Dyke

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This article mentions reclaimed slurs, potentially offensive terms, and genital anatomy; if you are not comfortable with reading about this kind of topic, we suggest you take a step back.
A photo from the 2019 DC Dyke March. The banner says "All Dykes Celebrated Here" and lists many types of dykes including queer dykes, black dykes, bi dykes, butch dykes, femme dykes, gnc dykes, latinx dykes, trans dykes, etc.
A nonbinary person at the 2019 DC Dyke March.
A photo of the 2018 Pittsburgh Dyke and Trans March. A genderfluid flag is visible behind the main banner.

The words dyke, dike, bulldyke or similar, commonly refer to a lesbian, particularly one with masculine or butch traits (although femmes can also be dykes[1]). The word is commonly considered a derogatory slur, but has been reclaimed and used positively by some lesbians.[2][3] Dyke is sometimes also used as an identity for non-lesbians, such as bisexuals.[1]

Notable nonbinary or genderqueer people who call themselves dykes include poet Eileen Myles[4], entrepreneur Al Sandimirova[5], and author Rivers Solomon.[6]

Gender Census[edit | edit source]

In the 2019 Gender Census, 17 people (0.2% percent of respondents) wrote "dyke" as their identity, and one wrote "bulldyke".[7]

In the 2020 Gender Census, 89 respondents identified as a dyke, with an additional six people identifying as "dyke (in relation to gender)"/"dykegender"/"dyke-gender"/"dyke is my gender tbh", and several more as variants such as "dykeish", "dykefag", "boi dyke", "non-binary dyke", etc.[8]

Etymology[edit | edit source]

The etymology of "dyke" is uncertain. Some hypotheses for its origin include:

  • A shortening of hermaphrodite.[9][10]
  • Boudicca (Bou-dyke-ah), a Celtic queen who organized a revolt against the Roman Empire in 67 AD.[9]
  • From the slang term "get diked out" meaning "dress up".[9]
  • In the 19th century, "dike" was a slang term for the vulva.[10]
  • From the terms "bulldicker"/"bulldick", meaning "fake penis" or "fake man", describing the idea of "a woman with a clitoris extended enough to serve as a penis in lesbian relationships".[3]

Dyke Marches[edit | edit source]

A "Dyke March" is a visibility and protest march, much like a Pride parade. The concept began in the early 1980s, with a "Dykes in the Streets" march taking place in Toronto, Ontario in October 1981. It was organized by the now-defunct organization Lesbians Against the Right, and drew 350 participants.[11][12]

The first Dyke March named as such took place in Washington, DC, USA, on April 24, 1993, during the March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation.[13] It was organized by the Lesbian Avengers, and had over 20,000 marchers.[14][15]

Nowadays, Dyke Marches take place during Pride Month in many cities across Canada, the USA, and Europe.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 @bigbadbutchh (19 August 2020). "like fr look at this dyke march". Archived from the original on 19 August 2020 – via Twitter.
  2. https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/dyke
  3. 3.0 3.1 Krantz, Susan E. (1995). "Reconsidering the Etymology of Bulldike". American Speech: A Quarterly of Linguistic Usage.
  4. @EileenMyles (February 24, 2016). "@DeJesusSaves @rugamarspr plus as a gender queer dyke I am trans" – via Twitter.
  5. "The Costs of Identity: Running a business as an LGBTQ+ person". Chasing the Dream. 10 February 2020. Retrieved 3 October 2020.
  6. Rivers Solomon bio
  7. Cassian (30 March 2019). "Gender Census 2019 - the public spreadsheet".
  8. GC2020 Public Copy, 1 November 2020
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Belge, Kathy (14 July 2017). "What is the origin of the word "Dyke"?". LiveAbout. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  10. 10.0 10.1 "dyke (n.)". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  11. "Lesbians Battle the Right". The Body Politic. Pink Triangle Press. October 1981. p. 10.
  12. Marushka, Anna (November 1981). "Dykes Against the Right". The Body Politic. Pink Triangle Press. p. 13.
  13. Cogswell, Kelly (May 18, 2012). "The Dyke March Hits 20!". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 7 November 2020.
  14. Teeman, Tim (March 22, 2014). "Tick-Tock: The Explosive Power of the Lesbian Avengers". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  15. "Herstory — NYC Dyke March". New York City Dyke March. 2018. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
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