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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » LGBTQA Relationships » The D-Word

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Author Topic: The D-Word
Natalie H
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Member # 48229

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Hello Scarleteens!

Since becoming a lesbian I've taken to playing with the language a bit. I use the word dyke a lot. I even have a sort of comic-esque alter ego, Dykasaurus, who in my mind is a more badass version of myself, kind of what I plan to be once I finish high school, move out, and can start my own life. Dykasaurus stands up for her beliefs, speaks her mind clearly and bluntly, and doesn't cry over trivial little things. I like to try and connect to her when I have to deal with things that as Natalie I'd be a weeping puddle of anxiety, but as Dykasaurus I can take it head on.

Anyway, my whole issue right now is with the word. I use it very often, but not usually to refer to me. A lot of people used to see offense in it, but I've seen so many lesbians (even non lesbians, such as Liliane Bi-Dyke) use it that I think all the power's been drained from it, much like nigga and fag. I'm a firm believer that words only have the power that we give them.

My sister-in-law hates it. She hears dyke and she automatically thinks of mullet and combat boots and a motorcycle. It doesn't help that she's married to my sister but also hates the word lesbian, because she thinks people are going to have an assumption of what that makes her as a person. I don't get it, but oh well.

Anyway, she brought it up to me that I'm not a dyke at all. She said I was so far from a dyke it doesn't even make sense. I can't wrap my head around it. As far as I knew, a dyke is just a lesbian, and a lesbian is just a woman that is primarily attracted to other women, which is what I am. So why can't I call myself a dyke? Sure I'm not a bikerdyke or a leatherdyke or a butchdyke, but I still think I'm a dyke. I don't have to be masculine to use the title, do I?

Is she right about this? Is dyke really a term that is generally used to describe butch lesbians? I had the idea it's one of those words that means whatever it means to you individually, but is it really officially interchangeable with butch? I'm just kinda confused here.

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Bicycle? I prefer a homocycle.

Posts: 118 | From: Houston | Registered: Aug 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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Dyke is a tricky word, because it has a lot of connotations.

Setting aside the negative ones (though some people feel women not being femme is negative in and of itself), it's a term that can be used to describe a sexual orientation, a gender identity, or both. I like it too, particularly because for me, it speaks to both the way I feel about women (though I prefer queer for orientation, since my feelings aren't exclusive to women) and to my gender identity, which is more butch than femme. I'd agree that it often tends to be used by more butch women than femme women, but I'd not say it's at all exclusive to people who are butch. I'd also say that usage of dyke differs regionally and in different communities, and my impression is that folks who are more negative about it often come from areas that are less queer-friendly. Like, um, Texas. [Smile]

It also sounds, though, like your sister has her own baggage around the term to unpack, and maybe even has some negative feelings towards some kinds of women she needs to work out. That's her stuff though, not yours, and ideally, she'll be able to recognize that and support you in whatever language YOU feel fits you best at any given time. You're not titling her, after all, you're titling yourself. But it sounds like she's not doing a very good job of that: telling someone else what their identity is and is not just isn't cool. That's up to you, not anyone else.

(Oddly enough, Liliane is someone I haven't seen in YEARS, but once did some photography for around a decade ago. She's awesome people, and I think she'd really dig your Dykasuarus character!)

[ 09-25-2010, 12:53 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Natalie H
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Thanks for the quick response.

I have to agree that she seems to have her own issues, of which I'm not going to mix my own life into. It's easy enough to just let it slide (mainly because thanks to Dykasaurus I don't take a lot of the things she says to heart anymore) so I think I'll just keep my thoughts to myself since it's easier for her that way. She seems to have a much narrower view on sex and sexuality, narrower than me anyway, and that's only because I've been on this site so much. :-P It's a shame that such a strong woman as herself will let a few little words put her down.

I tend to lean more towards butch anyway than femme, and I plan to do that moreso in the future. But I don't like falling under one category, and I really think there isn't a word to describe me since I've avoided being predictable all my life, so I like to use dyke. I feel it's a flexible word, and if people are gonna hear it and think I own a rottweiler instead of a corgi, well fine, I don't like people that make such quick assumptions anyway.

I have to say I laughed at your crack about Texas. You're right that it's not very queer friendly, save for Montrose which is where I plan to live when I go to college, and I also plan to travel to more open minded places. Portland, for instance. There are SOME people here that are ok, but even them get so wrapped up in the majority that they can't ever really let go completely (like my sister-in-law).

I'm surprised you know Liliane, but not extremely. :-) You seem to keep all kinds of balls in the air. I read her whole comic a few months back, and now I read her comics for Rainbow Rumpus. She makes me excited to become a queer adult! I'm hoping in the future I can meet her when I get a chance to travel around Canada.

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Bicycle? I prefer a homocycle.

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naplement
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Maybe it's not that funny for the rest of the world, but ever since I've met the other meaning of dyke ["an embankment constructed to prevent flooding, keep out the sea, etc."] I can't stop wondering what kind of nerdy homophobe must someone have been to say firstly that "Thou unruly woman, you are nothing but an ingenious piece of civil engineering to me!"? [Smile]

good luck for the Dykasaurus project!

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sacredintimate
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This is a fun conversation!

I, personally, love the word DYKE! Like I love the word CUNT!

I'm expressing myself as something of a genderqueer femme these days and love the term dyke for its connotation, to me at least, of a strong, self-empowered, unapologetic queer lady-lover. (With the caveat that "lady-lover" may just apply to my orientation of the day.)

One of the things that I've learned in the last decade or so of trying on new labels and showing my writings exploring gender roles and expectations to my family of origin, is that these labels are typically more accepted in the community of GLBTIQ people. Typically, but not always.

So, I don't usually use the words "fag" or "dyke", especially with people I'm first meeting who I perceive as heterosexual. In some places, Texas being one of them, these words are still slung at us by people that mean us harm. (I grew up in Texas and have lots of family in Houston.)

For me, this means that I don't use the terms "dyke" or "cunt" to describe myself unless I'm with people I know that can handle it. I generally use the umbrella term "queer" to avoid intrusive and judgmental conversation or commentary. this is applicable in non-queer working environments, at home with my family of origin, in volunteer situations where I'm first getting to know people.

I'm not suggesting you go in the closet about what language you use as you develop your gender or sexual orientation or political identity. All I'm saying is that not all words work for all people and it may work for you to pick and choose which people you reveal Dykasaurus to.

May you feel celebrated by the ones you love!

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Cian
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From a personal standpoint on the dislike of the word "lesbian" (I personally refer to myself as gay when I discuss my orientation), for me it has a negative connotation simply because it was used as a harsh way for alienating, humiliating and abusing others when I was a child-- mainly by other children mind you. It's not necessarily the word, but rather the memories connected to it that I find very bothersome and would rather people don't use it when they refer to me (especially since I am not a lesbian.)
But that's just me. I will also admit I get this very comic-esque image in my mind from the word dyke, haha. It's all fine, though, I'm not one to judge.

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Ste-Funnie
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You really should be careful who you use the word to. Some people take it derogatory. I don't want people calling me a dyke but it's fine if y'all wanna call yourself one.

BTW, when I read the title, I thought the D word you were referring to was "dick" but I was wrong. lol.

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~Stephanie Gabriella Murray
I'm very gay for being a lesbian, and not gay to be what I'm not

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Haleylynn
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SacredIntimate captured my feelings exactly. The only problem for me is having friends that you cant even say "queer" around--it becomes a problem sometimes, especially if one feels like proclaiming their queerness!
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TonicTwelve
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I've been doing a lot of thinking about my sexual identity/orientation for the last few months and I'm still very much questioning, but I like using the word dyke to describe myself. I'm not out to anyone (in fact I'm hardly even out to me!) and I've never actually expressed my orientation out loud to anyone. SacredIntimate's definition is pretty much the exact connotation dyke has to me, and even if an awful lot of things about my sexuality are still pretty undefined and unsure to me, I am pretty confident that I am a "strong, self-empowered, unapologetic queer lady-lover."

So yes, I like it a lot. But I wouldn't use it out loud in conversation with other people, though that also has a lot to do with the fact that I don't feel ready to discuss my sexuality with my family or friends using any language, not specifically the word dyke.

This is a fun topic!

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~~Caitlin

"Oh baby I said,
It's all in our hands,
Got to learn to respect,
What we don't understand,
We are fortunate ones,
Fortunate ones, I swear."


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Djuna
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Hi TonicTwelve - it's great that you've found a word that you like to describe yourself! That took me a long time, I probably only found my favourite in the last few months. I like "pansexual", both because it doesn't imply a gender binary (which "bisexual" does), and because I always get this image of Peter Pan, which in theatre is a girl dressed up as a boy who's wearing tights. [Smile]

If you want, we can talk about the feelings you're expressing about questioning your identity? I know that was (is) a difficult time for me.

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In a strange room, before you are emptied for sleep, what are you. And when you are filled with sleep you never were. I dont know what I am. I dont know if I am or not... how often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.

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TonicTwelve
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Actually, that would be great. Would it be better for me to make another thread to avoid taking the focus off the topic already in this thread?

I'm glad that you've found a word that you feel expresses your identity. It's cool to hear about other people who are experiencing/have experienced the same thing. I mean, intellectually I know that it happens to loads of people but it doesn't always feel like it.

--------------------
~~Caitlin

"Oh baby I said,
It's all in our hands,
Got to learn to respect,
What we don't understand,
We are fortunate ones,
Fortunate ones, I swear."


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Djuna
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quote:
Actually, that would be great. Would it be better for me to make another thread to avoid taking the focus off the topic already in this thread?
That'd be awesome, sure! [Smile]

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In a strange room, before you are emptied for sleep, what are you. And when you are filled with sleep you never were. I dont know what I am. I dont know if I am or not... how often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.

Posts: 1269 | From: London, UK | Registered: Jun 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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