Categorizing in the lesbian community is something that happens pretty frequently. It's funny, really – here's this community that's kind of already sidelined for being "different," yet we do the same thing internally. I really struggle with it, as I believe many who identify as a lesbian do. I very much know who I am and what I stand for, what I believe…yet if you asked me what I felt I fit in under, categorically, I wouldn't be able to tell you.
I had a friend's partner tell me the other day that I was ugly. I cocked my head sideways, confused. He then (very drunkenly, mind you) explained that he had seen one of my Facebook profile photos and asked who that hot girl was. He realized it was me with longer hair. He then said "What a little hottie! But now you're ugly. Like, cool-ugly, but you know what I mean." He walked away and his girlfriend just rolled her eyes in his general direction and walked with him. I can excuse it, but it's like…now that I don't have this incredibly patriarchally defined version of femininity, I'm ugly? Nothing in my face has changed. Nothing in my body has changed. I still wear dresses more than pants. I don't leave the house without some sort of gigantic pair of earrings. I love painting my nails. Here I am, doing all of these categorically feminine things, yet because I wanted to have Romi from The Real L Word's short-cropped 'do, I'm ugly?
I hear a lot of terms thrown around in the lesbian arena for identifiers. Butch and femme are the big'uns, and there's a spectrum to which those adhere. Under the queer-identifying label, the terms get even broader, since gender, sex, and sexuality become imperative factors. And it's true for me, as it is for my girlfriend and others, that there are sexual attractors that work like magnets. My lady and I were talking about what our "types" were at dinner the other night. She said her biggest factor is womanly women, and though she didn't like using that term, she didn't know how else to describe it (and I really can't blame her). She likes "stereotypical" women: long hair, curves, feminine dress. I can get down with that. Minus the long hair, I have those things. I personally find myself incredibly attracted to women that exude major confidence. I really can't get enough of it, actually. Nothing's sexier than a woman who is comfortable in what she's got, and owns it. Yum city. But what category, then, do these women that we're attracted to fall under? I think for her, femme is a safe bet. For me, I think I'm more into a chapstick femme: someone who identifies as a female/woman and dresses confidently and casually. Also, suspenders. Bow ties. Cropped pants. I can't really tell you what those things do for me.
But then I get upset. Why do I do this? Why do any of us do this? Why do we care? What's our obsession with putting things into neat, organized little boxes? Is it really correct of us to be so non-inclusive in our supposedly inclusive community? How are we being supportive if we decide that we don't want to be friends with any "butch" girls/bois/boys and cut them off? It can become like a high school clique within our own community when we create these categories. It's okay to be attracted to a certain type of person. It's natural to not be able to describe why you like someone. Science and physics and other things that I failed in high school explain why our brains function the way they do. We don't control who we like, and that's all fine and well, but when we feel the need to categorize it, does it become non-inclusive?
I don't think creating categories will ever stop. I think it's okay to find the self naturally attracted to certain things. We all find different parts of different bodies on different genders and sexes alluring. If we can then find a way to enjoy those things without immediately placing them into the box labeled "butch," "femme," "boi," or the like, we'll probably be one step closer toward an inclusive, welcoming, open and loving society. Remember, lezzers: every day, we're faced with the possibility of needing to come out, and in turn, being put into the "that person is gay" box. Sometimes it doesn't feel good. And that goes for all other boxes we're put into. If we can break down box walls, we should do it together, starting internally. Who's with me?