What is Butch-Femme?
Butch-Femme is about being yourself. Exploring and realizing your unique sexuality and your natural gender and/or identity. Embracing Butch-Femme, in whatever form you feel comfortable, is celebrating who you are.
The Butch and Femme dance has a degree of fluidity. Identity and meaning are defined by the individual. The final thesis is always: Femme, Butch, stone Femme, stone Butch, Transgender, FtM, MtF, masculine-identified, feminine-identified, Studs, Aggressives, Ladies are personal, natural gender expressions of the heart, having little to do with appearance or any stereotypical code of behavior.
With the Women's Movement in the early 70's, the personal lives of all females became political. It seems some lesbian-feminists decided decades ago that deliberate androgyny was a basic requirement to be politically-correct as a lesbian. Butches were thought of as oppressors of women, a symbol of the patriarchy. Femmes were seen as a hindrance to progress in the Movement where androgyny was not a style, but a political stance. Even though Butches have provided queer visibility for eons, and Butches and Femmes were also both part of the resistance at Stonewall, the Sex Wars largely ignored that there are naturally occurring gender variations amongst all people.
It is common for Butches that lovers have asked them to tone down and temper their spirit. Femmes still often hear, "If you want to be with a man...". As a result, some Butches and Femmes today don't call themselves "lesbians", but instead prefer to embrace the broad term of "queer". Some Butches and Femmes feel more understood within the Transgendered Movement. Many Butches do not claim they have transgressed their gender, but believe instead that the binary gender system has transgressed against them. Others struggle to claim space amongst the androgyny of a marginalized dyke community that has had a history of mostly rejecting "labels" like Butch and Femme.
Since modern feminism has provided more gender options to females, there is a renaissance of late where Butch and Femme is becoming more mainstream in queer culture. Butches and out-and-proud Femmes have always been alive and thriving! There is a growing community on Butch-Femme.Com, where Butches and Femmes are connecting online and in real life as a solid community. There is no need to feel isolated, because you are not alone. We are making families together, forming friendships, and networking with our tribe.
Butches? Transguys? Studs? Aggressives? They come in all shapes, sizes, and mindsets, of course. Everyone has their own style and expression, but what traits do Butches have in common? Being a Butch is more than just an obvious lack of girlie-ness. Most Butches have a distinctly different kind of masculine energy (for lack of a better word) than biological men, a masculinity that is not a birthright, nor a given. Our identity is often hard-fought and constantly challenged, and our core develops naturally with few role models. Even though many of us tried to be feminine and blend in, most Butches are visibly queer, with nowhere to hide even if we wanted to. There are soft Butches, hard Butches, Stone Butches, transgendered Butches and Butches who even gender-phuque the definition! Some feel "Butch" is a blend of both woman and man, or a third gender. Other Butches reject any degree of femininity. Many transgendered stone Butches don't claim the word "woman" to describe themselves at all. Some Butches are comfortable in their female form, while others experience body dysphoria in varying degrees. Some transgendered Butches take testerone, bind their breasts, and/or pack. Some stone Butches desire to be pleasured in ways that aren't feminizing, while other stone Butches don't want to be touched at all, prefering only to please their partner. Some Butches are foremost into pleasing their partners, and others enjoy receiving. Most want their Butch nature to be honored and appreciated, no matter what kind of sex or intimacy they engage in. In describing Butch, I would say it is a journey where we have all taken similar paths, wearing different shoes.
"... a masculinity that is not a birthright, nor a given. Our identity is often hard-fought and constantly challenged."
"In describing Butch, I would say it is a journey where we have all taken similar paths, wearing different shoes."
Femmes? How do you spot them? This is something Butches have been trying to figure out for some time! Queer visibility is an issue for many out and proud Femmes. They can be flamboyantly feminine, or even tomboyish. Femme gender, like Butch gender, is not soley an outward projection of style, but an energy from within.
Defining Femme is like trying to capture the essence of mystery. Complex, simple, dominant, submissive, powerful, yielding, stone, diva, bratty, serious, playful... these are only a handful of descriptors. There are as many ways to describe Femme as there are Femmes on the planet, and just when you think you've got Femmes all figured out, remember you don't! Defining the complexity that is Femme, both in myself and in those Femmes around us, is to state that Femme is the fully realized queer state of one's femininity, sexuality, and sensuality as it pertains to self, unapologetic and non-patriarchal based or constructed. Our desires are what can make us different, but our fundamental commitment to our femininity, our queerness, and the women, masculine females and Butches of every stripe that we love, lust, and partner with bring Femmes together as sisters.