Butch.

So I’ve been wondering lately why I don’t have any kind of butch community. Or, at least, why I don’t feel as if I’m a part of one–for all I know they’re all over the place. And I realized that while I was in college, pretty much everyone around me (including, at one point, a woman I dated) actively resisted labels like butch and femme. I’ve been trying to figure out why that could be. At first I thought it was just another academic pretension like so many others, claiming some kind of sophistication beyond the crude language of the past. I thought it could be a generational thing, the need to define oneself in terms other than the ones used by our predecessors. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that the women around me who resisted my butch self-identification resisted it because they feared being identified in relation to it.

I suppose it makes sense, in a way. If you reject the idea that lesbian relationships have to be defined by a butch and a femme (or a butch and a bitch), you probably don’t want to date someone who identifies as butch if you don’t identify as femme. (Or a bitch.)

…Unless, you know, you don’t feel your identity is threatened by someone else’s.

I identify as butch, but I don’t let it define me or my relationships. And identifying as butch or femme doesn’t have to mean aping heterosexual relationships or traditional gender roles.

And, for the record, my girlfriend isn’t femme.

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5 Responses to Butch.

  1. lindsey says:

    define the word ‘butch’ in this context! for me, i’d say butch is more of an adjective than a noun, and butch describes a woman with visible masculine characterisitics and/or mannerisms.

    and by ‘masculine’, i mean something i don’t mean at all. semantics are so weird. even saying something as apparently simple as “women are soft and emotional, men are hard and logical” is forgetting that everyone’s a combination of traits. anyway, my point here is really that “masculine” and “feminine” are concepts which need not come into play during definitions of butch and femme.

    how about using specific personality traits instead of assuming people know what is meant by “masculine” and “feminine”? it’s more complicated, but so much more accurate.

    muscular. slim. voluptuous. wiry. tall. short.
    logical. intuitive. emotional. objective. sensitive. impervious.

    or in cindy’s case, chronic belching + an obsession with shoes that make her feet look smaller. fascinating!

  2. pandanose says:

    I don’t think you have to make butch and masculine interchangable, though admittedly for some people they are. But then again, you’re the one using masculine and feminine–I didn’t choose them at all. I think butch carries a lot of things masculine doesn’t, and vice versa. And because butch isn’t always used outside queer contexts, people are more likely to ask you to explain what it means (hey everybody! A learning experience!) and gain some common ground, whereas people will assume you’re using Their definition of masculine and leave it at that.

  3. Kay Paiva says:

    Hey there,
    Sorry, that last comment messed up!

    We want your story, though!
    http://thebutchproject.wordpress.com/

    -Kay Paiva

  4. Vak says:

    You say you don’t let butch define you or your relationships. What would your identification of butch mean then? I find the butch/femme thing interesting because I always wonder how much masculinity is necessary to make butch and if it is necessary at all.

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