Hey there, cave-dwellers!
Have you ever had strep throat before?
I ask you this because I was just eating delicious gluten-free shortbread cookies after work this afternoon.
In the midst of shoving crumbly fistfuls down my throat, I looked at the bag.
It suddenly occurred to me that I had no idea how come I had cookies at my house.
I didn’t buy the cookies.
They cost, like, six bucks for a teeny little bag.
No way would I buy these.
But CJ doesn’t really eat sugary stuff.
And they were just sitting on the kitchen table.
I ate the last cookie, licked my pointer finger, stuck it in the crumbs, and asked her if she bought me cookies.
Faggettes, today’s the first day I’ve been able to get out of bed in four days.
I’ve been knocked on my ass with strep throat.
My tonsils tried to take over my mouth and my throat closed up and I had to go to Urgent Care to get drugs because I couldn’t swallow and started panicking.
My fever climbed higher and higher.
Now, I don’t know about y’allfags, but when my fever goes up, I rapidly lose…lucidity.
A certain grasp on reality.
I get delirious.
I mean, I’m better now, but I literally cannot remember the last couple days of my life.
Apparently, as CJ tells it, while running a very high fever and staring at her with “weird scary eyes“, I suddenly threw back the covers, sprang out of bed wearing footie pajamas, and announced that I was much better and the only thing I needed to feel 100% was “a proper English tea.”
Apparently I begged her, over and over again, to go out and get “a packet of tea and some biscuits.”
Enter the shortbread cookies.
Frankly, I find this alarming.
It’s disconcerting to know that if I ever black out or have a psychotic break, my other personality is a mincing English prat.
Anyway! Mustn’t dwell.
Let me direct you towards my mailbag. Heh.
We don’t have time to be sick!
There are dykey issues afoot! We have to get to work!
The other day, a lovely lil’ lezzer named Rose sent me this:
Q: Dear Effing Dykes Writer,
…These past few years I have been the fun, pretty femme who looks straight to the eye but is gay right down to my roots.
I like being who I am…but after a while it becomes exhausting to have to defend myself and convince people that I am, in fact, very very gay.
I’ve been trying to figure out what I could possibly do to stand out from everyone else.
I have been thinking about becoming butch.
Is that possible? Can one just change from femme to butch? Is there some lesbian rule book as to who should be femme and who should be butch?
How does one determine if she should be one or the other?
Do y’allmos know what Rose is talking about?
Rose is talking about a phenomenon that occurs in lesbian culture on a regular basis.
For years, for lack of a better term, I’ve called it The Switch in my head.
It needs a better name but I’ve been wracking my brains and I can’t think of anything.
The Switch is when a lesbian (usually newly out or new to the scene, but not always) suddenly decides to “try on” a new persona or stereotypically dykey label – i.e. make a rapid, near-overnight change in clothing style, hair, and
often even mannerisms.
Now, don’t get me wrong, sluts.
Lots of people do this – not just lesbians.
When young, we all switch from preppy to emo to rich bitch to goth to stud to Abercrombie-whore to hick to nerd in the blink of an eye.
We’re learning about ourselves!
We’re trying on identities for the rest of our lives.
Now that we’re adults and we’re figuring things out…how do we want to show ourselves to the world?
Tons of people go through this.
But The Switch seems to happen especially a lot – a lot – with lesbians.
One day, you’re a tomboy.
The next, you’ve swung in the absolute opposite direction.
Now you’re wearing miniskirts.
And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Who says we have to pick a look and stick with it, anyway?
How else will we figure out who we are unless we experiment?
My only trouble with your letter, Rose, is…you seem to think your options are limited.
There are more kinds of lesbians than butch and femme.
Um, way more.
But I know why those seem like the obvious choices.
When you’re a newly hatched dykelet, the gorgeous subtle nuances of styles and looks in the lesbian world are lost on you.
It’s like being a baby – the subtleties of a flourless bittersweet chocolate cake with toffee creme fraiche nestled next to an earthy scoop of shiitake gelato is lost on on your inexperienced tongue.
You don’t taste all that.
You’re a baby.
You taste “sugar.”
Likewise, there are millions of ways to be gay, but newer lesbians look around and see only the very basics.
You don’t see the muscular yoga teacher with a shaved head who dresses in ripped jeans and little boys’ t-shirts and has lotus flowers tattooed down her spine and is actually a femme.
You just see a shaved head and boys’ t-shirts at the bar.
You’re new to all this.
You see “butch.”
Labeling is fun, and it’s a great way to start an argument, but there’s more ways to be gay than ascribing to other people’s set definitions of what a lesbian “looks like.”
There are millions of fine distinctions.
We must train our eyes.
That being said, though:
Christ on a crackpipe, Rose, don’t do it.
You already like who you are.
Don’t change for anyone else.
Be yourself! Love yourself!
Whip that femme hair!
Come, take my hand as we accept ourselves for who we truly are and move forward into a glorious new lesbian future!!!!
Listen, I know how tempting it can be to change and become more “lesbianish.”
I totally did The Switch when I first came out.
Learn from my humiliations, Rose.
When I was an innocent little femme babydyke, I was going to lots of gay bars and dealing with the classic problem of other lesbians thinking I was either a fag hag or a straight girl, and thus ignoring me.
(Btdubbs, that’s called femme invisibility – someday we’ll have a nice, cozy lil’ rant about that.)
I could only get dykes to talk to me if I was either:
a) with other, more obvious-looking gayelles
b) wearing a rainbow/pink triangle/HRC logo/lesbian band shirt
c) willing to go up to girls and hit on them.
Every. Single. Time.
I was working very very hard to get laid.
Too hard, bitches.
One day, I peeked out from under my mascara’d lashes and noticed something:
My boi and butch friends were getting more pussy than they could throw stones at.
And they weren’t even trying.
So what did I do?
Well, I’ll tell you what I didn’t do:
I didn’t come to terms with my innate inner femme goddess, that’s for damn sure.
I wasn’t attracting enough attention as a femme, so…
I cut my hair off.
I bought my first pair of jeans.
I – I – I bought a leather jacket.
I began wearing embarrassingly large belt buckles and greeting girls with the upwards head nod.
I was in my early 20′s.
I practiced sneering in the mirror.
There…there may have been some men’s undershirts involved.
I was TOTES butch now.
I know it was stupid! I was really young, ok?
If you promise to keep it to yourself, I’ll even tell you my secret shames:
1) I once slapped a butch friend on the back and said, “I know, bra, right?” conversationally when she was bitching about her girlfriend.
Years later, my face is burning just thinking about this.
2) Annnnd…I once put panties, a bra, jeans, and a belt on my body pillow and practiced, um, taking them off in interesting ways.
So I could be butch!
Because taking bras off body pillows with your teeth is obviously what all butches do, right?
Well, sluts, it didn’t work.
I was patently not a butch.
I looked ridiculous.
Butches, bois, and other femmes could smell my fakery from a mile off.
I got talked to at the bar even less.
All I got out of the entire humiliating experience were some pictures that CJ now takes out and passes around when we have people over for dinner, to general merriment.
Rose, learn from my mistakes.
Let me spare you the embarrassment of constantly playacting a role in your own life, just to impress some women who won’t be impressed, anyway.
Let me save you from a photo album filled with ill-fitting pants and unfortunate experiments with bolo ties.
Experiments are fun, and sometimes The Switch results in a change into the person you were meant to be, but don’t change yourself to impress homogirls with narrowass views of how lesbians look.
You are exactly what some hot dyke is looking for.
I have two parting questions, faggettes:
1) Can anyone think of a better name than The Switch?
2) Who’s got a good story about switchin’?
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Krista Burton is brand-new to Chicago. An ex-Mormon from Minneapolis, she writes a blog called Effing Dykes (www.effingdykes.blogspot.com), which is about activating your lesbian gaydar. She spends most of her time staring longingly at enormous dogs, riding her shiny orange scooter around town, and trying to bake gluten-free cake that doesn’t taste like gluten-free cake. She’s a staff writer at Groupon, and loves girls, inappropriate footwear, and hip-hop songs with filthy lyrics.