We live in a violent and oppressive world. Being a stud, the world seems to take its anger out on us. I cannot speak for any experience outside my own and hopefully, there can be others who read this and understand or relate to this. We are attacked for being us, accused of being violent, or cheaters. We are accused of wanting to be “like men” when we are actually very far from it. We are not trying to emulate men. We are trying to be ourselves. We just want to live without people trying to pick at us. Without people telling us what we are, or what we aren’t.
People call us confused, violent, ugly, too much, et cetera. Some people even call us cringy, or they feel uncomfortable around us. I have seen other lesbians attacking us and excluding us from lesbian spaces with the belief that we are emulating heteronormativity, or that we are too violent. Domestic abuse does happen, but it happens regardless of gender expression, identity, sexuality, etc. Domestic violence is a widespread issue that happens in our community, and it cannot be ignored, however, just because someone presents a certain way does not mean that person is more susceptible to abusive tendencies. What they identify as does not mean they will be more violent, manipulative, or abusive.
For me, I am as far removed from men as possible, but people still try to find a way to connect us because of the way we present ourselves. The way hetero-cisnormativity has encapsulated the minds of so many people that they think lesbians are trying to be men shows how much unlearning and relearning there is to do. We need to think for a moment and realize that stereotypes exist to further categorize or erase us, and it harms us all. If there is oppression in one group there is no freedom for all.
There is hardly any representation for us in media (which is where many people see other members of the LGBTQ+ community) so studs and butches become invisible. Imagine how long it takes for a masculine woman to become comfortable in their own body. Imagine how she grows up hearing how wrong she is, or how awful it is that she is trying to be a man.
Many of us face discrimination that goes unseen by outsiders. We are denied jobs, housing, and many other opportunities our non-masculine women have to face. Trans studs and butches are faced with so much violence and transphobia and are often misgendered, which in itself is an act of violence. People say that studs and butches are confused, but in reality, it is society who is confused with us because it refuses to have a space for us. If people could take the time to understand what it means to be butch, we can break down the walls between us.
Growing up, I have always called myself a tomboy since I did not entirely relate to my other girl friends in school. It was the easiest explanation for me as a tween and teen to understand the way I presented myself. It was also the easiest way I could defend myself when people would say mean things to me. I would just say “I’m a tomboy, it’s okay.” There was and is no other way for me to be me. But now as an adult, it’s hard making friends. People automatically stereotype or assume things from you. Work is difficult because people constantly harass you with invasive questions including very personal ones that coworkers should not ask each other. People always ask what my gender is which is not a problem for me, but the question is a bit invasive and comes off as nosy. People can just ask what pronouns I go by instead.
When I was looking for apartments, it was difficult because the roommates asked for either “femmes or nonbinary people.” Why could this be? Do people use femmes as a replacement for “women” or as a way to include only femmes from applying? Or was it for feminine people in general? It must be remembered that the word “femme” is very vague, however, so knowing which type of femme the roommates had been asking for was confusing. As a Lesbian, I already had the context for femme in my mind, and all I knew is that it did not include me. If it was only one listing asking for femmes, it would not be a problem. I could keep searching. But many were set up like this. It was hard to find one listing that was asking for someone like me. If we could change the language and better understand these terminologies and what they entail, I believe that we can all vouch for each other without exclusion.
It needs to be remembered that lesbians, no matter how masculine, are not men and do not want to be men. We cannot display the toxic masculinity many people accuse us of having because we are oppressed by the patriarchy and attacked for being us. Nothing about being a butch or stud replicates masculinity because we take what we have and make it unique. We make it us. We strive to be a hundred percent authentic to ourselves. Lesbians, we can’t hurt ourselves in our community. We need to stand up for each other, and that means embracing all lesbians.
We need to remember that we are all in this together and the oppression of one group does not mean freedom for all of us.
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