Goodbye To All That–Letters To An Organization I Have Loved.

With great admiration and thanks to Del Martin:

I borrow (lean on, and am supported by) her great sentiment of “Goodbye To All That,” which Martin first proclaimed in 1970 as part of a farewell letter to the gay men’s movement. Martin entitled her letter, “Goodbye My Alienated Brothers.”

Because I am parting from ButchVoices, and because my letters were never responded to by an organization in which I have years of investment, and because I remained dedicated, to the last, at inclusion, I am publishing my letters here. I publish these letters as a marker of time, and of place, of how far we have come, and how very far we have to go.

I dream of a movement where our care is measured not by shiny online photos, by thirty character quick quips, or even by extensive verbiage–but where our care is measured by the callouses on our hearts and on our hands, which may only be earned in the great, earnest dedication to the verb form of care: Responding.

Otherwise, we again hold fast to the words that Del Martin wrote over forty years ago:

“Goodbye to the wasteful, meaningless verbiage of empty resolutions made by hollow men of self-proclaimed privilege. They neither speak for us nor to us…I must bid them farewell. There is so much to be done, and I have neither the stomach nor the inclination to stand by and watch them self destruct.”

As ever,
Sasha T. Goldberg

JUNE 14TH, 2010

Hi, friends–

Joe, thanks for your well thought out essay. I appreciated reading your thoughts. I also want to second some of Jeanne’s thoughts, here. Jeanne offers many of my deepest sentiments, but there are some things I’d like to say, as well.

In the spirit of an injury to one is an injury to all, here is what I think is important to add:

All of you know me now, to one degree or another. You know how committed I am to Butch Voices, to what we do, and to our mission. I know these things about you all, too. And perhaps you also know that I commit my time, energy, and resources to run a monthly Bulldagger group. And maybe you know, or maybe you don’t, that I had to fight very hard for us, Butch Voices, in that group, hours spent trying to convince people (many of whom had even been to the conference) that Butch Voices is about Butch women. That there is room (insult to injury, really) for Butch women at a Butch conference. In this way, I have defended Butch Voices to so many Butch Women that I’ve lost count–and now we’ve gone and changed our motto to “Masculine of Center people.” What shall I tell us Butch women now?

Because here is the truth: If I myself just happened to stumble across a conference that was for “masculine of center people,” it would never occur to me to attend. I am not a masculine “of center” person. I am a Butch. I am a woman. I am female. That has been the history–and the persistent present–for so many of us Butches. Additionally, I am not even sure where this supposed “center” is “supposed” to be. I am sure, however, that this world keeps erasing Butch women–from history, from literature, from film, from television, from our streets, from our families, churches, employment markets, housing, and with continued, persistent pressure to be men–and now we, Butch Voices, we have gone and erased Butch women from the first sentence of our mission statement. Now that is just something that I don’t have the heart to defend, friends.

I know you all, just like you know me, so I know and trust your intent and I hope that you know and trust mine. But again and again I say: We are not the same, us Butches who are women and use female pronouns and folks who live on a ‘transmasculine spectrum'; we are not the same, and though we can support one another in a thousand ways, I absolutely refuse to have my Butch identity and history blended in, watered down, or erased. And if this sounds like a political platform, you know, maybe it is–I have been fantasizing about a keynote on solidarity at BV for some of these exact reasons. But as we all know, the political is the personal and this is what is true for me, and for so many other Butches:

Without protecting and defending the space that Butch women have carved out, created, survived and built in addition to trans-spectrum folks, we are not doing justice. We are not doing me right, we are not doing Jeanne right, and we are not doing many, many other Butches right. We are not doing right by our past, we are not doing right by our present, and we are surely not doing right towards ensuring our future.

For all of the above reasons, I strongly ask that you to re-consider the current language. I also strongly second Jeanne’s suggestion of “butch women and all trans-masculine folks.” We simply cannot stand in solidarity without making a stand alone space, literally, metaphorically, and linguistically, for Butch women.

With continued dedication,
Sasha.

MAY 24TH, 2011

Dear Joe, Mary, Krys, and Q,

I was very surprised to learn last week that Jeanne Cordova had been asked to leave the programming committee. After some thoughtful discussion with both Joe and Jeanne, I am writing (at Joe’s suggestion) with the hope that I may be able to help remedy this situation for all of us, and to move forward with Butch Voices as a united front in these crucial last three months before the conference.

First, I do understand from Joe that there was an issue with the Butch Voices name in continued use for LA, and that was the reason Joe gave me for Jeanne’s dismissal. I also understand from Jeanne that there was no mention of this as the reason given for her dismissal in the recent conversation with Q. Please note: At this point, the BVLA Facebook page has been changed to Butch Nation, and there is now the clear understanding that name changes must happen. Finally, I understand that there has been mistrust and misunderstanding on all sides, but I am writing to ask that we maintain the integrity of the BV 2011 team.

As you all know, I accepted the position of Programming Chair a year and eight months ago, and have advertised, recruited, and done outreach in this capacity, both locally, and nationally, ever since. Accordingly, I have also been working with my committee members for this time, and am unwilling to lose Jeanne’s invaluable perspective, and experience–as well as all of the time and work that she has already invested in Butch Voices, and the feminism, ageism, and intergenerational panels, workshops, presenters, and contacts that she holds throughout the nation, particularly in Southern California. I hereby request that Jeanne Cordova remain on the Butch Voices Programming Committee for the 2011 Conference.

With less than three months to our 2011 conference, I hope that you agree to this request and recognize that this is the best way for the BV Programming Committee to continue its work with its current members. I also hope that you can agree that this matter is best resolved in this in-house and non-public manner. I would like to avoid the mayhem that will ensue in our communities if this cannot be resolved privately. That said, I am requesting that you approve this request by the end of the business day on Friday, May 27th, so that the programming committee can have a clear idea about how we are moving forward.

All best,
Sasha.

33 Responses to “Goodbye To All That–Letters To An Organization I Have Loved.”

  1. Krissy Mahan Says:

    Well done, and thanks.

  2. sashatgoldberg Says:

    Thanks very much, Krissy.

    All my best,
    Sasha.

    • krissy Says:

      “I would like to avoid the mayhem that will ensue in our communities if this cannot be resolved privately.”
      Ha! I’m glad this is public. My favorite parts of history are when women created “mayhem” by requiring that they be full participants.

      • sashatgoldberg Says:

        Hello again Krissy,

        Very well played! And I agree–public, at this point, is both necessary and good.

        Thanks so much for the continued support,
        Sasha.

  3. Sophia M. Perez Says:

    Wow, WOW. Those letters were so heartfelt, validating and resolution focused. I am taken aback you never received a equally heartfelt response. My partner often feels her identity jas been erased and not validated. She is an older, black and very woman identified butch. I must share this with her!

    • sashatgoldberg Says:

      Sophia,

      Nice to see you! Thank you for your comment, and for recognizing the spirit in which those letters were written. Truly, I also expected a response in kind. So now, now we committed Butches roll up our shirtsleeves, and we get to work.

      All best to you and yours,
      Sasha.

  4. Pati Says:

    Thank you for sharing these letters Sasha. Thank you for all that you have done to create an all-inclusive butch community.
    XOX Pati

  5. sashatgoldberg Says:

    Thanks for reading, Pati.

    All Best,
    Sasha.

  6. marie Says:

    very eloquent, sasha….and now..a new orgnziation!! i have been on this part of new organizations and i admire and respect your spirit and dedication to your principle and identity and now as you say “roll up your sleeves and gt to work!” i look forward to the result!!

  7. sashatgoldberg Says:

    Marie,

    Thank you for your support! Thank you also for all of your hard work–I feel more at ease about preserving our history with the presence of your dedicated research, and am glad to have the privilege of standing together as we forge ahead.

    All best,
    Sasha.

  8. Dana Says:

    Sasha my friend,

    Thank you for all your hard work. Your vison regarding the inclusion of all in our community is so valuable and important. I look forward to seeing you soon.

    • sashatgoldberg Says:

      Dana,

      Thank you very much–for your support here, and for all of your hard work, time, and dedication to the Butch community. I look forward to seeing you as well–can hardly wait, in fact.

      All best,
      Sasha.

  9. Grace Skrobisz Says:

    Thank you for making a stand for female butch women. Too many butch females that I have been talking with are feeling erased and/or invisibilzed by the greater awareness of transmasculine identies in out communites, as many are assumed to be trans because of the masuline aspects of their gender presentation. While I see this awareness is imporant and valid and I support the visibility of trans persons, it cannot be at the expense of butch females who have been pushing the boundaries of what it means to be a woman for as long as we can remember. I agree that Jeanne’s suggestion “butch voices and trans-masculine folks is an appropriate compromise.

    • sashatgoldberg Says:

      Hi Grace,

      Thank you for your words, and thank you for your support. And you are quite right–this expansion and awareness of trans issues cannot continue to be at the expense of Butch females. And, in fact, there cannot even be a true dialogue (or true understanding, or true allied communities) until we can each commit to learning and understanding these interlocking systems of oppression. (And let me tell you, I’m not a fan of the phrase “systems of oppression”–but there you have it.)

      All my best to you,
      Sasha.

  10. Raquefella Says:

    HEY SASHA:
    Man, I’m still trying to wrap my head around it all and I appreciate the nod against the postmodern impulse to collapse identities under one banner that produces a disservice to the generations of butch female-bodied, woman-identified (and woman-disidentified) that lived under constant scrutiny and persecution. The Nancy Valverdes. The Leslie Feinbergs. The Phrancs. The Jeanne Cordovas.

    I think the way things are playing out are classic butch: Bulldaggers in a China Shop. We don’t go quietly.

    I can also see that BUTCH is still a scary place to inhabit. It is probably the scariest. There is so much fear and loathing of the term and so much pushback against the weird shit that gets loaded into the term. We wear flannel, are brusque, man-hating, fat, rainbow rings, TEVAS, Combat boots. It’s gets thrown at folks like a grenade–your mom is butch. quit being so butch. It’s scarring, I can see why people would shy away or completely and scathingly disavow it. I can see why it’s not for everyone.

    It’s a badge. You earn it.

    • sashatgoldberg Says:

      Raquefella,

      THANK YOU. It is a badge.

      And yes: Bulldaggers in a China Shop. Nancy Valverdes. Leslie Feinberg. Phranc. Jeanne Cordova. You. Me. So many. We live our lives strong, and out loud. This is why we’ve been asked to join committees, to dig ditches, to write our words, and to fight for our truths–so if we’ve survived this long, we are not going to go gentle into that good night.

      So in the grand tradition of those who have come before, and those who have yet to join us: Here is our path.

      Yours in it,
      Sasha.

  11. Kai Says:

    You are inspiring, as always. I attended Butch Voices in 2009 with the aim of supporting butches, not because I felt it was my space to claim. I had a great time, and met many amazing people, including you, Sasha. I identify as a queer, trans guy who presents rather glittery and sparkly most of the time, and I wholeheartedly believe that space needs to exists for all of our various identities. I like to see spaces where I fit, and I like to see spaces where I can be supportive of others. Butch Voices was amazing to me because it held space for butch women at the center, and space for so many of us who love and support and want to collaborate and work with butch women to show up for you all. I’m excited to see what you come up with next, Sasha, and am honored to know you. I’d love to support in whatever ways make sense, just say the word. Rock on ;).

    • Kai Says:

      I also liked the compromise…making it clear that spaces can exist together, but still retain their specificity. There are always places we can overlap, but when we erase our differences we do a lot of harm…

    • sashatgoldberg Says:

      Thank you, Kai.

      Thank you for showing up to support Butches, thank you for understanding the nuance, complexity, and importance of shared space–and thank you for understanding how it can fall short.

      Your presence and offer to help are both so very appreciated–I, too, look forward to what’s next, and glad you are here with us.

      All best,
      Sasha.

  12. Brenda Says:

    Wow. Thank you for your honesty. It brought tears to my eyes. I have been butch as long as I can remember. It has not been an easy road. My first memory is my mother saying to me, “take your hands out of your pocket, you look like a boy.” I felt at once ashamed and then very proud. That is the look I was going for Mom! I am a proud butch woman who loves a beautiful femme wife. Thank you and Jeanne for standing up for us Butch women. Long live the Butch!!!!

    • sashatgoldberg Says:

      Brenda,

      Thank you for reading, and for your reflections. I had to smile at your first memory–bittersweet, and true. I am so glad that you made it out, and that we are here together. Thank you for your words, and thank you for your joy in being a Butch.

      I look forward to seeing you again, my friend–
      Sasha.

  13. Cleo Gardiner Says:

    Hi Sasha
    I am a Femme from Sydney Australia and I am very sad to hear of this split.. I am left wondering when we will learn as Queers, Butch’s, Femme’s, Gays, Trans, Dykes, Lezzo’s and Bi’s that whilst we are busy excluding, undermining, betraying and generally doing each other over; that the dominant culture (in the western world) ie white, middle class, heterosexist, patriarchy wins wins wins.. Patriarchy need do nothing but sit back and watch us demolish ourselves whilst they rub their hands together with glee! I am sorry that the attempts at resolution were not accepted.
    We cannot evolve or make social change without the strength of all our community/ies.. Good on you for trying to mend the rift. I hope at some stage a healing can take place..But I do understand and support drawing a line in the sand and not compromising to the point of invisibility or erasure!
    Regards
    Cleo

  14. Cleo Gardiner Says:

    PS
    In case I didn’t make it clear. I support your Position.
    Cleo

    • sashatgoldberg Says:

      Thank you, Cleo, for your support–and all the way from Australia!

      Healing is a process, indeed–but helped, I think, by standing up and refusing erasure. It bolsters, after all.

      All best,
      Sasha.

  15. A Little Bit About Butch Voices, Butch Nation, and “Masculine of Center” : Sugarbutch Chronicles Says:

    http://www.sugarbutch.net/2011/08/a-little-bit-about-butch-voices-butch-nation-and-masculine-of-center/

  16. Butch Voices / Butch Nation, Masculine-of-Center / Butch controversy | Butchtastic Says:

    http://www.butchtastic.net/2011/08/butch-voices-butch-nation-masculine-of-center-butch-controversy/

    • sashatgoldberg Says:

      Sasha T. Goldberg
      August 15th, 2011, 9:15am

      Dear Sinclair,

      I came across your writing when Kyle linked Big Tent Blues to my blog; thank you for your words, and for adding to the conversation.

      I was disheartened, however, to read your introduction of, “If you keep up with this kind of drama [crossed out] news, you probably have heard about it.” Perhaps this was just an attempt at some variety of humor–but as three out of five Founders of Butch Nation were chosen by you for your own Top 100 Butch Academics, Intellectuals, and Activists list on Butch Lab, it surprised me. I would hope that we might be given more credit for critical thought, Sinclair.

      At any rate, I am not sure if you have had a chance to read the now-extensive dialogue and commentary on my posts, or on the posts of Butch Nation–the issues are so much larger than just “masculine of center.” To sum it up, I am re-posting a response that I wrote to Lex, which I think best now encapsulates what might be considered the root of the root.

      I look forward to more of this important dialogue, and send my best.

      Sasha.

      Dear Lex,

      Thank you for your thoughtful and important contribution to the conversation.

      I must say that I very much agree with what you’ve said about value. I do believe that any successful, cohesive movement ought to be value based–which is exactly why so many of us have left ButchVoices. Because our values do not align.

      For me, values mean both what we claim to value, and, just as importantly–what actions enact value, in the verb form. For me, and for so many others now speaking out, we are talking about values and words like respect, integrity, transparency, feminism, women, inclusiveness, history, and the wisdom and experience that comes with age–and the actions that enact these values.

      And when so many women report the same experience–the experience of not being listened to, not being heard, not feeling respected, not feeling included, and being downright dismissed (whether in the literal sense, or in the act of not receiving responses to our many concerns about feminism, ageism, misogyny, and transparency over many years)–the verb form of how and what we value is clearly missing.

      Because none of us at Butch Nation are new at organizing, we all know strife, and we all know struggle. Because all of us are women, and many of us Butch women, we all know strife, and we all know struggle. Because some of us are women of color, and because some of us are Jews, and because we have different levels of ability, and because we span fifty years between our youngest and our eldest, and because we have walked in this world fighting for justice–we ask that you (and others) trust us when we say: The divides are not merely superficial.

      We do not ask that you (or any in the community) divide support; we invite you to an important and long-overdue dialogue. We also believe in abundance, and that each of us are able to spend our time and energy in communities that feel like home–that echo our values–in word, and in deed.

      For what it’s worth, I, too, believe that we can do better, and tried to create that “better” for years within the framework of ButchVoices. For what it’s worth, I also hope the commitment is to the values that terms like Butch embody. And, for what it’s worth, because embody is a verb–we are building a nation.

      Thank you again for the care that is so present in your words–I hope to cross paths along the way.

      All my best to you,
      Sasha.

  17. sashatgoldberg Says:

    Hi Kyle,

    Thank you posting the link to this on my blog. I appreciate your thoughts, your concerns, and your investment; incidentally, I am also one of the people who approved your workshop for BV before deciding to to end my 2+ years of investment.

    At any rate, I am not sure if you have had a chance to read the now-extensive dialogue and commentary on my posts, or the posts of Butch Nation, but I invite you to read the reply that I gave to Lex, above, who also voiced some of your concerns.

    All best,
    Sasha.

  18. “Butch Voices” Splits after Butch Women, Lesbians Erased from Platform « GenderTrender Says:

    http://gendertrender.wordpress.com/2011/08/20/butch-voices-splits-after-butch-women-lesbians-erased-from-platform/

    • sashatgoldberg Says:

      Thank you, GenderTrender, for your investment and your time. I have commented at length on your post–particularly in regard to the perceptions about my own gender (without any previous conversation!) by some of your blog followers, and also about inclusiveness within Butch, woman-identified community.

      Let’s all hope for the best!

      Sasha.

  19. Preciocilla Says:

    Greetings,

    I’d like to start by outing myself: I’m a femme dyke. For those I’ve interacted with (I see familiar monikers), glad you’re well! To Sasha and members of the “Courageous Four, ” it’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance. If I may, I’d like to provide a recent historical perspective, from butch-femme.com (B-F.com), to illustrate that these dynamics are not new—they’re consistently recreated.

    NOTE: I use B-F.com, not to martyr it, but simply because, pre-Facebook, it boasted the largest number of butch members of any website (at least that I’m aware of) and, since I witnessed interactions first hand, I am positive that my analysis is accurate.

    In 2002-03, butch/femme ID’d lesbians were on B-F.com in HUGE numbers: we were having an AMAZING time! However, by 2006-07, only a handful of woman-identified butches remained. Why? Some folks transitioned, but a much larger number walked away and never looked back.

    The longstanding conflation of butch = male and lack of respect became infuriating and exhausting. Imagine how you’d feel, day-after-day, of correcting members of “our” community—so they’d stop using he, hy or hym–after they were already informed that a particular butch was a SHE. It was blasphemy to refer to an FTM as her, but was considered a compliment to identify a butch woman as he.

    What was even more exasperating were the passive-aggressive (and intellectually insulting) excuses for this flagrant disrespect. The most often cited reason: It was too difficult to figure out how individuals identified; it was easier to call all butches he.
    Ultimately, the message was clear: butch women were not worth the 20 seconds of trouble it took to be conscientious and ask one how they identified.

    Lastly, and with the utmost respect, I’m not trying to be presumptuous, yet, I can’t help but view the circumstances of these experiences, BV and B-F.com, as different, but sharing awfully familiar dynamics. What does that tell us?

    Thanks for allowing me to post!! :-)

    In Femme-Dyke Solidarity,
    Preciocilla

    P.S. I invite interested parties and non-believers to do research. Like the buddha said, find out for yourself what is true. Butch-femme.com is still active, though, I’m unsure if the Webmaster deletes threads.

  20. sashatgoldberg Says:

    Dear Preciocilla,

    “It was blasphemy to refer to an FTM as her, but was considered a compliment to identify a butch woman as he”–I think pretty much well sums up years and years (and years!) of experience for all of us.

    Thank you for your comment, and for your investment as a Femme Ally in this important conversation.

    All best,
    Sasha.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: