Braw Butches, held in Glasgow Women’s Library on the 1 October, was an event celebrating butch identity and female masculinities. Aside from shedding light on the struggles of being a butch woman, it subtextually points towards a bigger problem of representation. BOOTWMN (Paige Gratland, Sam McWilliams, USA/Canada, 2015), a 10 minute documentary about Deana McGuffin’s experiences as a butch lesbian New Mexico boot-maker, discussed her challenges and triumphs over the years. McGuffin’s determination pushed her towards a traditionally masculine career path and her sense of humour helped whenever her skills were questioned; these traits made up an admirable attitude of refusing to be invisible.
On the other hand, Gender Troubles (Lisa Plourde, USA, 2016), focused on the expression of a butch identity as a way of staying true to oneself. Through a series of heartwarming and thought-provoking interviews it became apparent how often butch women have to face homophobic and sexist circumstances, having to choose between what they find comfortable and what society labels acceptable.
After having seen butch women that aren’t portrayed stereotypically or negatively, whether that be in fiction or in a documentary, there’s no going back. Characters as complex and realistic as Orange Is The New Black’s Big Boo are few and far between. Braw Butches made me aware of how far we need to go in terms of fair and equal representation of gender expressions. SQIFF amongst other projects and festivals did a great job at raising awareness and starting conversations, but now it’s time for the audience to take control. As consumers, we need to demand fairness and inclusivity in the content we choose outside of queer festivals and safe spaces.
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