Date of Award

2017

First Advisor

Francisca Oyogoa

Second Advisor

Brendan Mathews

Abstract

The purpose of this thesis is to explore the subjects of female masculinity and the queer community in the U.S., and to include a temporal analysis of the definition of "butch" as it relates to female masculinity and the development of the queer community over time. As it manifests in a series of essays, the juxtaposition of "butch" in two different eras is explored through corresponding essays which discuss butch "then" and butch "now." By combining personal experience, a background in sociology, and research heavily involving firsthand accounts by masculine women and gender nonconforming people, I draw several conclusions throughout the thesis, including (a) that masculine women and gender nonconforming people of color are disproportionately underrepresented in existing literature around the topic, (b) that as the U.S. has transitioned from pre-Stonewall era queer communities which existed in bar scenes to a more "mainstreamed" understanding of queerness that is experienced today, queer gender and sexuality have been turned into capital and consumed by the straight masses, ( c) that as a result of this, understandings of female masculinity have become convoluted, ( d) that butchness and transmasculinity are not the same, ( e) that male privilege cannot be relinquished because the patriarchal foundation of our society depends on its maintenance through (f) the sexualization of masculinity wherein men and occasionally other masculine people are expected to sexualize women and, finally, that (g) while the experiences and perspectives of gender nonconforming people are invaluable in exposing truths about our society which typically go unrecognized or misunderstood, the mode in which the society engages with the subject must be realistic and based in activism in order to effect change.

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