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Butch Is a Noun by S. Bear Bergman

Butch Is a Noun (2006)

by S. Bear Bergman

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I got this book for my partner for Christmas this year and after she flew through it in a day, I thought that I would pick it up. Typically, I am not a fan of essays. I find them dull and many times narcissistic. Bergman's book did the exact opposite!

Each of the essays focuses on a different aspect of butches beginning with "what/who" butches are, which she is unable to define. Hir writing ranges from reflections on the special friendships that butches have with each other to the complexities of using genered bathrooms and just about everything in between. Of course this means that there are some essays on sex, but they are far from graphic. While some reviewers think that this book is for butches and "those who love them", I would say that this collection is a must read for everyone in today's society for it touches on the larger issue of identity and its constructs. At times funny, but always insightful, Bergman educates the reader in a way that feels like we are not being educated. Perhaps this is because Bergman is a professional lecturer on the topic and has excelled at teaching important gender issues to everyone from college students to convicts.

Overall, this is an incredibly important read and one that people should not shy away from.

www.iamliteraryaddicted.blogspot.com ( )
  sorell | Feb 14, 2011 |
Wow. Just the first essay in this book put me at ease in a way that I hadn't ever noticed I was tense. Then it got better. Bergman has a remarkable ability to describe respectfully the points of view ze doesn't agree with. It makes the whole book unusually nuanced, and sparks fascinating conversations. ( )
  LibraryFiend | Dec 25, 2008 |
I'd heard bits about this book over the last few years and several people that I know think that it is an amazing book. However, as I didn't identify as butch, I didn't think that it would be suitable for me and that I wouldn't get anything out of it. It wasn't until I heard the author read some of the pieces in it that I realised I could possibly enjoy it anyway. Then I was lucky enough to have the author give me a copy that very same day and I started to read it immediately. (Not literally. That would be rude.)

It's a collection of pieces - for want of a better word - written at and about various times throughout Bear's life and most are about hir and hir experience in growing up and living as a butch. Bear is very open about a lot of aspects of hir life, including some that most would shy away from revealing, and this makes it a very personal and emotional book. It is very engrossing and I could easily have read through it in one sitting if I'd had the chance but I didn't want to do that. I wanted to savour the book, to read each piece and give it the attention it deserved, rather than rush though it.

It's written in a very casual manner, with lots of lengthy sentences and I think the best way to understand the style is to hear Bear reading it. The fact that it is written so casually is also part of what makes it so personable. When I'd finished it, I was left with a sense of not only knowing Bear so much better, but also understanding hir and the community ze had come from which was not something I had had any prior experience or knowledge of.

It's very educational and I think anyone who reads it would find something new in it, even those who have been part of the butch community for a long time. Unfortunately, it's the sort of book that is only known by those to whom it refers and as such would not be heard of outside the LGBT community. This is a great shame, it is definitely something that everyone should read and be educated by. I can't praise it enough, or apologise enough to Bear that I had not read it before now! ( )
  Ganimede | Oct 19, 2008 |
A collection of vignettes about gender. Bergman's sense of humour is not to be missed. Ze does a wonderful job looking at identity in so many different capacities. An engaging read. If you like this, you'll probably also enjoy S/he by Minnie Bruce Pratt. ( )
  dancingwaves | Oct 11, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 097715825X, Paperback)

Written by award-winning playwright and inveterate storyteller S. Bear Bergman, Butch Is a Noun picks up where gender theory leaves off. It makes butchness accessible to those who are new to the concept, and makes gender outlaws of all stripes feel as though they have come home--if home is a place where everyone understands you and approves of your haircut. From girls' clothes to men's underwear and what lies beyond, Butch Is a Noun chronicles the pleasures and dangers of living life outside the gender binary.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:51 -0400)

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