As you know, I got my hair cut the other day. I really, really fucking love it. My mother saw the pictures and told me that my hair looked “dykey” and “butch.” I cried. When I sat down to think about why I had that reaction, there were so many different levels to this statement from my mother, and so many reasons for it to make me upset.
First is the examination of standards of feminine beauty in this culture. Short hair is not “feminine,” and that is a Bad Thing. Women should be “feminine.” It’s such a restrictive idea of gender and appropriate expression of gender. Women don’t have to be “feminine.” Furthermore, short hair does not equal “masculine.” Straight women can have short hair, and a woman with short hair does not automatically become a lesbian. I actually identify as high-femme, and so calling me “butch” is such a radically inaccurate statement about my gender identity.
Then there was the implication that looking/being “dykey” or “butch” was a Bad Thing. Even if I *was* either of those things (and there are many times when I very much am the former), that wouldn’t be bad. Being gay or butch or femme or whatever isn’t Bad and it isn’t Good. It just is, like having brown hair or being Italian.
And then I fall back to the fact that my mother does not accept me for who I truly am. As much as I try to tell her things about my life, and as much as she tries to accept me for me, the Queer Thing is the one thing she can’t come to terms with. She knows I review sex toys. She knows I’ve done “S&M” (her words, not mine) stuff. She knows I met the girlfriend of a guy I’d been kind of seeing. She knows my friends are gay. But when it comes to having to associate me with anything more queer than being an ally, she doesn’t want to hear it or know it or acknowledge it.
And so, I cried.