Monday, July 13, 2009

thoughts on dykehood

being a dyke, and specifically identifying as a dyke, has 100% to do with my political and historical responsibility. it has maybe 80% to do with the person(s) I choose to sleep with*. bagel and I used to discuss our "percentages," - as in, the percentages of who we are attracted to, like, 90% women, 10% men, or whatever. we were younger and very cut and dry in how we looked at it and there wasn't any awareness of gender ambiguity, but we were 16, so, you know. the point is that even at that age I maintained that I am gay, so maybe I had a boyfriend at a point or two, it didn't change my overwhelming faggoty ways. attraction is fluid, but that doesn't mean I have to find a new identity every 3 months to match that if the one I have already still speaks to me. since when does my identity have to incorporate anyone else?

both historically and currently, dykes have always faced the "you're not a real dyke / lesbian / whatever for the following reasons" argument. it's divisive, heterosexist, sexist, racist, classist, and any other -ist you could think of probably. example: women who were involved in butch-femme dynamics were not seen as "real lesbians" by some because they either wanted to be men (the butches) or wanted to be with one (the femmes). nevermind the oppressive basis of this argument, who was leveling the charge against whom, and the assumptions it made. amber hollibaugh was one of those not-real lesbians who went to lesbian feminist consciousness raising groups by day and the butch-femme bars by night and had to grapple with these accusations. in her oral history, she makes an interesting comment about gay male culture, and why she found liberation in it:

"So I guess the other piece in here that I think is important is gay men were important to me because while they had this extraordinarily explosive and interesting sexual culture, they were not judgmental about each other’s sexual practices... The other thing that I think was really important for me during that period of time was that I kept gay men in my life because they gave me buffer and they didn’t judge me around my sexual desire when the world of women and the women’s culture and the separatist culture was an impossible place to be who I wanted to be sexually. And gay men might not get it, but they didn’t care. If I said I was a lesbian, I was a lesbian, and if I was a lesbian fem, so I was a lesbian fem, you know? I wasn’t inauthentically queer because of my sexual choices. In separatist women’s culture, I was always suspect and so, gay men ended up playing a fundamental role in keeping alive my options sexually, where separatism didn’t."

i'm a dyke, and i'll stay a dyke. it's my gender identity, it's my political identity, my historical context. my relationship history has mostly been with women, but those boys and genderqueers who have made an appearance are not any less of how they identify just for being with me. and i'm not any less of who I am for being with them. and although I ally myself with many different identities and movements, I locate myself politically and personally among the dykes. my activism exists in many different circles, but shit son, I spend most of my energy at the lesbian herstory archives, so anyone who wants to revoke my lesbo membership card cause of my broad attraction can just try to tell me that i'm not a devoted and responsible dyke activist.

maybe if I was lucky enough to be one of those good dykes who is only attracted to female bodied, female identified people, preferably not too boyish cause you know that's just hidden straightness, I wouldn't have to feel the need to answer for my own life. I could waste time and energy pursuing the ladies that I'm supposed to pursue to be the right kind of dyke or I could do me, and then do that person over there if I want to. I could consider myself lucky that people I find hot find me hot too. and consider myself lucky that my attraction spans from high femme shark women to queer pink-wearing bearded boys to tough as nails butches to freckle-faced tomboy girls. I am, after all, a taurus and a hedonist.

I'll probably revisit this soon and tweak it as my personal philosophy evolves. but at the end of days, my little bio up there says i'm a dyke extraordinaire**, and i wear it proudly.

*i'm a social science person, not a mathemagician. whatever.
**seriously. google image search it and my picture is the fourth one.

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