly because I’m wearing makeup and a pretty dress. Here, I can take a break from being in the center of all the crap that swirls through mainstream society.
So there’s paying a compliment, as in, “That’s a handsome new haircut!” and there’s being a compliment. My femme is a compliment to butch, and vice versa. While we exist independent of one another, we’re much more than the sum of our parts in tandem.
That may not be what my searcher was looking for, but I’m glad they stopped by nonetheless. They gave me a nice little moment of appreciation this morning for the other half of my community. I hope that, however they were looking to apply the word “compliment,” the butch on the receiving end got a bit of a smile out of it.
Happy Tuesday, kitties! I’ll be back tomorrow with more answers from my desperate plea for assistance!