Posted by: alphafemme | October 29, 2009

a femme without a butch

Mi’lady isn’t butch. (If she were, there’s no way in hell I would call her mi’lady.)

She’s not femme, either. Not particularly. Not the way I am. She doesn’t really fit into any sort of butch<–>femme spectrum at all. Maybe she’s androgynous, though somehow I’m uncomfortable with that word too to describe her. We talked about it a bit on Sunday, and didn’t really come up with a label that fit her precisely. But what she definitely is is a dyke.

I guess her gender energy is somewhat akin to Shane from The L Word. (Though I know Shane was commonly referred to as butch, I really don’t think she was, or at least not in the way that I understand butch.) Mi’lady isn’t quite the same sort of aloof player that Shane was portrayed as, and she’s much more outgoing and free with her emotions. Allows herself to be more vulnerable than Shane’s character. But she has a similar posture, a similar sort of slightly disheveled look, a similar style. Another stylistic reference would be Tegan & Sara — she’s got a sort of punkish female androgyny–tattoo, skinny jeans, chucks, indie t-shirts, black eyeliner.

And I wouldn’t say our relationship feels particularly butch-femme, either. It’s not that clearly defined. In some ways it does feel very butch-femme. I’m very much a nurturer, in that I’m constantly doing little domestic things. Cooking, tidying, grooming, both for me and for her. I’m a multi-tasker and I’m very attentive to detail. I like things just so. In that regard I can be a care-taker of her. Because she’s disorganized and rumpled and a bit chaotic and kind of messy. Not at all detail-oriented. She’s fantastically creative, and I help keep her grounded. In a femme way.

She is a nurturer too, in a different sense, maybe in more of a (dare I say?) butch sense. She’s always “big spoon,” and we almost always fall asleep that way, with her enfolding me in her arms. She’s very affirmative with words, telling me often how sexy or beautiful I am or how much she likes what I cook or how hot those heels look, in a way that affirms and strengthens my femininity. She was the one who pursued me from the get-go, bold and a risk-taker to my subtle flirting.

But in otherways, we’re not very butch-femme. Sexually, for example, we have great sex in which she’s more dominant and I’m submissive, and great sex in which I’m more dominant and she’s submissive, and great sex that doesn’t have bottom/top roles at all. I love strapping on and fucking her with a cock (she loves it too), and don’t particularly care for the reverse (she’s open to it if I want it but isn’t insistent on it). And aside from the ways I articulated above, there isn’t really any other way that our relationship feels gendered. We’re both women.

I wonder, in a way, whether I’m most suited to a butch, considering the extent to which I think I’m really femme. For example, mi’lady doesn’t really have (or at least hasn’t at any point articulated, to me or to herself) a matching and inverted fantasy of being a “protector” and having a “wife,” the way I’ve got this fantasy of having a protector and being a wife. But… I love her. She makes me laugh, she helps me move beyond details and be flexible, she motivates me to break out of my comfort zone a little bit and then gives me room to go back in, she challenges me. And really, I don’t think it’s necessary for our fantasies to match up. I think as long as we’re willing and able to work out the kinks and figure out our dynamics and make sure we’re both giving what we’re able to getting what we need, then we should be ok.

And, you know, she really does love it when I cook for her  :)



  1. Gf doesn’t identify either. She doesn’t care at all about identity but not in a defiant way, simply because she doesn’t think about it. I think I needed to identify b/c looking as straight as I do, I felt like I was invisible. The femme identity gave me a space in our community. Now I make it whatever I want and I enjoy it but I let gf choose her own expression.

    • Yes, that makes so much sense to me. In fact that might have a lot to do with why I’ve grown to identify so much with the label Femme. Since mi’lady’s what I call a duh-dyke (as in, you look at her, and duh, she’s a dyke), she doesn’t need to concern herself so much with how she identifies. Because duh, she’s a dyke. Haha. But for me, where there’s no “duh” moment, I want to be more assertive about my identity. And “femme” allows me to be who I am without feeling invisible. Exactly like you said.

  2. this says it all to me:
    “We’re both women.”

  3. oh, i am totally stealing the term “duh-dyke”!

    as for the idea that femme is strictly suited to butch, well, i call bullshit (nevermind that i’m a femme with a butch). to put it simply, that’s about as silly as saying that a woman is strictly suited to dating a man ;)

    but moreover, i think what you mentioned about matching is really relevant. because there are a million ways people can match each other (or not). and a lot of them are going to be in the not-matching category, even in the awesome, bestest of relationships. it’s more about figuring out (or finding on accident =) which things you need to be matchy and which you can deal about.

    • Oh, so true! (re saying femme/butch is only suitable pairing being similar to saying woman/man is only suitable pairing) I hadn’t thought of it quite that way. Thanks!

      I like the word “matchy”!! I’m going to start using that!

  4. The best line of this whole post: “But… I love her.”

    No matter what our differences or similarities … isn’t that really what we’re going for? And if you’ve got that, all those matched or mismatched parts don’t matter. You have the best thing in common right there.

  5. What a fantastic post! God, you reminded me constantly how we’re all total cliches — except when we aren’t. I just did up a post, touting your lovely prose —

    My SigOther is perhaps half a butch; I’m perhaps less than a quarter — leaving us with fragments to search out as needed. SEX would be among them, but I try to behave myself! (And it ain’t easy…)

    Not to get all heavy here! Your lighthearted piece calls out for NOT getting ponderous — and I tried to reflect that tone in my post. Come see!!

    Hugs, Justine

    • Oh, thank you! How sweet! I love all your photo posts, so gorgeous! Your rating system is so great :)

      So, you don’t get sex from your SigOther? AND you’re not allowed to seek it elsewhere? Hmmm…

  6. I don’t identify as femme, but I’m feminine and my partner is always the Big Spoon. I carry her stuff in my purse when we go out. She drinks scotch and doesn’t own any skirts. Etc., etc. She’s not a duh-dyke, but still identifiably lesbian.

    I’ve been wondering lately if Femmes MUST have/be attracted to Butches? I suppose some Butch/Femme loyalists would say yes, but I think that’s JUST LIKE defining woman in opposition to man–it erases the woman/femme’s independent way of being!

    Your gf sounds very appreciative of you–and that’s what really matters! :) No matter how femme or butch you may feel on any given day, week, month, or year (as you know, self-expression is always evolving!), you need a partner who loves YOU *in all of your many manifestations!* I believe that strict loyalty to “roles” can inhibit both personal growth and intimacy.

    I also agree with Lady Brett about matching and not-matching and that it happens no matter what. I have a relationship theory that basically echoes this sentiment: no matter how alike you may be, when there are 2 people being compared to each other (such as here), there will always be some incongruence. Common disparities include height, desire for sex, what movies to order on netflix, and cleanliness of living quarters. It’s just a matter of how cooperative and tolerant the participants are willing to be!

    • You said a lot here, and I was nodding all along the way!

      I think adhering to strict roles *can* be very liberating and fun, if that’s truly the way you prefer to identify. For me, I don’t think it is — though it may be! With all my thoughts lately about how I lovelovelove to be femme for mi’lady, it may be that I really like adhering to the role.

      But I’m oh-so-much-more than JUST femme, and saying I’m FEMME doesn’t really say much about my personality. So you’re exactly right.

      And, yes, cleanliness of living orders is (cough cough) definitely a non-matchy for me and mi’lady, to put delicately… :)

      • I know, I’m so chatty!! Thanks for responding, alphafemme. It’s hard for me to understand how or why other people love their “roles” so much, since I tend to feel restricted by them, but I don’t mean to say that they can’t be fun! I do love me some dress up, which is definitely a kind of role playing! ;)

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