I have already written about the meaning of Butch and Femme, so I won’t focus too much on that. But what I want to say that both terms are used by others who are NOT us, and as a result the meaning has become bastardised.
I’m going to ignore any uses of “Butch” and “Femme” by Men. It’s very obviously not Lesbian and has nothing to do with us.
With the birth of lesbian feminism, radical feminist “lesbian” (NOT!!!) academics such as Adrienne Rich and Sheila Jeffreys have published vile of anti-Butch/Femme hetsplaining bullshit which I won’t quote here because to do so I’d have to read over their shit myself and I really don’t want to do so. Suffice to say, they are dead WRONG!!!
However there is, arguably, a bigger problem and that is other lesbians telling us what we are and either appropriating or maligning Butch/Femme.
If you do a search for “butch lesbian” on many internet forums/blogs/social media sites/lesbian (supposedly) websites, what you find are pictures of Dapper Dykes who play-act hyper-stylised pseudo-masculinity (see below).
Why do some dykes do this? Well, in this heterocentric and hetero-gendered world it’s perfectly understandable, especially for those who are dating or want to date straight/bi women. For dykes who enjoy the style, good luck to them! But, it doesn’t make them butch.
The truth is that NO lesbians is masculine because we are all female; and NO Lesbian is feminine, because we are homosexual. We don’t perform for men, think about men, act in ways that we think will please men. That is what femininity is, and that is NOT what Lesbians do.
Lesbians, including Butch/Femme, exist outside the heterosexual construct that is “gender”. We are neither masculine nor feminine. Butches don’t perform masculinity FULL STOP!!!
So, with Dapper Dykes and Straight/Bi women calling themselves Butch/Femme, is it any wonder that some lesbians look at that misrepresentation and think that Butches and Femmes are merely gender role-players? That we don’t actually exist as our authentic selves, but are a mimic of heterosexual relationships? Of course, if they had ever met us and spent any time with us, they would know that we are FAR from that. However, we are rare, and many of us avoid lesbian gatherings because we are so misunderstood.
So, what are we? We are Lesbians types, we are born Butch/Femme, we are an aspect of Lesbian biology, and we are VERY real. We do not spend our lives pretending to be straight people and we are neither masculine nor feminine. We just are. A Butch does not choose to be a Butch and a Femme does not choose to be a Femme. We are not chosen “identities” with rules that we live by. We are just being our normal Butch or Femme lesbian selves. FULL STOP END OF STORY!!!!
A recent question, from a Lesbian (I couldn’t believe it!!) on twitter asked a Femme friend of mine if she would find her Butch wife attractive if she wore skirts/heels/eye liner etc. Now I really wanted to answer this question in detail, not for my friend, but as if the question had been asked of me, so here is my answer:
- I am a Femme, and it is in my Femme nature to be attracted to Butches. My fiancee is a Butch and it is not in her Butch nature to wear skirts/make-up/heels. If she was to wear those things (other than as a joke) she wouldn’t be a Butch and nor would she be herself and therefore not my fiancee. You may as well ask me if I would be attracted to her if she was somebody else!!! As an aside, I once put my lippy on her as a joke and then kissed her; it felt so wrong, for both of us!!!
- Femmes are attracted to Butches, not what Butches wear!!!
A Butch doesn’t EVER wear those things so the question is ridiculous.
- I am a Femme and even I don’t wear those things as a rule, I will occasionally wear a skirt and eyeliner on special occasions, but not as a rule and I NEVER wear heels. Heels are for masochistic straight women, they hurt like HELL!!!
- If we are going to talk about something as superficial as clothing, Butches don’t choose to wear “men’s clothes” to be political, to be subversive, Nor to impress women. Butches are not comfortable in “women’s” clothes and, quite frankly, look ridiculous in them. Why?? Because they are Butch! it’s biology! You also won’t see a butch dressed in a hyper-masculine style complete with bowtie, why? Because that is pseudo-masculine performance which feels wrong because they are not men and they are not trying to be men. There is no performance involved. Most dykes can find clothing in either the “men’s” or “women’s” sections of a department store that will suit them. Butches don’t go within a mile of the “women’s” section of a store unless they are shopping for their Femme, and I ALWAYS shopped in the “men’s” section for my Butch. I have known a number of dykes who simply do not understand, a couple have even asked me why, if she doesn’t want to be mistaken for a man, she wears “men’s” clothes???!!!! I become speechless, because how do I explain that she is a Butch, and that means that it isn’t a choice. She would look as ridiculous in “women’s” clothes as most men do.
CLOTHES DON’T MAKE A BUTCH OR A FEMME. WE DRESS ACCORDING TO OUR BUTCH/FEMME NATURE, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND!!!!
So, why is preserving our name so important to us? Well, if we loose the language to describe ourselves, it effects our sense of identity; the consequences of which include confusion, low self-esteem, and alienation. We already suffer from feelings of alienation because we live in a heterocentric world and for Butches this manifests in painful dysphoria. Even though Dykes who try to emulate masculinity are more likely to transition than butches, having other lesbians misrepresent butch/femme increases our sense of alienation and for Butches, it increases dysphoria. What is the current treatment medical treatment for dysphoria? Transition.
So please, lesbians who are reading this, don’t appropriate or misrepresent us; and Butches and Femmes who are reading this, be true to yourselves and stand up for the true meaning of our names.