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Butch And Femme: Terms In Lesbian Subculture

Butch And Femme: Terms In Lesbian Subculture



Butch and Femme are terms coined by 20th-century lesbian communities. If you are new to these, dig in:



1) Butch and Femme are terms used in the lesbian subculture to refer to masculine (Butch) or feminine (Femme) identities as well as their traits, behaviours, styles, perceptions and so forth.


2) The concept has been described as a “way of organizing sexual relationships as well as gender and sexual identity”.


3) There are many women in Butch-Butch and Femme-Femme relationships, so Butch and Femme culture is not the only twofold system of lesbians.


4) “Butch” can be used either as an adjective or a noun to describe the gender performance of an individual. However, it refers to a female displaying a degree of masculinity beyond what is typically associated with a tomboy.


5)Harassment or violence against women with a Butch appearance is not uncommon.


6) In a survey of Butches conducted in the 1990s, 50% said they were primarily attracted to Femmes, 25% said they were attracted to other Butches.


7) Butches have been described by feminist scholar Sally Rowena Munt as an outlaw figure within the lesbian culture who represents lesbianism in a public way.


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8) Like “Butch”, Femme can be used as an adjective or a noun. Femmes are not “read” as lesbians unless they are with a Butch partner because they conform to traditional standards of femininity.


9) Femmes annoyed sexologists and psychoanalysts particularly. They argued that all lesbians wished to be men as Femmes do not express masculine qualities. Traditionally, the Femme in a Butch and Femme couple was expected to act as a stereotypically feminine woman.


10) In the earlier years of the twentieth century (Butch and Femme gender roles were constrained to the underground bar scene), Femmes were said to be hidden without a Butch partner. Their gender conformity allowed them to appear straight.



Joan Nestle was the first to say that both Butch and Femme are exceedingly visible in Butch and Femme couples. Femmes revealed their sexual difference by feeling attracted to Butch women publicly, making the Butch desirable. Thus both Butch and Femme are identified and visible.


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