Stone Butch, but not Blue: Interview with a proud Truck Dyke

Kristín Jóhanns recently came out as a butch lesbian and explains to GayIceand what that means to her and the journey that she has been on with her identity.

Kristín Jóhanns recently came out as a butch lesbian. Photos / Rósa Halldórsdóttir

The butch/femme dichotomy (or dyke-chotomy, sorry not sorry) has long been pervasive within the culture of lesbians and queer women. However, ‘butch’ lesbians or those women displaying more masculine characteristics have been demonized and ridiculed in society and the media. This is partly because early butches were seen as ‘gender traitors’, for not looking or acting in a way that was appropriate for a woman to act.  Since then, butch identity has become something to be proud of but is often associated with older queer women. However, there are a few young people working to revive the label they feel comfortable using. GayIceland’s Yaz Duncan speaks to Kristín Jóhanns who has recently come out as a proud butch lesbian.

Firstly well done on coming out, what has your experience of that been?
“Thank you, I have received nothing but love from my friends and family and within the community. Coming out is one of the best things I‘ve done for myself, it allowed me to become the person I am today and I am much happier for it.”

“I will never forget the day I heard the word ‘trukkalessa’ (truck dyke) for the first time. It was a negative, offensive phrase and was aimed towards me because of my man-ish attire.”

You’ve recently come out as a ‘Butch Lesbian’ – why do you feel most comfortable using that label?
“It‘s only recently that I‘ve begun using that label to describe my sense of self and my sexuality. It‘s healthy to question yourself and it‘s healthy to doubt yourself and your upbringing, it means you are free to go through phases while you find out who you are. When I was a teenager I thought for a long time I was a trans man. My attraction to the same sex along with my ‘tomboyish’ nature, and a serious case of feeling uncomfortable in my own body made me come to this idea and for a while, I entertained it. I made friends with other trans men and got a lot of support from Samtökin 78 ( The National Queer Association of Iceland). I learned a lot about the trans community and gender roles and I was allowed the space to be myself.

After a while, I realised I was relying on stereotypes to shape my ideas about myself and my body dysmorphia was a result of an eating disorder I had developed during my preteen years. It took years to work through that, but my relationship with my body and the way I view myself got better and my gender identity became much clearer to me. I felt empowered knowing that I didn‘t owe the world femininity despite being a woman.”

What does being butch mean to you?
“It describes a woman attracted to other women who displays traditionally masculine qualities and it felt right to use it to describe me. We are very lucky to be able to experiment with our language and allow it to evolve with the times. Our natural instinct to create means we create words to describe our experiences. For example, Awumbuk is a word to describe the feeling of emptiness after visitors leave. Meliorism is a word that describes the feeling that the world will get better. Hygge is a word that means a sense of place, family, and contentment. Gråtrunka means crying and masturbating at the same time. It‘s amazing. It‘s the same with sexuality and gender presentation. When you hear people complain about how ‘everything exists nowadays’, remind them to not forget that the human experience is complicated and we like to sort stuff into tiny dictionaries simply because we are weirdos who like to document stuff.

But whether or not one prefers to use labels, it can‘t be denied that it feels good to feel like you have a community behind you and that you‘re not alone in your experiences. It‘s a human thing. That‘s what labels mean to me.”

How do you feel ‘butch lesbians’ are viewed in Iceland, by the LGBTQ+ community, and by wider society?
“I feel like this is not a common term to use in Iceland and even if it is I feel like it‘s mostly unspoken.

I will never forget the day I heard the word ‘trukkalessa’ (truck dyke) for the first time. It was a negative, offensive phrase and was aimed towards me because of my man-ish attire. Then I heard it again and again, not only to describe me but to describe women who did the littlest things; gained weight, wore baggy clothes with no makeup, laughed loudly and heartily or liked to fight.

“Even though I see myself as a masculine woman I am still aware of all of my feminine traits. I am very sensitive and I cry a lot.”

I have a secret wish that we as a community could reclaim that word so that masculine women, whether they are lesbians or not, don‘t have it thrown in their face on daily basis for showing non-feminine traits. And honestly, truck dyke sounds metal as hell. Like a Mad Max sorta thing.”

Why do you think it is unusual for young queer women to identify as butch lesbians in Iceland today?
“I personally think young queer women have a much wider variety of labels to explore and it‘s wonderful. The butch label could be classified as old school since it relies on traits that are traditionally masculine and feminine. Young people today are challenging those traits and exploring beyond them and it‘s amazing.”

What negative stereotypes do you think exist around butch women?
“That they‘re man-ish and perverted. That they‘re predatory and aggressive. You take all the qualities you don‘t like about cis men and you apply them to a woman and suddenly you have made a villain out of us.”

Where do you think these negative stereotypes come from?
“I feel like I could go into depths about the evolution of gender roles and gender expectations, the status quo and the eco-system, but I have to be honest. The people who enforce these negative stereotypes are just people who hate women. They hate it when a woman is loud, when women assert dominance, when women stand up for themselves or forget to smile. It‘s classic sexism aimed towards queer women to justify whatever they feel threatened by.”

Do you think women are still expected to present as ‘traditionally feminine’ in Iceland, even if, or especially if, they are lesbians?
“It was not that long ago that women were expected to be feminine in the way they presented and the way they acted. With the internet, we are able to spread information and share ideas and ideologies worldwide and learn from one another like never before.

I am a part of a generation that grew up with access to a lot of influence and I am not limited to conform to certain standards just because of what I was exposed to. I think this applies to a lot of people my age and it‘s great.

I think women, especially lesbians, are rather immune to these traditional expectations. They are aware of the choice they have to present as either feminine or masculine or both or neither without feeling pressured to conform to any standards.”

Why do you think the younger generation of lesbians and queer women are moving away from the butch/femme scale?

“I think it‘s because those masculine and feminine standards are slowly dying out and young people aren‘t forced to conform to those standards.

It has to do with individualism and what is unique to the individual. I think it‘s great, but I personally don‘t think that it means they have to disappear entirely. Gender roles have a cultural history and significance and it‘s amazing to learn about.

Even though I see myself as a masculine woman I am still aware of all of my feminine traits. I am very sensitive and I cry a lot. But instead of allowing society‘s views of femininity to drag me down, I am very proud of it. Being sensitive and empathic means I have a way of dealing with my emotions and it feel makes me stronger.

I see queer men, women and non-binary people also celebrating femininity with being open about their emotions, putting on makeup, performing in drag, and protecting one another.

If we stop correlating masculine traits with men and feminine traits with women we are free to do anything.”

What would you say to other women holding back their butch identity?

“Embrace yourself. Truck dykes gotta stick together. We got you.”

The Hamburger Factory
- gourmet burgers

Ok. You’re in Iceland. Most likely for the first time.

You will probably bathe in the Blue Lagoon and take a road trip to Gullfoss and
Geysir. That’s all well and good. But neither Geysir’s nor waterfalls are
something you eat. That’s why we have 15 brilliant and creative hamburgers at
The Hamburger Factory. And they are all perfectly square. Don’t miss out on
Iceland’s most beloved hamburgers.

The Hamburger Factory is Iceland’s most innovative gourmet burger chain.
Packed with burger-craving customers since it’s opening in 2010, among the
regulars is Iceland’s best known fisherman, Eric Clapton. In our restaurants we
welcome tourists with our newspaper like menu and smiley service. They are
packed with fun items and memorable connections to Icelandic pop culture.

Locations:

Omnom Chocolate
- award-winning chocolate maker

    Omnom Chocolate is an Icelandic craft chocolate company based in Reykjavík. We produce handcrafted chocolate from organic cacao beans sourced ethically and sustainably. We’ve developed direct relationships to create premium chocolate with fine flavor cacao beans.

    Our creative flavors are carefully crafted by meticulous chocolate makers. The cacao beans are roasted, winnowed, ground, and refined into melty-smooth chocolate.

    Omnom’s process is one of constant exploration, invention, and experimentation. If it doesn’t please us, if something isn’t absolutely delicious, there’s no reason to be doing it. So, we always start with our taste buds and follow our instincts. Our team searches for the finest ingredients in the world and new ways to improve chocolate. This obsession with knowing where our ingredients come from has led us around the corner to dairy farms in the Icelandic countryside and all the way to rainforest cacao farms of Nicaragua.

    In only a few short years, we’ve grown from our 50 sq. m. petrol station space and become an award-winning chocolate maker. Now, with our headquarters in 101 Reykjavík, our chocolate is sent out around Iceland and all over the world.

    At the end of the day, our goal is to make chocolate.

     

    Alfred’s Apartments
    - gay owned an operated

      Alfred’s Apartments and Alfred’s Studios is a gay operated and owned accommodation in the heart of Reykjavik.

      Alfred’s Apartments offers spacious apartments at a good price located just around the corner from Laugavegur shopping street. You can choose the apartment starting from a Small Studio for 2 persons to a large One-bedroom Apartment with balcony for 5 persons.

      Their staff will ensure your comfort during the stay and provide the most updated information about the city, gay and night life in Reykjavik.

      Each apartment has a private bathroom with a shower, fully equipped kitchen and free Wi-Fi. Guests can buy groceries at the local grocery store 50 meters from the apartments. Because of their very central location, numerous shops, restaurants and cafés are available in the surrounding area. The Church of Hallgrimur is located 350 m from the apartments, a tourist agency is just 50 m away and the nearest gay bar is less than 5 minutes walking distance.

      Laekur hostel
      In the hostel we have dorms for 4-8 persons with shared kitchen and bathroom facilities. The rooms are furnished with free internet, lockers, and a USB charger by each bed. The beds have linen provided and you can rent a towel in the cafe on the ground floor for 5 EUR.

      All the dorms are mixed with both genders. You can also book a whole room with 4-8 bunker beds.

      Blue Lagoon
      - a world of wonder

      Named by National Geographic as one of the 25 Wonders of the World, the Blue Lagoon is a shimmering expanse of warmth, relaxation, and rejuvenation. Its unique geothermal seawater comes from 2000 meters within the earth where sea and fresh water converge in a tectonic frontier of porous lava and searing heat. Propelled by extreme pressure, the water ascends to the earth’s surface, emerging enriched with silica, algae, and minerals: the elements that endow Blue Lagoon geothermal seawater with its radiant, healing properties.

      From its humble beginnings in the shadows of a geothermal power plant, Blue Lagoon has evolved into a world of wonder, now encompassing a hotel, a restaurant, a luxury lounge, a renowned line of skin care, a research center, in-water massage, and a wealth of spa and refreshment facilities.

      Achieving harmony with the volcanic landscape of Iceland’s Reykjanes lava plain, the lagoon and its surrounding architecture embody the unification of the man-made and the natural, and adhere to the highest principles of sustainability.

      Blue Lagoon. A wonder of the world. A world of wonder.

      Whales of Iceland
      - larger than life

      Whales of Iceland is the largest whale exhibition in Europe (and perhaps even the world), where guests can learn about the giants of the sea in a calm and modern environment. The permanent exhibition features whales like guests have never seen them before. It is truly a giant experience.

      Landsbankinn
      - leading financial institution

      Landsbankinn is a leading Icelandic financial institution. It offers a full range of financial services and is the market leader in the Icelandic financial service sector with the largest branch network.

      The present bank was established on 7 October 2008 but the history of its predecessor dates back to 1886. The bank is owned by the National Treasury of Iceland, which holds 98.2% of its share capital, and other shareholders who own 1.8%.

      Landsbankinn’s strategy is to provide comprehensive financial services that meet customer’s needs. It emphasizes providing exemplary service to customers, developing e-banking for their convenience, increasing the efficiency of support functions, modernizing its technology and ensuring effective utilization of its balance sheet.

      The bank’s vision is to be exemplary and its role is to be a trusted financial partner.

      Special emphasis is placed on promoting a performance-oriented culture in the bank. To follow up on the implementation of this strategy, the bank has defined key goals which are measured regularly to determine progress. These goals include, for example, customer satisfaction and loyalty, profitability, cost efficiency and the correlation between risk appetite and employee satisfaction.

      Landsbankinn wishes to lead the development of a sustainable society in Iceland by integrating economic, social and environmental concerns in its operations. The Bank aims to ensure that both its owners and society at large benefit from its activities.

      It intends to achieve this aim by building solid infrastructure and a strong team of 1.100 employees, by listening to its customers and by respecting and encouraging its employees to actively participate in their community. Landsbankinn was a founding member of Festa, a Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility, and is a member of the UN Global Compact.

      Landsbankinn has been a proud sponsor of the Reykjavik Pride since it was first celebrated in Iceland.

      Dohop
      - get inspired

      Dohop allows people to find the cheapest flights available with just one click. Founded in Reykjavik in 2004, it is the only Icelandic company of its kind and quickly became the go-to tool for finding cheap flights among the locals. Dohop finds the best deals among hundreds of different airlines and online travel agencies, to make sure that the user is getting the cheapest price. Dohop also offers hotel and car rental search engines, so users can make all of their travel bookings from a single website.

      Dohop‘s specialty is finding so-called “self-connect” flight options, which can save travelers money by booking a ticket through two or more different airlines. The ability to look for these self-connect option is what sets Dohop apart from its competition, as it can save people hundreds of dollars on certain routes.

      More recently, Dohop has developed a unique product called Dohop Go!, which allows users to check for the cheapest available flights from their home airport. This tool is perfect for those who are looking for travel inspiration but are not willing to overpay for their flight ticket. Dohop Go! is now available in the Dohop Flights App, both for Android and iOS, along with its traditional flight, hotel, and car search engines. “

      Macland
      - for all your Apple needs

      From starting out as a proper startup with only a good idea and the need to change things, to becoming an established company with 6 employees. Starting from scratch and expanding organically has allowed us to love our expansion and take our customers on the ride with us.

      Macland is located at Laugavegur 23 (101, Downtown Reykjavik)
      For all your Apple needs. We are here.

      Aurora Reykjavik
      - northern lights center

        Aurora Reykjavik is a Northern Lights Center situated in downtown Reykjavík at the Old Harbor next to Icelandair Hotel Marina and Vikin Maritime Museum.

        Aurora Reykjavík is Iceland’s first educational and recreational Northern Lights Center where multimedia is used to explain when, why and how the Northern Lights work, with the highlights being large HD projection of the Aurora’s. We also share myths and legends about what our ancestor thought about those mystical lights.

        The Northern Lights Center is for all ages. Children are our favorite guests and we created the exhibition in a way that children can have a look freely and parents don’t have to worry about things being broken.

        Aurora Reykjavik offers a great selection of souvenirs that are designed and made by Icelanders along with nice little coffee corner, where you can enjoy free coffee and tea while browsing through the souvenirs or just planning your next step.

        Contact Aurora

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          Ísey skyr
          - once tasted never forgotten

          Our Story
          Once upon a time, 1,100 years ago in fact, Nordic settlers began arriving in Iceland. They brought with them the skills and knowledge for producing skyr. As time passed, the know-how and recipe for this nutritious food slowly faded out elsewhere in the Nordic region. Luckily, the Icelandic skyr-making tradition continued.

          For centuries, Icelandic skyr formed a cornerstone of the national diet, helping to keep people strong in living conditions that were often harsh. On family farms countrywide, it was the women who nurtured this dairy and passing on both the recipe and the original Icelandic skyr cultures from mother to daughter.

          Ísey skyr builds on this remarkable legacy. It was some of those very same women, the recipients of their mothers’ expertise, who, around 90 years ago, taught Icelandic dairy scientists the art of skyr-making. The production process is more high-tech these days, and the quality standards more rigorous. However, the basic recipe and the use of original cultures to ferment the skimmed milk remain the same. Protein rich, fat-free, creamy and delicious – Ísey skyr is as relevant to consumers now as it was all those centuries ago.
          This is our secret and you are in on it

          You can read more about Ísey skyr on our website.

          Núðluskálin
          - noodle bar

          Núðluskálin is a small gay owned and operated fusion noodle bar.

          All of our courses are individually made from fresh ingredients and therefore highly customisable.
          We offer fully Vegan versions of all courses.
          Though originally a take-away we now seat over 30 people.

          Núðluskálin is located right in the heart of Reykjavík on Skólavörðustígur 8 (street leading up to the big Church) near the junction with Laugavegur (main street).

          Seatours
          - adventure cruise

          Ferry Baldur – the gate to the West fjords
          and VikingSushi Adventure – Bird & Nature watching Tour for everyone all year around

          The “VikingSushi Adventure” is the right boat tour for travelers who are adventurous and want to experience something new – close up to the nature seafood simply doesn’t come fresher than this! The archipelago area of the Breidafjordur Bay always surprises her visitors during winter or summer with spectacular sights. Where else you get to try delicious fresh scallops and sea urchin roe straight from the ocean served with soy sauce, wasabi and ginger.

          600x400-seatours-tasting

          This old volcanic area, characterized by the typical basalt formations of the islands, is the home of countless birds. Here you will also find the strongest currents in Iceland. The VikingSushi Tour takes roughly two hours and our captain is also the tour guide.

          600x400-seatours

          The VikingSushi Tour is a true adventure through incredible nature which should not be missed by any traveler to West Iceland.

          Birds, possible to spot:
          -puffins (from the middle of April until the middle of August)
          -eider ducks
          -shags
          -kittiwakes
          -fulmars
          -white-tailed eagle

          The car ferry Baldur is the bridge to the West fjords via the island Flatey
          Ferry Baldur crosses Breidafjordur Bay daily from Stykkisholmur on the Snæfellsnes peninsula to Brjanslaekur in the north. A ferry ride considerably shortens the route between the south and mid-west of the country and the West Fjords region. It also gives you the opportunity to experience a floating restaurant.

          Take a stopover at the charming island Flatey when you are crossing the bay or go to a day tour to Flatey and back to Stykkishólmur. At Flatey are no cars allowed and between the houses of the 18th century you get the feeling of a journey back in time.

          Contact Us


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