What Every Black Femme Fears When Dating a Black Butch

Written by Zamara Perri

Loving a woman who presents as a butch can be so difficult. Photo by yngcreoleking. Model: brklynbreed

Loving a woman who presents as a butch can be so difficult. Photo by yngcreoleking. Model: brklynbreed

There was a reason why it took me years to get around to dating a butch. I told myself that I just wasn’t ready to be out. That is partially true. The real reason? I just wasn’t ready to live in a world where my butch partner would be threatened every time we walked down the street hand in hand. This is something I never had to worry about with my femme partners.

There are privileges that I get from being a femme and being with a femme. For example, my car has broken down on the side of the road several times and I have never had to wave anyone down. I’ve simply had men change my tires and all I had to do was bat my eyelashes and smile and be friendly. A butch woman cannot depend on the kindness of heterosexual, male strangers.

Plus, two femmes together is a sexual fantasy for most straight men and they often imagine that they can join in.



The #BlackLivesMatter movement has shed a much needed light on how brutal and unsafe life in America is for black men, black trans women and of course black cis women. However, I believe black butches face equal, if not a higher risk of dangerous encounters than black cis men. They need a hashtag too!

Just by living in their truth black butch women (black studs, black doms, black tomobois, black masculine of center women or whatever label you want to use) risk being victimized by some insecure heterosexist male asshole who sees her as a threat to his own masculinity.

One of the most dangerous thing to do in in front of a heterosexist man is to be an openly stud-femme couple. Men like these tie their manhood to subjugating women and collecting women’s affection like trophies. Because black lesbians are not interested in doing either, our relationships challenge their notion that they are God’s gift to women.


The Justice System Can’t Save Us

And to add insult to injury, you can’t even rely on police or the justice system to prosecute wrongdoers or protect us from harm.

I constantly worry about the safety of my 5’2”-145-pound partner who is a tomboi type. She wears hoodies and sweatpants regularly and is the sweetest person. But the insecure heterosexist, homophobic men who see her coming don’t know that and don’t need to know that.

Over and over again, my heart breaks as I watch men either disregard her or get super aggressive with her. I worry if she get’s home later than usual and she doesn’t check in en route. Because she’s a martial artist with a black belt, I don’t worry as much, but I still worry.


Our Experience With a Racist Homopobe

Femme women who have butch partners must understand how to support her woman. Photo by yngcreoleking. Model: brklynbreed

Femme women who have butch partners must understand how to support her woman. Photo by yngcreoleking. Model: brklynbreed

The double whammy is the white racist who is enraged by our pride, confidence and very comfortable existence in spaces that they think belongs only to them.

Just a week ago we were driving around the neighborhood where my partner started a new job. We were seated in our car, which was parked on a public street looking up some info on our iPad. This random white guy in a truck pulls up next to us and demands to know if we were soliciting. I still don’t know if he was asking us if we were prostitutes or selling Tupperware. She was sitting in the driver’s seat and responded no, that she was working. He then angrily demanded what she was doing there.

In that guy’s eyes he couldn’t imagine what legitimate reason we could possibly have for being in HIS neighborhood. In short, he was a George Zimmerman type—one of those dudes who takes it upon himself to police people who are not committing any criminal acts except the unspoken one of not belonging there.

Part of this was because we were black and I truly believe the other reason was because of how my partner presented. She was a black woman with short hair and wearing a sweatshirt so she was automatically suspicious. Even after she rolled down the window a crack, and he could tell by her voice and demeanor that she was a woman, she was still a threat.


Femmes, Don’t Do What I Did

She ignored him, because she was used to it, but my blood was boiling and I flipped him the bird. I’m one of those women who gets mighty protective of my partner. I really don’t care who you are and how much bigger than me or how intimidating you are, I feel like if you’re coming after my woman then you are coming after me. Is that smart? No.

But, just like black parents have had to talk to their sons about how to move through the world as black boys, so should black lesbian couples, especially couples that include at least one butch-presenting woman.


How to Handle Aggressive, Homophobic Men

Here are my tips on how you can handle aggressive, homophobic men who think us living our truth is a personal insult to them:

  1. Be alert when out and about. Take stock of your surroundings. While you might want to engage in some PDA with your honey, timing is everything.
  2. Go back in the closet even for a short while. If you’re not in a well-lit area with tons of witnesses, it may be better to choose your battles and get to a safe location.
  3. The cops are not your friends so don’t rely on them to do the right thing and protect you even though your tax dollars pay their bills. Stand at a safe distance and record as much on your phone as possible. And report the cop if he shows any signs of disrespect.
  4. Ignore, ignore, ignore. If a jerk tries to engage with your or your partner in a sexual or aggressive manner, don’t antagonize him by telling him his dick is too small for you, just quickly move on to your next location.
  5. Get to know your neighbors. Nosy neighbors can be a godsend when they notice you haven’t been around, when losers try to assassinate your character or when the police needs to be called.
  6. If you don’t live together, check in with your parnter once you get to your destination or your home.

22 thoughts on “What Every Black Femme Fears When Dating a Black Butch

  1. This was so straight to the point. I’ve just started dating a black butch and this has she’d so much light on ALOT. Some things I knew but tucked in the back of my mind. They rarely get a “pass”. I’ve seen men test them and very aggressively. My honey is so very tiny and this makes me worry for her now and in turn makes me desire to love on her more. Thanks for enlightening me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t agree with all of this but it was an interesting read. I believe we have to stand in our own truth with confidence and whom so ever doesn’t like it, too bad. I’m going to hold my lovers hand and if the mood strikes give her a peck or a kiss on the forehead. I will not alter my life for Anyone.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am a butch and my lady is femme. I never get treated different by the opposite sex. Me and my lady have been together for 15 yrs. and we are very affectionate in public. People treat me with much respect when I’m with or without her in public. It goes by your personality down here in Florida.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I live in South Carolina and I’m a Stud and can’t say I’ve had any problems and I’m 34. I’ve been in SC, NC,GA and FL with no problems. Heck 90% of my friends are straight black and white males. I’m both amazed and greatful that the south seems to be more understanding and cool with it. Great read tho

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m a butch who has done martial arts training (and still continues to study it along with other related topics) and hasn’t had any issues yet with being encroached by anyone, but it’s exactly why I train. Better to be trained and not have to use it than to not be trained and the time comes when it gets physical and I can’t defend myself…tip #1 is spot on. Situational awareness will always be an important part of self-defense training because it trains you see what is out of place and where not to go. But it can only be efficient if you’re not distracted by your cell phone, music player, or ANYTHING electronic. I also carry a knife and pepper spray when I’m not in uniform (currently active duty Navy.) But, as I mentioned before, the best weapon is being aware of your surroundings. Run when you know can do it and fight only when you’re cornered. If you must fight back, fight dirty and knock him down, then get to a safe place and call the police to inform them that you were attacked and had no choice but to defend yourself. If you’re verbally approached, try to ignore him and if you can’t ignore him, try to de-escalate as you look for a way out. And as I said before, if you can’t talk your way out….then make a run for it when you know have enough space to do so and fight if you get cornered. This is also why I recommend that you start a fitness program as well as self-defense classes. Martial arts is good, but being a black belt doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you know how to defend yourself. Martial arts still has traditional practices mixed into each class and some techniques are unrealistic as far as real street altercations go (i.e. hip punches, kicks to the head, the typical karate chop…). If you don’t have the time to pursue the martial arts (or the money, which is also another issue), then google self-defense DVDs and see what you can find. I recommend http://www.sammyfranco.com and some DVDs from a company called FightFast.com (who also has a sister site called TRSDirect.com.) Sammy Franco is a self-defense instructor from the Gaithersburg, Maryland area who has some great DVDs and books that I highly recommend. Ever since the death of Sakia Gunn in 2003, I’ve made it a lifelong goal to always learn how to defend myself and how to sharpen my situational awareness, even more so now that I’m active duty military. If us butches are going to be in any type of relationship (butch-femme or butch-butch; doesn’t matter), then one thing that some of our male counterparts know how to do is fight when there are no other options. I’m grateful to the author of this article because this is a topic that, surprisingly, has not been discussed within the black LGBT community as much as it should be. Namaste!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Well said go I myself am a stud and I go through a lot of this in nyc… Check out the new web series coming in 2016 love and lesbians ny like us on fb love&lesbiansny and on Instagram @loveandlesbianny

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve always found it strange that we tell black men what to do when the police harass them but never give that same speech to black women. However, that speech shouldn’t be limited to masculine of center people either. Black femmes, and ESPECIALLY but not exclusively black femme trans folk, are also subjected to much harassment and violence from the police.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. We as a community Cannot afford to Hide
    You forget 2 important words,,,
    Document and Sue,
    Also no black male wants to confront the police in any fashion,,
    While where we live is much safer to some degree,
    And encounters like this are Rare.
    The sound of A woman threatening to call the cops while your taping
    Helps tremendously as well
    Be safe!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Call the Cops, anyway at least let them know your going to
    No black male Wants to Confront the Police Whether their on your side or nor
    Its Their Job,,,get their Badges quietly. Too
    And Follow up that’s the Only Way Change is Going to Happen
    We can no longer Refuse who we are !
    The Violence will only Stop when we Start taking them to Court and Suing their Sorry butts.
    Remember get it on Camera !!!


    Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh, the title of the article is misleading. I thought it would talk about the very common story of abuse from black butch’s toward their black femme partners


  11. Men are constantly weighing their own masculinity on me. As if my clothes define my level of “almost manhood”. No one stepped up when I was being threatened by a man in my own ‘safe’ space. No one notices the way they frown at me and talk to me as if my opinion of the world doesn’t matter. No one notices when people, even people in my own family say “well its a man thing, something only us alpha male understand,” as if I was trying to understand the way of men as if I always won’t come up short in comparison. I’m constantly weighing my appearance in foggy shower mirrors wondering if the reflection will ever feel sufficient for more than a moment at a time. As if I haven’t spent my entire existence trying to build this persona, trying to clothe it to protect it from men grabbing me on the street, trying to remind myself to not lower my eyes when a man walks past me on a street corner because I’m tired of feeling like I disgust everyone. No one asks what the butch/stud/Dom perspective of the world is. They only want to hear from our partners and the people who claim to love us in our own light. No one asks how intensely hard it is walking into a new barber shop, no one asks what effect your partner’s sexual requests make on your psyche no one asks how hard it is to grow up ME in a world of SHE and HEs.


  12. I’m a Femme that’s been with my Stud wife for 13 years and although I sympathize with the experiences described within this article because we’ve been there and much worse, I have to say the title and the list of “How to handle, aggressive homophobic men” is a little off putting to me . In my past dating experience as a Femme I’ve never considered turning away a Stud,Butch or any woman that I was interested in based off of some type of “fear” and the thought of this is absurd to me.

    I think that part of the problem is that a lot of women (straight,gay,etc.) rather they realize it or not still live within the social construct that you can not live or survive without a man and that you can not protect or defend yourself against a man because they are stronger than you and I simply don’t agree with that. I know it wasn’t intentional but this is partially the message that I received from this article and I see it described way too often. Women need to quit living in fear or submission and learn how to protect and take care of themselves by any means necessary!

    I agree with “be alert when you’re out and about” because as far as I’m concerned you should always be aware of your surroundings but I’m sorry when I’m out with my wife if I want to hug and kiss her then that’s what I’m going to do. That’s our business, we will not live in fear and frankly I don’t give a d@mn about the disagreeing looks and comments of others. I also agree with “the cops are not your friend” I’ve had very negative experiences with the police in the past, I don’t feel safe around them and if anything they’ve only made situations much worse.

    I never fear for my wife because I know she can hold it down when she’s by herself and when I’m with her I always feel protected. Some situations can be ignored but we’ve had to put more than a few disrespectful people, mostly men in their place. She absolutely doesn’t need my help but I get very passionate when it comes to respect, my girl and my relationship so I back her regardless. After they’ve received the tongue lashing of their lifetime more often than not they leave us alone..if they don’t they get their asses handed to them and that’s exactly how I feel it should be. My wife and I mind our own business but the problem is that others don’t mind theirs.


  13. I respect the writer for putting this information out there being that I’ve experienced these situations befoe but there’s a lot that I personally have to disagree with.


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