Tag Archives: butch

Bitch Boi?

Can you still be a bitch if you’re a guy? I don’t know. It’s (a) female power. I was a hard-arse bitchfeminist butch who sometimes played at being feminine when I was a dyke. But now? Well, my femininity’s been re-named effeminacy, and the rest is just fucking obnoxious. Many things change, not just the body (if the body), when one is sex changed. When I’m read as a guy I shut up a lot more. I don’t talk over women the way I would talk over people before. The first time I painted facial hair on my face it was to stop myself getting into a fight with another chick, because I knew with the gender of that face I would never enact violence on another woman.

The thing is: sex matters. The way sex is perceived is a lens through which behaviour is interpreted. If you pass as male because of your body (facial hair being particularly salient in this respect as I’ve noted before), behavioural clues to gender are less important; there is less need for hypermasculine behaviour in order to be recognised as a guy. This is unfortunately complicated by the way in which masculinity is so often defined by misogyny, thus it is harder to pass if one holds and stands up forfeminist values. This is often the justification transguys hold for being as sexist as other guys, but male privilege and power fucks everyone over – trannys shouldn’t be too quick to forget.

As Kate Bornstein notes, “The correct target for any successful transsexual rebellion would be the gender system itself. But transsexuals won’t attack that system until they themselves are free of the need to participate in it… Without the structure of the bi-polar gender system, the power dynamic between men and women shatters.” That said, it is not incidental that when we don’t embrace a gender normative corporealitywe are at the highest risk of violence; liveability is severely affected in such a context, and we need to survive.

Aggression (and even violence) can be subversive for women, undermining the stereotype of women as docile and passive victims. But if male privilege is assuming one has the right to occupy any space or person by whatever means, with or without permission, what really happens when the bitch reappropriates this power? Is to be a bitch, to take mastery in hostility and force, just reinforcing male power and its dominance?

We need more guys to get their feminist shit together, stand up (against other guys), shut up (and listen when women talk), and (thus) start to define a non-misogynistic masculinity. We need power to be conceived of and employed in other ways.

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Filed under Feminist Politics, Max Attitude, What's Queer Here?

Fight or Flight?

Bird La Bird & Bird Club

Wearing frilly knickers should not be dependent on what’s in them. When I hear the word “real” before any category of person whether it’s woman, lesbian or femme I head for the hills. If you’ve ever been told you’re not “real” you’ll probably like Bird Club.Bird La Bird (on friction.org.uk)

bird-library

‘Armageddon Fem’ Bird La Bird screeched onto the stage as a part of the Femme Programme at London’s 21st Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, performing at the screening of Campbell X (Inge Blackman)’s ‘Fem’, in which she also appears. At the following London Pride Bird organised a Femme Pride Bird float with the maxim ‘Femme Invisibility: So Last Year!‘ In 2008 Bird graced the cover of Ulrika Dahl and Del LaGrace Volcano’s ‘Femmes of Power: Exploding Queer Femininities’ and I met her for the first time at the book’s launch in London. When, there, Bird sang her song ‘Do you know what kind of club this is?’ (about gay clubs who can’t/don’t recognise a queer bird), I fell a little bit in love. And I was not the only one. So many cheers and thanks and acclaim and joy was bestowed upon her that she determined to turn the mythology of Bird Club into a reality – a real club, if only once a month – where Anyone Can Be A Bird.

I’m interested in post Butch/Femme and what happens when players themselves question and rewrite the roles. I find the hostile reaction many non-players have towards butch/femme enthusiasts fascinating. I can’t think of another consensual sexual activity that has so much scorn and derision poured on it. I’m fascinated why many people find it so threatening and I’d like to see if that anxiety can be played with. – Bird La Bird


When I started feeling good about the word ‘tranny‘ and dressing ‘as a boy‘ and ‘as a drag king‘ I never felt like one (a boy that is). I was stable (if slightly uncomfortable) as a dyke and (therefore) as a woman. But then I found a place that did to me what I do to so many people; made no assumptions about me. And it had a huge impact on me. Clearly. Because it happened. I started having moments where I didn’t feel so much like a lesbian anymore, like a dyke, like a woman.


I was lost. And it was sublime.

That is where Bird Club lies. When Bird La Bird says Anyone Can Be A Bird, that’s how it is. Everyone can be anyone they want, and maybe even someone they didn’t quite know they were.

Dear Bird, Thanks for opening my eyes and my wings, Love Max xx


The next Bird Club in London is March 12. Go to www.birdclub.org.uk for details.


Photograph by Sam Nightingale.

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