Butchness & The Watermelon Woman

Something the Watermelon Woman is making me think a lot about is masculinity and gender presentation especially in the cis lesbian community. A lot of the content we have watched recently have focussed on cis women who are masculine of center. Rhea Butcher in Take My Wife, as well as Tamra and Cheryl from the Watermelon Woman. These three women talk about their womanhood with pride at the same time as presenting in a way that often gets them mistaken for men or boys. In The Watermelon Woman there is a brief scene where Cheryl is harassed by the police and called a boy, and Rhea Butcher (who has said in interviews that she identifies as cis-gender-queer) makes jokes about being perceived as a boy sometimes as well. I find the border wars that are created when I watch these butch women as a non-binary trans person interesting. What does it mean for me to relate so intensely for some of these women? What does it mean for these people to break down gender roles while at the same time definitively claiming womanhood and often violently ignoring the existence of tranwomen and transfemine people?

I have a lot of questions about the Watermelon Woman and Q.U.E.E.N.  The question Conrad brought up in class has stuck with me this week and I’m wondering if there is such a thing as “positive representation” and if so can representation ever be more that a tool that distracts us from the real and pressing problems of White Supremacy. I’m still trying to figure out my thoughts on this and it is definitely something I want to discuss more as a class.

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