Butch it up or femme it up…

First of all: thanks and credits go to Definitely The Opera for this lovely expression;  today I was strongly reminded of it when a friend of mine shared an appeal from moveon.org

“Stop the Republican War on Women

Redefining rape. Attacking the right to choose. Belitting victims of violence. The Republicans are on a rampage attacking women’s health and rights this year. …”

I have to say, I am not surprised at all. Even more; those opinions voiced by the Republicans in that case are not only wide-spread, but the bias expressed in them has a huge backup in society. Gender bias run deep; I will omit posting “Woman is the n*** of the world” here. It is hard for a woman to be successful, unless she strips off almost everything which marks her female side.  Women are demanded to show certain female traits though, as by default they have to be gentle, caring, concerned, and loving. In my opinion, prejudices like that insult women and men alike; if I was a man, I would feel offended that whenever I behave gentle, or loving, it is seen as an outbreak of my “female side” and thus, putting my virility in question.

I am frequently mocked or even told to leave out the subject for once when I feel I have to voice my opinion whenever it feels necessary concerning queer rights, or when I even mention the LGBT Community.  Not being hero-material as such — why do I care so much in the first place? Of course out of empathy, but then, I don’t equally engage myself concerning immigrants’ rights etc.. So in parts — apart from other, more personal reasons — I do, of course, because how a society treats homosexuals is deeply intertwined with how it treats women.

Mr. Westerwelle being butch

For the people not familiar with German politics,  I might have to introduce Mr. Westerwelle at this point. Mr. Westerwelle has always been a man mocked by some, admired, and envied at times by others. Having been brought up by a single dad, he changed school because of he didn’t fulfil the demands put towards him, later on got his exam after finishing the “Realschule” first. He became a lawyer, and even worked in this profession. Politically engaged, he quickly rose to the top ranks in his faction, and has thus been leading and shaping his political party called the FDP (Free Democratic Party, considers itself as liberal) ever since. At the moment his party and the CDU are holding office in a coalition, with Angela  Merkel being chancellor, and himself being Foreign Minister.

This article in a German magazine deals with the fact why this Mr. Westerwelle  is persistently criticized as much as he is at the moment, most specifically from the left-wing side of the political spectrum.

This author mentions, mockingly, that under normal conditions an openly gay politician should encounter the warmest rush of sympathy from the left wing corner, and sees the reason for Mr. Westerwelle’s astounding lack of popularity in the fact that he doesn’t comply to the expectations people have concerning a gay man — Socially very concerned, sensitive… of all things, those are some traits not even Mr. Westerwelle’s most devoted fans are able to spot.  (I am not talking about Mr. Westerwelle as a private person here, but about him as a politician, of course; the only conclusions I can reach concerning  his assumed private life are based on his public appearances and his PR.)

To me, he resembles more and more an angered Chihuahua. Chihuahuas are no cute dogs as such, even if they don’t instantly bite hands of at the attempt to put pink ribbons into their coat — Chihuahuas were originally bred to kill snakes. They are quick of mind, harmless in appearance, but I personally wouldn’t dare to tease one; and, beware if you are the snake.
As I have been politically interested all my life, I have to say, knowing the kind of criticism and treatment the man had to endure for years, it is more than understandable that he evolved more and more into said  Chihuahua. At times, I feel more than a bit like that, being born a woman, and because of that behaviour of his which others criticize most, he has my warmest sympathy indeed — all political issues left alone for now.

Mr. Westerwelle with his husband

It has to be mentioned what the author leaves out, unfortunately; the important fact that as the FDP and the CDU hold office in coalition, with the FDP scraping at the 5% hurdle, it is much easier to pick on Mr. “Wildcard” Westerwelle than it is on Angela “Teflon” Merkel, using the very fitting attributes according to Wikileaks here.

But let alone this digression — Is the dislike based on the fact that Westerwelle apparently fails to fulfil the what you could call positive prejudice that all gay persons by default were kind, caring and gentle? The longer I think about it, the more I reach the conclusion that the author is right, as much as I would wish it to be otherwise.

Whatever sex we belong to and whatever our sexual orientation, people expect us to behave according to rules we never set up for ourselves; others do.

Mr. Westerwelle fails to engage himself much in social politics. This wouldn’t be per se a problem, wasn’t he gay. He is though, so if for once he behaves explicitly butch, people denounce him for exactly that. Another example: Mr. Philippe Jaroussky, splendid singer, was asked by a queer magazine — in seriousness! — how he felt about some pictures of him “radiating a very masculine aura”. Well yes, he is a man, so, … too seme for you?

Mr. Jaroussky, radiating a masculine aura 0.o

If you want to be taken seriously — if you’re a woman, butch it up.

Mrs. Merkel being butch

If you want to denounce men, “femme them up”. Female is bad, male is good. Call them a sissy or a bitch, or make name-jokes like turning “Westerwelle” into “Schwesterwelle.” (“Schwester” is “sister” in German. This kind of name-calling offends me as a woman as well, unnecessary to say.)

Mrs. Merkel femming it up for the Bayreuther Festspiele

It is weird somehow that gay men have to face both prejudices. What now… Not butch enough? Not showing their assumed soft side enough? If I was a gay man and had any strength left concerning this ever new tedious matter, I think I would laugh.

Fed up as I am by gender bias in general, as much as I want to ignore it, and pretend it to be non-existent; we all have to face it. Others judge you and categorize you, whether you want it or not, all the time.

A picture that makes me proud to be German, for once!


4 thoughts on “Butch it up or femme it up…

  1. You’re right, but funnily her face looks more feminine the butcher her clothes get. It must have something to do with the the contradiction which enhances the things that doesn’t fit the masculine picture; Marlene looked most feminine when she wore breeches as well.
    It is a wide-spread conviction here that Mrs. Merkel is ugly and people get never tired of flaming in that direction — I disagree; I like her face, actually. And of course, this is another thing that has to do with bias. No man in politics is ever picked upon because of his looks like that.

  2. INDEED! And if you do by chance look nice you are not taken seriously because of exactly that. You’ll never get it right, according to some people…

    *rattling with sabre, defiantly humming, “Dio, che nell’alma infondere….”

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