WANTED Project Podcast: Episode 104 – Bit
Hello and welcome to the WANTED Project Podcast. I’m honored to be able to introduce this next sister who’s been brave enough to submit a video about what it’s been like to be born and raised and grown and living as a female who doesn’t play by the rules…. is not presenting in the box that females are expected to present in and so um… this sister is sharing a lot of words of wisdom that… I’m telling you this sister showed up for this project. She showed up from the start in fact she was one of our original poster girls that first year on the Land. Um… she’s ah… um… the first one now to be brave enough to submit her video for the podcast and um…. I’m just real grateful got for her ah… well the bravery… ’cause she hits it on this… She’s laying it on the line and giving us some really love and some real um… truths.
So I’m putting out another welcome to all the sisters who know your place in this project. Those of you who know you belong in this project, you know how you are… I’m asking you to you know… tell us your stories…. send us your photos… send us your videos… contact one of us. And help us spread the word about this…
I’m welcoming all the young sisters out there who ah… don’t quite know what to do with yourselves. You don’t quite know what’s going on. You don’t quite know how to handle your body and the alphabet soup queer politics these days. And the… all this gender stuff and the bathroom stuff… and all you know is the world is kinda mean to you. And all you know is the rules that are being laid before you and the choices that you’re seeing are pretty absolute.
I’m telling you there’s other ways to present. There’s other ways to not only survive, but thrive. There’s a lot of us that are not only surviving, but thriving as females of uncommon beauty. So welcome to everyone who appreciates this project and what we’re trying to do here. Welcome to this creating of safe space to show our faces… to connect with one another from across the world.
I’m proud and honored to introduce my sister Bit.
Howdy! I am doing this podcast thingy topless in honor of the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. Also you should know that my brain leaks and so I’m going to be glancing at a notebook in which I wrote ah…some stuff down. So here it goes…
I am Bit Artio Mason, which is a name I chose for myself. I identify as a bearded butch dyke bear amazon. Bit was a nickname that was given to me by an older butch friend of mine in the early 90s. It was the acronym for “Butch In Training.” Artio is the goddess of the she-bears. And Mason came in a dream — a strong, solid working-class name so I adopted it. Though I’m no longer in training, I honor where I came from and keep the moniker.
I have been butch since birth. I came from a butch lesbian mama and I have 3 lesbian sisters. I grew up as a tomboy in Brooklyn and despised all things “girly” — including my tits. And I played all sports with the word ball in it.
For me breasts came at the sadness of myself at the early age of ten. I remember a nun at Catholic school telling me I needed to wear a bra and sending a note home. My mom made me wear that bra. I would leave the house with it on and take it off outside and put it in my back pocket. What I wanted most at that age was to be a skinny boy. And being raised Catholic I prayed for that every night for… I don’t know… certainly months… I certainly am grateful that that wish was never realized.
The WANTED poster campaign struck me because it’s a way for folks to see that being a woman doesn’t just happen in one way. Not all women are feminine, just as not all women are thin or short or blonde. The WANTED project gives women like me the opportunity to say to the world, “Here we are. We’ve always been here, waiting to be acknowledged, loved and appreciated for who we are. Not feminine, but definitely womyn. Butches. Powerful amazon sisters.”
I wanted to participate in this project so that younger masculine and butch women know and could see that transitioning is not the only option. You can be a woman and be masculine. Butch is its own gender. Butches have existed for centuries.
I feel strongly about separatist spaces. I believe all factions of folks need space with other folk that are like them. People of Color have separate spaces. Gay men have separate spaces, as do trans men and trans women. Nuns have separate space and men have separate spaces. I believe it’s crucial that these spaces exist just as it is crucial for females to have their own space.
I am a supporter of the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival’s intention. I believe that womyn who were born female have different lived experiences than trans women and deserve to have a space carved out specifically for us. My life has been lived as a born female. My experience is different than those who were born and raised male. I, as a female, would never disrespect the intention of a trans women space or space intended for pregnant women or space created for gay men. Respect is really what it comes down to…
I’m not trans. I have never identified as trans and I never will identify as trans. I don’t “feel like a man.” Nor do I have “man brain.” I’m a dyke — and a butch one.
Even before I stopped shaving my facial hair, I had been called “he” and “sir.” Sometimes “fat boy” or “fag.” I have been misgendered since I was about 11 or 12 — even during my long hair ponytail phase. It used to bother me and cause irritability and frustration. Now I just kind of go with the flow. I don’t feel like it’s the general public responsibility keep track of all the pronouns and where they fit. After all, we are a binary system. If you don’t fit into the box — the correct one at that — no one knows what to do with you. Now I only correct folks if I feel like I may might cross paths again. To be very clear, I go by “she” and “her” pronouns.
OK my last recording of this last part had me in tears which is why I’m re-recording, because I don’t think you could have understood what I was saying through the tears. Um…I may or may not cry um…. and here goes…
The Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival saved me from myself. She taught me about honesty and honor. She created a space for all kinds of women and showed me that the strength and resilience of women is phenomenal. Women are natural community builders. Fest showed me what empowering girls and women looked like. She showed me that womyn can look any way they want — including growing our facial hair, armpit hair and any other hair of your choice.
My butchness was appreciated and desired. Fest taught me about racism and sexism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, ageism, sizeism and how all things go together and can be internalized. Fest gave me the courage to grow my beard and to speak my truth and the courage to heal myself. She taught to honor my body… the strength to live in the world the other 47 weeks of the year that I wasn’t at fest. She gave me a fresh perspective — an excitement that grew in me all year. Fest gave me hope that girls and women had a safe space — a sacred space, a place where they could roam free of the male gaze, jeers and general lechery.
Fest taught me how to honor myself as a woman. Fest gave me love and connection like I’ve never experienced before or since.
Fest aligned me with my sisters from all over the world. She taught me how to love trees and build bridges. She taught me how to communicate with love and compassion. She breathed fire and passion and desire into my soul. Fest was love — raw and pure, open and honest. I will never ever forget how fest made me feel. She was magic in the woods.
I’d like to take a moment to thank you Nedra for doing this project. I think it’s an important project to be doing. And I would also like to thank Lisa Vogel for 40 years of magic in the woods. Long live the spirit of the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. Remember me as loving you.
Big Up the Female!
One of the original posters! One of the original poster girls! I told you Bit showed up. Bit, thank you so much for being so brutally honest and so brave in this um… world that we live in outside of fest. Thank you for aligning with me and the rest of our sisters in helping us, not only save ourselves, but learning to love and respect ourselves. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you sister.
Thank you to Bit for including herself as our feature
I hope you’re starting to understand the value we might find in connecting with each other this way. One of the important points that comes up again and again is that “choice”. As Gunner mentioned last week, there was a young woman who presented at the detransitioner’s workshop in 2014 and among the things she said, she spoke about the therapist who supported and guided her through transition as the way to heal her dysphoria… and this therapist asked her if when she imagined herself as an old person, if she imagined an old man or an old woman. And it was being at fest that made her realize she’d never seen an old butch.
Just think about that for a minute. Because that ought to let any of us older womyn know that we really have to be up on what the young folk are going through. And we can’t make their choices for them, but we have to show up in such a way that they understand there are choices.
That said, please do consider contributing your voice, your image, your perspective to the work we’re doing here. If you are female and surviving in the world as a woman who does not conform to the social expectations and limitations forced on women, we want to get to know you and learn how you do it.
And as always, you are WANTED you are loved and we want you to know it.
~Mothers and Daughters
Womyn born Womyn
and we gather in the light of the August Moon
Amazon Womyn and we’re out in the woods
And we heal by the light of the August Moon
Deaf womyn, hearing womyn
dancing in the light of the August Moon
girls and womyn in the Michigan woods
and we love by the light of the August Moon
First time I came to festival
I learned I’d always been afraid
To finally lay that burden down
I could not believe the weight…~