“these representations of butch feeling convey a sense that vulnerability is not a sign of disempowerment but a privilege that is often unavailable and harder to achieve than the conventional stereotype of women as sentimental would have it.”
“[in stone butch blues] the sign of intimacy is not having to say everything, being granted the dignity of refraining from the trauma of rehearsing the pain and humiliation again.”
—ann cvetkovich in an archive of feelings: trauma, sexuality, and lesbian public cultures
i love cvetkovich’s chapter on butch-femme sexuality and emotional styles. vulnerability as privilege? silence not as withdrawal but as intimacy? the ways in which sexual and emotional styles are related to various, insidious forms of everyday trauma? why aren’t we writing about this stuff all the time?
i really miss that tiny corner of the 80s and 90s devoted to working-class, lesbian, feminist writing about sex. it was this quietly glorious moment in between the 70s insistence on equal opportunity to orgasms and the 90s insistence on sex work as empowerment, the former which now feels obvious, the latter which i find dubious. and both of which seem to be lacking emotional texture. but the writing from this in-between period, by these in-between women, who are often left out of the feminist canon, still feels deliriously and honestly complicated.
maybe i’m just nostalgic for those early, life-changing encounters with dorothy allison or maybe i am doing some weird middle-class straightish person’s exoticization of the other. but i don’t think so. i just think that, in comparison, even other feminist writing on sex often feels full of frustrating half-truths, which seems particularly sad, given that so much of what joan nestle and leslie feinberg and amber hollibaugh and cherrie moraga were affirming was a refusal, in this one area, at the very least, to compromise.