Butch with baby Kríp
heckin’ good boofer 11/10
today i explained to an older butch what a “thirst trap,” is, so i thought i would post my own
You guys are really just going to ignore all that creepy stuff about native folks and turquoise in Stone Butch Blues huh?
for all the ways that fem identity is discussed and debated in contemporary discourse, in everything that gets said about what makes a fem, or a femme, who has the right to claim it and what is the right way to embody it, somehow we keep skimming over the element central to its function: sex.
in the days that butch and fem lesbians were taking over bars and claiming space for ourselves, our agenda wasn’t simply the right to dress unconventionally or sway together on the dancefloor - it was sex. we sought the freedom to pursue our sexual desires, our sexual desire for other women, to enjoy pleasure and passion together without inhibition or shame. it was through this ambition that the codes and rituals of our community came to be devised, and practiced until they passed into tradition. in this context, the deeply entwined relationship between butch and fem is apparent; in contemporary settings the two identities are invariably discussed as though they are entirely independent of each other - which has led to so much understanding being lost.
yet without much around us necessarily changing.
the truth then was, as it remains now, is that with all the stigma and shame that is targeted at butches, with the life-long experience of being made to feel ugly, undesirable, worthless and deviant, many butches are far less sexually experienced than many fems. the loneliness of social ostracisation, the relentless challenges to their mere existence, the constant undermining, ridiculing and contempt - all of these pervasive forces can have devastating impacts on the self-esteem and confidence of butches. as a consequence, many butches can be reluctant to pursue women, doubting their attractiveness, certain of failure and impeded by a sense of inadequacy. in addition, many butches fear their desire for women - fear that it is as violating and predatory as the ways in which men desire women. most butches stridently hold values around not doing harm to women, and are often anxious their sexual desire will.
and yet, so often what compels a butch as she pursues her way of being is her desire for control and surety, to have confidence and erotic competence, to embody fully in her material life the person she knows herself to be within. she is not a man, but many of the behaviours and roles that are deemed the domain of men are ones she feels personal resonance with, will enable the full realisation of her identity if she is able to claim them for herself. the way she wants to be for a woman is what she has always been told is unnatural, but she cannot deny that compulsion in herself.
this is an experience of enormous complexity, belied by the outward image of the butch as tough, brazen and impenetrable. too often, she has cultivated this image to deeply conceal the vulnerability and sensitivity that puts her at such risk of heartbreak.
it was with this understanding that elements of fem identity used to be illuminated, framed as intrinsic to developing into a fully-fledged fem: the ability of a fem to be a good lover to a butch.
scarcely discussed today, the subtle skill and intuitiveness that fems were expected to develop as lovers wasn’t innate, but learned through experience, observation and mentorship in community. with the loss of butch-fem culture, with the dilution of our identities into generic ‘queered’ attitudes, it’s an artform that, as Jeanne Cordova once noted, has been all but lost today. yet this knowledge, embraced as a crucial element of our culture, empowers fems in the ownership of our identity. it also enables greater understanding between butch and fem, bridging the gulf that can exist between our identities and thereby strengthening the bond between us.
known colloquially as ‘topping from the bottom’, the art of making love to a butch whilst not compromising the role so crucial to her identity, without violating her boundaries or insulting her sexual competence, was once considered essential to truly embodying what it meant to be a fem. whilst the role system was strict in terms of who did what, fems were highly active lovers who skillfully took control whilst seeming to be passive, creating an environment of erotic safety for their butch lovers by learning how to subtly guide the action. directions were communicated with breathless pleas and moans of delight, in how they moved and posed, inviting and receptive, encouraging their lovers to touch and handle them in the ways that they longed, but feared to.
fems became expert at setting scenes in which a butch could act upon her desires without being so inhibited by the damage done to her by a hateful society. in the way a fem responded and invited, she created a space in which a butch could feel desirable, sexy, potent and in control. typically guarded through hard experience, butches often feared the vulnerability that requesting pleasure entailed and fems learned how to make love using their hips and thighs, in the responding grind of their pubis against the groins of their lovers. heightening a butch’s arousal with the eager display of her own and using her body, her voice, her eyes and mouth, her own erotic needs and the ways in which those emphasised her femness to increase the pleasure and satisfaction a butch could achieve during sex.
fems also learned how to create dynamics in which it was safe for a butch to have sexual acts performed on her without feeling her identity was compromised. by framing it as a service being done for her rather than to her, as an act of submission rather than one of taking control, fems helped butches feel allowed to be receptive to acts such as oral sex without it being feminising or subjugating.
in all these ways, fems were critical in building up butches’ sexual confidence, providing a compassionate and loving space in which a butch’s inexperience was masked by a fem’s enthusiasm for her. although fems did not typically have a strong culture of friendship, nonetheless they comforted and coached each other in the bars, and older, experienced butch lovers were crucial to their education. additionally, the strong intuitiveness fems have long often demonstrated also enabled them to learn through experience, in response to what they observed and deciphered.
as butch-fem culture diminished into the 2000s, much of the careful nuance of old codes and customs were widely lost, leaving behind a concept of roles without depth, and identities based on stereotyped ideal. as gender identity politics developed in contemporary queer communities, butches became increasingly positioned as analogous to male. distancing the fem identity from butch became considered a necessary feminist stance. the symbiotic relationship of butch and fem in context with each other became diminished, leading to a lack of cooperation based on mutual desire and respect between the lesbian genders. the complex sexual conversation we had developed over the decades became lost amidst the pressure to adapt our ways to new, modern demands born from a rapidly evolving political movement forging new paths in the ways it conceptualised gender, identity and sexuality.
whilst it has always been the public role of the butch to be confident and in control, the deeply compassionate understanding amongst fems that sex required more sensitive negotiations diminished as the butch’s’ popular image became ingrained on every level. butches were increasingly burdened with the expectation to take charge at all times when it came to sex, to be fully experienced and sure, without much awareness shown of what it means to be butch in a hateful society and for how this may have impacted their individual development. these expectations have contributed to the frustration and anxiety many butches wrestle with internally, often composing a significant part of their experience as gender non-conforming people. many butches have subsequently expressed they do not always feel understood or truly accepted by fems these days, that they feel constricted by the burden of sexual expectation placed on them and demoralised by perceived failure, that their own trauma and challenges in the world go unseen and disregarded, diminished next to their masculine expression. it has led to enduring conflict and a gulf of separation between the lesbian genders in many places, both sides left hurt and confused by a lack of the understanding that used to underscore our dynamic.
generalising the specifics of fem identity to a vague concept of ‘queered femininity’ led to widespread confusion over what purpose the identity served and how it was meaningful in context with LGBT communities. with the current emphasis on masculine vs feminine in queer discourse, it can be somewhat controversial to highlight the significant roles that fems play in the lives of butches these days - it is seen as more correctly feminist to wholly individualise the fem identity, to characterise the ‘emotional labour’ fems extend to butches as a burden for which we need compensation. but communities are not just about a group of individuals occupying the same general space - it is about the relationships those individuals have with and to each other. the roles that evolve within communities are always significant to how those communities function and flourish. whilst butches and fems may seem divided by our masculine and feminine traits, ultimately we are all blahalised people who have been hurt in various ways by the oppressive overclass of heteropatriarchy. we sought to build a new society for ourselves in resistance to our blahalisation, and our relationships evolved in response to what we needed - what we otherwise couldn’t find.
the capacity of fems to nurture and care for butches, to provide emotional support and safe environments for them in which to be vulnerable, to validate and affirm their butchness - and the fact that we provide so much of this through sex as well as in other ways - has become diminished due to the positioning in queer theory of femininity as always oppressed by masculinity. it is framed as unfair and reductive to fem identity to focus on these aspects of interpersonal connection.
this position erases the reality of butch lives - their gender non-conformity and obvious lesbianism leads society to treat them with absolute contempt and disgust, resulting in deeply-held emotional and psychological damage. in this context, how special what fems give to butches - what we as blahalised lesbians give to other blahalised lesbians seeking comfort and community - becomes more apparent, demands more respect and reverence.
and it has never been one-sided - for all the qualities that fems bring to the lives of butches, butches bring equally to the lives of fems. in different ways perhaps, but nonetheless we have basked in their adoration, their unstinting love of our femaleness, the protectiveness they show us, the strength of their embrace and the reassurance of their presence. and yes - the space that they allow us to be our true selves as well - something we too are often obliged to suppress. the false dichotomy of masculine vs feminine has been allowed to encroach too far upon this understanding.
this doesn’t mean there aren’t other qualities to being fem, or aren’t other significant aspects of fem identity and life. but identity is only truly meaningful in context with other people, within communities and societies. how butch and fem roles are structured to provide nurturing and support, protection and care, freedom, acceptance and, unquestioningly, sexual satisfaction is incredibly important to our culture and community. they are not just about dressing up and getting laid - but about a whole way of being, desiring and loving. how sex is embedded in all of this is holistically critical.
sex is a biological urge that is intricately entwined with our identities and needs as social animals. through the fulfillment of true and uninhibited sexual pleasure, confidence can soar, a sense of self can be enhanced, benefits to mood and overall wellbeing are experienced. being able to experience sex in the way that we want and desire it is liberating and supports us in understanding who we are and where we fit into the world - who we belong amongst. but in a society that at once stigmatises sex, lesbianism and femaleness, locating sexual liberation for us can be daunting. the contemporary separation of butch and fem identity de-emphasises how our gender dynamics can operate sexually, and what that means for us in terms of our emotional and physical health, how it can impact positively on our happiness and contentment. how butches and fems have found erotic pleasure together despite the societal obstacles in our way is a fundamental aspect of both our identities and our community and culture - because our relationships to each other are what truly make up both. how sex serves as a source of pleasure and liberation is important to all humans, and perhaps especially important for humans who are discriminated against for the way we want to have sex, and who we want to have it with, who seek pleasure with other people in ways deemed immoral or deviant. the location of authentic pleasure to those who have socially been denied it can be profoundly empowering and revelatory. this is one of the gifts that we, as lesbians, can give to each other.
when we attempt to separate our identities from each other, we undermine the functions of a community. if fems can learn to look beyond confusing and contradictory political theories about queered femininity and oppressive masculinity, and once more embrace what our roles can be specifically in relation to butches (and understanding this is not a one-sided dynamic), I believe that many of us would find our inner conflict over the validity of our identities more easily resolved. we would be more confidently able to articulate what fem means to us and its function in our lives.
as a species, we recognised the holistic benefit to creating societies and communities. whilst the rights and worth of the individual are important, individualism in and of itself is a shallow and unsatisfying way of approaching a construction of identity and meaning. we thrive most by working together, when we extend care and consideration to others as well as ourselves. as lesbians, we found that most societies and communities were not designed to accommodate us, but to exclude us - often violently. as human beings, we needed the company of others like ourselves for our overall well-being. so we created our own community, a community of people dubbed freaks and inverts, perverts and deviants, unified by our same-sex desire.
how we are able to comfort and care for each other is a fundamental aspect of our community, and does not diminish our full personhood - but enhances it. the roles we play in the lives of others is always significant, because it is a contribution to the enrichment of our community - one that is composed of individuals, all of whom have been hurt and outcast in some way by society. when we model ways of loving that are compassionate, nuanced and sensitive, we empower younger generations to embrace and practice them, creating a community that is healthier, more supportive and happier overall. as fems we need to reconnect with the sexual skills and techniques that were once fundamental to our sense of identity, to talk to each other and to butches, to be willing to humble ourselves and learn what has been so widely forgotten. to understand that for a butch to achieve the sexual competence and confidence she is depicted with, that she must be supported along the way with compassion and insight to its full realisation. that the capacity to do this is both a poignant and powerful expression of femness.
the ways in which fems have traditionally facilitated the sexual education and expertise of butches is an element of lesbian loving that has become too widely disregarded and forgotten. it is time to reclaim it, for fems to reclaim the potency of our own sexual power and how it can lead to greater personal liberation for all of us.
You know what freedom and equality for women is?
Let’s them mind their own business. If they don’t want to wear make up, don’t tell them they should because “they are ugly” or because “that’s what women do”.
If they want to wear make up, LET THEM be. Stop saying “but you look better without make up :) (r/niceguys)”. Unless this girl has low self-steen maybe she’s doing it to experiment or have fun, not to look “beautiful” for you. Crazy right? That women want to look good for themselves…
Just like piercings or tattos. Stop calling femme girls “sexist” or “delusional” for wearing make up.
This goes for both, women and men. Stop politicizing women’s bodies.
Butch in action.
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It’s fucking cold and this jacket makes me look like your dad but cool. I love it.
she her im butch