Guest Opinion: Butch bodies are beautiful

  • by Shaley Howard
  • Wednesday May 29, 2024
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Shaley Howard. Photo: Courtesy Shaley Howard
Shaley Howard. Photo: Courtesy Shaley Howard

A couple of weeks ago, we watched Congressmembers Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) and Jasmine Crockett (D-Texas) verbally attack each other during a public meeting of the House Oversight Committee. Greene at one point spewed, "I think your fake eyelashes are messing up what you're reading," a clearly racist comment aimed at Crockett. Within seconds, chaos ensued. Crockett hurled her own insult back at Greene, calling her a "bleach blonde bad built butch body."

Now don't get me wrong, I am no fan of Greene and honestly think she's a racist, transphobic, homophobic, xenophobic vile human being. And I do love a good take down. Not to mention, all of this was brought on by Greene herself. I fully understand why people would be celebrating Crockett's quick comeback. So much so, there's an overwhelming push for T-shirts to be printed with "Bleach Blonde Bad Built Butch Body." Greene is a bully. She does nothing but constantly hurl insults at everyone. So admittedly, at first, I, too, was thrilled and delighted to hear Greene taken down by Crockett.

Crockett, who is serving her first term in Congress, is someone I've always admired. She has a "take no shit" attitude that is refreshing, especially among Democrats, a party that usually shies away from throwing shade. And when Crockett is firing back at racists, I'm typically in heaven. It's not acceptable, nor should it be allowed, for Greene, or anyone for that matter, to shame, degrade or publicly insult any group of people. No one should have to endure that sort of reprehensible, offensive rhetoric. Especially in Congress.

The issue I have with Crockett's comment, however, is what was buried within it. When she told Greene she has a "bad built butch body," it was obviously not intended as a compliment. It was a slight, an insult and an attempt to cut Greene deeply. Which it may have? But far more damaging was what it implied — that butch bodies are undesirable and abnormal. That women with masculine features and bodies, or masculine-presenting women, are disgusting. It assumed that women's bodies are supposed to be more stereotypically feminine in appearance and anything deviating from that is obscene.

I am a masculine presenting, butch lesbian and I've had an entire lifetime of people shaming, insulting, and telling me there was something wrong with my body. It's taken me a lifetime to realize there is nothing wrong with my butch body. The body I was born with by the way, whether I liked it or not, that I was stuck with. With Crockett's comment, an entire sub-population of the LGBTQ+ community was body shamed and thrown under the bus.

I thought it was interesting that Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York), another politician I admire, was outraged at Greene's comment and immediately asked for her words to be taken down. "That is absolutely unacceptable. How dare you attack the physical appearance of another person," she said. What was ironic was there was no similar outrage from her around Crockett's comment that bashed butch bodies.

Like so many others, I, too, want to see Greene and all these racist MAGA homophobes and transphobes taken down. But celebrating this snap-back at the expense of an entire group of people isn't acceptable. This wasn't something on a celebrity television show, with contestants spouting off. This took place in Congress with our elected United States legislators. The place where laws are made. The LGBTQ+ community has historically always been discriminated against. And in our current political climate, we are facing over 500 anti-LGBTQ bills. The last thing we need is more oppressive rhetoric and verbal assaults thrown at us from our own representatives.

Shaley Howard is a masculine presenting lesbian and an award-winning author of "Excuse Me, Sir! Memoir of a Butch," and author of numerous articles featured in Curve, Diva, HuffPost, The Advocate, PQ Monthly, and Tagg magazine.

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