This weekend’s national Butch Voices conference, being held in Oakland, has finally reached critical mass for the “othering” of women and Lesbians that has been a part of the organization since its inception in 2008. The organizers have split over the complete erasure this year of Women and Lesbians from the conference platform. The words “Butch” and “Women” have been replaced in the BV platform by the term “Masculine of Center”.
Masculine of Center , or MOC women (“mock women”) is the latest terminology forced onto Butch Lesbians by the transgender F2Ts and hetero “queer” women who have colonized and taken over Lesbian Butch/Femme spaces and meeting places. Previously they tried to force Butch lesbians to define themselves in opposition to trans “Butches” by inflicting the term “Female Identified Butch” , or FIB women – often shortened mockingly to “Fibbers” according to the trans philosophy that all femininity non-performing women and Butch Lesbians are “Transmen in denial” (because if we were “real” women we’d be performing femininity, doncha know).
The removal of Butch Women and Lesbian from the population served by the Butch Voices organization, and the adoption of the incredibly offensive “Mock Women” terminology is the biggest “Fuck You” imaginable to Butch Lesbians. And it was done willingly and knowingly because according to ButchVoices own website, programming committee member Jeanne Cordova has been protesting the change for the last 18 months. Their response according to Sasha Goldberg, an F2T2F Butch Voices organizer, was to schedule the annual board member retreat during the one week of the year that Cordova would be unable to attend due to a scheduled surgery.
This is not the first time Butch Lesbian voices have been silenced by the Butch Voices organization. At the last national conference in 2009, every single proposed Butch Lesbian presentation was rejected by organizers, most of whom refer to themselves as “ex-females” and “ex-Lesbians”.
Butch Voices President and Conference Co-chair Krys Freeman has previously stated “I don’t even like to call myself a lesbian because I feel like it’s politicized. Well, I could be. Some people think I’m a lesbian. It’s a fair assumption. I like women. ”
And “ex-Lesbian ex-female” Butch Voices founder Joe LeBlanc defended the removal of Women and Lesbians from the Butch Voices platform and the need for Butch Women to be identified by the MOC terminology, apparently because eliminating Lesbians and adopting the Transman/MOC-female language will decrease Butch Lesbian visibility and erase the fact that Butch/Femme spaces were created by Lesbians.
The only misogyny Joe is concerned with, according to his PR release responding to the split, is the so-called “misogyny” of females protesting total erasure of women from a national Butch conference.
“ It is misogyny when people dictate what pronouns we can use for ourselves, the identities we can hold, and what spaces we are welcome to uphold,” Joe responds.
If representation of women is what ex-Lesbians Joe LeBlanc and Krys Freeman consider “misogyny”, the institutional silence that organizers Jeanne Cordova and Sasha Goldberg met for the last 18 months begins to make more sense.
The following is an excerpt from a post by Sasha T. Goldberg that shows her months of correspondence- her UNANSWERED correspondence on the issue to other ButchVoices organizers. (Click on the link to read the correspondence in its entirety).
“JUNE 14TH, 2010
Joe, thanks for your well thought out essay. I appreciated reading your thoughts. I also want to second some of Jeanne’s thoughts, here. Jeanne offers many of my deepest sentiments, but there are some things I’d like to say, as well.
In the spirit of an injury to one is an injury to all, here is what I think is important to add:
All of you know me now, to one degree or another. You know how committed I am to Butch Voices, to what we do, and to our mission. I know these things about you all, too. And perhaps you also know that I commit my time, energy, and resources to run a monthly Bulldagger group. And maybe you know, or maybe you don’t, that I had to fight very hard for us, Butch Voices, in that group, hours spent trying to convince people (many of whom had even been to the conference) that Butch Voices is about Butch women. That there is room (insult to injury, really) for Butch women at a Butch conference. In this way, I have defended Butch Voices to so many Butch Women that I’ve lost count–and now we’ve gone and changed our motto to “Masculine of Center people.” What shall I tell us Butch women now?
Because here is the truth: If I myself just happened to stumble across a conference that was for “masculine of center people,” it would never occur to me to attend. I am not a masculine “of center” person. I am a Butch. I am a woman. I am female. That has been the history–and the persistent present–for so many of us Butches. Additionally, I am not even sure where this supposed “center” is “supposed” to be. I am sure, however, that this world keeps erasing Butch women–from history, from literature, from film, from television, from our streets, from our families, churches, employment markets, housing, and with continued, persistent pressure to be men–and now we, Butch Voices, we have gone and erased Butch women from the first sentence of our mission statement. Now that is just something that I don’t have the heart to defend, friends.
I know you all, just like you know me, so I know and trust your intent and I hope that you know and trust mine. But again and again I say: We are not the same, us Butches who are women and use female pronouns and folks who live on a ‘transmasculine spectrum’; we are not the same, and though we can support one another in a thousand ways, I absolutely refuse to have my Butch identity and history blended in, watered down, or erased. And if this sounds like a political platform, you know, maybe it is–I have been fantasizing about a keynote on solidarity at BV for some of these exact reasons. But as we all know, the political is the personal and this is what is true for me, and for so many other Butches:
Without protecting and defending the space that Butch women have carved out, created, survived and built in addition to trans-spectrum folks, we are not doing justice. We are not doing me right, we are not doing Jeanne right, and we are not doing many, many other Butches right. We are not doing right by our past, we are not doing right by our present, and we are surely not doing right towards ensuring our future.
For all of the above reasons, I strongly ask that you to re-consider the current language. I also strongly second Jeanne’s suggestion of “butch women and all trans-masculine folks.” We simply cannot stand in solidarity without making a stand alone space, literally, metaphorically, and linguistically, for Butch women.
With continued dedication,
Goldberg, Cordova, and at least two other Butch Voices organizers have left the organization in July over this issue and are founding a group for Butch Women called BUTCH NATION. Butch Nation organizers are holding unauthorized scheduled sessions for Butch Women in various hotel rooms throughout the conference venue, since they have been denied a platform to speak.
On Wednesday night Butch Voices posted a message on their Facebook page that a “Town Meeting” was being scheduled for both groups to speak: at 12 noon on Friday before the conference start. None of the Butch Nation women were notified or invited, and Butch Women complained that they had no time to schedule a day off from work at such short 36 hour notice to attend. It seems the “Town Meeting” was scheduled in such a way that very few women could attend.
I hope to receive updates and reports here from readers who are now attending the conference.