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Butch women are not men, did not grow up benefiting from male socialization, and therefore possess inherent differences from heterosexual men that are intrinsic to butch identity. Butch women provided much needed protection in an increasingly tempestuous environment for lesbians in the s, and their femme counterparts provided emotional relief and comfort. However, we have some research available, dating logo psd as well as voices from essays and letters. There is no clear definition of a femme in any of the research I came across.
This could be due to vulnerability among butch girls who feel different from their peers. However, the new critical approach to understanding gender gave new language and insight for butch women trying to comprehend their own gender non-conformity. Because of the violence often faced by butch women, butchness became synonymous with toughness. Despite this recorded history of workplace discrimination against butch lesbians, a common misconception surrounding butch women is that they benefit under patriarchy. Butch women, when compared to their femme counterparts, have more masculine body types as defined by higher waist-to-hip ratios.
Some say femmes are more likely to suffer from internalized homophobia. They are best understood among the women who experience them. Feminists in the s opted instead for more androgynous presentation as a means of rejecting patriarchal beauty standards. History shows, however, that butch lesbians have experienced systematic and institutionalized oppression at the hands of men.
In other words, butch lesbians do not benefit from patriarchy. Many femme lesbians felt undermined and disrespected by the feminist movement of the s and s. Butch can be defined simply as a masculine lesbian. What do we do with it all? In the s, it became more acceptable for women to attend bars and restaurants alone without male escorts.
Its use by heterosexual and bisexual women can confuse the discussion around femme identity making it challenging to collect accurate data on the experiences of this specific population of women. Butches were often the target of harassment and arrests. Stories such as these were not uncommon in lesbian communities. Our ideas of what community is can be just as important to consider when it comes to femme or butch identities.
When I first moved back to the city over two years ago, I knew that I was searching for something beyond wanting a change of pace. Feminists were trying to liberate women, however, feminism of that era failed in this respect. Compulsory heterosexuality impacts all bisexual and homosexual individuals, because it is an inescapable cultural expectation. The common presumption that all lesbians are visibly gender non-conforming further reinforces the misconception that femmes who are attracted to butch women are subliminally attracted to men. Modern femmes take and leave parts of femininity according to what feels empowering.
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Butches are gender non-conforming, meaning they do not present in the ways typically expected of their sex. Therefore, because butch lesbians are of the female sex, the femmes attracted to them are no less lesbian. Femmes were not seen as inferior in lesbian communities. As a femme myself, I see this part of my identity as important because it shows how I connect with others, as well as how I present out to the world. So if femme is not as simple as performance of femininity, what is a femme?
As a result, some presentational elements common among butches became the norm within the community. They noted that stereotypes identifying all lesbians as butch or androgynous made it difficult to see themselves in the imagery and narratives about lesbians they had been exposed to. Femme identity, once respected for its unique place in the movement, was reframed as anti-feminist and problematic. Feinberg goes on to describe asking a drag queen if she can really buy a woman a drink or ask her to dance there.
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As gender non-conformity is so closely linked to lesbianism, the pressure to conform to gender norms for women is interrelated with lesbophobia. Advice for Lesbian, Bi and Queer Women. They create something new. Femme can be used as both a noun and an adjective. Femmes share a unique experience in navigating erasure, hypersexualization and redistributing ideas or assumption of feminity.
Butch women also struggled to hold down jobs in the s and s, making them dependent at times on femmes for financial support. However, some have argued it most deeply impacts lesbians, as heteronormativity is a concept created and perpetuated by men to uphold patriarchal institutions. Many modern femmes may choose not to shave or not to wear makeup as a means of rejecting these beauty standards. Our lack of understanding has not stopped these identities from persisting, however.
The relationships that developed in this climate were out of necessity and bound by mutual pain and by love. Without a clearly defined social role such as they had in the s and s, femme identity is called into question on the basis of feminine presentation. This placed a great deal of pressure on lesbians who fit femme or butch identities to abandon these feminine and masculine presentations for a more androgynous style.
They still experience misogyny in the form of female socialization and other sex-related oppressions such as restricted access to reproductive health care and sexual abuse. Many modern femmes who strongly identify with radical feminist theories and even feminist critique of compulsory femininity are rewriting the terms and reconstructing femme as a lesbian gender. This misunderstanding is brought on by expectations that all women find men attractive.
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Regardless, femme identity does not appear to be a decision to conform to heteronormative standards or to pass as straight. Feminists of the s and s drew assumptions about butch lesbians and their relationships with their femmes that were largely uninformed by an understanding of the culture. This offers further evidence that butch women are not mimicking men in their presentation, but rather fulfilling an innate desire to adopt a masculine presentation. It is important to examine compulsory heterosexuality when discussing femme lesbian identity, because femme lesbians, in particular, are impacted by it. Femmes were seen as sources for support and emotional respite within a community under constant threat of violence at the hands of heterosexual men.
Men who choose to perform femininity are oppressed for associating themselves with women as a class. It was other femmes that were the first ones to open their arms and accept me as I am. For those unable to recognize sex, rather than gender presentation, as the source of oppression for women, butch women may appear to benefit from patriarchy. Both identities present evidence that they are innate. However, by the s, a shift occurred in feminist analysis that became increasingly critical of femmes.
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The understanding of the concept of gender as a separate entity from sex was adopted by feminists in the s. When we speak about femme or butch identities, much of what we tie to those labels are aesthetics. Women who reject femininity are oppressed for challenging expectations placed upon women as a class.
However, butch lesbians, just like their femme counterparts, would trade oppression at the hands of men for a new kind of oppression at the hands of feminists. One thing that nearly all femmes appear to agree upon, is that femme identity is not an attempt to pass, even if passing is a privilege. It was not until the s that attitudes began to change again, app and femme identity reappeared and regained popularity within the community.
For butch lesbians this means rejecting the patriarchal expectation to perform femininity in physical and social presentation. Gender non-conforming women experience oppression for daring to reject carefully cultivated societal expectations of femininity imposed on women. We who love this way are poetry and history, action and theory, flesh and spirit. In this way heteronormativity affects butch lesbians as well. This oppression has historically has been experienced by means of institutionalized police harassment and brutality.
- Femme lesbian identity solidified in lesbian communities into the s.
- More women took up jobs outside of the home allowing for a previously unattained level of autonomy.
- Modern butch women, in rejecting femininity, choose not to wear makeup or to shave their body hair.
- Using the label femme, lesbians who identified as such were able to share experiences with one another that aided them in coming to terms with their sexuality.
Butch and femme lesbian couples are more than their stereotypes and are not cheap mockeries of straight couples. Femme identity is greater than just an outward presentation. None of the participants claimed they adopted a femme identity to conceal their lesbianism. Lesbians were geared for struggle in the s and s.
While butch women acknowledged their biological sex as female, their innate characteristics and personalities did not fit neatly into the gender norms ascribed to women. However, similar to femme identity, the social roles and presentation of butch identity is complex and nuanced, and there is nothing simple about defining the term. The s brought broader acceptance of lesbian women and relationships.
One was not a woman because of what she wore, but because of her biological reality and the sex-based oppression she experienced as a result. As my friendships and relationships expanded, my connection with other femmes continued to teach me so much about myself and how to be a better friend, lover, and member of the community. Adopting the label femme, a lesbian-specific term, gifts for guy just started allowed them to navigate those communities and assert their validity and right to exist there. The bars operated within a strict set of social rules and expectations.
- This was in part due to the discrimination butch lesbians faced in the workforce.
- But I do know that they have built the foundation as to how I see the queer community, as a whole.
- This was necessary in order to understand the experiences of butch women and to bring light to their unique challenges.
- Butch lesbians, unable to avoid attention, are often the face of the lesbian movement and the most likely to receive harassment.
- Similar to femmes, butches consider their presentation an innate part of their identity.