Linebacker Chick

says the macho little broad who looks like uncle fester.

don’t feel too bad about it… you line-backer looking chicks still amuse me.

So, recently I got myself into a fight on a forum about the way butch women are addressed in personal ads.  That is, I’ve noticed a trend of people going out of their way in a personal ad to say they don’t like butch women, and then usually throw in an additional insult about how they like their “women to look like women.”  First of all, way to be heterosexist as all hell.  Secondly, and this was the point I made in my original post, if you’re looking for a femme, why the hell don’t you just say that? Say what you want, rather than what you don’t–you’re so much more likely to get it that way!  But no.  That would be too simple, wouldn’t it?

Anyhow, I post this plea to common sense and was, naturally, met with a bunch of asshat, heterosexist, narrow-minded comments.  Female masculinity is not for everyone, I get that.  But why do you have to hate on things you don’t understand? THAT is what baffles me.

As you can imagine, dear reader, when one party (me) is trying to have an open dialogue about what is an issue near and dear to my heart and the other parties are just slinging any insult they can come up with (including, but not limited to, “ugly-ass dyke,” “like you really have any to offer anybody,” “I’m married to a hot little thing and you’re not! HA HA!” and my personal favorite, “If you can’t eat it, drink it, smoke it or fuck it, what the fuck use is it?”) the conversation quickly devolves into… well, I guess it wasn’t much of a “conversation” to begin with, eh?

What interests me are all the assumptions being made here.  I’m defending butches, and going to the trouble of pointing out that butch women are, in fact, women, therefore I must be: butch (fair enough), ugly, single, lonely, useless, little and still somehow built like a linebacker.  Well if that isn’t one huge string of assumptions!  I know plenty of butches who in no way fit this stereotype.  Ironically, though, I’m not one of them.

I am: butch (most days to most people), single and kind of built like a linebacker.  I constantly make jokes about not being a “real girl,” but the truth is I don’t feel like a “real” girl, whatever that means.  Sure, I have a few curves, but not many, and I have tits, but they’re pretty small, and my face has what my mother always referred to as “classic” feminine features, but I still feel like a fake.  I’ve rarely been attracted to “girly” things (see: ISO Girl Genes), but in the end, I think it comes down to my genetics.

I have polycystic ovaries (PCOS) which means I was bathed in testosterone in utero and I have more of it in my system than your average girl.  Common symptoms of PCOS, all of which I exhibit, include hair growth in unusual places (for women–yeah, I have to shave my damn chin like a dude), insulin resistance (i.e. weight retention and difficulty in losing weight), depression and irregular periods.  It can also lead to male pattern baldness in women and even infertility if not treated.  Then there’s my ethnic heritage.  I’m German and Russian.  Have you SEEN German or Russian women? They’re built like oxen! Which I kind of think is great–I’m tall and I’m strong and build for physical labor–but this is not what women are supposed to look like, based on everything I’ve learned from the media.

So between the broad shoulders, the narrow hips, the small breasts, my height and my chin whiskers, I feel pretty unfeminine most days.  Even if none of this were true, I’m still a big girl and need to shop at stores that offer “plus” sizes.  If you’ve ever been forced to shop at plus size stores, you know that very few of them make clothes that are both flattering and stylish for women of size.  If larger women are fashionistas, they generally make their own clothes for just this reason.  On some level, I do feel like the clothing industry forced me out of feminine clothing.  Nothing flattering for my size, and nothing that fits me even at specialty stores.  After all, if you’re a big girl you have big hips and big breasts too! Right? Of course! Anything else would be ridiculous! One size fits all!

Yeah… Long story short, there is no such thing as feminine clothes for Linebacker Chicks.  Which isn’t to say I went “butch” just because I couldn’t find clothes I liked.  But I couldn’t find clothes I felt comfortable in, until I tried men’s clothes.  And, for the record, shopping in the men’s section as a woman is NOT fun, so I best be committed to it.  Men’s clothes are more closely designed for my body than most women’s clothes (though even my small breasts usually require me to buy a size up), so it’s certainly a logical choice for me.  But it all still feels so complicated…

Some days, like today, I find myself wishing I were “real girl.”  I see the girls on TV, in magazines, on the street, and they all look the same way: short, petite, thin, long hair, big breasts, nice curves, enough hips/ass to be attractive, etc. and then I look in the mirror and I can’t help but think to myself, “If I’m a girl, why don’t I look like one?” It’s not something make-up is going to fix.

And that’s the point about butch women I was trying to make in the first place before it turned into senseless insult-slinging: that butch women ARE women–that we are not trans or impersonating men.  My trans friends and allies are easily some of the most important people in my life.  My respect for them is endless.  And I am so very fortunate to have been given a body that matches my mind (mostly).  True, there are many times I don’t feel like a girl, but it’s not because of a disconnect between my body and myself: it’s a disconnect between the images we are fed of what women are “supposed” to be and what I see when I look in the mirror or at any of the other queer women I know.  We don’t fit, we never have, and I don’t know why I find myself wishing we did…

Perhaps it seems simpler to me than trying to reconcile my true self with the world at large.  A lot of people think like these asshats I was fighting with–if I don’t bother to follow the rule that I’m supposed to be pretty and aesthetically pleasing for all the penis bearers, then what purpose could I possibly serve?  And if women were no more than the sum of our conventionally-accepted beauty, then they might have a point.  Fortunately, women are fully formed human beings with big, fat brains to go with those breasts.  But I’d be lying if I said it didn’t sting a tiny bit.

So in an effort to buck that bullshit, I’m going to go ahead and claim this title of “Linebacker Chick.”  Because, really, if you’re going to tick off a feminist, should it really be the one built like a football player? Here’s a hint: Back in middle school, no boy every played me in basketball more than once if he wanted to stay out of the nurse’s office.

“People changed lots of other personal things all the time. They dyed their hair and dieted themselves to near death. They took steroids to build muscles and got breast implants and nose jobs so they’d resemble their favorite movie stars. They changed names and majors and jobs and husbands and wives. They changed religions and political parties. They moved across the country or the world — even changed nationalities. Why was gender the one sacred thing we weren’t supposed to change? Who made that rule?”
― Ellen Wittlinger, Parrotfish

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