My Butch Cleans Up Good: Why We Don’t Subscribe to Gender Roles

 

I don't get too excited about mowing the lawn, but I love what it looks like afterwards.

I don’t get too excited about mowing the lawn, but I love what it looks like afterwards.

Written by Zamara Perri

 

I’m a femme in a relationship with a butch and I mow our lawn. Why? First, for medical reasons my partner is unable to use the lawn mower for more than a few minutes.

 

Second, she prefers to pay someone. In our neighborhood that’s about $40 each time. When I multiplied that to around 10 cuts for the entire summer, I decided that as an able-bodied person, I’d rather spend the $400 on pretty dresses, pretty flowers, some braids and home décor.

 

Third, we don’t believe in using masculine pronouns or subscribe to gender roles that stem from a bygone, oppressive patriarchal system.

 

Fourth, I do a damn good job mowing the lawn! I’m always happy and proud about how great it looks after I’m done.

 

Definition, Please

 

But before we go any further, let’s get an understanding of exactly what it means to play into the idea of butch-femme roles. For some femmes they are ecstatically happy about and do not deviate from the traditional roles and expectations assigned to women from a bygone era. That means that they cook, clean, dress up and look pretty, raise the children if they have any, lay on their backs and defer to their more aggressive or masculine partner in every way. Their partners expect them to “act like a lady” and get upset when their more feminine partners deviate from certain traditional roles.

 

On the masculine/butch side, the butch takes on only the traditional male roles and ideas assigned to men from the middle of the century. This often means that butch women, simply by virtue of looking more masculine, are expected to earn more money than their femme partners, mow the lawn, literally wear the pants, take care of home repairs and be more aggressive in bed.

 

That. Does. Not. Work. For. Me. And. My. Partner. I laugh now because even though I mostly dated aggressive femmes in the past, I adhered to strict gender roles. I remembered buying a house with my first love. She was an aggressive, power femme. She brought home the bacon and I resentfully cooked it.

 

I didn’t like feeling like I had to do something because I was the softer femme or made less money. I remembered how it was her job to mow the lawn, but it was my job to plant pretty flowers.

 

Washington, D.C., winters soon made me realize just how ridiculous we were being to adhere to gender roles. We had two driveways and a long sidewalk. That meant that whenever it snowed it would take hours for one person to clear the snow, but if we both worked together we’d be able to clear it in half the time.

 

We are not Freaks! Why We Love Being an Old School Butch-Femme Couple

Celebrating the old school butch-femme dynamic doesn't mean we are backward.  Image from The Watermelon Woman

Celebrating the old school butch-femme dynamic doesn’t mean we are backward. Image from The Watermelon Woman

Written by Miss Kitty

“My hard working Hersband will be coming home to a clean house, a wife showered and in a pretty new dress, and a southern belle-prepared dinner of baked chicken, pigeon peas and rice, collard greens, potato salad and a pineapple upside down cake (sugar free) for dessert! Following that up tonight with a romantic foot bath/massage. I feel bad that she doesn’t get much of a break from her busy work and school schedule, so she deserves it. Any little thing I can do to make her life easier or more pleasurable, that is my goal. Being her wife, I was made for it.” ~Miss Kitty

Look here, I do have respect for the “new school queers” who want to live genderless, gender fluid, role-less, label-less, etc., lives. That’s cool with me if that is who you truly identify as. That being said, you can live your lives without dogging and devaluing us old school butches and femmes.

We are not freaks. We are not close minded. We are not backwards. We are simply trying to be OURSELVES in peace.

 

That is the same thing that you claim to strive for. So many times I see comments like: “Neither one of us wears the pants. We are both equal,” or “We are both women,” or “We both work, cook, clean, yada, yada.” First of all, being a butch or femme does not make one inferior or superior to the other. We just have different energy types. One isn’t unequal to the other—that is just absurd ignorance.

The butch-femme dynamic has been around since the beginning of woman-to-woman love; just well hidden and repressed. But there, nonetheless. Second of all, women with predominantly masculine energy are still women, so I don’t see how that has anything to do with any valid point.

Sajdah Gold and Chanel Brown, who both appeared on the Real L Word, are a modern version of the butch-femme relationship.

Sajdah Gold and Chanel Brown, who both appeared on the Real L Word, are a modern version of the butch-femme relationship.

Plus, as for the “pants,” we all know straight women who rule over their pants-wearing husbands, which makes the whole pants comparison ridiculous. Lastly, earning money, cooking and cleaning can be done by anyone who wants a paycheck, food or a tidy house!

There are neat and clean butches and dirty and sloppy femmes. There are broke butches and wealthy femmes. There are butch chefs and femmes who can’t boil water. Stop with the crazy stereotypes and don’t use them to criticize the butch-femme dynamic! It doesn’t even make sense.

Some of us are 100% comfortable in how we are within our relationships and how we express our energy. Some people just happen to have a huge amount of feminine energy (like me) and some have more masculine.

Understand that within a butch-femme relationship, we perfectly complement each other and that works for us. It’s about the yin and the yang. I love and celebrate my femininity and trying to be anything else but who I am would be pure hell! So, leave us be.

I think there’s nothing more beautiful than diversity within our community. Be who you are proudly and unapologetically without being a queer elitist about it. In the end, we are all in the same rainbow boat.


MIss Kitty

Miss Kitty

Miss Kitty is an author, energy healer, tantric sex coach and modern day priestess! She writes under several pen names and is an imaginary architect, a literary traveler and erotic arts master. Her line of erotica is a sensual feast for the mind and body; which range from soft and deeply romantic to hardcore and kinky. Miss Kitty also has a selection of books on lesbian relationships, dating, magic spell work for love and sex and much more!  Click here to visit her Amazon bookstore.

Nice Femmes Don’t Fuck

Written by Z. Amara Perri 

 

When it comes to sex, some femmes have a hard time taking the lead.

When it comes to sex, some femmes have a hard time taking the lead.

“I remember when you bent me over the railing,” I whispered with a giggle.

“Do you want me to do that again?” She asked with a seductive smile.

My body was screaming, “Yes!” But that’s not what came out of my mouth. Batting my eyelashes coquettishly, I said slowly, “Maybe.”

She rolled her eyes, sighed in frustration and said, “Ugh there you go again. You femmes and that ‘maybe.’ We just talked about this today!”

It was a Friday night and my sweetie and I were snuggling in bed. The conversation we were having was an extension of the one we had earlier that day. The one in which I shared with her how some femmes in butch-femme relationships tend to follow the gender constructs laid out by society—nice women don’t fuck and by extension nice femmes don’t fuck.

 

Even though LGBT and queer relationships challenge societal norms in many ways, we as feminine women tend to buy into the tiresome tropes being sold by churches and misogynists alike and that is that a woman’s sexuality does not belong to her. Today I saw this vulgar and offensive meme on Facebook: “No hymen, no ring.” The idea being that a woman’s value is tied to her virginity. So because a woman has sex outside of marriage, she’s not wife material. Ummmm gross! Interestingly, men are not the only ones peddling this foolishness. Many of us femmes are complicit in our own sexual oppression.

 

What I mean is that those of us who are in relationships with more aggressive or masculine-identified women have sex lives that reflect the same idea that a patriarchal society has peddled for years—nice femmes don’t fuck.

I think we are also playing into heterosexual confusion about what lesbians do in bed together. One of the most frequent questions being, who is the “man” in the relationship? Of course there are no men, that’s the whole point. But the underlying question is who is the more dominant one because in Western society, despite the feminist revolution, we somehow continue to believe that someone has to be “in charge” of the relationship or call all the shots.

 

How do nice femmes perpetuate that idea in bed? We do that by not voicing what we want in bed, not taking control of our own pleasure, not knowing our own bodies or even being more aggressive in bed. As I look back at my history with more dominant women, I know that has been true for me. I have mostly been a very submissive and non-vocal participant in my own sex life. Even though I tend to be a very progressive thinker who goes against the grain in every way, when I get in bed with a more aggressive woman, I start following the nice femme script.

And it looks a lot like a scene from a bad heterosexual porno: I don’t initiate sex, I immediately get on my back, I don’t vocalize my desires and fantasies, I don’t always reciprocate oral sex and I focus more on her taking her pleasure and use the excuse that it takes too long for me to orgasm so I give up on trying to have one.

 

Of course my sex life doesn’t look 100 percent like this anymore, but I was shocked to realize that I had this mental carryover from traditional heterosexist society. And how does this impact my partner? My sweetie explained that it was one of the things that she hated about sex with femmes. She shared how uncomfortable it was to always initiate and how it was constantly an opportunity for rejection.

 

So of course she found it annoying when I brought up how she bent me over the stairs and fucked me senseless then refused to claim my own desire for more of the same. Why? Because I was again playing the coy femme who would not vocalize a simple sexual desire. I brought up her fucking me on the stairs while we were in bed for a reason. And then backed away when she asked me if I wanted more of the same. Why? It’s simple really. The millions of messages we get every day are powerful and if you’ve been hearing those same messages for decades, it’s going to be kind of hard to unlearn some of the most persistent messages.

Autumn & Dana Talk About The Butch-Femme Spectrum

Dana and Autumn give their take on their femme and butch identities in a new photo series by Wendi Kali.

Dana and Autumn give their take on their femme and butch identities in a new photo series by Wendi Kali. Photo courtesy of Wendi Kali

I ran across Wendi Kali’s awesome photo series on Everyday Feminism in which she showcases diverse women discussing how they embrace various parts of the butch-femme spectrum. As a self-proclaimed lazy femme, I found the photos and accompanying comments dazzling. It was refreshing to get such a varied perspective on what is a very hot topic in the LGBT community. So many of us have fixed ideas of what “butch” should look like and what “femme” should look like and these women handily debunk those limiting ideas.

Personally, I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I used to be one of those women who would never date an outwardly butch woman because I mistakenly assumed they were trying to be men. It took some time and education, but now I get it. People are people and how they express themselves outwardly is personal and not always an indication of them trying to be anything other than themselves. Ironically many people would assume that my sweetie is a tomboi or a butch just based on her athletic mode of dress. (She doesn’t claim any label.) But she is so much more girly than me and I tease her about it all the time. I tend to actually be more aggressive than she is. We laugh about how we must confuse people all the time.

Anyway, Autumn and Dana were a black lesbian couple featured in the piece and I loved their take on things:

Autumn

High Femme
30 years old
Long Beach, CA

“I perform this hyper femininity because it feels really comfortable for me. It serves as a physical manifestation of my natural state of mind (soft, elegant, glamorous, sweet), and it makes my heart sing. I like the term ‘high femme’ because I’m quite over the top with my femininity. It’s about personally being in love with your own designated femme markers rather than succumbing to being ‘feminine’ because it’s what you’re supposed to be. It isn’t about being a better femme or more of a true femme. For me, it’s about having fun with a highly extreme exaggeration of feminine gestures. It’s definitely a parody, an act.

“It also connects deeply to my love of performing burlesque. I actually tried to be feminine when I first came out. It didn’t quite flow. It felt contrived, and it was because it wasn’t authentic. As I allowed my high femme self to develop on its own, I found that I wasn’t fighting with myself over how I presented. It came naturally after deconstructing my thoughts on performing femininity and re-building what it all personally meant to me. More changed in my mind and then I feel like I began to blossom outwardly. I think it’s worth noting that I feel like a high femme even outside of my clothing and makeup.”

Dana

Butch/Soft Butch
35 years old
Long Beach, CA

“I have been comfortable expressing my masculine energy as far as I can remember. Around high school, I felt ashamed of it, but quickly reclaimed my masculine expression after high school. The older I get, the more comfortable with my masculinity. Now, I am expressing both my femininity and masculinity interchangeably. I’m proud of who I am and how far I’ve come in spite the lack of resources and community available to me during my time developing my identity. I feel free to explore new realms with my partner, and I’m so grateful for the communities that I belong to now for their support.”

 

Calling all butch-femme couples who want to share their photos to email me at editor@blacklesbianlovelab.com.