What Makes the Dyke?

I work retail. I think I’ve said that before. The other day at work one of my co-workers came out of the fitting room and shouted, “Do these pants make me look like a Dyke?”
First-Umm, are you gay? Cause I think not, therefore you shouldn’t be throwing around derogetory language. This is the problem I have with people “reclaiming” words to make them their own again. I don’t really buy using words originally used in hatred and slander and making them “new” again in a community. Granted, the title of my blog has the word “Dyke” in it, and I’ve used it before in blogs, I generally don’t use it. Just as I refuse, as a black woman, to use the “N-Word” I cringe when I hear it thrown around by teenagers on the train, teenagers of every color. Apparenty, the term “Bro” and “Son” have been exchanged for “Nigga” for the youth of today. Really? It gets confusing, I think, when people start to slip in these words in every day speech.

Getting back to this co-worker and her use of the word Dyke. She comes out of the fitting room and she’s wearing a pair of army green cargo pants.
I ask her, “what’s so wrong with being a lesbian, ____?”
“Nothing, I just don’t want to look like one.”
Hmmm
“Well, with that giant arm tattoo and those pants…you may look like a lesbo. You actually look kinda hot, ____” I started to tease her

Then she goes on to say how she lives around a lot of “them” and knows what “they” look like.

“So what do we look like, _____?”
“You know, Erika” was her response.

Do I? Do I know what lesbians look like? I think that my gaydar is pretty good but do the clothes make the dyke (there I go again). I’ll use myself as an example.
Starting up top, I have a mop of newly cut natural black hair. It’s short and curly and sometimes I fashion it into these eccentric designs on my head with bobby pins, feathers, and scarves. I like to make a faux mohawk and I like big statement head bands. I don’t wear make up, because it breaks me out and I have pretty amazing skin when I’m not wearing it. I do, however, love eye makeup and tend to wear mascara and eye liner. In the summer months, I tend to go a little more crazy with colors on my eyes but the winter it’s pretty simple.

As far as dress goes, I don’t own a pair of cargo pants. Okay, I have one pair of cargo pants from Hollister from College and they’re my comfy pants. I don’t have a “style” per se. If I had to describe my style it would have to be a pseudo-preppy-boho-feminine hybrid. For example, I own more cardigans than can be admitted. Cardigans are awfully preppy. It goes back to my all-girls school high school and my catholic schools before that. Compounded by my seven years at J. Crew. Cardigans=Preppy. Then, again, cardigans have always been a staple of old men. While, I have my J. Crew cardigans I also have a handful of wooly old man cardigans and that’s a little boho and grundgy. I love skirts. I have full skirts that swish and sway when I walk and I have micro minis from American Apparel. This week I wore a skirt every single day and in the summer I like to be nearly naked in my dress-tiny skirt, tiny dresses, soft fabrics. When I wear jeans they’re usually straight or boot cut. I own one pair of heels and tons of flats, but I’m the most comfortable in my Jack Purcell Converse shoes.

To work yesterday I wore a short navy blue skirt from AA, Tights and flat green suede boots. A pink and blue striped oxford shirt a navy blue polka dot tie, and a pink cardigan. Did I look like a lesbian? Do I ever? Do I give off Lesbian to the world or just quirky dressed nappy-headed girl?

I’ve read a few surveys on blogs or in magazines like Curve of GO on how to identify yourself as either Butch of Femme. One I remember said that when dressing to go out to a fancy event, whether you pick a tie or a skirt/dress. Yesterday I wore both.

One of my gay associates commented that he liked my hair.

a few months back, towards the end of summer Mirs and I cut my hair. Well, we thinned my hair with thinning shears. I was comfortable with thinning shears because even with relaxed hair, I had the thickest hair known to woman. I would go and sit down in a new salon and inevitably the person doing my hair would make a comment about how much hair I had and pull out the shears. So when my hair got to this natural state it was still a lot of hair, though it felt like more. I was getting sick of going 24 hours after a shower and still having damp hair. We decided to thin it. What happened instead was that I cut it, in bald patches throughout my entire head.
see?—>

I spent a few months trying everything to cover it up and decided, two weeks ago, to just cut it all off. I did it myself, again and it actually looks good. Sorry, no pictures, yet.

So one of my gay associates commented that he liked my hair, I told him I felt like I wasn’t looking gay enough, kept getting hit on by guys, that hopefully it’d do the trick.

In a whiny voice, “Now do I look gay?”

I know ya’ll are reading this and saying. “Erika, do you like pussy? Do you like boobies? Do you see a smokin’ hot chick walkin’ down the street and even though you love your girlfriend do you appreciate that smokin’ hot chick walkin’ down the street?”

I’d answer “Yes, yes, and yes”

And then you’d all go “Then, you’re gay”

I know I’m gay. So what makes this straight girl think that she can tell what makes someone look gay or not. And why’s she so concerned about looking too gay. I’d see her walking down the street in those cargo pants with her big tattoo and know, immediately, that she was straight.

I think that looking like a lesbian is actually quite in fashion now. It’s fashion week, in NYC as we speak. I’m not talking about what’s coming down the runways for fall 2009, though, I’m talking about what I see when I’m walking through Williamsburg or down 5th Avenue. Women with shorter hair-styles, in asymmetrical cuts. Cargo pants are making a huge come back and men’s inspired women’s fashions have been the rage for at least two seasons. Shit, J. Crew’s catalogue is always a jumble-fuck of women in ties, suit jackets with denim, suits with converse sneakers.

So what gives? Why the need for this girl to make sure that she didn’t look like a lesbian? It’s cause she’s probably gay.

Okay, she’s not really gay, or at least I don’t think she is…but it’s still funny.

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