Please fire me. I am a paralegal, and one of the basic pieces of information we need from new clients for legal purposes is their date of birth. Usually, we simply allow them to write down said information on an intake form.
Today, I discovered that one of my clients listed their DOB as “12/31/15.”
I guess the unborn ARE entitled to legal representation, after all.
A young Butch girl undergoes a lot of “othering” as a child. Wherever she turns, whatever she does, she is likely to hear that she is “not like the other girls.” In fact, this is not just typical of Butch girls, but of girls of all stripes. When we do well, we are often told that we are “not like the other girls,” which serves to drive wedges between women building solidarity and finding common ground, as well as to reinforce the idea that women, in general, are “less than.” However, my experience is as a young Butch girl, and I believe the “othering” that young Butch girls go through is particularly destructive. When a young Butch girl is told that she isn’t like the other girls, she is generally left without any older Butch role models with whom she could relate and see herself reflected. Without a role model, the young Butch is forced to ask herself, if she is not like the other girls, then what exactly is she like? All too often, as our young Butch grows up, this sense of othering without a positive Butch role model will push the young Butch towards identification with men. When the young Butch is told that she is “not like the other girls,” she often also hears that she “thinks like a guy,” or “plays like a guy,” or “relates like a guy.” The sense of othering can be quelled by this idea that the young Butch is just like one of the guys, and then she doesn’t feel quite so Other. There is safety and comfort in being part of a social group where you are seen as typical of the group, instead of a blatant outlier. If a young Butch grows up without a positive lesbian social circle and lesbian role models, the identification with males is practically automatic. A few years ago I saw ads for a photo exhibit called “Butch: Not like the other girls.” Initially I was over the moon excited – there was finally a positive visual representation of my people that was going to be seen all over! It was getting good press! The signs were everywhere! It took me a year or so to realize why I felt such a sense of discomfort with the exhibit, even though there were photos of women who looked like me, and seemed to feel like me being portrayed as attractive and in a positive light. I thought about it a lot. Eventually it came to me that I was really uncomfortable with the idea of adult Butch women continuing their othering into adulthood by reclaiming the idea that we are “not like the other girls.” Suddenly, the concept of being “not like the other girls” went from being something I saw as a point of strength to being something that turned my stomach and brought me back to the painful days of childhood, and of constantly feeling like I don’t fit in. What would the world look like if Butch women stood up together and said, instead, “I am just like you.” We are, you know. We are just like every other woman. We are female. We are not “other.” We need to fight alongside women, not fight to distinguish ourselves and keep other women at arms’ length. What if we fought for our similarities instead of differences? This othering leads to so many issues within the larger lesbian community, as well… when a Butch cannot connect with herself as a female, it sets her apart and feeds the misogyny that creeps into all of our lives and psyches if we don’t actively work to keep it in check. We are female. We are one with other females. We have so many strengths in common. Let us play to those strengths. I propose instead that Butch is just like the other girls. I am just like the other girls.