Butch Please: Butch With A Side Of Misogyny

BUTCH PLEASE is all about a butch and her adventures in queer masculinity, with dabblings in such topics as gender roles, boy briefs, and aftershave.


Header by Rory Midhani

“Are you fucking her?”

I blinked. She continued.

“Because I wanted to fuck her first, and I’d think you would run it by me before you did anything with her.”

My fellow butch was staring me down. The beer clutched in my right hand wasn’t sweating nearly as hard as I was. A number of responses were racing through my head: Do you own her vagina? Is she not a person with agency over what she does with her body? She’s a woman, not a toy that you left in the sandbox. Important to note is that no, I was not and and am not hooking up with her, but defending the false accusation of conduct was the last thing in my list of things to address.

“Oh yeah, that’s mine over there,” another butch said to me with a grin, nodding at the femme at the other side of the room. This was another time and place, but might as well have been within a breath of all the other times I’ve heard that kind of language. “Great ass, right?”

Oftentimes when I am in a place occupied by butches and men, masculinity becomes a kind of currency. Butches start talking about how they’ve “fucked more girls” than the men, “gotten more pussy” and are “better in bed.” Their sexual partners become objects rather than humans. If there are women in the room, their objectification seems to be a bonding mechanism for the butches and men, laughing about who has the best ass, the best tits, who they’d fuck or not fuck. I can show a picture of my girlfriend to a man and know I will get instant respect from him based on her attractiveness. I know that because I’ve done it in the past, and that respect felt good to me, like my masculinity was confirmed by “the source.” And that, my friends, is unbelievably fucked up. The patriarchy barters and trades with women as currency, and in those moments, we are doing the same thing.

I asked my femme friends to tell me about experiences they’ve had where butches were misogynistic towards them or other femmes. I received an overwhelming response of instances that ranged from the ridiculous to the downright terrifying. I felt ashamed and uncomfortable, and all too aware of how rape culture still permeates the queer spaces I call home, the ones that I want to be safe and aware and committed to empowerment, not cheap imitations of the places where I’ve felt endangered and alone.

“If I’m in a lesbian or LGBTQ space and I’m trying to say or do something, there is almost always a butch or group of butches who are going to dismiss me. Then later they’re the ones trying to hit me up at the club.”

“I HATE the butch practice of infantilization and disempowerment with femmes. Calling me ‘baby’, ‘honey’, talking down to me, acting macho and not letting me do things. If you’re trying to flatter me, it’s not working. I don’t want to be treated like a child – I want to be RESPECTED!!”

“One of my least favorite things about butch/boi culture in NYC is how it sometimes devolves into paralleling misogyny I used to deal with from cis straight dudes — a bunch of friends (all masculine id-ed) chugging beer, telling the “little ladies” to step away from the flip cup table so they can “dominate,” referring to their girlfriends as “wifeys” (vom) and chatting about who has the best “tits” in the room. Yuck. It’s a big part of why I stopped going out to bars & clubs, even when I was single.”

“I generally go out with two of my close friends who are also femme and we have been described, by a group of butches who were trying to chat us up, as the one with the boobs, the one with the legs, the one with the ass. When called on it and told why it was problematic one of them actually said ‘I’m not a dude, it’s impossible for me to perpetuate the patriarchy.'”

“When I call butches on their misogyny, they say I am attacking their identity.”

That last quote troubles me the most. I’m terrified and ashamed of the idea that the butch identity has any connotation with misogyny. Butch should not be associated with rape culture and patriarchal bullshit, and what does it say about us that to some, it is? And to the extent that butches are perceived, by themselves or others, as being in a position of power and control, who wants to be the one to step down and upset the structure in place?

Masculinity, as it is widely accepted in our society, isn’t made to build community. It’s made to arrange and reinforce hegemonic structures of power, and them’s the facts. I’m reminded of this when I see gatherings of butches become pissing contests and boys’ clubs, instead of the spaces for growth that they should be. I love groups like bklyn boihood, and I wish I could find more organizations and spaces where masculine-identified queers can empower each other with great conscience and care.

I was not always a butch. Femme was not a word I attached to myself because the period in which I wasn’t masculine-presenting was a time when I was hesitant to attach just about anything to my too-visible bones, but it was a word that was often slung at my backside in queer spaces. I don’t deny this time in my life, even if it is one of the more barbed memories I pull out of that dark bag. I still brag about how well I can walk in heels. My hourglass figure hasn’t seen the light of day in years, but it looked damn good in a pencil skirt. When I was presenting in this way, I remember very distinctly the feeling of being passed between people. My agency was taken away from me, and it was just as terrifying when done by fellow queers as it was when it was men. There was a point when my sexual conduct became well-known within a wider queer social group and I found out three different people were discussing which one of them would be allowed to “have” me next. They were all butches, by the way.

Sometimes these moments seem innocent enough. Desire makes us do strange things, and wanting someone a great deal is a slippery slope. Crushes are difficult territory to navigate, especially ones that never come to reciprocated fruition. I understand feeling very strongly about someone you love; some dynamics will always feel possessive by virtue of their participants’ natures. I think most of us have dealt in the kind of relationship that drenches you in passion and then wrings you out, and if you haven’t, you are probably lucky, and a little less worn for the road. Love – and all the other lesser named ways that humans get attached to each other’s hearts and bodies – is even more complicated and nebulous than our constant musing on it imply. Sometimes I have no idea what is going on in romantic comedies, because whatever they’re selling seems like the declawed paper cutout version of the emotions that have made me consider death one or three hundred times.

But let’s stop pretending that we know a spade when we see one. Desiring femme and feminine-identifying people is a slippery slope away from fetishization and objectification, and sometimes it’s difficult to tell if flattery is respectful or not — but it’s still our responsibility to figure that out. Parroting misogyny is not love. Objectifying her is not honoring her, treating her as a possession is not a demonstration of commitment, and using your identity as an excuse for shitty behavior is not acceptable, ever. Neither is refusing to listen to femmes, or to any women, when they call you on this kind of behavior.

It’s easy for us to say that we don’t participate in the patriarchy because we are women, or because we have been women, that we have known what it’s like to be objectified, oppressed, fetishized. The thing is that we queers can perpetuate rape culture just as much as the next frat boy, and among too many butches, there seems to be an acceptance of this very kind of behavior. I’m not saying that butches are the only ones who are capable of this practice, nor am I saying that butch and femme relations by nature are slanted plays on patriarchal relations. I know it goes both ways, as well. I have been fetishized and sexualized as a butch and masculine person, and I know others of all identities who have felt the same kind of discomfort and anxiety within the queer community.

Here’s what I know: I know that butch can be an identity that is respectful, careful, tender, and good. I know that we can be empowered without using our power in a way that hurts people. Our masculinity doesn’t have to have a body count. It doesn’t have to turn femmes (or any people, for that matter) into objects whenever our masculinity is questioned. You can be confident in your sexual abilities and reclaiming the sexuality you were taught to be ashamed of without fucking other people over in the process, or buying into a system where non-masculine bodies are immediately objectified and used as a point system in the masculinity olympics. We can do better. We have to do better.

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Full-time writer, part-time lover, freelancing in fancy cheese and cider.

Kate has written 130 articles for us.


  1. Thank you for this! My ex-husband (he’s now FTM, but was butch when we got married) was the first person to yell and scream about patriarchy in social situations, but when we were behind closed doors he was the ultimate patriarchal jerk (as you can imagine, it got much worse after he transitioned). He thought I should blindly follow him and do as he said, solely because of his gender and “role” in our family. He was worse than any man I’ve encountered because he would/could/did not see his own hypocrisy. Most people who know my ex would never believe what I am saying, but a person’s politics says nothing about who they are in private.

    • Just because he’s Trans now doesn’t mean that’s the reason he’s mysoginistic. Please don’t clump Transmen into this. That might be your experience but its not everyone’s. Ftms are all different and speaking of one that is this way because he’s Trans is giving us a disservice.

      • Relax. Physicsfem was just sharing their experience. That’s allowed. There is no implication in Physics comment that the ex behaved that way ” because he is trans.”. That would be like me telling you a story about a badly behaved 4th grader I work with, and you responding with ” you’re doing a disservice to all 4 th graders everywhere…”. No reasonable person would read physicfems comment and think all trans men were misogynistic.

        • Telling a woman to “relax” reinforces patriarchal notions of women as hysterical and oversensitive.

          • I have nothing to contribute to the discussion, but I love that your avatar is of Jade – I cosplay as her! Love BG&E. <3

          • Jade is one of my favorite female video game characters of all time. :) And she kind of looks like me so..I chose her as my avatar.

          • I’ll submit that telling people of marginalized groups (people of color, women, queer people, trans* people,all intersections thereof, et cetera) to “relax” is a pretty common and problematic silencing tactic too.

        • i agree w/ PJ and think that the “it got worse after he transitioned, as you can imagine” part pushes the original comment into the category of false generalization.

          and i/r/t Ess, being told to relax and that one isn’t “being reasonable” are definitely thrown at women specifically all the time!

          • Actually, the part about “it getting worse” was more of an reference to the T. Rage + Entitlement = Asshole.
            He beat my ass pretty good the night we decided to split up.

            And, for the record, I have dated other transmen since and have run across the issue with one or two others, but it has definitely been the exception and I still love me some masculine of center genderqueers. That’s never going to change.

          • I still hear you generalizing. Testosterone does not induce rage behavior in people. Statements like this help to prop up the society belief that men cannot “control their impulses” and shouldn’t be held accountable for their behavior.

            Maybe you are just dating assholes, regardless of gender. I have a history of this problem as well.

          • Just wanted to drop you some support ’cause ~generalizing~ men as misogynist and patriarchal is not a thing and all these men coming out of the woodworks to try to shame and silence you are pretty blatant.

      • I don’t really understand why you are saying to “not clump transmen into this” when many transmen want to own the label butch. This was written about experiences with butch/femme folks and that includes transmen because they insist on labeling themselves butch, yet want to be male-identified. It opens a whole other conversation about the shaming of butch lesbians by transmen because they are seen as inferior for maintaining their female identity. But, that is not what we are talking about. And yes, it is common for ftm individuals to have changes in their personality once they start on T. It is often reported that they become more easily agitated and yes, act more misogynistic in general. It is not transphobic to say that, as there are facts to back it up.

        It makes me sad that this bs goes on in our community at all. Women or previously female identified individuals treating other women like objects and possessions is something to be ashamed of, not proud of. I am really glad to read this because this conversation needs to be happening within our dysfunctional community. If we don’t start changing our behavior and calling each other out on this we are hypocrites and a joke.

        And why is acting like a misogynistic man seen as something to aspire to anyway? We elevate that as desirable behavior and it needs to stop. And anyone who has an issue with any of this and claims to not be capable of adding to the problems mentioned here needs to take a good hard look at themselves and their behavior. If you are perpetuating any of the behaviors mentioned in this article, you need to start respecting women and stop being a jerk. Period.

        • “I don’t really understand why you are saying to “not clump transmen into this” when many transmen want to own the label butch.”

          I don’t really know why you are saying this. Perhaps you know lots of men who want to claim the identity of “butch”, but I don’t. Also, the gay male community uses the word “butch” as an identity; it’s not reserved for cis females.

          Can you please post some scientific data to confirm your statement: “It is often reported that they become more easily agitated and yes, act more misogynistic in general. It is not transphobic to say that, as there are facts to back it up.” I would love to review the data.

      • Saying men tend to be misogynist is not generalizing in any way, cry me a river.
        Trans men aren’t ~super sensitive menlite who could never be misogynist,~ y’all’re men and just about as damn misogynist as the cis ones in my experience.

        • I think what we’re talking about is Stanford Prison experiment here, or the tendency of movie ushers to let the power go to their head.

          When you put on the uniform of power… (ie. inhabit a male physical form) there is a tendency to “act the part” or adapt to the role, and the expectations of that role. Which, currently, equals some pretty bad expectations/allowances for men. Personally, I love men -cool men, and cool people- but the role of “man” in society? Sux bad. But, better (much, much, much, much better, let’s not forget) than it used to be!

          Thanks to this author for being such a true bamf in being a cool person. And brave to admit/be honest about the fact of having actually traded in this kind of cultural currency (my girlfriend’s so hot, your girlfriend’s so ugly, let’s ostracize and scapegoat people making them second class entities! yay, what fun!) We’ve all done it, somewhere, and somehow, in some circumstances… whether it was letting a racist comment go by, not sticking up for someone being picked on, accepting some form of privilege or other without noticing and being aware of it, etc, etc.

      • It’s not because he’s trans; it’s because *he’s a man*. Come on, patriarchy exists. No need to be an apologist for men’s misogyny, just because someone’s also trans.

    • Wow. Sounds like you got one of those trans guys who gets run over by the gender steamroller instead of learning how to alchemise. We all have to start learning somewhere about how to be men.

      Personally, I went through a phase of point-scoring stereotypical masculinity in the very early stages of my transition, but I worked out pretty fast it was happening because I was insecure about my masculinity. And sure enough it wore off a lot as I got used to myself, even before I got on hormones and so on. There are, though, times I consider myself lucky that as a trans man I turned out more gay than anything else; I think FTMs who start their lives as butch lesbians come under pressure to “do masculinity right” from a lot of different angles. That’s a heavy thing to deal with when you’re coping with transitioning as well.

      The biggest lesson transition’s left me with, though, is something that I think holds for anybody masculine-identified; your masculinity is something that comes from within. You don’t need other people’s approval or confirmation to have a good relationship with it. My own wouldn’t go away and leave me alone however hard I ignored it, so I have very few problems being confident in it now, and I honestly feel the same way reading this as I do about the cis guys you see trying to prove themselves by getting into fights outside clubs on Friday nights. Being a good man, a good woman, a good butch or femme, a good *anything*, is about growing as a person and getting to a point where you’re OK in your own skin whatever the rest of society happens to think.

    • Until you’ve found out that you’ve been completely dismissed by a group of Butches you once worked with- and understand how much mileage they’ve gotten from bashing you for years, you cannot know how infuriating and hurtful toxic masculinity is, delivered by women who call themselves progressive feminists. Pshaw! I avoid the places where old school butch dykes hang, altogether. NO SALE!

  2. Thank you so much for writing this. This is a powerful piece and is something that queer women need to consider. We are not perfect, we are not inherently “above” objectifying and fetishizing others.

  3. Thank you so much for writing this. The cultural dynamic and rape culture that you’re speaking of is so real and so present in the queer/lgbt community. Hopefully this article will be a gateway for more people who have experienced it to speak up about it and hopefully incur change.

  4. As a soft butch or “futch”, speaking from experience, objectifying women is not just a butch thing. Granted, it seems like femme misogyny doesn’t exist at all but objectifying certainly exists among femmes too. Objectifying is not the same as misogyny because women can treat men like sex objects too. You already mentioned that in the article but I would like to emphasize it again because I’ve been in so many instances where femme women dragged me to bars just to hook up with other femme women (because they didn’t want to go to the bar alone so I accompanied them like an idiot).Hooking up in bars or one night stands are not really my thing and I don’t even bother asking women out anymore although women expect me to chase them and inflate their egos because I’m the masculine one. So I’ll go ahead and say some lesbians just care about sex without commitment.

    • I’m not sure the article was trying to aim any exclusivity in blame at the butches, it is simply a column that is centered around/focused on a butch experience.

      And, this right here: “Objectifying is not the same as misogyny because women can treat men like sex objects too.” — I feel that the difference that comes in women objectifying men is that it doesn’t instill the same sense of fear, loss of safety, loss of dignity/respect that it does when women are objectified (which I’d argue isn’t the entire definition of misogyny, but certainly a facet of it), considering misogyny is conducive to rape culture which is fucking terrifying and v. arguably more focused towards women.

      Also, hooking up isn’t really about objectifying someone — there are many ways to hook up with someone in a respectful manner. It’s been done.

      n.b. this is coming from an androgynous/more masculine presenting, but not ‘butch’, person

      • I agree – objectification isn’t correlated to hook-ups. You can still objectify someone while being in a longterm monogamous relationship.

      • cait i just wanted to say that you look super dreamy in your icon and i would like to adopt you as a prince/younger sibling in my court

      • “Also, hooking up isn’t really about objectifying someone — there are many ways to hook up with someone in a respectful manner.”

        Well let’s say you saw someone at a bar and you’re attracted to her so you start a conversation which leads to kissing. Obviously there is sexual attraction here and sexual attraction is all about the physical appearance. You don’t hook with people in a matter of hours or minutes because you have so much in common or they have the potential to make a good long term partner. So at that point she is only like a sex object nothing else.

        • I would completely disagree with this. In it’s simplest terms objectifying someone is to treat them as an object. If there is a mutual attraction, respect of someone as an individual and of their sexual agency, then I I’m pretty sure objectification doesn’t need to come into it at all.

          • It goes into the territory of objectification once a person views another person as merely something to have sex with. Examples are not calling back the person after you have sex with her and basically cutting all the communication after you curb your sexual appetite. People from both genders do that.

          • I mean, that logic only applies if one person was expecting to be called back. Two adults who hook up for a night and then never see each other again are well within their rights to do so, and the difference between objectification/not in that situation sort of boils down to whether each person sees the other as an object with which to have sex or a person with which to have sex. The latter is not objectifying, and you seem to condemn it with the former; I’m sorry that that’s been your experience, but I have plenty of friends who participate in a whole lot of sex without commitment, and so long as everybody involved is aware and consenting to all that a one night stand entails, accusing them of objectification is sort of shitty. It’s not my thing, but as a general rule I don’t judge anyone for how much (or how little) sex they have.

          • If you’re having sex with a person because of physical attraction only, it is objectifying.

            “I have plenty of friends who participate in a whole lot of sex without commitment”
            No wonder you’re trying to justify your and your friends’ promiscuity by denying it is objectification. It makes you feel good after all.

          • Wow.

            a) Shaming people for having consensual sex is shitty.

            b) Making assumptions about my personal life and trying to shame me using those assumptions is pretty shitty too.
            -I’m in a committed relationship
            -I don’t have, nor have I ever had much of an interest in participating in casual sex.
            -However, my friends who do participate do so as responsible adults. Maybe they like how someone looks. Maybe they like the way someone talks, or the conversation they had about literature, or the way they laugh, or the shampoo they use. It’s probably a whole mishmash of reasons.

            c) So long as everyone is an adult, is consenting, and is doing what makes them happy without hurting anyone else, there’s no reason to treat them with hostility.
            How other people fuck is none of your business. It’s great that you prefer being committed to the person you sleep with–I prefer that too!– but what I prefer does not give me a right to spew a bunch of holier-than-thou malarkey at folks who have different preferences.

            No one is attacking you for how you date/have sex; why are you so intent on attacking others?

          • Nope. There are only two genders: male and female. There are [word removed by comment moderators] too but they’re very rare. A person can feel like a female although he is a man and it could be the opposite but it doesn’t change their biological composition. I feel like a man inside, in some cases when men ask my gender I say “both” to irritate them but technically I’m a female. Any other labels are fake, just like sexually fluid, queer, pansexual etc. are just alternative ways of saying bisexual.

          • “”Sex” refers to the biological and physiological characteristics that define men and women.

            “Gender” refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women.

            To put it another way:

            “Male” and “female” are sex categories, while “masculine” and “feminine” are gender categories.”

            That is what I said, you can be a man and be feminine and you can be a woman and be masculine. It still doesn’t change your biological sex and there are still 2 genders just like there are 2 sexes. Some people are feminine, some people are masculine some people are in between. If there was a 3rd gender and sex there would be a name for it but there isn’t.

          • Paris, in this instance you are wrong. I’ll leave the whole one night stand argument to people older and more experienced than me to argue, but your statement about gender couldn’t be more wrong.
            Firstly, the term “hermaphrodite” is really inappropriate, from what I understand from my reading. If anything, I think you mean intersex. And to say it’s rare and by implication therefore unnecessary to consider is awful and could easily insult other people. Think about what you imply.
            Secondly, you’re talking about physical sex here, which has very little to do with gender anyway. Yes, you might be born with XX chromosomes and a vagina, but that doesn’t make you a woman, and ditto with XY and a penis not necessarily a man. Male/female as physical sex, fine. But man/woman is more to do with gender, and that is 100% not dictated by your chromosomes or genitalia or any other biological “indicator” you want to throw at me. I am a man, damnit, and I don’t care how many times you want to point at my crotch and scream vagina, I will not let you invalidate my identity.
            Thirdly, not everyone does identify as a man or woman, and that is fine too. To say it’s not is to invalidate someone else and that is so. Freaking. Wrong. If you identify as a man one day, and a woman three weeks down the line, and you feel like genderfluid or genderqueer fits you, that is okay. A “label” cannot be wrong, if someone feels like it fits them.
            And that leads on to fourthly, which is that sexuality is just as diverse and that is just as acceptable a diverse gender. Why are you not okay with this? There are differences between pan and bisexuality, and a little bit of basic googling would explain that to you.
            If you have an identity that fits you, that’s great. Keep it, be proud of it, wear it on your sleeve if you so wish. But damnit, leave other people’s alone, and don’t try to pull them down. Same goes for sexual behaviour. Seriously.

            As an aside, Kate, as always, loved your article. Your take on butchness always inspires me to reexamine my own behaviour and indentity carefully, and I really have to thank you for that.

          • Genderqueer is still a mixture between two sexes. When you mix olive oil with water you don’t get a new liquid, you get a mixture of oil and water and one of them usually rises to the top.

            Expressing my opinion is not pulling anybody down or insulting them. I don’t post on this site often and when you get out of this echo chamber there is another reality out there. People are talking about this site and they’re saying it is too PC, too hipster, too intolerant (while claiming to be so tolerant) and too focused on transgender issues which drives lesbians away because it doesn’t relate to them. This site now caters to a certain audience which is early 20-something, hipster and likes to be labelled as sexually fluid, pansexual, queer, cisgender etc. This is funny because on one side people are screaming against labels and on the other side they label themselves as “white cisgender bisexual female”. By the way, I first heard of the term “cis” on this site. Normally people don’t use those terms when they talk. People on this site are trying too hard to be different and radically feminist they stopped representing the lesbian community so spare us your guilt trips.

          • when transgender people are represented in the mainstream as “normal” human beings (a view you don’t even espouse!) and they therefore have a safe space to exist, then i think autostraddle won’t feel the need to “focus” so much on transgender issues. lesbians, queers, whatever you want to call yourself that’s not ‘straight’, are marginalized enough already, but i think there’s enough love on this website that lesbians and trans can co-exist without pushing each other out.

            plus, if trans issues are not interesting to you, then don’t click on those articles. normally i don’t like the ‘if you don’t like it, then leave’ argument, but i don’t see you suggesting a constructive way for this site to be better and more tolerant. i only see you calling people ‘radical feminists’, and ‘hipsters’, claiming that transgender people don’t exist, and slut-shaming people who have one night stands.

            so, i mean, if you don’t like 26-year old Warlem almost-hipsters navigating the rocky roads of their smokin’ hot lives, then you can stop typing ‘autostraddle.com’ into your web browser.

          • “when transgender people are represented in the mainstream as normal human beings (a view you don’t even espouse!)”
            I never said that transgender people weren’t normal human beings so you fail on that one.

            “claiming that transgender people don’t exist,”
            I never claimed that either, second fail.

            “slut-shaming people who have one night stands.”
            I’ve never called those people sluts so that’s a third fail but I do stand by my view that it is a form of objectification, it is all about getting pussy after all.

            “then you can stop typing ‘autostraddle.com’ into your web browser.”
            Spoken like a true fascist. This is an open community thread so I can view and post comments whenever I want. I have all the right to criticize and express my views. So much for your “tolerance”.

          • Sleeping with someone casually isn’t objectifying if it is respectful. That means making sure that the other person feels comfortable, that you have enthusiastic consent, and that both of you are on the same page about what your hook up means.

            If you mislead someone into thinking you’re after more than a one night stand, I would agree that that is objectifying – you are using that person for your own purposes, and not caring about how they feel. A one night stand may be mostly about physical attraction, but communication is still important. Of course, this doesn’t always happen, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible.

            BTW, I’m generally uninterested in casual sex, but I see that plenty of people are able to engage in it respectfully, and that’s totally fine.

          • @ Kyle: “There are differences between pan and bisexuality, and a little bit of basic googling would explain that to you.”

            I would argue that the difference between bisexuality and pansexualty boils pretty much to semantics and politics.

            @ Paris: “Genderqueer is still a mixture between two sexes. When you mix olive oil with water you don’t get a new liquid, you get a mixture of oil and water and one of them usually rises to the top.”

            That analogy only works if you think that genders are mutually exclusive. But for people who are genderqueer it is probably more like blending coffee and milk together, which does work perfectly (and deliciously).

            Also there are people who identify as agender which is neither male nor female.

            I remember Claudia describing intersex in a similar way – That it is not a blend of “man” and “woman” but something that exist on it’s own rights.

            >>> http://fullfrontalactivism.blogspot.de/2012/03/out-of-grey-off-of-spectrum.html

            I’m not gonna address anything else from your post because you kinda criticize AS for everything that makes this site awesome in my eyes. Seriously I don’t read any other site or forum that is focused on “lesbian culture” because they tend to trigger the shit out of me as so many don’t give a crap about intersectionality. And I am fucking glad that AS is different!

          • While I hate to engage in arguments with people, I would like to point out something in regards to the whole “there are only two sexes” claim. While “sex” does refer to the biological characteristics of a person, it also is greatly defined by the chromosomal make-up a person has. Actually, it is defined by the chromosomal make-up, and there just so happens to be more than two ways that our lovely chromosomes can pair up to make lovely human beings.

            In fact there are about thirteen.

            Which means, there are about thirteen different sexes.

            And before you say that if there were they would have a name, they actually do. It’s just that the general public doesn’t know much about it because most people don’t know much about the field of sexology. (Sadly, for it is actually a very interesting field of study.)

            That is all.

            P.s.- Kate this is truly an amazing article and in all honesty I really admire your writing. Keep it up :)

          • Red she said, thanks for bringing that up! I can’t say I agree with you, but it has made me examine what I mean by the terms pan and bi, so thanks for that.

            Paris, transgender issues don’t apply to lesbians? What about transwomen who identify as lesbians? Most articles on this site in the trans* section relate to transwomen, making it entirely in line and potentially interesting to other women. And, might I point out, that is a section of the site. There are still loads of sections that don’t deal directly with trans* issues.
            And as for that, what about transmen, who previously identified as lesbian? I know that this site’s focus on trans* issues did help me to come to terms with the fact that I am trans, and I still feel a strong affinity to the lesbian community (rightly or wrongly, I don’t know, but it means I’ll always be an ally).
            Of all the people who I know, who have spoken about this site, none have said it is “too PC”. Some have said it’s cool but not for them, but more have said that they applaud the efforts that this site go to, to examine real issues. For all people.
            As for you not hearing the term “cisgender” before, what were you using beforehand to acknowledge a person’s privilege in having a matching gender identity and physical sex? Or did you not acknowledge the fact that being cisgendered was considered “normal” and, by extension, transgender “abnormal”? Bringing the term cis into use (by the way, been used since at least 1994, according to a quick google search) makes it less of a norm, which can only be a good thing, in terms of inclusivity.

            Also, Cat, definitely please send us some links! That sounds truly fascinating.

          • and just as Cat brought up that there are more than 2 sexes, there are also more than two genders and thy also have names. If you don’t except trans as a third gender identity in English what about berdache or two-spirit, which are (if I’m understanding correctly) Native American names for other genders, or Hijras in India and Southeast Asia. Actually, just googling “third gender” came up with a wikipedia page with more examples, not a great source but if wikipedia is acknowledging more than two genders I think we can too. As to your claim that cis is a word that you first heard here and people don’t use it in normal conversation, we’re just trying to be radical feminists. I’m sorry…? Not that we’re “too pc” but that you live in a world where you only encounter these terms on AS. maybe if you expand your social circle a bit you’ll encounter these words more in daily conversation.

            As to the rest I agree with Red She Said, everything you said about Autostraddle is the reason I love it. So thank you for being so PC, for making me check myself over and over again, for giving me such a critical analysis of curent events. Thank you to everyone who has put themselves out there in any way to educate others on this site, to make this place more inclusive. I think I am a better person, and a better ally because of Autostraddle. I love the increasing trans presence, and I love the articles that deal with other difficult issues such as race, class, and problems within the gay community. Thank you for all of the writers and commenters who share themselves so fully with us,

            and especially, thank you Kate for another beautiful and eloquent article. Thank you for continually tackling the hard stuff. I especially loved your final paragraph (heres what I know…) I am so glad you decided to continue writing this column, it is my current favorite on AS. I think I might print it out and stick it somewhere I can see it every day. Because truthfully, you could replace “butch” with any identity and 90% of your message would still be true. People like you, with messages like that, need a place to be heard. Because what you’re saying is so important. So thanks again

        • “sexual attraction is all about the physical appearance”

          Are you making a declarative statement that in 100 per cent of circumstances the only possible turn-on is a body pleasing to the beholder? If so: a) citation needed; b) that seems like an objectifying/depersonalising attitude in itself, because it’s saying that things which contribute to making humans different/individual are of zero significance in who people do or do not want to have sex with. Your own example even says “a conversation which leads to kissing” – are you really trying to assert that any and every conversation ever initiated by any person with another person they find attractive is/always will be vapid bull if they end up having sex before parting company?

          “at that point she is only like a sex object nothing else.”

          Only for people who have really gross and awful opinions about people + sex – by which I mean people who: don’t care about enthusiastic consent; don’t respect boundaries; are blasé about sexual health & hygiene; who have no interest in ensuring all involved parties have a fulfilling, pleasurable experience; have nasty entitlement issues/think that anyone they find attractive [for whatever reason] owes them any kind of sexual gratification as ‘repayment’ for being found attractive; all/more than one of the above at once, and/or other horrible attitudes I haven’t covered above.

          Additionally, your argument seems pretty reductive in that it basically seems to be an assertion that anyone who has sex without committment/being in a relationship must be a objectifying jerk and that anyone who is in a relationship/having sex with a committed partner is not by default, and both of those things are gross and untrue.

          Also if you want to sex-shame me because disagreeing with you means I must be ~promiscuous~, nice try but I’m a virgin so let’s just assume you made another sex-shaming comment and I already laughed at it.

          • Well if you’re a virgin I’ll let you grow and learn something about sexuality then.

            Yes the sexual attraction is based on physical looks. Looks help you enter the door and personality gets you the interview but if you don’t have sufficient looks people will automatically smash the door in your face and won’t have sex with you even though you may have an amazing personality. People actually tolerate good looking people with blah personalities but they won’t tolerate ugly or below average looking people with blah personalities. According to the studies certain things such as a symmetrical face trigger attraction in both genders. For females a strong jaw, a muscular body, tallness trigger attraction and males get attracted to full lips, women with big breasts etc. What I said mainly goes for short term relationships (except for hipsters though, they will sleep with anything), for long term relationships people can choose less attractive mates..

          • Ahahahaha oh, well why didn’t you just say you were the designated spokesperson for all of human sexuality on official ambassador duty for the land of evo psych? Everyone can pack up and go home now!

            Your stance comes across as bizarre and circular – on the one hand you condemn consenting adults engaging in sexual activity as objectifying jerks, and then on the other you make a lot of dehumanising asides such as “they will sleep with anything” and gender essentialist statements such as “but it doesn’t change their biological composition” and reduce people (and their identities) to biological characteristics that you assert are/always will be their feature/s of primary importance.

            You’ll “let” me? Thanks for the permission…??? (I’m actually older than you!) I do hope to continue growing and learning! I do that by listening to other people and trying to engage with them even when I find their opinions toxic and ridiculous.

            Equally, I don’t want to beat a dead horse so I’m not going to try and converse with you any further since you seem rather intractable – so count that as a personal victory if that’s how you roll, but may you go in peace and I hope someday you find a way to dispel at least a bit of that condescension and prejudice from your heart and mind.

          • I’ve to say that for someone who speaks with such certainty about the validity of your claims, so far you’ve only backed them up with aphorisms and abstract generalizations. You haven’t addressed the problematic points that other commenters have spotted in your comments and your only references are your friends, social circle and… yourself. That comes across as uninformative and plain arrogant, at least to me.

          • I don’t hang out at Autostraddle all day to argue with people. When I receive 20 messages in a day I can’t be expected to reply to all of them because I have something called a life besides the structure of the threads on this site doesn’t leave much room for long discussions. After 3 messages the message lengths get shortened and the “reply” button disappears. I can only reply to posters via the reply button in my email message.

            “your only references are your friends, social circle and…yourself.”
            Since I didn’t state that I drew my conclusions based on my friends, social circle or myself your assumption goes down in the trash. If you’re going to present a counter argument at least be truthful, lying is not ethical. I also used to think women were attracted to more than looks but it turned out not to be that way. Sure women still care less about looks compared to men but they sure care about them. If you want to have a long discussion give me your contact info and I’ll send you more backed up arguments than you can handle.
            Here is some research I kept as bookmarks for the unwashed masses:
            “The results from the study showed that women who controlled their own resources would chose physically attractive mates and were more tolerant if they were younger than them.”


            “Women looking for long-term partners want someone who will be a good provider for them and their children, but women seeking short-term flings care more about masculinity and physical attractiveness, features that may be passed down to children.”

            Also check out David M. Buss’s research on evolutionary psychology. His book “The Evolution Of Desire” is a good start.

          • Right. The uni pays me £10/hour to do this but im going to do it here for you for free. Because I really do not appreciate you calling me a liar when you dont know a single thing about me. Obviously I’m not going to give you my contact information. If I need someone to educate me on these issues I have unlimited access to all peer-reviewed journals and many succesful and well-respected pshychologist colleagues.

            You start by equating casual sex with objectification based on “situations where femme women dragged [sic] me to bars”. Many commenters pointed out hooking up does not equal objectification: you respond to Caitlyn’s comment (32 likes) with a hypothetical situation which presumably reflects every hooking-up situation(?). To Aimme (14 likes) you respond with one example from your own experience. To Avignon (10 likes) with an unsubstantiated aphorism and then you go on to blatantly offend her when she’s been nothing but respectful to you. Further on you do not address any of the points at her response (20 likes).
            To Bee’s comment (8 likes) about there being more than two genders you respond with “nope”. You employ the use of pseudoscietific language and a (not) entertaining anecdote. You go on to offend a bunch of identities for no apparent reason. Dan commented (3 likes), linking you to WHO and ISNA. You use his reference to support your two sexes/genders argument, while this is in no way what the WHO article is about, while not addressing your problematic intersex comments. Kyle comments (2 likes) and in your response you purposefully ignore a lot of the points he makes. You choose to address genderqueerness witht the use of a simile, as if equating masculinity/femininity to hydrophobic/hydrophilic molecules can explain the whole complexity that is gender identity (you can tip off the scholars on that, they’ve been wasting a lot of time researching the topic, while elementary level physics with a side of poetic license could explain everything!).
            And then of course, for no apparent reason, you just unleash a full-on attack on the website that’s hosting you, where you’ve spent all this valuable time of yours and whose readers have treated you with a lot of respect while you’ve been unapolegetically offensive. You even start your attack with every troll’s favourite incantation “expressing my opinion is not pulling anybody down or insulting them” which magically makes every offence taken dissapear and because of course no opinions are ever offensive.
            On to Emily’s comment (7 likes). You claim she has misunderstood everything you’ve said but you don’t even try to explain how. Then you call her a fascist and complain she is not “tolerant”. The irony speaks for itself.
            You choose to ignore Dialethia (2 likes), red she said (4 likes), Cat (9 likes), who challenges your two sexes arguments, Kyle (4 likes) and Alex (3 likes). You respond to Bee with your favourite pseudoscientific language, unsubstantiated arguments and insults to hipsters because nothintg strengthens the legitimacy of arguments like douchebaggery (?).
            So far you’ve only referenced yourself, the situation with those femme women of yours at the bar, hypothetical situations poetic license and elementary school physics. You failed (miserably) to back up any of your arguments and to address the very problematic points the commenters brought up.

            Which brings me to my comment which is very accurate as everything above indicates. You dare to call me an unethical liar while you use pseudoscience and offensive language to distract from the ludicrous arguments you have made. “Since I didn’t state that I drew my conclusions based on my friends, social circle or myself your assumption goes down in the trash” you say. Since you didn’s state that, then you just draw your conclusions out of thin air and that makes you The Unethical Reprobate Deceiver.
            After you’ve insulted me you list some random links! First of all references should come right after the argument you’ve made, a list like this says nothing at all. More importantly you clearly do not understand anything these articles say otherwise you would have noticed they have nothing to do with the points you were “discussing”, namely casual sex = objectification and that gender variation does not exist. By selectively reading and interpreting these links, like you do, anyone could even argue that homosexuality does not exist as they concentrate in heterosexual situations. And foremost it makes no sense to use evolutionary psychology to discuss social psychology matters!
            You are not even addressing the gender variation issue.

            You don’t know the first thing about science so please refrain from claiming your childish comments have any scientific validity. The way you conduct dialogue is the same one homophobes and religious fundamentalists use to promote their views and defend their hatred.

            Your comments gathered 0 likes by the way but well done at managing to offend people who enjoy responsible casual sex and intersex, trans*, genderqueer, pansexual, sexually fluid, hipsters, feminists, many commenters and the whole autostraddle staff all at one go.

            Now go back to your so-called life and leave the science to those who are qualified to conduct it and discuss it.

            Here is some research I kept as bookmarks for hypocrites like you:

            sex and gender:


            Peace off.

          • The fallacy of your argument is evident in the way you attempt to justify your views based on people here sharing the same views. The fact that the majority shares your views doesn’t make those views right. After all, once upon a time the majority elected W. Bush to the office..Twice. In the same way, if you wrote a post on an evangelical site where the homophobic posters got the most likes would it mean those views were right? No. The fact that you took your time to write down the number of likes each post got is really juvenile and it doesn’t prove anything. As I stated before this site caters to a specific audience, any opposing views are shunned and sometimes removed and this creates the echo chamber you’re in right now. Since the launch of this site many lesbians abandoned this site because AS doesn’t reflect their views. I’m just one of those people. Now on to your rest of the rant..

            ” Many commenters pointed out hooking up does not equal objectification”
            See my reply to Laura, I won’t repeat it over here.

            “You claim she has misunderstood everything you’ve said but you don’t even try to explain how. Then you call her a fascist”
            I didn’t call her a fascist. I said “spoken like a true fascist”. There is a mountain of difference.

            “You failed (miserably) to back up any of your arguments and to address the very problematic points the commenters brought up.”
            I don’t see anyone backing up their arguments with links to scientific posts but when a poster disagrees with you you demand “proof” and when she brings proof you call it “pseudoscientific”. Classy.

            “Since you didn’s state that, then you just draw your conclusions out of thin air and that makes you The Unethical Reprobate Deceiver.”
            Apart from the ugly name calling, as I stated before my evidence mostly comes from the studies I linked and similar research. When I acknowledged my sexuality and set out to meet women, I faced challenges and there were lots of things I didn’t understand so what I did was, I sought help and advice from those who knew better so that is how I was lead to those studies I mentioned. There is a science behind attraction and I tried to learn as much as I could then I compared those studies to the real life thus the formation of my opinions.

            “First of all references should come right after the argument you’ve made”
            So I am supposed to link to scientific research every time I open my mouth over here?

            “More importantly you clearly do not understand anything these articles say otherwise you would have noticed they have nothing to do with the points you were “discussing””
            If you noticed from the excerpts the studies weren’t about gender variations, they were about sexual attraction which was the main theme of my argument.

            “By selectively reading and interpreting these links, like you do, anyone could even argue that homosexuality does not exist as they concentrate in heterosexual situations. ” That is simply not true because those studies also apply to homosexuals since straight women and lesbian/bi women are not different from each other, they’re all women.

            “And foremost it makes no sense to use evolutionary psychology to discuss social psychology matters!”
            Oh such ignorance. Evolutionary psychology has everything to do with how we behave because we inherited those behaviors from our ancestors. They’re in our DNA. Women and men still behave the same way our ancestors did such as seeking best mates, good providers and visually attractive people. It all comes down to producing good offspring.

            “You don’t know the first thing about science so please refrain from claiming your childish comments have any scientific validity. ”
            I didn’t know you were the authority on science. Who are you to tell me what I know and don’t know about science?

            “Now go back to your so-called life and leave the science to those who are qualified to conduct it and discuss it.”
            Now that you mentioned it I’m absolutely going nowhere. I’ll keep talking and writing whether you like it or not. You’re not the authority. It is called free speech. Get used to it.

            Also until you read and comment on the links I posted I won’t bother to read your stuff.

          • Eh, at least I don’t resort to ad hominem like you.
            “You’re irrelevant” adds nothing to the conversation really. Shows how you have no argument. Pathetic.

          • “you’re irrelevant” is a plain fact that anyone with the sligthest competence for critical thinking can see from this exchange and that was sarcasm not ad hominem.
            what would be trully pathetic is to continue talking to you. this was the first time i engaged in conversation with a troll and can cross it off my list now.

        • @Paris – I agree that sexual attraction is based first and foremost on physical appearance (although some people seem to have “person based attractions”, meaning that for them, it’s always preceded by romantic feelings to certain person).

          But I must disagree with your views about trans people. There are two sexes/genders (in my language, there’s one word for both), but there are many biological components of sex. There’s genetic sex, there’s phenotype sex, gonadal sex etc., and sometimes one individual have components of different biological sexes.

          It’s the most obvious in intersex people (it’s actually not true that they are very rare, in general they are far more common than transsexuals), but growing evidence coming from neurobiological studies and experiments suggests that gender identity is yet another component of biological sex, thus may appear in contradiction with another biological components, just as it happens with literally everything else in that matter.

        • Do you mean physical appearance as in visuals? You do know that people with visual impairments sometimes hook up casually, right? And can also objectify people? I think attraction is at least slightly more complex than you’re making out…

          • Yes I mean physical appearance as in visuals and yes attraction is much more complicated for women. For men it is simpler since they care about visuals more, what I’m tying to say is while women put less emphasis on looks they still care about looks. After all there is a reason men and women dress nicely, put on make up (well mainly women do that but some men do it too such as putting eyeliner), lose weight etc. I’m not saying attraction itself is objectification. As I explained in my previous posts, attraction is natural, it is in the human nature and there are biological reasons we get attracted to beautiful people. I’m not condemning that.
            When I say that the very nature of sexual attraction is objectifying, I’m not making a value judgement or using this as a basis for any ethical stance about sex. I’m just saying that acting ONLY on sexual attraction leads to objectifying and therefore reducing someone to the physical traits that make them sexually appealing. Unlike empathy and love sexual attraction is not an emotional identification with the feelings of other people. While two people can respectfully engage in consensual sex it still doesn’t change the fact that they’re objectifying each other.

      • “I’m not sure the article was trying to aim any exclusivity in blame at the butches, it is simply a column that is centered around/focused on a butch experience.”

        yes, but I think it would be tremendously worthwhile if AS used additional articles from non-butch identifying members to discuss misogyny and rape culture within the community. To address the complexity of the topic.

        Nice article.

    • I didn’t really get your point here. Are you annoyed because someone didn’t have sexy time with you and got it on with someone else?

      • Laura, currently I have no bitterness against anyone. Was I annoyed at some things? Yes some time ago, everyone gets annoyed at something, all the people on this site are annoyed with me for example but annoyance lasts short term while bitterness stays. I’m not annoyed or bitter because bitterness occurs when you take one or a couple of negative experiences/traits and attribute those negative traits to an entire gender or sexual orientation. Not all women are same so there is no point for me to be bitter. Secondly, since all my interactions happened with women who interacted with me for a couple of hours at most, I can’t take them personally because they didn’t know me so there is no reason for me to be bitter. There are some communities I’m a part of and my communities include straight men as well as lesbians but in the case of straight men, they have a different approach to things. I learned not to take things personally from straight men because they’re the ones who actively approach women and get rejected constantly. Actually it turned out that rejection can be good thing because the more you get rejected the less you take things personally. The first couple of times, rejection is really painful but after a while you get used to getting rejected so it doesn’t phase you. Rejection is a part of life, there were times when I got rejected and there were times when I rejected people. It happens to everyone really so my posts here have nothing to do with my emotions.

    • Your comment strays dangerously close to Nice Guy territory. Women owe you nothing, not if they go to the bar with you, not if they go home with you. You can avoid bar scenes without generalizing all women or playing into the narrative of entitlement.

      • Uhm show me where I stated “women owed me something”. Those women I mentioned and I were in a strict acquaintance territory, nothing else and this feeling was mutual.
        “You can avoid bar scenes without generalizing all women”
        *Cough* I am a woman and my post actually implied stopping generalizations i.e. not all butches are misogynistic. Try reading the posts with your brain please.

    • Yes, but I don’t lie about it if that’s all I want, and it’s the womans choice whether she then chooses to do it or not, if she says no then that’s fine

  5. kate, this is really beautiful. beautifully written and beautifully felt. for real. i want to read it again not just for the message but because of how you say it– and I think its meaning speaks of all kinds of entangling gender dynamics. thank you for being who you are and for promoting the possibility of a self expression that is more powerful precisely because it is based on love, sensitivity and kindness.

  6. True story: once, a bit after I had first come out, and femmier than I present now, I stood up in the middle of a restaurant/bar and drunkenly raged at the waitress and my very butch girlfriend at the time, because the waitress had given the check to my girlfriend. It was sort of the straw that broke the camel’s back—my girlfriend NEVER let me pay for anything, sort of followed these rigid gender roles that left me seeming weaker, unable to help myself and needing to be cared for. The way she spoke about me made me feel lesser, and yeah, owned. So I stood up and ranted about how I was a grown ass woman and could pay for my own damn self.
    As I’ve sort of shifted into futch territory, I’ve become more privy to the way butcher lesbians speak about femmes, and how they treat them, and it makes me uncomfortable. Misogyny is totally present, an air of machismo that kind of disgusts me. It’s sort of weird to me, and I don’t quite understand it. But it is absolutely present, and I’m so grateful that you’re talking about it, bringing attention to this issue.

  7. Yes. I sometimes struggle with identifying as butch for all that you wrote about. I don’t want to be lumped into the misogynistic butch category just by the way I present, but I feel this often happens based on people’s previous experiences with butches. It makes me sad. I still see myself as butch but I hope the assholes don’t keep ruining that label for the rest of us.

    • Please have more concern for the misogyny that other butches are perpetrating over whether you’ll be ‘lumped in’ or have the label ‘ruined for you’.

      • Please don’t assume I don’t have concern for the misogyny that other butches are perpetrating or that I am more concerned about the butch label being ruined based on one comment I made. I have A LOT of concerns. One concern, I felt, hadn’t been completely expressed in the piece or comments yet. I could have gone on to reiterate what the author of the piece said, but that would have been redundant. When I comment, I try to add new ideas and thoughts. THAT’S what I was doing. Don’t make assumptions about what I am or am not concerned about.

  8. Serious question,

    I have only seen the word “wifey” used by women in serious relationships who were discussing or addressing their partner in a casual, sweet manner. For example, I recently heard a co-worker say something along the line of, “I went to Cafe Rio with my wifey last night, and afterward we took [puppy] to the park downtown for an evening run.”

    I take it from this article that it does not mean the same thing everywhere. What is ya’ll’s experience with this?

    • I’ve only heard it in that sense, too—from both femmes and butches.
      I DO go back and forth about the phrase “wifing.” As in, “I’d wife her.” I use it, but people have pointed out that’s it’s kind of patriarchal. Maybe “wifey” is viewed in the same way? Although, I think wifey is gag-worthy because I don’t like terms of endearment like that, in the same way that I don’t like “hubby” or “sweetie” or whatever.

    • Jane, I too have only experienced it as a term of endearment. Now to those who are against the social construct of marriage, I understand why it wouldn’t be accepted, but when I was in a LTR, my masculine-leaning girlfriend would call me “wifey” in a sweet way. I liked it, but then again I also am very femme, enjoyed cooking for her, etc (although I also have a career in finance, so I’m not the stay-at-home type). And she did try to take care of me, was mainly the one who drove when we went out, held open my door, changed my light bulbs, etc – but also I found those actions sweet because she knows I’m not handy. I think I tolerated a little macho attitude (maybe veering on misogyny) when she was with her “lez bros”, but that’s also a main reason we broke up. She put her friends over me frequently. I think the term can be negative, but the intent behind the use is very important.

      • I am unquestionably MOC and my wife is very femme, and we do follow pretty traditional gender roles cause it’s what works for us. A friend of ours refers to our “pink jobs” and “blue jobs” around the house and in our partnership affectionately, she has never changed a light bulb, unclogged a sink, chopped fire wood or paid a bill since we got together. I think the underlying current that keeps it non-misogynist is that we both LIKE it this way. This year when our mortgage came up for renewal (previously bought before we met) she refused to sign her name onto the title cause she saw it as a legal inconvenience, stunning both our lawyers and bankers. One time I cleaned our house to take a chore off her plate in a busy week and although she appreciated the gesture she was a bit annoyed I didn’t do it “right”. I don’t catch and release any spider that crosses her path, carry the groceries or mow our lawn because she can’t but because I love her and these chores suck so I feel like she shouldn’t have do to them. Which is the same reason why no matter where I leave my dirty socks they magically make their way back into my drawer clean and folded, and I’ve never cleaned our bathroom since I finished renovating it. Point being, these gestures although they can be loaded in some situations are sometimes just any easy way to show someone you care about them.

        • I love this! This is the perfect way to explain that not all relationships are based off of “gender roles.”
          To me, misogyny is when a woman is made to feel pressured or forced into the “weaker role” in the relationship by her partner. Misogyny is when the woman doesn’t want to feel trivialized, but is anyway because the partner/the patriarchy argues that “that’s the way it’s supposed to be.”
          But if the woman is perfectly happy with having her significant other “do things for her” and “pay for her meals” and do other things that are typically associated with the “masculine role” in the relationship (those behaviors aren’t actually masculine anyway, society just tells us they are), then I think that’s fine!
          Great comment~

      • I’ve heard it used by some people in relationships, or even close platonic friendships, in an affectionate way or as a casual joke. I’ve also heard it used condescendingly by others. It’s not the word, it’s how it’s said.

      • I once dated a boi that had “bro’s” and I have to admit I had never encountered that before that moment.
        “bro’s before ho’s” being said and actually meaning it.

        I once pulled her friend up on her disgusting misogynistic behaviour, she would frequently dry hump the air behind unsuspecting straight girls or say the most horrible things about what she wanted to do to them. When she didn’t like when I said “This is the reason you are single” she pulled my girlfriend aside and asked her to “control her woman”… She never said anything to my face and I didnt even know she had had an issue until after me and my gf broke up.
        Just thinking about her makes me feel sort of dirty inside.

    • fwiw, i’ve heard it used in really gross ways by people in relationships and single people. i know it can be a cute nickname/term of endearment, but it can also be used to show ownership of a person or belittle a person — i can count many times in recent memory where i’ve heard it used and felt really weird/gross about it.

    • I knew a soft butch who would use it for her close queer female friends. She only seemed to use it with people she knew really well and they all seemed okay with it. I think a person should only use it with someone they know is all right with it (probably best to ask first).

    • I’ve heard a few other lesbians use the term “wifey,” but it always seems to be a term of ownership as far as I’ve experienced. The only other times I hear it are from non-monogamous bi girls who see women as objects and play things on the side of their “real” hetero relationships. Actually had to put a stop to this myself once, as a woman I knew kept referring to me (and a couple of other women I know) as wifey” in front of her husband in an effort to get someone in bed with them. I’ve used the term on occasion now that I have a wife, but I think it should be used with as much respect and meaning as the word it comes from: wife…a partner, equal and respected woman you love.

    • I was assaulted on a dance floor, tried to escape and was further assaulted, sexually and physically, in a bathroom stall. I was targeted by a group of women I used to work with, who basically decided to Police Me. They are of the opinion that I don’t belong- and as the gatekeepers and thugs of “the community”, it’s their job to keep women out who don’t wear the uniform and behave in the uniformly offensive manner they have come to demand. Sexual Assault is a Disciplinary Mode of the uniformity code.

  9. Feelings. Great article, it totally made me remember how an ex-friend of mine would always treat me like I couldn’t do anything for myself. They treat every female(butch, femme, or any other identity) as if they are a child that needs their help. It’s just sickening to watch and have happen.

  10. This is a very well-considered post, and I really appreciate the time and thoughtfulness you put into it. One facet of misogyny in the queer community that I don’t think you addressed (apologies if I missed it): as a femme-presenting woman, I’ve often been treated as if less queer than my more masculine-presenting queers, or as if I’m an inferior kind of queer. As a young, newly out lesbian, this was incredibly confusing and upsetting to me. In coming out, I had to come to grips with just how much I didn’t fit in with straight social circles, and then to feel similarly rejected and marginalized by queer circles for how I presented myself was hurtful and depressing at a time when I was vulnerable.

    Both my straight friends and family and my new connections in the gay community seemed to marginalize my sexuality on account of my femininity. My family found it hard to accept that I actually wanted to have sex with other women (I seemed too good a girl to have any kind of sexual thoughts from their POV). And I either met queer women who wanted me to be more masculine or I met queer women who wanted a femme girlfriend–a criteria based on appearance that seemed often to extend via stereotype to every facet of personality and taste.

    I am feminine physically, I am feminine-presenting, and I am a feminist, and yet I did not feel like I was right for anyone because I was neither butch nor an uber-sexualized, long-nailed, lipstick-clad pin-up. (To be completely clear, I am attracted to women with various presentations, so this is no judgement on people who choose to present themselves as such.)

    It is very disturbing to me that I grew up in a conservative household where my sexuality was not taken seriously because I am a woman and then I experienced a similar phenomenon when I came out as a lesbian. I was often told that I look like “a straight woman,” which was confusing to me because I’ve always felt that I just look like myself. It was also confusing to me because I saw many lesbians who looked like straight men, yet clearly this was not perceived as a negative or lesser characteristic.

    Sorry for the rant. I’ve been wanting to express this for awhile and hope I did so coherently here. Not to sound too bitter: I did eventually find wonderful queer friends and an amazing girlfriend.

    • “It was also confusing to me because I saw many lesbians who looked like straight men, yet clearly this was not perceived as a negative or lesser characteristic.”

      And there lies the peak of the patriarchal infusion even in our own community. I think the insecurity about not looking “gay” enough is something many feminine-presenting queers share =\ It sucks.

    • Everything you said here is how I feel now. So, I guess thank you for ranting, because I know I’m not alone.

    • Yo, this is what’s up. Your rant is 100% appreciated and relatable. I went out to one of the few gay lady bars in town with some of my gay male friends a while back and this one MOC girl asked me what sorority I belonged to, because (in her words) I’m white and looked more feminine than other women there.

      For the record, the only Greek order I’m a member of is I Eta Pi.

    • Yes!!! This! I’ve had similar experiences, not with my family, but in college. I went to a women’s college and stayed in the closet pretty much the whole time. I present as really femme no matter what I do or what I wear. People told me all the time that I was “the femmiest person (they) know” and “the straightest person (they) know,” (even though I never dated or slept with guys!) and they used the phrases interchangeably. I got branded as the token straight friend, and when I tried briefly to come out as bi, it went really badly for me. I went back into the closet and stayed there for years . . . even tried to be straight and thought maybe I was for a while. Only found the guts to completely come out as gay recently. Maybe because people thought I was straight, they said a lot of things in front of me about women they were dating or pursuing without thinking I was paying much attention – SO much of it was misogynistic, and it was a huge turn off. I heard that kind of crap from women who presented as FOC and MOC, alike, but I noticed a lot of it was directed towards femmes.

      I did go to college with some wonderful people, who I’m still friends with. Several of them are queer and have been very supportive. Not everyone’s a misogynist jerk. There’s also a handful of college friends who are out of my life now, amen and Hallelujah.

      Anyway, that turned into kind of a rant. It’s just so good to hear from other people who’ve had similar encounters! I’ve been feeling like a total freak since I came out for having been a closet case at a women’s college. (Also feel like I totally missed out! I really wish I’d fallen into a different crowd there sometimes.) Just because an environment is predominantly queer, doesn’t mean it’s a safe space for all the queers in the room, and that sucks.

      • Yes! I was in the closet for a very long time and when I came out finally, some of my friends were upset and shocked, given that I often dressed very femme, that I am petite and look feminine even when wearing the butchiest clothing (when I try butch I just look like a straight girl wearing her boyfriend’s clothes after a one night stand, ya’ll, it’s depressing), and they felt like I should have been able to come out earlier because I went to a super liberal college and had progressive friends and did LGBT activism for years and years while closeted. They didn’t understand that in queer spaces I felt like I was not queer enough, did not deserve to come out because I had tried to be straight and hadn’t known (or at least hadn’t accepted) that I was gay since I was 10, hadn’t been out in high school, etc. I longed so much for acceptance and guidance from other queers but instead have for years felt like I had to hide my past for fear of being judged harshly for having slept with men ever and for having spent so long trying to be straight.

        Why are we so awful to each other? We are like one big dysfunctional family sometimes, I swear!

        Sorry, I know this is a tangent but what you said really, really resonated with me.

        (Also futch is an awesome word, by the way, thank you to those above who are using it. That is totally what I am.)

        • “when I try butch I just look like a straight girl wearing her boyfriend’s clothes after a one night stand”

          Yeah, I feel your pain! Give me doc martens, plaid flannel, and a pixie cut, and I just look like a 90s grunge chick or a riot grrrrrl. Still all girl all the time.

          • . . . As for being awful to each other, I know that was a rhetorical question, but I’m gonna throw out some thoughts here, cause I like thinking about what makes people tick. We’re not all awful to each other. It’s just that gays are humans, and a whole lot of humans are assholes at the end of the day, no matter how you slice it. And there’s incentive for some people to practice assholery: currency. Misogyny can be a way for people to move ahead or experience more social mobility by putting themselves above others (i.e. femmes).

            People talk a lot about passing with marginalized groups. Femmes have privilege in wider circles because we can “pass” for straight, right? But we often have no control over that – it’s in the eyes of the beholder, and too much passing can make us miserable. Then in the queer community, some of us femmes just can’t pass for MOC no matter how hard we try. So we stop trying and just be ourselves, but we end up on the receiving end of some serious heinous dickery from a handful of our fellow queers. For some people, power is a huge part of gender presentation, for better or worse. I’ve seen women consciously choose to act more “masculine” because it separated them from “the girls.” I’ve seen straight tomboys do that, too, and it’s still unbecoming on heteros. There’s that ugly bias that all things feminine were weak, superficial and lesser than all things masculine. It’s in our culture, and the fact that we’re ladies doesn’t make us immune to it.

          • I love being femme, and I love reading stuff by powerful femmes, but I do still feel unsure about doing stuff in overtly queer circles, especially lesbian ones, because I am femme and pansexual. I’m nearly always read as straight, apart from sometimes by straight guys who think I’m a lesbian. Part of my worry about engaging more is having to prove myself, in a way I wouldn’t have to with straight women, especially as I have a boyfriend.
            The best thing to do is read stuff by femmes, in the last few months they’ve made such a difference about how I feel about myself.

    • I’ve felt like cutting all of my hair off because of this problem. (I’m afraid that when I come out and other people–friends, family, straight friends, and queers like–see how long and curly and “girly” my hair is, they won’t take me seriously.)
      (I know this isn’t a rational reason to cut off one’s hair, but it’s just so annoying to be judged based on your physical attributes. I’m gay because I like women. I like women just as much as all other gay women like women. It has nothing to do with my g*ddamn hair.)

      • Hahah I know that feeling. I totally cut my hair off and got an undercut/ steps combo and still no one really believed that I was truly gay. If anything guys were actually hitting on me more because it made me stand out in straight clubs.

        My hair is finally growing back and thank goodness for that! I’ve learned over the past three years, (yeah, that’s how long it has taken for it to grow back), that it just comes down to being really fucking firm when you say “I’m gay” and knowing you mean it. Screw everyone who doesn’t listen :)

  11. Well said. I neither identify as femme or butch, but I’m perceived to be more feminine than anything and am often treated as “less-than” by butch women and cis-hetero men. It’s infuriating to be talked down to and made to feel like a sexual object in spaces that are supposed to be safe. Thanks for writing and spreading the vibe of critical thinking – something that often seems to disappear in social contexts. <3

  12. Soteria, I completely understand and can relate, this is a great article. And i’d also like to add that as a feminine lesbian, i have also been made to feel as though i wasn’t ‘authentic’ enough of a lesbian due to my feminine appearance, or that i was lesser than the butcher members of the community.
    It’s upsetting and frustrating.

  13. Good read! I’m not butch (nor femme) myself, but I think this could just as much apply to any variation of queer identifying female. Judging apperance in women more harshly than in men is patriarchal self-loathing bs that women are taught during infancy – An impulse that could very well intensify when other women are perceived as potential sexual partners.

    Love women in a gay way, but also in a feminist way.

  14. I love this post and can’t wait to have you as my counsellor at camp, Kate! I want to talk about serious gender stuff with you~

  15. Bravo, everything about this article just resonates with actions I have seen and been so terribly disappointed with, both from self identified Butches and a few Trans-Men.
    But to me this line says it all:
    “Our masculinity doesn’t have to have a body count.”

    The idea that masculinity must be be supported by the demeaning of others, no matter what their presentation, is a core problem of the patriarch power structure. Blerg.

  16. Thanks for writing this. I think it’s a really important topic, and not one we stop to think about nearly enough.

  17. Thank you for this. I’ve been struggling recently with whether or not I should present in a more butch way or identify as butch. I, too, am good at running in heels and can rock a dress, but honestly, I feel most beautiful when presenting in a more masculine way. And a lot of the women I’m interested in are self-described femmes. But I’m extremely wary of being associated with the butch-femme social construct because I’ve seen the way some butches treat femmes and it disgusts me. I don’t want a relationship with pre-defined roles based on power dynamics, and I’m afraid that by embracing my inner butchness, I’ll become party to everything I hate about the patriarchy.

    • I’m pretty femme, and I do find MOC people attractive, but I’m slightly wary of buth-femme relationships. I won’t be treated as lesser by a man in a relationship, or by a woman.

    • Hello Aly, many Butches practice kindness and chivalry, in an old school way.Butch isn’t a look. It’s your life. If I wear Women’s clothes I feel like I’m in drag. You do you. I don’t do the bar scence now cos I’m old and sober. Older Butches aren’t as rude as young bucks with alot to prove.Older Butches have paid their dues and just want to settle down. At least I have. Other’s milage may vary. Not all Butch Women look like men. Go with your feelings. Butch isn’t the latest thing that you can put on and take off. Being Hardcore Butch can be a lonely place. Eff all those people with negative things to say to you.

  18. I wonder about the whole ‘infantilisation’ thing… I’m generally opposed, obviously, and I hate the way I feel when other people try to do things for me without explaining or taking over (my dad and brother are the biggest offenders.)
    Yet I call my (male) partner ‘baby’ all the time, and maybe because he’s younger and less worldly experienced and [often a bit hopeless with things like cooking or housework] I often feel like I have to explain tasks to him in such a way that I treat him like a child… This is a tangent now, but basically: how do you tell your partner things like “How to not burn pasta” without infantilising them, male or female, and would this be somehow worse if this situation was gender-reversed?

    • If you ever figure this out, let me know, because it seems to apply to roommates too. The amount of times I’ve had to say things like “this is how you wipe a counter,” “this is how you clean a toilet,” etc is actually painful.

    • I don’t wanna derail too much, but related is the man-child phenomenon. For example, why is it that 95% of commercials today show men being childish idiots and women rolling their eyes as they clean up after them?

      I think we have two default modes: explaining something to someone we see as an equal in understanding and explaining something to a child. I notice this a lot when working with people in a language they’re not fluent in. We only need to break down the words into something simpler, but inevitably we break down the entire concept into something child-like, which is insulting. Same goes for explaining cooking concepts to your partner with significantly lower cooking skills. I think we can explain things simply without infantilizing, it just takes a conscious effort (not that I’m very good at it).

      Then again, sometimes people just need to be shamed into stepping up their game (e.g., cleaning up after themselves).

    • I’m totally with you on this. My partner and I have been together for many years but I still find myself doing this with her sometimes and it drives her up the wall! She’s a few years older than me and is good at many things, but when it comes to household stuff I am generally the one who takes the lead. We cook together now but at first it was a lot of me explaining things in the kitchen, trying not to infantilize her and sound like my mother (egads!). The problem is exacerbated by the fact that I work with kids so am often on a de facto “Let’s Learn!” brainwave. For awhile I just tried to do everything by myself but honestly, now I just less likely to let her make a mistake without jumping in. I’d rather eat overcooked pasta than have her feel like I’m nagging her. Although, okay, full disclosure, I’ve been known to ask questions: Did you set the timer? Would you mind checking the…? What does it look like?”

    • Have you asked your partner about this? There may be some past trauma or triggers or helpful things associated with the way they learn – everything from “I kept being made to feel like I was incompetent growing up” to “zomg THANK YOU I wanted to ask for help but felt awkward about doing so”.

  19. I have to be honest; I’ve never seen butches/studs speak this way about femmes. I’m definitely not saying it doesn’t exist (a few girls that I’ve met have ranted about this problem, especially with studs), but I’ve never been privy to it myself. I guess I’m lucky…?

    • I haven’t seen it either, so I’m really horrified reading some of the experiences here.

      • I’m actually amazed that you haven’t experienced this in Ireland. I’m super glad you haven’t, but still amazed.

        • I suppose maybe because I don’t know many butches/go out an awful lot there’s less likelyhood of me coming across it : /

    • I think it just depends on the community you’re in and how competitive it is. I’ve been lucky too; I don’t see a lot of this in my little queer lady circle. It’s something I’ve been kind of concerned about dealing with when I move to a bigger city.

  20. Thank you for this, I just learned something new, and hopefully this new info would improve me as a human.

  21. Thank you for this wonderfully honest exploration. The dynamic you describe here, of butch women using patriarchal misogyny as a kind of legitimating cash, immediately brought to mind the whole dynamic supposing Queer women wear signs of masculinity as the most basic form of identifying in-group status. This has always sat ill with me, as an inadequate and unjust convention. Also on my mind is the transmisogyny which been critiqued as foundational to TG women’s exclusion and invisibility in Queer women’s community. Perhaps all these streams come from the same poisoned font – an anxiety over femininity and femaleness which ironically twists into a vicious mimesis of patriarchal structures of violence, despite the best intentions and efforts of many. Whatever the etiology, you addressed some wounds in my own experience of Queer women’s culture and community… Thanks!

    • “all these streams come from the same poisoned font – an anxiety over femininity and femaleness which ironically twists into a vicious mimesis of patriarchal structures of violence, despite the best intentions and efforts of many.”

      very succinct, nice comment.

  22. I realize this is going to sound like a quibble over a tiny part of a long, intelligent, thought-provoking post, but it’s one of those things that really digs at me so I’m just gonna let loose and hope you’ll forgive me:

    RE: “The thing is that we queers can perpetuate rape culture just as much as the next frat boy…”

    It’s not fair to go stereotyping “frat boys” either. I belong to a fraternity known for creating a safe environment where guests don’t feel harassed or objectified or preyed upon. We build supportive, “masculine” bonds that promote growth, love, and harmony with one other and those around us. I can honestly say I’ve never been anywhere as accepting or freeing in my entire life.

    Just because the media only tells you about the fraternities who shame the Greek community, the ones who ruin it for the rest of us, doesn’t mean that a healthy alternative isn’t out there, surviving, thriving on the true core meaning of the institution: brotherhood.

    • You just detailed how the fraternity makes YOU feel safe, creates a safe space for YOU, and provides YOU with “brotherhood.” Are you sure you know what site you are on right now? And, “It’s not fair,” oh — okay, wow. I’m sure we’re all grounded enough to know that not every fraternity in existence perpetuates rape culture, but there are certainly enough of them were it isn’t even remotely a baseless stereotype. SO, instead of whining about that for moment, maybe you should recognize that it is definitely a thing that exists, a very serious thing, internalize that, and try your v. hardest not to be a misogynisitc frat boy. Just, think about that.

      • I know exactly what site I’m on. One of our SISTERS linked me to it. You would think that members here would be understanding of a mislabeled minority.

        I know what happens. We do our best to fight against and discourage it. Part of the problem is that people assume we are all this way, and that’s all they come looking for in a fraternity. If you can change peoples’ perceptions about something, it will begin the process of change…because people will realize that it has a value to it outside of the filth that it is commonly known for.

        I tried not to come across as whiny, I tried to express my deep respect for the ideas presented here–I just can’t fathom how you can champion one cause, and then cut another down because it’s not as “dire” as yours, or because of your perception of the situation.

        I don’t have to “try” not to be a misogynistic frat boy. I simply am not.

          • You know, I don’t really see anything wrong with what he said. If people from other communities want to have a respectful discussion, I see that as a positive thing. I realize I’m in the minority here, and most people see it as “derailing,” but frankly, how can we expect men to be feminists and allies of queer women, if we shut them down as soon as they try and engage? While unfair treatment of frat boys may not be world’s most pressing civil rights issue, Justaguyorsomethin is right that it is wrong to stereotype anyone.

            I often see this when people comment who are not up on the social conventions of queer girl culture. People often make statements that are slightly offensive or inappropriate, but are not hateful and seem to come from a good place. Instead of being brought into the conversation to learn more, they get attacked. It makes me very uncomfortable.

          • He wasn’t engaging in my eyes and he certainly was derailing, considering this article is about misogyny, from a queer/butch perspective — and even more specifically about how butches perpetuate misogyny in the aforementioned instances — yet, he picked out the one sentence that used the stereotype a frat boy, and then asked for congratulations on being the decent guy. And, then thinking that just b/c a woman steered him to this site it was totally OK — which assumes that my response wasn’t a pat on the back simply b/c he identifies as a guy? No. I have no patience for that, especially when I did show patience and he wasn’t receptive, didn’t take a moment, didn’t think, and skipped over any chance to realize what he was doing. How many people need to explain this until y’all stop harping on it? If you look bellow a lot of people have said some eloquent things that validate and expand on this. This will be my last comment here — yikes.

        • My brother was in a fraternity and he’s one of the sweetest, most queer friendly and least misogynistic people (not just men) and he did not go into college like that, let me tell you. So I do get that fraternities do produce wonderful people and his frat was not known as “the rape factory” or anything horrible that you hear about. And obviously, we hear about wonderful fraternities like that one at Emerson who fundraised for their trans* brother. But, similarly to the Catholic church there are enough corrupt individuals who ruin it for the public and therefore Kate’s statement was not out of line.

        • “Part of the problem is that people assume we are all this way”
          I wouldn’t sweat it. Butch bashing, dwelling in victim complex, overusing the label “misogyny” and cheapening of the word as a result, denigrating all things masculine is a common behavior on this site. Don’t worry about being too politically correct and this is coming from a lesbian.

    • and here is what i will quietly say in response to this:

      it’s wonderful that fraternities do exist that do not actively participate in misogyny and rape culture. fraternities as an institution, though, do historically and currently support both of those things by legally protecting rapists, creating unsafe spaces that are accepted and promoted by greek culture. and brotherhood is great, but getting a bunch of men together in a men-exclusive pro-masculine space is by its nature a problematic thing in light of how privilege and patriarchy works, and i think a lot of us are always going to be uncomfortable with that concept, even if there are, as you say, places where fraternity members are promoting growth, love, and harmony.

      when greek culture stops turning a blind eye to the incredible, incredible amount of misogyny and rape that goes on within its institution, i’ll stop stereotyping frat boys. i’m never going to trust a frat boy until he proves otherwise, as you have just done. which is great, to know people like you exist, and that’s great! but honestly, there’s just too much shitty shittiness in frat culture and among every single frat boy i have met (that is not an exaggeration – every. single. one. of. them.) to not assume that all of them are dangerous individuals who have the potential to harm myself or someone else, just by nature of the environment that greek culture fosters! i know it’s hard to hear something you identify as viewed as a stereotype, but since there is nothing actually privilege-removing of frat boy status, consider yourself a martyr for rape culture and an end to patriarchal bullshit

      • I fully agree with you here. Just know that there are those of us inside the Greek community fighting with the same aims, to end the “old boy network” and build something more organic and inclusive.

        As I mentioned my reply to another comment, we have female members in our organization. I can’t give you our identity, because this is against our national rules and we could get in a lot of trouble if we were caught. That being said…we’re trying. We despise the real-life caricatures that inhabit many fraternities. A lot of them deserve the flak but we need open minds if we’re ever to make any headway. Again, pointing to the other comment I made…if people don’t think we’re capable of anything else, decent people won’t become involved.

        • IT IS NOT OUR JOB TO PICK UP YOUR SLACK — you do what is right b/c it is inherently right. NOT b/c you want a fucking pat on the back. The group that is being victimized here is NOT YOU, so how the fuck do you get off trying to tell us we need to be open minded? IT IS NOT OUR JOB. NOT OUR FUCKING JOB. And, who’s to say we aren’t? Clearly I restrained myself the first time I replied to you — but, now, it is v. clear you are not here to listen, learn, and respect this space. GTFO.

          • I’m not asking you to pick up anybody’s slack. I’m not making excuses. My defense is not inclusive of anyone who has harmed another human being as a part of this system. As I’ve stated, I hold nothing but disdain and anger for them.

            All I asked is that the entire group not be written off when there are still redeeming people here. That’s it. I’m not asking you to fight any battles or anything of the sort. I’m not asking for a pat on the back. I am explaining that we exist. Merely, simply that.

            I am trying to explain that even as a “frat bro” I have dressed up in drag, along with many members of my fraternity, as part of an event to raise money for a local LGBTQ group. I am not asking you to do ANYTHING except refrain from making blanket-statments.

            If you can’t accept that, if you have to yell at me and tell me to shut up or leave when I’ve been nothing but peaceful and reasonable towards you in the face of your open aggression, then you clearly do need to be more open minded.

            Where do I get off? I don’t get off. This is making me sad and a trifle nauseous. And what makes you think I haven’t listened, learned, or respected? I absolutely loved the post, and nowhere have I stated otherwise.

          • Sorry you got such a hostile reaction. While I think that frat culture at large has a lot of work to do, it’s good to hear of at least one group that is actively thinking about how to do things differently. I think that it can be easy from a non-privileged position to make stereotypes or generalizations about privileged groups to which many of us don’t belong (in this case, cis-men), which may not be okay. However, I think it’s also important when you occupy a position of privilege to recognize that while you might not fall into that particular stereotype, thinking, “Well, this doesn’t apply to me because I do x, y, and z” is actually also a problem. (It’s like when a white person says, “Oh, well I have black friends and am not racist, so racism isn’t my problem.”) While you may not fall into a particular stereotype, there is a larger context and structure that you are a part of.

          • I recognize you’re trying to be understanding, but I don’t think you realize you’re falling into some derailing 101 categories that can get really freaking maddening.

            Namely, you are coming off as trying to compare the bad rep frat boys have with the misogyny women face. I know you may not actually see them as equal, but you’re attempting to steer the conversation away from misogyny and toward your cause.

            Also, detailing all the good things you’ve done as a privileged person for unprivileged people like you deserve a cookie or something can sound condescending.

          • WTF? there is no need to respond to JustAGuyOrSomethin like that. his responses have been well-written and respectful, even if off the mark. he isn’t a troll and your response comes off as incredibly rude and disproportionate to the comment. we should be able to have a dialogue without writing someone off simply because of the privilege inherent in one vector of their position, institution, etc.

          • Sorry this is showing up here but I guess the comment thread above got too deep for further comment. I just wanted to express that I understand what you’re saying and you’re right, I came off as more condescending than I intended. When I was giving examples I just meant to put my money where my mouth was, instead of making vague assertions. A sizable portion of our members identify as queer or gay, so I guess I take it for granted that I’m usually immediately understood to be a cis-male ally.

            I didn’t mean for this to blow up the way it did–I genuinely regret making that first comment at this point. I’m sorry for raising such a ruckus, and I appreciate the calm responses.

          • The reference, or just myself? I’m entirely unapologetic for what I have said and what I meant by what I said (I only wish I used less swearing in the last comment; that’s what happens when you comment with a lot of rage in your heart). I stand by it unwaveringly. The reference, I don’t see how that is out of line in the least. I couldn’t articulate what I meant and that FAQ section on that site (although not the same content or subject matter of this site) hits the nail on the head. Again, entirely unapologetic, and I don’t believe I strayed out of line. You’ll forget about this in a few days!

          • Everyone could stand to be more open minded, myself included. I am as liberal as they come, and I’ve been (rightly) called out on my biases towards several different groups (Southerners, people who live in rural areas, very religious people, etc.). I work hard to see everyone as an individual, but I’m sure I don’t always succeed. Being less privileged along one axis doesn’t make it OK to stereotype others. Saying that it’s fine to make blanket statements about any group just because they are, on average, more privileged, is illogical.

            Believe me, I am well aware that a biased statement about, for example, men, isn’t the same as one against women. There is no systematic, institutionalized discrimination against men, which makes a huge difference. It makes the biased statement about men less hurtful and more understandable – but it doesn’t make it OK.

            I’m disappointed to see people saying they will continue stereotyping frat boys because they’ve had negative experiences, and know that others have as well. I have heard exactly the same arguments used by racists and MRAs, and, in the queer community, by biphobes and transphobes. I realize this isn’t on the same level, but shouldn’t those of us in marginalized communities hold ourselves to a higher standard? We know what it’s like to be treated unfairly, whether on the basis on gender or sexuality, or some other characteristic, so why turn around and do the same thing to others?

    • It never ceases to amaze me that even on this site, the most PC site EVER, someone will still find something “wrong” with almost any post. lol

    • Even taking you at your word that you are Not One of Those Guys, did you really have to come into a space for LGBTQI women and draw attention away from their experiences to your voice/opinions by complaining how one throwaway remark in an article about a serious issue impacting – in potentially both emotionally and physically harmful ways – communities/groups of people of which you are not a part is a super massive big deal because it hurt your feelings and frat guys are Not All Like That?

      If you aren’t part of the problem, don’t group yourself there. Please stop with the “we’re not all like that!!!” stuff, because it comes across as being really dismissive of genuine concerns/problems people have, and it comes across that way because it IS dismissive.

      • There we go – this is a response I’m comfortable “liking”.

        I think Caitlyn got it right with her initial comment: on this site, in this article, it’s about how frat boys and frat societies make *US* (marginalized FAAB people) feel, not how fraternities make their privileged members feel.

          • Presumably to be inclusive of nonbinary CAFABs. The unfortunate implication being that trans women are not included in frat boy misogyny. It also has the effect of coercively gendering trans men and CAFAB nonbinary people when you use it as a collective terms for the aforementioned groups + cis women. I find when the intention is to be inclusive of trans people who are not men, it’s best to just say “non-men.” This is not a perfect solution, but it’s what I’ve got.

          • Heh, yeah, that’s pretty much what I figured as well. I don’t know the best way to categorize either, maybe “not cis MAAB”?

  23. Thank you for this. I’ve been thinking about this topic ever since Kade wrote, in one of the earlier Butch, Please articles, “I wrestle constantly with the privilege I have as a result of desiring certain kinds of bodies, specifically femmes and femmes whose bodies are part of a history of commodity and objectification.” Although I’m not really butch or femme, I fell in love with a verrrry femme girl and I find myself taking a more masculine, protective role with her. When I would worry aloud about this, people told me everything was fine because “there can’t be sexism in a lesbian relationship.” Very wrong. I try to address this misconception in my daily life, and I appreciate your doing it with the autostraddle audience as well.

  24. I *love* coming to this site because I always learn something that helps to make me more aware of others, but this time, I came away from this great article more self-aware. Thanks. :)

  25. Very important issues to speak openly about, as a self identified Butch/Trans person whose desire lies with Femme women, I have seen and heard instances of Misogyny and disrespect towards Femme women and also Femme invisibility , when ever I hear and the people I hang out with hear Misogyny and objectification, I say something, I mostly find it with much younger people and some older people, I am 48(but younger of mind:)) but I also don’t feel I have anything to prove, and having always had strong feminist principles, I think this discussion needs to keep happening in Queer spaces and amongst Queer people, because if we are replicating the ugly and abusive parts of Male culture then we need to change that quickly, I am in Australia so we don’t use Stud terminology, I have only seen it on TV and read about it, but it doesn’t seem to be a healthy expression of Female Masculinity, the answer lies in speaking up when ever we hear misogynist comments and behaviour,. ” Bad things happen when good people stay silent”

    • Indeed Jacq, silence is a form of consent – if people do not speak up and challenge misogynistic, degrading language or behavior (in all areas of life) then nothing will ever change.

      What really interests me is the phenomenon of denial that misogyny exists within the ‘butch’ community. “When I call butches on their misogyny, they say I am attacking their identity.”

      What we all have to be aware of is a false sense of moral authority that can somehow be attributed to anyone from an oppressed group, thus making them above reproach. We are none of us above reproach and could all benefit from more compassionate actions.

      Lovely article Kate – beautifully written and very thought-provoking.

      • I absolutely agree that people with the ability should challenge mysogynistic language and behavior, but saying silence is a form of consent is an ugly slippery slope to go down.

  26. I think a lot of the outward misogyny by those masculine-of-center comes from a lifetime of internalized misogyny – a childhood of wanting to be included in boys games and sports and circles but any signs of femininity got you kicked right out. Its difficult to negotiate gender and masculinity while recognizing our own misogyny and figuring out what is positive masculinity and what isn’t – I think that’s true for all men/masculine-presenting people. I think it’s important to continually call us out on our bullshit moments.

    • Totally. And there’s also a historic precedent. A lot of this “posturing” came out of extreme gender-binary roles of the general society of the 1950s, and were unfortunately reflected in the emergent gay-bar culture of that time – in both gay and lesbian circles.

      And then it just continued right on through… I remember descriptions of the misogynist butches in Audre Lorde’s Zami, for example. Basically it seems like wherever you have a generally misogynistic cultural group, the gay microcosm will reflect that to a certain extent. Which is unfortunate.

      Also, great post. Really enjoy these.

    • Wow the response on this article is huge. Women all over the world are still having a difficult time expressing and creating the fullness of who they are. The suffering of one is the suffering of all. How I would like to see the intricate and nuanced truthful expression of all women in this world. People are mesmerized by the images of modern media and yet we fail to create a soulful experience. The real archetypes of the soul are trampled upon and forgotten.

  27. “My hourglass figure hasn’t seen the light of day in years, but it looked damn good in a pencil skirt”

    Pics or it didn’t happen ;)

    • I know that you’re trying to be tongue-in-cheek, but since Kade has repeatedly mentioned their issues with body dysphoria, I just wanted to point out that a little joke like this could be potentially triggering for someone who isn’t comfortable with the way their body looks or how they look in certain gender expressions.

  28. This is a great article, thank you so much. I would like to voice my objection though to the way the terms “masculine/masculinity” and “butch” are used interchangeably. There is a huge difference. Being femme doesn’t make a man less masculine and being butch doesn’t make a woman less feminine. Acknowledging this, and discussing butch identity as an independent entity from “masculinity” as it’s defined by society, can help free male-identified people from the bullshit to which our gender has been historically shackled.

  29. Thanks for this brilliant thoughtful, and thought-provoking piece. I don’t identify as either femme or butch…and feel incredibly constrained when partners try and place me in either box. I understand that some folk feel they identify as one or the other, and respect that.

  30. This is a really great and well-written piece and I’m so glad this has been said. Unfortunately, it resonated with many unpleasant experiences I’ve had of late, and I’m frustrated that as a community we don’t always practice what we preach. Being able to quote feminist theory doesn’t excuse any sort of behavior, although many people seem to act like it does. I’m femme-identified, but also consider myself a strong independent feminist who doesn’t play by the rules of gender roles. I’m not perfect either when it comes to this sort of language and behavior, I know, and I’m going to make a real effort to be better about my language and use of subconscious misogyny in the future. I will say, I think it’s important to note that this, although often most visible among masculine of center people, is not limited to them. I definitely believe many non-butches are culpable as well, and I’ve heard plenty of femmes talking about conquests in a misogynistic way. We all need to be better to think carefully about how our words and actions can come across. Speaking from personal experience, it can be extremely painful to have gender role expectations etc thrown in your face by those who should know better. I identify as queer and only date other queer identified people (most of whom are butch-identified women or genderqueer people), but I’ve felt lately like I was treated with more respect by the cis-gender men I dated when I was younger and that makes me really really really really sad. (Yes, that required 4 “really”s). We’re such a vibrant community; I hope we can grow past this heteronormative and toxic behavior into a more confident, loving, and accepting community. Sending out love to all my fellow queers.

  31. Im in the process of reading Real Live Nude Girl by Carol Queen. Shes got a really good chapter on butch-identified women and how she views their masculinity as something entirely different from male masculinity.
    Society in general doesnt look to women for examples of masculinity, nor does it look to men for examples of femininity.

    To sum it up: we need to start seeing past sexual identities based on established notions of “masculine” and “feminine”. The queer community has done a good job at creating alternative sexual identities, but we are generally stuck in this bipolar way of comparing humans.

    People are complex. I believe once we start getting past these notions of who is a “man” and who is a “woman” and just accept that we are all people with agency and a sexuality (whatever it may be), then we can really appreciate each other more deeply and respectfully.

    mind you…this is all a pipe dream right now, but my dream for the future nonetheless.

  32. The thing that jumps out at me in this is the few mentions of rape between females (I don’t want to say within the community, because that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. Identity and orientation have zero things to do with rape. Anyone can be a rapist and anyone can be their victim).
    Its just I feel its an issue no-one talks about and it happens and I have no idea how it fits in with this ‘rape culture’ I’ve built my whole understanding of the world on. But I know its something that can happen and I just wish we had somewhere that would validate that. People have this vision of female sexuality as harmless and only nurturing and its not. It can be as vicious and destructive and dangerous as any man.

    • I was assaulted on a dance floor, tried to escape and was further assaulted, sexually and physically, in a bathroom stall. I was targeted by a group of women I used to work with, who basically decided to Police Me. They are of the opinion that I don’t belong- and as the gatekeepers and thugs of “the community”, it’s their job to keep women out who don’t wear the uniform and behave in the uniformly offensive manner they have come to demand. Sexual Assault is a Disciplinary Mode of the uniformity code.

  33. this is an amazing piece. A lot of my thoughts have been said, so I won’t repeat them, but I will add that I think its amazing that this post has led to a really important discussion about gender roles. I think we need to take some time as a community to think about how we as individuals can present ourselves in a way which allows us to feel comfortable (butch, femme, whatever else), without taking on all aspect of the roles that exist in society. its a hard balance, and i think its something we as a community really struggle with.

  34. I’ve noticed that many (not all) masculine-identified people in our culture have been taught that masculinity itself is something that 1, is superior in all ways, and 2, needs to constantly be proven and accepted by others, that they must constantly prove that they belong and still belong in some “old boys” club. It reeks of insecurity, people always trying to one-up each other, to prove that they “belong” within the group, that they are special, and using other people to score some sort of “point”. But those that feel the need to push others down to raise themselves up will never truly get anywhere. I’ve seen many butchs that have chosen to go out of their way to act not just like a stereotypical man, but as a frat boy that most people would consider a low-class jerk. It is a choice, and such behavior doesn’t make them special or cool or tough, and it doesn’t make me take them seriously.

  35. On one hand I believe people should have agency over their identity. And I respect that.

    But… sometimes, or rather many times, boi culture is a complete turn-off to me.

    I don’t like it when dudes act that way, can’t say I like it when girls act that way.

    • That being said everyone objectifies everyone. Femmes do it. Straight women do it to straight men and women. Men do it.

      It’s the misogynistic aspect that’s displeasing. Playing up dominance/submissive context. I don’t like that. Unless I do like it, but that’s for me and the person I’m doing to know.

  36. My MOC partner was at a queer dance night and asked another MOC person if zie wanted to dance (not in a flirty way, just in a this is a great song and I want to get out on the dance floor way). Zie sneered at my partner and said “Nah, I ain’t no faggot.” My partner was appalled and dumbfounded and walked the fuck away.

  37. this is actually something my gf and I were discussing the other day, we both tend to be relatively fluid in terms of our gender, with her tending toward the MOC and me being about fifty fifty which side of the fence I’m on. My gf will admit to having taken great pride in being “just one of the guys” and talking about sex and yes, even me, with her male and butch friends. While I know that many people would see this as disrespectful of me, I personally have seen the way she talks about me as no different than how I talk about our sex life with my sorority sisters. Yes there is a level of objectification sometimes, but it does not negate the fact that we truly love and respect each other and have never claimed or implied “ownership” of the others body. I know some people are different and misogyny is a serious problem, but I think we need to recognize that its not just butches and men that do this. straight women do this with men, I have been known to brag about my gf to my sorority sisters, I don’t know a single person who isn’t guilty of some form of objectification on a regular basis. Again, not saying it isn’t a problem, just that it’s not fair to place a majority of blame on masculinity when they are far from the sole perpetrators

  38. So, I used this article as a reference in my 18th century British Women Novelists class today in analyzing the character Harriet Freke in Maria Edgeworth’s “Belinda.” And it was badass. Thank you for writing this.

  39. Yah, big surprise that someone into the whole ‘butch’ identity might remind you of a man. How surprising. Yes, sarcasm

    I get it that y’all are upset by the level of misogyny that can arise, but do you get it that by buying into ‘Butch’ as an identity with all it’s trappings, that you are giving it power? And power is what “Butch” is all about. Many Femmes think that dating a “Butch” woman, they can have “the best of both worlds.” A man without a man.

    How surprising it must be that you can’t control a woman any more than you can control a man. LOL. Femmes want what they want from “their” Butch when they want it, but want to be able to turn it off and on like a switch when they feel like it. You like that power that butches irradiate like an isotope, but then get all pissy and angry when you find out you can’t control that attitude. Femmes are just as guilty as Butches by buying into the whole Butch-Femme paradigm.

    If I had a dollar for everytime I’ve seen a Femme destroy a Butch because they are not Butch enough enough when they want a Daddy, or Femme enough when they want a Lesbian, I’d be richer than Donald Trump. I’ve seen Femmes get ANGRY when “their” Butch cries, or displays emotion they don’t wanna deal with. I’ve seen Femmes get angry, because “their” Butch is too dominating, too powerful, doesn’t listen enough. In my experience, Femmes are never happy because “their” Butch is either too Butch or too Femme, and never at the right time. So much for the myth that objectification is a one way street in these relationships.

    Butches may objectify “their” women as presented, but Femmes often talk about “their” Butch like it’s a Pit Bull they have learned to control. And that is often how Femmes view “their” Butch – a pet for their amusement and enjoyment. I think BOTH sides need to take a step back and figure these dynamics out, because they tend to perpetuate the most mythic qualities of one another.

    • I definitely agree that objectification is a two-way street when it comes to the butch/femme dynamic, but also not all butch women are in relationship with femmes. And “butch” doesn’t just mean one thing. There as so many ways to do “butch” that we can’t reduce that identity to one small definition. And just as much as we shouldn’t, and don’t at all intend to, say that butches act this way across the board by any means, we also don’t want to make broad claims that all femmes objectify and want a butch who is aggressive and hyper-masculine. The ownership problem is exactly that- a problem – when it comes into play on any side of any relationship, whether from a butch or a femme or someone androgynous or anyone else.

      You’re definitely right about both sides needing to take a step back if this sort of behavior is stemming from either side. This article and conversation is specifically about one observed problem and how to start addressing it from that point of view. Let’s keep working at not making broad generalizations about either identity.

    • Wow I so agree with you. This is WHY I’m Butch on Butch. I LOVE my own Butch qualities and the same in another Dyke. I’m with my equal in that way, and even as Daddy/boi we’re BOTH emotional, we’re both strong, we both are vulnerable, we’re both tuff, and WE’RE BOTH WOMEN AND FEMALE AND PROUD DYKES….it may not all be at the same time, but we realize each other’s essential FEMALENESS, though neither of us are physically feminine. It doesn’t mean we don’t get to have female qualities…we ALLOW each other to have that, and go beyond. I like exactly what you said, about femmes ‘owning’ their Butches and wanting them to be ‘man’ enough in certain circumstances, and ‘woman’ enough to respect THEIR emotions, but when Butches get vulnerable, so many go running…..

      Only another Butch understands me at my Core and my Soul, my intimate emotions and the oppressions I’ve faced most of my life, as a nonfeminine hardcore tomboy grow up to become Butch Lesbian and defy ALL female roles and boxes, because she’s done the same! Maybe in different circumstances, but similar struggles.

      Both Butches and Femmes overcome multiple oppressions, as Lesbians, as women, but Butches have it worse in the hetero world trying to get work, and everyday being seen as an affront to ‘womanhood’ and what a woman should ‘properly’ be. Femmes ‘pass’ in this regard, though they may be upset by being percieved as straight when they are not…there are ways around that.BOTH need to own up to their behaviors.

      I’m glad I’m no longer part of the Butch/Femme dynamic, and that it’s so culturally enforced in Lesbian society. I never really have been, even though I had a Femme partner for 5 years…it was AFTER a breakup with not one but TWO Butches(experiment in a 3 way relationship). My native Dyke sexuality has always been Butch on Butch, and I hated the stereotypes others’ tried to enforce on us when I was in that Butch/Femme relationship…..and she had just come out again after being in the closet for 6 years. I often felt I was relating to a straight woman, because she was so comfortable in hetero society, in a way I’ve never been.

      I’m glad I’m back to my native sexuality, andit’s worked much better for BOTH of us. It’s the longest relationship I’ve ever been in, and part of that is because we so intimately understand where each other has been, because of Butch oppression….and it never worked out with Femmes with her too…but the pressure is on in Lesbian society to BE Butch/Femme and there’s all kinds of Butch/Femme groups, and articles and books, and almost NOTHING for Butch on Butch Dykes…..even though it’s practiced, it’s often silenced, even by other Butches who can’t stand it, and Femmes who get offended by Butches finding each other hot…

      When I was in a Butch/Femme relationship I noticed how we were much more accepted in the Lesbian world, than as Butch on Butch, even though my current partner and I are legally married.

      So yep, I agree with you. Both are capable of far more than ANY role will allow. Just be yourselves!

  40. This is fascinating! Most gay men would never come right out and ask if someone was fucking another man. Come to think of it, most straight men would never outright challenge another man in that way, so it’s interesting to see how this expression of masculinity translates into butch culture. Great post!

  41. I must admit, I was a little wary when I saw the title of this article, because I’ve often had the “predatory lesbian” stereotype thrown at me. But this addressed the very real problem of misogyny within the queer community without falling into that stereotype. Well done.

  42. holy shit… i am seriously disgusted with humanity right now…a friend links this really amazing article and i am seriously blown away by how eloquent and spot on it is and how NON soap boxy and what an amazing “call to arms” it is in regard of how we as HUMAN BEINGS treat each other and then i start reading the comments and im seriously so fucking disgusted- there are only a few comments here that address the actual article. instead it looks like a “who is more pc” cat fight and really that to me is so similar to what she addresses in the article that i am jsut baffled… i am all for “calling a spade a spade” and using terms that dont offend the people they are trying to identify but some of this jsut gets in the way of genuine HUMAN interaction…bc its so damn full of judgement… which is, yes, a HUMAN condition and no ones experience is any more or less important than anyone elses- thats what humility is- recognizing that we are all on the same sand pile together-im not trying to minimize anyones experience- being a transgendered person, dealing with any of the things she mentions in the article (from either a perpetration or victims view), everything is hard- all experience and feelings have value- sometimes we think they are stupid but who are we? “walk a mile in my shoes” everything is subjective… now that being said my judgement comes when people act “entitled”…. be it the asshole waspy folks i have waited on in the past, or ANYONE who thinks their experience is harder than anyone elses and is entitled to shame others or get special treatment or attention… get some perspective- most of us live in the first world- doesnt mean we cant experience pain and that our problems arent real jsut means that i get irritated with the pissing contest of “my pain is bigger than yours” bullshit and the way people turn their pain into daggers to injure others that may not have the same kind of perspective… these are people to have some compassion for- im not saying to accept the way we as a society perpetrate misogyny and gender roles for example but to big picture this shit a bit which i think she opens up to conversation in the article…. like WHY are some gay women identifying and victimizing and objectifying in this way- is it perhaps something pain in them that causes them to subscribe to bullshit bc of a lack of a true sense of self? and on the flip WHY are some femme women (gay or straight) putting up with it or even LIKING it? what is it in them that makes their need for attention greater than their desire for respect? i think honestly the point here is being missed… and it makes me sad- perhaps bc i have this elevated ideal where women are the ones that can empathize and analyze and be proactive about these things… the defensive judgements around how, who, or why other people fuck and what they choose to call it… stupid and often self righteous… and i reiterate- missing the point…i have never commented on an article before ever but i felt compelled to do so now bc i feel as a HUMAN being- not a woman or a straight woman or a bisexual or gay woman but as a HUMAN that all of the ways im seeing people address this are so tunnel vision- if people want to be respected and understood they need to offer the same courtesy to others UNCONDITIONALLY… not that it matters but as i am on a rant i should reveal that i have gotten this bullshit from all sides and even at times have a bit of a misogynist chip on my shoulder occasionally too… whatever your sexual preference no one is default exempt from occasionally being a product of their insecurities or environment and being an asshole about it…. stomping our feet whether in heels or in work boots is not going to change any of this bologna- having a REAL conversation without judgement or shaming is the only way this kind of crap will change…. ok… stepping off the soap box now haha

  43. “I’m terrified and ashamed of the idea that the butch identity has any connotation with misogyny.”

    but it’s a man, connote away!

  44. I’m going to second/third the comment that femaleness/maleness and femininity/masculinity are non-mutually exclusive concepts and that the state of being male does not equal masculinity, and being feminine does not make you more of a woman or less of a man. In fact, couldn’t it be argued that performing femininity makes you MORE of a man? It’s like, all the maleness was so overpowering that it aromatized itself into femininity. I don’t see why having long, flowing tresses is more “feminine” unless some evo psych peeps want to come here again (sheepishly) and say that the health of the long hair is used to judge the ability to keep healthy for long periods of time, which would be important maybe for pregnancy? because you can pretty much reverse engineer evo psych to fit any argument you like.

    For example, (Complete evo psych BS alert) Uh, long flowing tresses on men are a sign of pure maleness and masculinity, because only a superior male would be able to maintain his health for long periods of time whilst roaming about in the hunting wilderness. Same thing with long fingernails, which are OBVIOUSLY signs of masculine health, because superior men can get other people to make tools so they can grow their fingernails out and likewise demonstrate their value as someone who can provide enough food and tools to be healthy and grow long fingernails and hair. But long ago, the inferior men, who were greater in numbers, decided that the only way to even the evolutionary playing field was to force all men to cut their hair off so that no one could tell who was the superior hunter. Which is why today, we shun men with long hair and fingernails despite the fact that they are actually the true, evolutionarily mandated masculinest males in the whole wide world wide web. BINGO. I see what I did there. Evo psych is the phrenology of today. Out.

    Also, calling out massive ableism inherent in evo psych arguments. Because men who can’t see.. are less of men? Because being male = being naturally more visual? I don’t get it. I wish evo psych people would take so many seats. Here, I’ve pulled out all these chairs for you, now please sit down and have a little listen.

    Also, slug sex.

  45. This is why I absolutely hate being a lesbian. The lesbian world is so incredibly dysfunctional, contradictory and hypocritical.

    The fact that our community is so obsessed with male/female gender roles is extremely sad. Lesbians are women who love other women. Butch/femme relationships are about pseudo-heterosexuality, not lesbianism. And the fact that not only are lesbians obsessed with recreating their own version of archaic stereotypes of heterosexual relationships, but that those relationships are often filled with misogyny is seriously disgusting.

  46. it’s the same way with gay guys! there is a difference though. i think unlike femme lesbians, femme gay men are still implicit in the social production of masculinity, because they are both objectified in a misogynist sense by butch men, but also used by them to judge themselves as more masculine by. so femmes and butches are still both the same type, which is at it’s base male. with lesbian women it sounds like femmes and butches are considered completely separate types. since masculinity basically functions as a set of social behaviors that reproduce itself, this causes men, and it sounds like butch lesbians, to perpetuate violence in the pursuit of masculine validation. This gets its start from the connection between virility and manliness. once we remove sexual conquest from our ideas about what makes someone a man or not we will have a more equatable relationship between men and women i would think. but it is difficult to tell if that separation can be made, because it appears that by nature we compete with each other sexually. the situation all too closely resembles the animal kingdom. perhaps if we could untie ourselves from this ideology of competitive procreation we could also help to alleviate the symptoms of possessiveness, objectification, and selfish instrumentalization.

  47. After reading this and another article about the rampant bad manners of young butches, I feel I ought to get out more if only to box a few young ears and let those harrassed by foolish youngsters there are polite butches out there whose self worth does not hinge on disparging the very women who make life worth living.
    If a woman upbraids you because you are speaking of her like a piece of meat, don’t you dare say she is “attacking your identity”. She is calling you out on your bad manners and you should apologize and go away until you learn how to act in public.
    Masculinity – be it in men or boys or butches or bois – should not be synonymous with being a Neanderthal.

  48. This interested me because in the past, I’ve always presented as a tomboy, and later what some would call soft-butch or “futch.” Also, almost all of my friends, until very recently have been gay men. But as my presentation has become more and more masculine recently, and I”ve begun to hang out with more gay women, I’ve found myself much more privy to the way butches talk among themselves. There is much more objectification and bragging than I was expecting. I was shocked when, after bringing my sister (who is as straight as an arrow) to an event with my new lesbian friends, one began to actively flirt her. When I told her “Just to warn you, she’s straight.” I was met with the response “In my experience, there is no such thing. I’m 20 for 20 and I don’t plan on breaking my streak.”

    It unnerved me that she could look at someone, who is clearly someone with her own thoughts and desires and decide that she had no real say in it, that she need only work her magic to get my sister to sleep with her. And she was actually telling me this! About my very own sister! The macho “I can get any woman” mindset overrode the idea that maybe you shouldn’t talk about someone’s sister like a piece of meat.

  49. Thank you for naming this. We ought to be dismantling the patriarchy, not succumbing to it.

  50. Lesbians always label me as butch because I have short hair and don’t often wear dresses. The truth is I don’t identify and don’t date girls who do.
    When ever a butch identified girl tries to befriend me and “bro bond” I run the other way. Because they are pretty much universally pieces of shit.

  51. This is so very much like my ex roomie. What really ended that friendship for good was a series of small bits of this sort of thing, and one morning, a final straw. We were sitting in the kitchen as she recounted the night before. She had gone to a friend’s birthday party. He was supposed to “bring a girl for me” but that girl didn’t flirt with my roomie, she flirted with another lesbian, and she was all pissed off that this “secret lesbian” and come in and “stolen” the girl who was brought there for her, like some kind of property to be passed off from this male friend to my lesbian roomie with no say in her own life, and what a bitch she was for not going with my roomie who was supposed to “get” her. My roomie who barely even spoke to her and just expected to be given this woman. She all but said the word “friendzone” as she told me this tale, and all I wanted was to push her outside and change the locks immediately.

  52. Thank you so so much for writing this. I have been ranting about this for months and I’ve never seen anyone else say anything, so thank you for getting this conversation started.
    I just started dating recently and I’ve honestly been astonished by how I have been treated. I have explained to girls that I want to get to know them as a person before we proceed in a “relationship” and far more often than not this was received with anger. They were basically trash dude-bros who were mad because the niceness coins they had put into me for a couple days wasn’t going to pay off with immediate sex. Why do we treat people this way? Regardless of gender, no one is an object.
    And these girls that I am talking about are not even conventionally “butch”. Though I do see how it is more prevalent in the butch community, this is an issue that is vital to any subgroup of any sexuality.

  53. Thanks for this article. I mostly identify as femme, and I unfortunately have experienced some of those attitudes. These conversations need to be happening in our communities…how do we make that happen? (I think what you wrote is an amazing start!)

    I would also like to see more discussion about how this sometimes happens in the queer BDSM community. I have seen (and experienced) some serious misogny from male-identified people under the guise of “playing”–it is somehow harder to tease this apart sometimes when some of those types of actions you described are encouraged or welcomed by some? I would appreciate others weighing in on this.

    I think as femmes we need to calmly and clearly reject these types of behaviors if they’re not welcome, and agree to speak up and out against them. And thanks to all the amazing butches/transguys in my life who reject those attitudes!

  54. I just came across this wonderful post, and it really spoke to some things I’ve been struggling with lately. About a year ago, I discovered that the city I now live in has a lesbian bar, and I was really excited! Finally, a place where my girlfriend and I could go and hang out and meet other girls who like girls, make some new friends and not worry about the straight world!

    I ended up feeling extremely uncomfortable, with people sneaking pictures and touching me inappropriately, people telling me that I can’t possibly know anything about the experience of being a gay woman, because I “look straight.” All of this didn’t happen on the same night, and I obviously also talked to some great people, but it makes me not want to be a part of it. I feel more included and respected in most of the “straight” places I go to, and it shouldn’t be that way. I want to be a part of my community, even if my experiences and struggles are different from someone who presents in a different way than I do. I need that, but I don’t know how to get there.

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  58. This is the very article that brought me to this beautiful page two years ago. Thank you so much.

  59. As a femme who has experienced this more than I care to admit, I am so grateful for this piece of writing.

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  66. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. As a femme queer recovering from hurtful relationships with cis men and patriarchy, I am so grateful to see a butch queer woman address the mysogyny in our community.
    Woo hoo to femme power and agency! Woo hoo to healthy masculinity and queerness! Thanks for calling for accountability and using your voice for good!!

  67. Reading this gives me hope! Thank you for your honesty and insight. This is sensitive to me because I recently broke up with my ex who IDs as butch. I walked away because I felt SO objectified and anxious by the way she treated me and claimed me as her own. She would ask me to change my outfit or doll myself up more before going out so she could parade me around as her little trophy. I felt so ugly. Being with her at a bar with other butches felt like being in a dog show. I know that these actions stem from dysphoric pain caused by the narrow-minded gender expectations that have crossed through into the queer community and that gives me empathy. It still sucks though. Oddly enough, I’m now (for the first time) dating a beautifully sensitive cis man who makes me feel honored, empowered, and respected as a woman.

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  69. I love behaved and masculine butches even more for what they have experienced on the outside; the jeering from other butches, prejudice of the outer world, whispers in inner circles, and suggestions from other as to who they should be. They should be themselves, whatever this means to them, without infringement. They are their own copyright, and original beings by divine right.
    I am so glad I decided never to change my butch of over 30 years because nothing could ever stop me from loving her exactly the decisive, stubborn, opinionated way she lives her life. if you have to fight the world to be who you are, don’t let any femme attempt to change you.

  70. Thank you so much for this article. As a queer femme, it feels reading this makes me feel validated and hopeful. I have felt objectified, like I am a commodity, more times than I can count. It feels horrible. It’s literally dehumanizing, and I feel incredibly powerless in situations where I am objectified or around others’ who are objectifying femme women. So reading an article like this is so refreshing.

  71. 61 year old Butch here. Not Soft Butch, Butch Of Center, Futch, or whatever else you want to call it. Back in my younger days of smoking non filtered cigarettes, drinking, packing,and having bathroom sex, all of us Hard Butches objectified Women. I don’t know why. It wasn’t a conscious machismo thing. Calling women honey,lighting cigs,holding open doors, and talking about pieces of ass. I’ve dated women who were shocked at rude and crude Butches, myself included. They thought it was just a look. Maybe it was the alcohol that contributed to our bad attitudes. Towards everything! I’ve been clean & sober 25 yrs, btw. Hardcore Butches aren’t cute. We look extreme. We’re intense. We have to live with the constant threat of violence. Men give us a hard time on the streets. Daily. We are tough. We’re not cute Bois. There’s alot of trauma in our lives. I don’t know why this breeds a terrible attitude towards Femmes. Aside from this trucker talk, I think alot of Butches are insecure and this gross bravado tries to cover it up. I’m not making excuses. I’ve always worked in male dominated jobs, like warehouses, where men talk shit about women. Many times we’re around men so much, I think it rubs off & seems normal.Even polite Lipstick Lesbians are uncomfortable around us. Bar Dykes were never popular. We scared everyone. Before all you youngsters jump on my post, do some research on Butch history. A good source is : The Persistent Desire, A Butch Femme Reader by JoAnne Nestle. A well known Femme in the Dyke world. Stay safe.Thanks.

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