A New Phenomenon: Femme Flight

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A New Phenomenon: Femme Flight

The Butch Voices conference... a completely amazing event, clearly such a labor of love, and from what I could tell, a landmark occasion for the butches who participated. Which was, after all, who it was meant for.

Funny, though, that it ended up being such a turning point for me in relation to this community — because of how the social dynamics went down in the same old, same old way.

There's always some butch grandstanding onstage about how amazing femmes are, to thunderous approval... yet in my experience, most of you actually treat us without any real regard. I heard a lot of y'all talk a big talk about "chivalry," but then you pushed me around in line and in the crowds, held conversations across my physical space without acknowledging me (apparently expecting me to contort myself to accommodate you), and left me to take the bus home after all was said and done. (If I'd been driving, I'd have been offering rides myself, 'cause really, none of us want to be stuck at the bus stop with odd men giving us the hairy eyeball in the middle of the night. Before you worry about heroics and chivalry, just start with the basics of looking out for each other.)

Lots of you couldn’t hold a conversation with me without assuming I wanted to sleep with you. Many of you seem to hold the belief that being a femme means being constantly sexually available to every butch, FTM and trans-masculine person in the world and their brother, as a sort of public property — this, regardless of our actual status or interest in you, and with no consideration whatsoever that some of us have a sexual orientation that precludes those of you who aren’t women.

I’m not a consolation prize you’re entitled to by virtue of how badly you’re treated by the world at large.

Many of you, when expounding on butch/femme, think it’s romantic to say that your self-concept is dependent on the way I look and the way I look at you. This doesn’t sound romantic to me anymore. It just sounds really co-dependent.

Also, a lot of you assume or imply (or, in the case of one prominent presenter, explicitly state during a talk) that as a femme I am choosing between you and men. I'm not. I'm a dyke, and I'm too tired of having to explain that to you guys, of all people. When I am choosing between a butch and someone else, the someone else is another woman. Maybe you find it more useful to continually frame the dialogue as a comparison of butches to men because of course you’ll always come out ahead in that scenario. The real comparison that I make is very different. I compare you to other women — women who are available to be touched, who don’t need me to contort myself into a caricature trophy in order to feel okay about themselves, who are just plain considerate instead of having a hero complex and calling it “chivalry;” women who are willing to receive what I want to give — who will let me take them out and treat them for dinner, who will let me pleasure them, who will give me room to enjoy being a dyke as much as they get to enjoy it.

There are plenty of women who are butch enough for me who meet this description — I'm finding that generally they don’t identify as butches or if they do, they aren’t so heavily invested in it as to be much a part of the “community.” I’m also finding myself attracted to women who aren’t butch at all, but dykey and beautiful in a completely different way. I'm dating these women and not interested in going back. I've been flipped. Femme flight! It feels like soaring! I get to feel so open with women who don't ritualize, fetishize, and invest in their hang-ups, who don’t cultivate that accompanying weird self-aggrandizement — women who don't go in for all the showmanship, apparatus, and hypocritical big talk.

In short, goodbye “butch/femme” for me. I don't want to participate anymore in this dysfunctional "dance" which always promises and never delivers. Regardless of what I look like, I'm not a femme. I'm just a dyke. So long, and thanks for helping me grow.

Comments [183]

TGStoneButch's picture

blog post in response


I wanted to let you know that I wrote a blog post in response to this article. You can find it here: http://tgstonebutch.livejournal.com/1146909.html

I was also at the BV2009 conference, in fact I was a presenter. I taught the workshop on misogyny, among others.


Spillproof's picture

LHR, I really appreciate your post

I heard the term "femme flight" tonight, and I found this post when I Googled it. Thank you for saying what I've been too weary to say to anyone but my close lesbian friends. I just don't have 900 hours to dedicate to the circular arguments on message boards that inevitably follow. xoxoxo.

Jules's picture

minniesota, I agree that in

minniesota, I agree that in order to affect real change we need to work at both the individual and societal/cultural levels.  That is one of the main reasons why I think the argument "not all butches are like that" and trying to minimize someone's experiences by trying to pin it down to many, some, few etc. entirely misses the point.

minniesota's picture

I think that it is fine to

I think that it is fine to point out that Butches are not all like each other and simply pointing that out does not minimize L.H.R's experience. One of the points of the Butch Voices conference was to show that there are multiple ways to be Butch and conceive of what is Butch, to explore the complexities of Butch identity. Maybe the conference didn't go far enough in challenging basic assumptions. I don't know because I didn't attend.

We will have to disagree that there was an attempt to minimize L.H.R's experience in the discussions for this blog. Maybe it seemed that way, but I do not believe that was anyone's intention.

By the way, I want to say thanks to L.H.R. for the blog and making me think.

Civility is not a sign of weakness.

yonks's picture

At the end

Its always butches fault, as long as we allow femmes to think by themselves, we should expected such raw.

if anyone looking for me, i go hiding in the kitchen's cupboard. Wait, if they find me they will have plenty ammunition to throw in my face, maybe the closet but they could lock me in for the end of time. under the carpet?

-Do not follow me, I'M LOST-

Jules's picture

minniesota, I observe, and

minniesota, I observe, and more importantly, listen to femmes tell me these types of things over and over again.  That's how I know.

minniesota's picture

Thanks for your response

Thanks, yes, I agree that we know this is happening we many people have said so (even if I was somewhat blind to it). 

I would like to understand more about why it happens and continues to happen, which is why I'm asking if anyone knows if some research has been done. That would be helpful for me. Forgive me, but my professor/researcher side takes over sometimes.

Also, I'm concerned that we haven't had much in-depth discussion in this thread about what could/should our response be as individuals and as an LGBTQI community. I'd like to see a response that does not involve stereotyping, condemning or dismissing whole groups, but involves thinking about ways to affect a positive change in disrespectful behavior.

Civility is not a sign of weakness.

Robin Rigby's picture

I don't know about research

I don't know about research Minnie since that's not really my thing but I will say on the subject of education that this blog is probably a good start.  More info like this out there in the world might help but as we can see just from the comments here plenty of folks read this in a different way than LHR intended.  So, as to continuing to teach the youth how to behave properly... Many of them are not learning basic manners from their parents so it's much harder to educate them once they're older and out in the community but we can.  Sort of like mentoring, those of us who are older and have some manners should point it out to the young 'uns when they are behaving inappropriately.  

I'm not religious at all but the golden rule is golden for a reason and always a good place to start. 

Become a fan of "Sodomy: The Musical" on Facebook!

minniesota's picture

Beyond manners

My initial thought is that is our examination of and response to this behavior must beyond discussion of manners and even the golden rule. As I think about this more deeply my first thoughts focus on how the boundaries of so-called masculine and feminine behavior are constructed and defined in our society and how that plays out in our community. The Butch Voices conference program did seem to have a couple of sessions that tried to address this, i.e. sessions on misogyny and heteronormativity.

Tex jokingly suggested home training. Well, that's one idea to affect change. But we know from the feminist movement and other movements that in order to affect real change we must work at the level of individuals and society, in particular to alter society practices and structures that reinforce a notion that being female means being lessor or needing protection.

I have more to say but it's too nice to stay inside and type...

Civility is not a sign of weakness.

Tex's picture

Home training!

Sorry, I couldn't help myself - it is true though! Gonna get off of here - weekend toddies have commenced a bit early! Smooches!

Twitter Time @kdhales

minniesota's picture

Have a good weekend

I'm about to go outside too. Lots of work this weekend still to complete but it is too nice to stay inside the rest of today.

Civility is not a sign of weakness.

Rusty's picture

vampire hours

I miss outside during daylight hours. It's currently 98 and humid. And we have left over air crap because of the fires. Right now I'm on g-ma duty and I need The Bruiser to take her nap so I can finish shooting this week's comic.

"When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will." ~ Pollyanna

Julia Watson's picture

On our first rest day since

On our first rest day since the move, on Tuesday, Tami and I didn't leave the apartment all day. Like, we never even walked out the front door. We just stayed inside with the A/C on and pretended it wasn't 110 degrees outside.

I was thinking the next morning that this is the closest I will ever get to know what it's like to be stuck inside during cold, cold winters-- these hot, hot summers in the desert. Ha!

Steph's picture

There's something rather

There's something rather lovely about snuggling up inside during the cold winters! Although the contrast between the lovely warm indoors and the bitter cold outside plays havoc with my skin!!!

Not2Taem's picture

Winter Lezzie Land

New Englanders do know how to snuggle. I wonder if that contributed to MA becoming a Winter Lezzie Land?  Wink

Jules's picture

Rusty you are digging your

Rusty you are digging your hole deeper.  So you are now assigning blame to LHR for not communicating clearly to you?  I saw no blanket condemnations and it was clear to me that she was talking about patterns of behavior over time.  The significant part is that these behaviors and attitudes occur quite consistently and with regularity- not that every single butch on the planet engages in them.  Not every single man is a rapist but unfortunately rape occurs on a consistent basis and most rapists are men.  It appears the irony of your words still escape you.

Rusty's picture

Not going for ironical at all

Any writer whose goal is not to communicate clearly to an audience is just keeping a diary. L.H.R. obviously thought it was important to clear up the confusion since she responded to the comments. And if you take a look through the comments you'll notice that I wasn't the only one who thought she went farther than she apparently meant to.

As far as the use of irony, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means, what you think it means." At least not in this context—Unless you really do believe that disagreeing with a femme is tantamount to not listening to or respecting her.

"When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will." ~ Pollyanna

L.H.R.'s picture

Hi Rusty, You have to admit

Hi Rusty,

You have to admit it's a teensy bit ironic that you just called me a femme. Wink

Rusty's picture

More than a little bit

I will see your ironic and raise you a thick-headed. Apologies.

[insert winking emoticonthingamagigie]

"When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will." ~ Pollyanna

minniesota's picture


How do we/you know that these behaviors occur consistently and with regularity? What is the level of this behavior among those who identify as butches? Does it happen more regularly in some subsets than in others? Is there a difference among geographic regions?  I'm not negating anyone's personal experience and observations of patterns of behavior. But I would like to know if anyone has conducted research into this phenomenon for our current time period. When this discussion started a few days ago, I cited Lillian Faderman's chapter on the 1950s and 1960s in her seminal work, "Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers." I ask once again, if anyone can point me to more current research on butch behavior and butch/femme dynamics, please let me know.

Civility is not a sign of weakness.

Jules's picture

Well I certainly see no butch

Well I certainly see no butch bashing or BV conference bashing going on here- I am a butch.  What I do see ironically enough (not in a funny way) is another example of a woman (whether she identify as femme, dyke, butch woman, or any other type of woman) not truly being listened to or respected from some of the posters.  I say ironic because that is precisely what LHR was speaking about in her post.  It was crystal clear to me that she was talking about persistent patterns of behavior over time and not a few bad apples at the conference just from reading her post- before I ever read her recent follow up comment.  There were other femmes at the conference who experienced things differently and their experiences are also valid.  I do hope the issues LHR raised are taken seriously some day and true dialogue can begin at some point.

Rusty's picture


Well Jules, what was crystal clear to you was less so to me. It took several explanations from the author for me to understand exactly who she was addressing.

As far as the author "not truly being listened to or respected", I disagree. Difference of opinion does not equal not listening or respecting. I read the blog several times before I made my comments. And I said more than once that I don't doubt her experience. My specific issue is the use of language that results in blanket condemnations - most, a lot, many, always. In my book those words mean the majority of a group.

The author replied: "I used the words "some, many, most, lots" because I specifically wanted to acknowledge that not every butch acts like this, and I don't think these problematic behavior patterns are at all inherent to butches."

Good enough for me. If that paragraph had been in the initial blog this discussion would have ended about 100 comments ago.

"When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will." ~ Pollyanna

minniesota's picture


Thanks for coming on. And welcome to VPM.

I responded first by saying that  I couldn't relate to the butch behavior the author described but doesn't mean that I didn't respect what L.H.R was saying. Just want to make that absolutely, positively crystal clear.

Also, I think the conversation we had on this blog demonstrates that we absolutely can have a dialogue about this issue. I've had to come each evening to catch up with the discussion because of being swamped at work this week. I've seen some misunderstandings/bumps but for the most part, in my view, a constructive dialogue.

Civility is not a sign of weakness.

camomileroses's picture

It is my experience that

It is my experience that debate and contention can lead to profound change and growth even, and especially, if I don't agree with the ideas or opinions presented.  That is the subject of my maiden blog on www.femaleprerogative.wordpress.com

One of the reasons I became interested in vp was that it offered a forum where lesbians could openly discuss their different, many times opposing, perspectives about issues.  As always, I hope anyone who disagrees with me will present their differing point of view.  I may not agree with you but I know that I will always learn from you.  Wink

"there will never be a technology more advanced than the human mind - fully engaged in the divine process of being. technology is a tool not a destination." me.

Rusty's picture

But you're a nice butch, Rusty. Not like those other ones

This entire thread is an exercise in butch bashing. We can start with L.H.R.’s original blog. After she gives kudos to the conference she says, “There's always some butch grandstanding onstage about how amazing femmes are, to thunderous approval... yet in my experience, most of you actually treat us without any real regard.” [emphasis mine]

Her blog is littered with such sweeping generalizations. Only a nuanced reading would lead one to think that any of these lines is directed to only a handful of conference attendees (which she later claimed was the case):

Lots of you couldn’t hold a conversation with me without assuming I wanted to sleep with you.

Many of you seem to hold the belief that being a femme means being constantly sexually available to every butch, . . .

Alot of you assume or imply . . .

Only after challenged, she admits in the comments that it was some of the butches she encountered but “It's that I have had one too many bad experiences with the dysfunctional dynamics that so often get attached to butch/femme.” Again, she generalizes about the community.

Other commenters jumped on the band wagon and applauded her “courage” for saying what they felt or experienced. “Awesome blog” “loved the blog” Really? Have all of you had such horrible interactions with butches that you applaud this blog and its attack on butches as occupying a space just a step above Neanderthals?

And we have a new commenter, cfishy, who took the anti-butch sentiment and ran with it. Again, her initial comments were directed at butches in general, not the specific bad actors. She later claimed to not be talking about all butches when writing:

“And for butches: Do you really make a femme feel better about herself by telling her how beautiful she is? The femme you barely know, who does not look like any of the girls on your screen savers? cuz, in reality, what you are saying is, "as long as you play along with my masculinity, I'll call you the most beautiful girl in the world." In my mind, this only lowers their self esteem”

That’s a pretty wide swath you’re cutting there, my friend.

And when I commented that this was not my experience nor the experience of butches I know, I got the “But you’re a nice butch, Rusty.” That’s like a racist telling an African-American friend that they’re a "good black. Not like the rest of them."

Imagine if a butch had generalized about femmes in a blog? Or if another blogger had generalized and bashed a racial or ethnic group? I doubt there’d be much applause for their courage.

"When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will." ~ Pollyanna

L.H.R.'s picture

Rusty, I used the words


I used the words "some, many, most, lots" because I specifically wanted to acknowledge that not every butch acts like this, and I don't think these problematic behavior patterns are at all inherent to butches.

I don't have statistical data for you about what percentage of people I interacted with versus total conference attendees, and that shouldn't matter. But in fact my not overgeneralizing and saying "you're all this way" is what opened the door for you to minimize my experience because, apparently, not enough butches had disrespected me to warrant crying foul? Okay. It was plenty more than enough for me!

I wrote this because I was overwhelmed by a persistent pattern of experiences like the ones I described, not just put off by a few bad apples in an isolated incident. What I described has been true for me not only at this conference but also in general over the years at other such events and very often in the company of heavily butch/femme-identified folks.

The point is that there's a certain way that what is great about butch/femme dynamics can get warped into something else--and that "something else" which I described has finally outweighed, for me, the value of trying to find community in such spaces--and made me realize why I have better success connecting socially with people who may be functionally butch or femme but don't really engage with it in such a primary way.

In any case, it sounds like you were grappling with this question of "why isn't her experience of this community just like mine?" That's a big, R.D. Laing-style question to tackle in these comments, but please don't try to resolve it by just discrediting the validity of my experience. I can completely respect that your experience is vastly different from mine, and in this case I'm really glad to hear it. You'll get no bashing from me.

caramelteddy's picture

Hey Rusty,    As usual, you

Hey Rusty,

   As usual, you make an interesting point. I also find it offensive to be called a "nice butch, not like the others." As if manners and intelligence are exclusive to the non-butch.

   However, I'm going to disagree with you just slightly because I wouldn't say that this thread is butch bashing. Nobody here is telling us that we shouldn't be butch or that being butch is not okay or that the butch identity needs to be done away with. That would be bashing to me. In this thread, it just sounds like a few folks are fed up with certain butches and the negative experiences that have been attached to their dealings with those butches. It kind of reminds me of when my hetero women friends decide to "swear off" men because they are tired of "dealing with assholes." We know that all men are not assholes, but women think little of the generalization. Maybe it's because human beings tend to generalize the groups of people who are different from them.We take the least common denominator and formulate a stereotype for any culture or subset of our own culture that we can never fully understand because it is somewhat different from our own culture or our own subset.

   I understand that there are many in the lesbian community who take issue with the butch/femme dynamic because they do not want to be painted with the same negative stereotypes that we all struggle against. So we take a lot of pride in how we identify while at the same time insisting that we don't want to be labeled. Advanced calculus and nuclear physics are easier to understand than the lesbian processing of identity division in the lesbian community.The only thing that comes close is the goth kids versus vamp kids episode of South Park.

   At the end of the day, we are what we are. I may decide that I don't want to be labeled as butch anymore (on the same day that hell freezes over) but I can't control everyone else's perception of my appearance and swagger. As annoyed as I am at the misogynist asshole behavior of some butches and the snobby princess behavior of some femmes, I find it silly to think I can actually walk away from a community that encompasses us all. I can certainly say "I'm not a butch, I'm just a dyke" as loud as I like but if it talks like a duck and walks like a duck....

   Anyway, I think that this blog was a great springboard for a discussion on the butch/femme dynamic and issues that surround that dynamic in the lesbo community. I also feel that everyone has expressed themselves in a dignified and reasonable manner. Yay VP Community!


Not2Taem's picture

Well done, CT.

I once had a whole scenario for putting all men into cryogenic storage. When you want one, just take him out and warm him up. You'll know exactly where he's been and he will be so glade to defrost that...

Anyway, its not like I seriously thought every man on the planet was a dick-head; I had just reached the final knot in my rope with a particularly boorish one. Sometimes people just need the opportunity to express their frustration, and the rest of us shouldn't necessarily take it personally.

PS: You think being Butch on a Lez website gets hard, try being the only male in the teacher's lounge at an elementary school when any woman on campus is getting divorced. Talk about at risk!  LOL

camomileroses's picture

wow, ct, what an articulate

wow, ct, what an articulate and beautiful post.  

"there will never be a technology more advanced than the human mind - fully engaged in the divine process of being. technology is a tool not a destination." me.

Julia Watson's picture

Sometimes my girlfriend says

Sometimes my girlfriend says smart things on the internetz and I am reminded all over again why I have the hots for her.

Rusty's picture

99.9% there

CT, it looks like the only disagreement we have is whether the discussion constitutes "butch bashing." I'm willing to agree to disagree on this one because it's just semantics. We are in agreement on the rest of the issues.

As far as straight women swearing off men. I remember the first time I saw Ellen's act; it was years before she came out. At the end, I was convinced she was lesbian because there wasn't a single anti-male joke in her routine. Well, that and her shoes.

"When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will." ~ Pollyanna

cfishy's picture

I'm an equal opportunity

I'm an equal opportunity basher. You are simply selecting what you like to read.

Rusty, your very first comment on this page is about "a selective kind of butches goes to this event." In essence, you are saying 'but I'm not that type of butch. I'm the good one.'

Like it or not, you are being generalized in people's minds. Just because they don't say it in your face does not mean they don't think that way about you, based on behavior of other people who look like you. So let's say we are being bashed as a group because of behaviors of a selective few. What do you do with it?

Instead of saying, "but I'm a good butch. and you should stop bashing." Or cry foul to those who express their feelings, I would rather drag the bad behaving ones by the ear and make them stop it.

Some black people, like Obama, demands more of blacks. Some black people like Rev. Jackson, cries foul as a profession. That's the difference between you and I. Being butch is not an excuse for anything. I demand my people to stop acting like victims and start putting higher expectation on yourself.

Butches are prone to making compliments that don't sound very good. For example, your description of "door opening, yes ma'am butch" in that context sounds very insincere, basically expressing, "but i'm the good butch who treats you like a queen, not a real human." which totally misses the point - these canned 'chivalrous' behavior does not heal dehumanizing minds. People can tell the difference.

Rusty's picture

Still wrong

You are incorrect. I took the writer at her word that this behavior was pervasive at the conference and responded, "I'm wondering if conference-attending butches represent all butches." I was trying to understand why what she purported to have experienced at the conference was so different than what I know of butches. It was only later that she admitted that is wasn't all or even most butches that disrespected her. And that's when I took issue with bashing all butches.

"door opening and yes ma'aming" has nothing to do with treating femmes as queens. It's called good manners and the fact that you believe that's out of the ordinary behavior says more about you than it does me.

Finally, being an "equal opportunity" basher is nothing to be proud of.

"When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will." ~ Pollyanna

cfishy's picture

If you spend enough time with

If you spend enough time with drag queens or in the deep south, the nastiest insult you'd ever  hear are the most polite ones. Politeness does not replace genuine respect. When a femme complained about some butches of not treating her as a basic human being, you responded with, "oh, those polite ones are invisible." which clearly mixed up these two different concepts. In that context, it sounds like you did not digest her point before your reply.

In my own experience, most femmes would rather you listen to them than open the doors for them.

Rusty's picture

Polite and respectful

Since I'm neither a drag queen nor from the deep south I can assure you that when I'm polite it's not because I'm actually hurling nasty insults.

I agree, politeness does not replace respect. I should have been less glib in my response. But neither are politeness and respect mutually exclusive options. There is no reason that one can't open the door for a woman as well as listen to her.

Rephrasing my point about impolite and /or disrespectful behavior in any group: the boorish, aggressive, disrespectful clod will always garner more attention than the person just going about their business. My question about this blog was whether a majority of the butches at the conference were disrespectful or whether they were just more noticeable? This is an appropriate question since we have wildly divergent reports from two femmes who attended the conference.

"When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will." ~ Pollyanna

cfishy's picture

There may very well be some

There may very well be some cognitive distortion on both accounts. I think part of it, at least for me, is that the same thing happened so many times over so many years that it eventually gets to me. I became cynical. My usual solution is to avoid lesbians at all cost, especially butch-femme people. But when I read this blog post, I realized that escaping is cowardly because it leaves the bad scene for other people to suffer.

I firmly believe that most butches, by nature, intend to be nice to femmes, but we have no idea how. We give them apples when they ask for oranges. I have made many of these mistakes. I had to learn it the hard way that my best intentions could be very counter productive and sometimes even hurtful. I want to point out these things to other butches so they could avoid the common pitfalls. Isn't that what Butch Voices is supposed to do?

The founder of BV and I discussed about BV last year. We had very different idea of what it's supposed to be. She's a poet and she believes in the healing power of voices. I'm an engineer and I believe in pin pointing problems and tackling it with a dose of reality. I think her approach is probably more suitable for people who have never heard all these before, like I once was. To me, it's rather repetitive to celebrate our gender again and again and again.

cfishy's picture

I mean, I surely can defend

I mean, I surely can defend butches in the accusations that LHR made:

"talking thru her" is probably a cultural thing. I used to work in a testosterone filled environment where people scream on the top of their lungs and shove each other in the pit to make a living. For many masculine people, contention and competition is a highly effective way to bond, which femmes mostly won't understand. Look at how atheletes trade mutual insults - trash talking is actually a show of mutual respect on some level. It means, "I respect your abilities enough to count you as a worthy opponent."

as of "leaving her at the bus stop, subject to hairy eyeballs," What hairy eyeballs? A lot of butches like myself enjoy roaming free in the most dangerous ghettos alone and don't think twice about it. In fact, I like to strike up a conversation with straight men on the bus stop at night. It's not natural for me to consider this a distress at all. So we probably failed to see the situation because it doesn't really apply to us.

and "cannot hold a conversation without assuming femmes want sex..." It's probably mostly because many of us have no idea how to communicate with a femme. We are not good at picking up subtle signals and codes that femmes communicate with. Butches understand words, not codes. Femmes mostly speak in codes. Femmes try really hard to persuade as that we are actually desirable. Many of them try to use our language and tell us how 'hot' we are every chance they get. We don't know why, but we feel we should acknowlege that. And because we have zero idea why they find us attractive, we are prone to assume that they like butches solely because of masculinity. Hence the conclusion that they like all butches and ftms regardless of individuals.

and "treating femmes like a consolation prize" is probably because of, again, how femmes often try too hard to tell us how much they appreciate us, using our language with unintended consequences. We take it literally.

now "believing that femmes are making a choice between a man and a butch" It's because many of us are uncomfortable acknowledging our sex seems not matching our gender. We are comparing ourselves to men not because we will come out on top everytime; it's because we are afraid that we'd not measure up.

and about "insisting to give, refusing to take" Usually happens when, in the innermost subconscious level, we still feel that we're not male and somehow need to make up for that to be better than a man. We should know better, but it's an issue each of us need to work on ourselves. Femmes can tell us a million times that, our being females is a plus. Most of us will never understand that. The best I can do is to learn to accept it gracefully without questioning or processing.

I don't actually believe that said butches are bad people. I think there's just a lot of insecurities compounded with the disconnect in our understanding and communication with femmes. If we put down the scripts and have some real conversations, maybe we'll get better.

My guess is that, many of the things I describe about femmes also point out some insecurities on thier side, but I have zero insight to make any useful comment.

Not2Taem's picture

Random thought

This kind of makes it sound like the are a whole lot of butches out there with Asperger's Syndrome. Personally, I've only met a rare few who are like that.

Robin Rigby's picture

After reading your comment, I

After reading your comment, I think the things you describe come down to some fundamental misunderstanding about butches vs femmes and at the core of that misunderstanding is a feeling that somehow each of you is 'other'.  Fact is, you're both women but even more fundamentally you're both human.  Femmes, other non-femme lesbians, other butches, other non-butch identifying lesbians, queer boys, straight boys, straight girls, etc, etc feel the exact same insecurities.  Everyone thinks they're not tall enough, they're not thin enough, they're not smart enough, they're not something enough.  How people express their insecurities varies but those insecurities are all the same. 

Example: Julia W has heard me say how I met and interviewed Kate Bornstein once after watching her play "Hidden: A Gender".  I can't understand feeling like you're a woman trapped in a man's body (or a man trapped in a woman's body for that matter) but I did understand the play and what she had to say about identity and fighting against societal expectations.  I don't have to have been in her shoes because her feelings are human feelings.

All this to say that if you feel like femmes speak in code, they don't.  They may use different words than you would choose to describe their feelings but the feelings are the same.  All you really need to do to understand them is to stop and listen.  Really listen.  Not just with your ears, but with your heart.  Which sounds super corny but is so true.  When you do, you'll find that they open up to you and hear, really hear, you in return. 

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Not2Taem's picture

I love it when you get all

I love it when you get all mushy.  Smile

cfishy's picture

Agreed, fundamentally, it's

Agreed, fundamentally, it's just people being human, trying the best they know how. Therefore I tried very hard to argue in previous posts that many butches made the mistake of not seeing femmes as human, not listening, instead treating them like some sort of fantasy creature. I argue that, femmes, in trying hard to please us, sometimes pretend that this isn't a problem. After all, the dance is fun if you don't take it too seriously. When it gets out of hand, it goes into a downward spiral and we end up in the situations stated in the original post.

I spent years analyzing and observing communication styles of different genders, and they are well documented and researched. Our communication styles are indeed different. Denying the differences won't help; understanding them will.

But I also don't want to write people off as assholes; it would be the easy way out. These are my people; I know them. I have made the same mistakes countless times. I feel responsible  telling them what went wrong, because I know a lot of them really have no idea. The explanation post is merely an exercise in finding reasons for thier behavior, and believe me, I don't enjoy admitting I have been guilty of the same mistakes.

I still do make some of these mistakes, but at least I can spot them now. And, I'm very lucky to have somehow found femmes who simply ignore my ENTP verbal gymnastics and over processing, shut me off and drag me to parties. And those who insist that I pay attention to what they are saying. I'm grateful for that.

Being a butch also means I'm sometimes over protective of femmes. I can sense LHR's frustration and I really do want to make her feel a bit better, as many of you also have tried. My way of doing it is different. Instead of saying, "those butches don't count," I'm saying, "I know you feel dehumanized, but these butches really did not mean to hurt you. There's a reason behind it, and I hope you consider."

Also, I think there's something femmes like LHR can do about it: demand better of butches and not accept these behaviors quietly.

Robin Rigby's picture

Unfortunately, your original

Unfortunately, your original posts were not saying anything near what you're saying you meant now.  In your original posts you exhibited the behaviors you claim to decry and treated LHR exactly the way she described in the blog.  If that was not your intention then go back and reread your posts and see if you don't see the same things that I read.  

I've been talking to LHR off this blog and I don't think she wants you to protect her.  I think she wants you to respect her.  Not 'you' personally of course.  Saying that 'these butches really did not mean to hurt you' (as someone else pointed out) sounds exactly like what batterers say to their victims.  It certainly doesn't imply respect.  

I think you've been deeply hurt but I don't think generalizing about an entire group helps.  You have been complaining about that behavior towards butches but you've been doing it to femmes.

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cfishy's picture

People get on discussions for

People get on discussions for different reasons. Some want to be social and popular. I'd rather tell the truth that nobody dare telling, cuz I don't really need to please people. I have experienced the exact same frustration as LHR and that's why I bothered. So, you can take the opportunity to stump on me all you want. And oh, by the way, I would rather keep my own private conversations private.

Robin Rigby's picture

Really?  I revealed nothing

Really?  I revealed nothing about our private conversations.  If she feels I betrayed some trust then I will let her call me out on it, but it's not your place to do so.  

Are you implying that I want to feel social and popular?  You don't know me.  You have no right.  And saying that you don't need to please other people is a cop out.  A cop out for rude and inconsiderate behavior.  

Here I am, trying to be nice.  Trying to be understanding.  And this is your response...?  

"The truth that nobody dare telling"?  Get over yourself.

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cfishy's picture

Just wanted to add that,

Just wanted to add that, clearly, I consider none of these valid excuses. These are symptoms of weaknesses and flaws. A femme has every right to call it; I like it better than their demanding less of us because that's acknowledging we are better than this.

minniesota's picture


Fascinating. I mean fascinating in the sense of your perspective on butches and why some may act they way they do.

I am reading your pronoun "we" in the sense of you and other butches you believe are like you, as I believe we are not all alike. Reading this, for me, is like visiting another country.

Civility is not a sign of weakness.

lmz's picture

on which planet do all these "femmes" and "butches" live ?

On my planet, i've never met those stereotypes just fellows of any kind who could have been bully, gentle, sweet, rude, stupid, respectful, disrecpectful etc.


yonks's picture

 for the point of letting you

 for the point of letting you go home in bus, i don't know if its just me but in france, peoples always offer you to drive you, even if they are not close friends or you barely know them. i was astonish in quebec that peoples let you go in the night, by -20c or in a snow storm without wandering if you're okay to go home. Now i have a car and when i ask peoples if they need a lift, they look at me suspiciously as if i was flirting. I assume its cultural

-Do not follow me, I'M LOST-

lmz's picture

i do the same

you and me are well educated people !

yonks's picture

wel yeah

no label or non label give you the economy of a good education

-Do not follow me, I'M LOST-