Monday, January 7, 2008

On Being Pretty

I feel fairly comfortable saying that I am an attractive woman.  I have my own style, a nice smile, and freckles. I'm cute. This is something that I have been made keenly aware of since I was a pretty little girl and something that I have consistently tried to avoid precisely because of the amount of attention that pretty little girls receive on a regular basis.  My prettiness has changed over the years: as a teenager I was conventionally pretty--long hair, lots of make up, skinny, shy, and dressed appropriately girly.  As a young adult, I switched it up a bit, grew some 'locks, wore less make up, dressed in vintage clothing, but still, pretty. When I came out, I pushed the pretty box further and eventually cut my hair really short, wore thick glasses, quit smoking, put on a few pounds, and bought some steel toe boots. Still, I am routinely told that I am pretty.

I get it and I'm okay with it. But, who is a "pretty" dyke supposed to date? I'm single, so I am often talking to my friends about women that I've dated, am interested in, or the women they want to fix me up with.  However, I'm also a self-identified femme who is mostly attracted to butches, which can make this conversation a little tricky. Wait, did I say mostly attracted to? I think it's safe to say that I am overwhelmingly, pleasantly, emphatically, happily, enthusiastically, giggly, joyfully, and unabashedly attracted to butches. They are my pleasure, indeed. Now, I know you can be femme identified and be attracted to other femmes, and I have been, but generally I prefer butches. And, I've never gotten hung up on the butch/femme thing, I'm attracted to butches, period. I love them. I especially love that a butch woman dresses, talks, thinks, walks (or swaggers in some cases) exactly the way that she feels expresses who she is. That's something that most of us never, ever do. And I've been reminded by my dear friend Holly to openly appreciate what I love about butches, even random butches on the street...hello butch!

Still, as a pretty girl, I have been told that the women that I choose are not attractive. Yeah, even in those words, by straight people and queer people alike. And, oftentimes, this translates into her not being pretty enough. At the same time, it is also a subtle yet firm critique of my decision to date and love other women. In other words, if I am not dating a "pretty" woman, then what's the point? Now, my straight friends can date the baldest, baggiest jean wearing, sweatiest smelling, poorly put together outfit wearing man ever and never be told that he is "unattractive." That doesn't fit into the conversation once a woman is interested in someone...he's a man, so it doesn't matter (David Beckham aside). If his teeth are brushed, great! Women on the other hand, are always supposed to be attractive and look like a woman and if you're a woman and you can't see that, then there must be something wrong with you. If she's too round in the middle, looks too much like a guy, if her eyebrows are too thick, or she has hair on her chin, then she may not be good enough. And this critique applies to all women--butch, femme, in between, we're all subject to this harsh scrutiny. And I know we all know this, sexism, yes, yes, yes. But, this is something that I foolishly thought I had escaped when I came out and surrounded myself with women--a mistake that others foolishly think queer women escape as well. Still, it's the homophobia that also stings quite a bit in these comments about the women that I date, the ultimate judging of women who choose women. And that's me you're judging and it's not for you to decide. 

5 comments:

patricia said...

i think you know how much i appreciate your open love for butches. glad your writing about it. one of my 'resolutions' was to own my sexy more. it's been hard when everyday you're told in a million not so subtle ways that you're an ugly woman and an ugly person. so props for talking about this. hope you do again. ps. i tried the walking on the outside thing to much success.

Holly said...

Guess you're going to have to write the manifesto for the butch booster club now...

you gave me chills! Thank you for putting into words so many of the thoughts and feelings running around in my head.

And Patricia, good for you for walking on the outside. Very thoughtful and very smooth.

Eric Escobar said...

"baldest, baggiest jean wearing, sweatiest smelling, poorly put together outfit wearing man ever and never be told that he is "unattractive."'

ummm? I'm bald and can't put an outfit together, but I know you still love me.

Jaime aka Scarlett said...

Can I get an amen! I think you really nailed it with the idea that if you're going to date a woman, she should be "pretty". I like handsome butch women. Adore them, really. And most straight people don't understand that.It's hard sometimes to feel okay with the reality that straight people accept me as a queer person easily because I'm pretty in a fairly traditional sense and therefore not really challenging any norms (hello, "lesbian" porn stars for straight men) but that I "lose points", or get head scratches because of the type of woman I partnered with and used to date. MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM delicious butches.

Anonymous said...

Thanks. I wish I could find the words to express my love for femmes so well. Then again, I'm an electrician and not a writer.