Every Butch Needs

My mom (about whom I have written before) forwarded me (and my sister and a few other female family members) an email that’s been going around for a while called “What Every Woman Should Have.” It’s actually a pretty decent list, paraphrased, it turns out, from a 1997 article in Glamour Magazine called 30 Things Every Woman Should Have & Should Know by the Time She’s 30, by Pamela Redmond Satran. I bet there’s a good chance you’ve seen this email somewhere before, too. I’m pretty sure this is the second time I’ve received it. Of course that’s how internet memes work, that’s not the point. The point is this: Mom attached the following note to it:

PS –  [Nezu], feel free to pick and choose from the list as this may be too “straight” for you. I’d love to see you compose a similar list for yourself. Maybe it would be something to post on your blog.

Now first off, can we all just take a moment to acknowledge that my mom is awesome? If you doubt her awesomeness, check out her response to my entry on being called “sir.” I am well aware that I am richly, richly blessed to have a mom who loves me for who I am. I know more than a few LGBTQ people who are cut off from their families entirely, and others who are in contact with toxic family members who call them sick, confused, misguided, rebellious, defiant, or treat them as sinners and obsessively pray for God to turn them straight. Luckily most of my friends have at least some family members who love and accept them as they are, but even among those who are accepted, very few are celebrated, as I am, for being queer.

Seriously, think about it. How many people do you know who have a parent, or really any family member at all, who thinks their queerness is one of their good features? How many parents would say, “I love the fact that my child is queer”? Not many. Not many at all, I’d bet. (Not my dad, for instance, but that’s a story for another time.)

Anyway, Mom asked for my version of the list, and who am I to refuse?

Every Butch Needs

Every butch should have:

A toolbox with a decent hammer, flat and Philips screwdrivers, pliers, a strap wrench, and a tape measure (not just a hex wrench from IKEA)

Picture hanging skills (do you know how to drive a nail?)

Underwear that makes you feel sexy, be it boxers, briefs, or bloomers

One friend who always makes you laugh, and one who lets you cry (and will never tell a soul)

A friend you can call no matter what time it is, no matter what the reason

A good piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone in your family

A good soup pot, a decent frying pan, and a box of recipes hand-written on little index cards

Attractive barware and enough good plates to invite all your closest friends over for a meal at once (even if that meal is pizza and beers)

Jumper cables, a fire extinguisher, a first aid kit, and a motion-powered flashlight

A wallet, a suitcase, and an umbrella that you aren’t embarrassed to be seen carrying

Faith that liking pink (or perfume, or skirts, or chick flicks, or cashmere scarves, or kittens, or…) doesn’t erase your butch identity

The ability to laugh at and forgive yourself

A feeling of control over your destiny

Every butch should know:

How to fall in love without losing yourself

How to quit a job, break up with a lover, and confront a friend without destroying the relationship

When to try harder, and when to walk away

That you can never go back to the way it was

That your childhood may not have been perfect, but it’s over

What you would and would not do for money or love

How to live alone, even if you don’t like it

How to live with someone else, even if you don’t like it

Whom you can trust, whom you can’t, and why you shouldn’t take it personally

What you can and cannot accomplish in a day, a month, and a year

Not to apologize for something that isn’t your fault

How to apologize when it is your fault

How to leave a decent tip

How to give and receive a compliment

Not to wait to be (thinner, richer, safer, stronger, fitter, braver, better) — do it now!

How to find your balance again (and again, and again)

I’m sure there’s more. Lots of those things aren’t just for butches (not by a long shot) and I’m sure there’s important stuff I’ve left out, and you probably all have your own ideas about this. Actually I’d love to hear other people’s ideas about this. But anyway…

What everyone should have — absolutely everyone including butches (and I’d give it to them if I could) — is a mom like mine. I love you, Mom.


~ by Nezu on 20 April 2010.

8 Responses to “Every Butch Needs”

  1. “Faith that liking pink (or perfume, or skirts, or chick flicks, or cashmere scarves, or kittens, or…) doesn’t erase your butch identity”

    LOVE that. And love that you have a mom that accepts you like you are. My daughter and I have always had that and interestingly enough, now that I have to “come out” to her, I think it will be easy enough. In fact she’ll encourage me. Always have to have that person who loves you no matter what. I’m glad you had that.

  2. And I love you, too, and I am one hell of a proud Mom to have such an super daughter.

    Hugs, Mom

  3. Hmmm, what does it say about me that I have all the items listed on the what every butch should own list? chuckle. dont answer that, at least not just yet….

  4. Actually, except for the liking pink bit, these ALL sound like Things Every Person Needs/Needs To Know.

    And you have an awesome mom. 🙂

  5. I think my problem with the original list is, one:

    I was expecting a real list, not a sort of inspirational ‘rah rah’ thing. I resent Inspirational things that are tossed at me in the guise of actual, useful lists.

    and two:

    A drill and a black bra are NOT ONE ITEM. They are two. And you should never have just ONE black bra that fits well. If you find a bra that fits well (and you don’t have the option of binding the wiggly wads down flat) then that item on the list should be about buying ten of them. Also, on the femme list of thirty things you need, matching underwear are an utter must.

    I feel that while a toolbox is a good thing to have, just saying ‘toolbox’ is a list item. There are other lists that have the ten things every toolbox needs. I could find one if I wasn’t feeling lazy as pie crust*.

    But, for you…

    Five things a Femme needs:

    1. A make-up case to carry her make-up in, because otherwise you end up with a broken eyeshadow tub that you can’t get rid of, because your favorite color (which you’d barely gotten to use) was a damn limited edition, those…

    … *ahem*…

    A make-up case. **

    2. A way to organize her shoes.

    3.The ability to remember what shape you actually are before buying anything.

    4. Good socks. Everyone needs good socks. Not the cute ones, the good ones that go inside all your boots, all your cool looking sneakers. Decent. Damn. Socks.

    5. A ‘go fuck yourself’ attitude that comes with an off switch.

    And… Those are my femme additions to the list. I claim the socks are femmy because it’s something I sorta had to learn the hard way.

    *Pie crust, the lazy fucker of the pastry world. THE MORE YOU KNOW.

    **Make-up case must have, in order of importance if not application:

    1. Lip gloss/lipstick you can wear anywhere.

    2. Mascara. The pink and green case is available at any drug store, is long lasting and waterproof.

    3. Eye liner/eye pencil. Because if you rim them in black and do mascara, you are done for 90% of your life.

    4. Foundation. Something light.

    5. Eye shadows. I realize that I use a vast array of eye shadow colors, but if I was packing for a road trip, or thought I had limited time, this is where I rank all those colors. They might go on almost first (over a primer if I have time, and if I’m using all my colors, I have the time)

    6. Everything fun. This includes that primer I mentioned (Smashbox FTW), eyelash curler, oh, the eyebrow pen, the pencil sharpeners, the tweezers, the things that don’t fit in the damn box but are important anyway, like the perfume you splurged on and you make it fit because you want that safe, and…

    7. Insurance so if it gets stolen you don’t have to out-of-pocket $300 worth of makeup.

    Why yes, I could also do this sort of detailed list with a ‘things you should have in your car’ duffel and a toolbox. But that’s on the ‘human being’ list as opposed to the ‘Femme’ list.

  6. Okay, I kind of love Momo’s list. *dies* I don’t have a list to give you, but I do have something to bolster you in your pink-watermelon-hoodie-wearing-ness. I was at Quin’s (and she doesn’t own a scrap of women’s clothing, except her sport’s bra, from what I can tell) and in her closet there were not only pink dress shirts — plural! — but purple, too. And she wore a pink one. And it looked excellent and butch. I thought of you and your sweater; I think it just takes knowing you’re still butch, whatever color you’re wearing. 😉


  7. Off the top of my shaven head, here’s a few:
    Ripped and faded jeans
    Cute boxers to show subtly thru a rip in the above
    Boots..good big stompin dykeboots
    Classic sneakers..chucks, dickies or whatever
    A designer wallet chain – the chain because its useful, the designer aspect because then one can claim irony
    A great belt for all of the above to be below..

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