Butch-Femme Musings….

I’ve had some interesting conversations lately, of course many sparked by my choice in recently having had top surgery, and then many sparked by posts and conversations regarding the Butch-Femme dynamics upon which my life seems to ride.  One thing that I heard said recently was to the tune of “..what’s up with these people who join these B-F groups online then come out and say they don’t ‘label’ themselves as either?”  This questioning statement, brought up by a Butch friend of mine, sort of stuck with me and I wondered about it for days now.  I guess if I didn’t identify with something I wouldn’t join a group that is based upon those identities.  I don’t join exclusively trans* groups as a result because I don’t quite identify as trans*…although I did get a message from a fellow blogger who identifies as “transmasculine Butch” and I thought that was a very close identity marker for myself as well.  I’m definitely masculine and I’m undeniably Butch….thus you could identify me as a transmasculine Butch.  But for sake of simplicity I will just stick with good ole’ Butch.

I do wonder about people who don’t use an identity word..it confuses me.  Especially if I encounter them in a Butch-Femme circle anywhere.  And when they start going on spouting about how they “don’t like labels” or the old cliche of “labels are for soup cans” and they are “just lesbians” or “just women who love women” I start to get pretty nauseated.  What the hell is so hard about just understanding that those terms could describe any of us…but that we choose to use the words Butch and Femme as our identities, because for one we relate to them very intimately, and second that we recognize one another as such much more easily.

When I meet a woman who doesn’t identify as Femme (or Butch) and has just that sort of plain old lesbian vibe going on (for lack of better verbiage), well it’s just boring.  Yes, I said it.  Boring. I really don’t mean it as an insult, it’s just that I don’t understand the (what I see as) more boring vanilla style lesbian universe. It’s like they think that by identifying with a word, that may better describe the end of the lesbian spectrum they are on, is some kind of taboo.  I think that the only taboo part of it is that they alienate those of us who do identify and who do live the B-F lifestyle.  By saying that our way is nothing that “they” are intersested in being associated with….yet there they are attending our groups and events even though they don’t identify with us…how the fuck does that work in their heads anyways?  I just don’t get it.  If you don’t identify with us then why join our groups, attend our events or talk about our lifestyles? Go hang out with the wanna-be crowd

The Butch-Femme relationship is often referred to as ‘The Dance’.  The words Butch and Femme are like Cowboy, Ballerina and Astronaut…you either are or you aren’t  It’s not like a temperature, i.e. hot…warm…cold…frozen.  They aren’t adjectives, they are just who we are to me.  Again…Butch is a noun.  And if you aren’t Butch or you aren’t Femme, then you can’t understand it.  It’s just like there are people who dance…and there are Dancers…subtle, and yet so hard to explain.

One of the interesting things to note is that the lesbian community as a whole has often bashed and not accepted the Butch-Femme dynamic, many times being told flat out that we are not even really queer because we are perpetuating the stereotypes.  Always being visibly Butch, I cannot hide in this queer world, nor do I even want to anymore.  But yes there was a time when Butches couldn’t pass as straight and sometimes even passed as men in history; a time when we stayed silent and let our Femme counterparts do the talking and interacting with the outside world.  I believe that for me personally, as I have become more comfortable in myself over the years that I have stopped doing this for the most part.  But it’s a process, and with a history that is so fraught with lack of acceptance -not only from the straight community but also withing our own lesbian community – it’s easy to understand why so many of us Butches are used to stuffing our emotions or learn to become very emotionally vague.

Now, I know I am going to catch some flack for this post.  But I hear this stuff all the time, and I wonder why no one outright just asks the question in a post on one of the groups, but they gripe privately – as someone did to me recently – about it.  If you have something to say I say to say it and speak up!

On a sort of side note here…there’s also this new thing with the capitalization of these words..Butch and Femme.  I have chosen to capitalize BOTH now because I realize that they are equally important in my world. Used to be that we used the lower case “f” in referring to Femmes, but in realizing that Femme can also be a gender identity I have decided in my world the word should be given full and equal status as when I capitalize Butch.  I thought I would mention this as some may notice that I have made this change up recently.  I’ve been reminded by some pretty awesome Femmes that they do see this as a gender identity. (I do think that the lower case f is sort of reminiscent of the Dominant/submissive (D/s) lifestyle and the capitalization corresponds with that style.  I personally see D/s as more of sexual identities or more so roles that we may play.  (Isn’t language grand?)

Everyone has their style. It’s all cool….I’m just going to keep mine as Stone Butch.

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5 Replies to “Butch-Femme Musings….”

  1. Hi Mainly – As a Butch lesbian, you definitely know what your definition of Butch is. What is your definition of Femme? I would label myself as Femme but even after 40 years I would be hard pressed to define it. I find that labels are so fluid…you may say Femme is high heels, lipstick and matching underwear. But I also am not helpless and own my own tools and frequently do my own car/house maintenance. Does that make me less Femme?

  2. So… hey! I discovered you through youtube and I have to say I really enjoy your videos, they seem very ”raw” and honest and I love that. English isn’t my main language btw so expect a typo or two. Here’s the thing. I’ve been recently confused about my sexuality, I’m 24, and I’m guessing I had these doubts about myself for about a year or so. Maybe longer. I know some people come to terms with their sexuality later in life, but just to give you some context I have always considered myself a straight girl, actually I never gave it so much thought. I’d never crushed on girls growing up or anything like that, I had a few small crushes as a kid and only to 1 or maybe 2 boys, actually I don’t get easily attracted to anyone no matter how much guys hit on me, and if I do is mostly by their personality and not their looks, but it definitely doesn’t last much. So I thought maybe I’m not a very sexual person? I don’t know. I enjoy the filtring part most of all, but I’m guessing everyone enjoys people’s attention so maybe is more an ego thing. Never been in love, not even remotely, no matter how much I’d try to like the other person and it frustrates me to no end because I do crave for that intimacy. So… is it ”normal” for seemingly straight girls to feel attracted to butch girls? Not all of them, but just really really into the ones I do feel attracted to. Not so much in real life but like in series, movies, does that fire off any alarms?. I was trying to overanalize the situation and I thought that maaaybe I was drawn to butch girls because of their masculine traits, and not for any other reason? I’m genuinely confused about it. Also… and this is very embarrasing and one of the reasons I chose to take this online before talking anyone about it in real life, I’m not attracted to any genitalia. I mean, I have lesbians and gay friends and straight ppl of course and they’re just… I heart vaginas or I heart dicks lol. Not me. The thought of it by itself does NOTHING for me. It’s the overall personality, the way they handle themselves, etc that appeals to me. That’s a very weird thing to say but I’d thought it needed to be said. Anyway, I’m rambling. Thanks to anyone who might read this!

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