Walls of Stone

After class on Friday and we touched a little bit on the idea of what exactly being a stone butch is it really got me to thinking about the idea as a whole. As Natascha brings up in her blog post we are never really given an explicit or set definition of just what exactly a stone butch is. However, as I have read I have come to the conclusion that a stone butch is a butch who does not express their emotions, bottles everything up inside, and follows the sort of stereotype that is given to men in which it is not considered masculine or strong for us to even have, much less express any sort of emotion.

Throughout the novel, we constantly encounter situations in which Jess while wanting to express her emotions decides not to in the end because she does not want to seem weak or vulnerable, such as with Karla in the beginning chapters in the novel. Even in these later chapters where she finds and develops a deep relationship, Theresa, Jess still manages to find herself holding back at times such as when this part was stated in the book, “Emotions moved from my throat to my mouth; the words banged against the back of my teeth. And then they ebbed. Theresa asked me a question with her eyes. I had no answers. I could find nothing to say” (p.147). Even with the person, she cares about the most she is still perhaps not only unwilling but maybe even unable to express her feelings. It has been drilled into her head so long that it was not okay to express any sort of emotion, so maybe she just does not know how to?

Even later when has taken hormones and went through surgery to change her outward appearance she still manages to not be able to express her emotions and break free of this stone butch mentality, as seen when Ben spills his whole life about being in jail and the garage, but the whole time she was listening she was, “emotionally barricading [herself] from Ben” (p.198). Even more so later when Ben asks her to reveal something about herself but she manages to say nothing because she is too afraid of trusting, too afraid to break the stone walls she has built up around herself all these years. So, maybe this idea of being a stone butch for so long has been deeply ingrained in her that it is just a part of her now.

Discussion Questions:
Why do you think that even after making her transition and changing her appearance does Jess still hold onto the mentality of being a stone butch?

What is the significance of this scene between Ben and Jess, is it just a scene to again show Jess is a stone butch or is there something more going on here?

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One thought on “Walls of Stone

  1. So much of the first few chapters of this book seemed to be reinforcing the idea that butches like Jess become “stone” as a defense mechanism. Part of it might tie in, like you said, to masculinity and repressing emotions, but a lot of it seems to be a result of the traumas they experience at the hands of the police. Thus, I think part of the reason Jess is unable to break that hard exterior even after transitioning is because it isn’t wholly a conscious decision or something so easily broken down by changing how she presents. In that particular scene with Ben she seems to be frozen in terror, sort of like a fight or flight response, and even though she seems to want to be able to reciprocate, she ends up fleeing from her emotions once more. To me, that scene served to reinforce that while Jess has changed outwardly, her internal struggles still haunt her.

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