Response to Butch Lesbian Bashing and Erasure in the “RadFem Community”

February 1, 2013

I don’t have a ton of time for this, but I am so disturbed by the recent bashing and erasure of butch lesbians (and lesbians in general) in the radical feminist “community” that I feel compelled to respond to the nastiness posted yesterday by Allecto on the Liberation Collective website. Apparently there was “coincidentally” an identical post put up on Brennan’s blog today with an unfortunate photo of bisexual dominitrix Pat Califia as an illustration of a “butch lesbian” (wtf?). Coincidences aside, I’m going to address the original post at Liberation Collective. My comment was censored there so I am posting here. Males are not welcome to comment on lesbian community dynamics here.

My response to:

Gender by any Name Always Stinks” by Allecto [My comments in bold-GM]

Having been educated into radical feminist analysis by a group of incredible Australian lesbian feminists who collectively have a very clear view that the butch/femme hierarchy in the lesbian community as one that is unhealthy to lesbian relations,

[Lesbian relations are non-hierarchical based on sex. There is no butch femme “hierarchy”, because there is no sex-based power imbalance between women. Jendur coded personality characteristics are not privileged among women. There are power imbalances in lesbian relations due to race and class and (dis)ability and conditional power based on ability to “pass” as heterosexual. There is no “hierarchy”, no patriarchal authority which grants power to a lesbian who disconforms to femininity over a lesbian whose presentation is socially coded as femininity conforming. Lesbians partnered with women who have seemingly opposite personality traits (you’re bookish, I’m pop-cultureish) are not “unhealthy”. In fact, when calling lesbian relations “unhealthy” I’d be DAMN sure what the hell you are talking about considering the monstrous degree of oppression rained down on homosexual females . Lesbian relations are NOT unhealthy, even between women who have seemingly opposite personality traits that are erroneously coded as “masculine” and “feminine” in a sex hierarchy.] it surprised me to discover, both online and in real life, a push to incorporate butch/femme ideologies into lesbian feminist practice and theory.

[Ideologies? Lesbian feminist practice and theory? What sort of classist fuckery is this? Lesbians, including those working class lesbians historically termed butch or femme don’t need to be “incorporated” into lesbian feminism. We fucking invented it! And we did it without a women’s studies degree- or any fucking degree. We were the lesbians having bottles thrown at us while you were deciding how to let your parents know you liked sticking your mouth into vagina. Holy shit. You can have your practice and theory. We’ll be doing the lesbianism and feminism- without any practice! Feminist “theory” was built on the backs of lesbian lives, especially lesbians targeted and ostracized for being walking billboards for the existence of female homosexuality.]

The push seems to be from a strong concern that women classified as ‘butch’ are a class of women who are specially oppressed under male supremacy and that they are being transitioned out of existence. [No shit. Being a walking billboard for lesbianism and female non-compliance tends to single one out for oppression. Fancy that! I’m reading your whole tone here as snide dismissal of corrective rape, murder, abuse of working class lesbians – and lesbians of any culture- who are “clocked”. And women like you who “other” us and seek to invisibilize us are stomping on our graves! Women like you who try to shame lesbians who fail to perform femininity and who you frame as somehow receiving hierarchical POWER for doing so. Women like you who frame us as “pseudo males”. It is YOU that inform the transification of butch lesbians, which you actually frame as a “strong concern” rather than an undeniable genocidal FACT that the rest of us have been witnessing for the last fifteen years. ]

So what is ‘butch’? There seems to me to be two different definitions of what constitutes a ‘butch’ woman within some rad fem circles. One definition is that a ‘butch’ woman is a woman who has never engaged in behaviours that are considered feminine; ie wearing a dress, or being fucked by a man.

[I have never heard a single butch lesbian in my entire life define herself as a woman who has never engaged in any behavior that is sexistly coded “feminine”. EVER. And let’s get real here: neither have you. EVER. How ridiculous. This is total bullshit. Pure, butch-bashing bullshit. And what misogynistic homophobic bullshit. Gay men fuck each other all the time. There is nothing “feminine” about a man fucking you. This is some crazy tranz gendery bullshit that you are spewing at butch lesbians. Trans-parent! As for the dress: a butch lesbian is clockable in a dress and lipstick for christsake. Still readable as a bulldyke!]

According to the women who use this definition, ‘butch’ is not relational to ‘femme’. A ‘butch’ woman theoretically exists outside of male supremacy and ‘butch’ women prefer to socialise with and have relationships with other ‘butch’ women.

[Wha?? What butch claims to exist outside of patriarchy? Answer: None. Ever. In the history of the world. And LMAO about butches prefering to socialize with and relate to other butch lesbians. Why on earth would we find solace and comradery with similar women and avoid marginalizing transifying misogynist homophobe contact with women like YOU?]

However, in practice, ‘butch’ is relational to women classified as not-’butch’, that is, women who do engage in behaviour that is considered feminine. ‘Femmes’ become necessary in order for ‘butches’ to differentiate themselves from, and hold themselves above.

[EWWWWWWWW. Just fucking ewwwwwwwwwww. How dare those uppity bulldaggers acknowledge a distinct experience, different from women who can mainstream themselves. They must think they are “above” other women by being walking targets. Let’s fuck them uppity bitchez up. UGH. Disgusting, horrific lesbian-bashing here. Same EXACT rhetoric of corrective rapists worldwide.]

I find this definition of ‘butch’ problematic for many reasons. Firstly, there is no such thing as a woman (or man) who has never engaged in behaviours considered feminine. Under this definition, no woman on earth is ‘butch’, as no woman can exist without engaging in behaviours falsely categorised as feminine. Pretty certain that every butch woman has cried at some point in their life, or held another being tenderly etc.

[Strawman argument. No butch lesbian has ever claimed any such thing. EVER. In the history of the world. Pure, butch lesbian-bashing bullshit here. Actually bizarre assertion. No butch lesbian has ever asserted such a thing. EVER.]

Universal human behaviour has been falsely split into masculinity and femininity. To paraphrase Mary Daly, a person who has been socialised into masculinity is a person who has lost half of themselves. As feminists we seek to destroy the hierarchical gendered categorisation of human behaviour so that behaviours classified as feminine are not devalued or lesser than… but part of normal human behaviour, not relational to gender.

[On what planet have you seen any woman, ever, socialized into traits coded as masculine? Answer: None. Not even on StarTrek. Also, horrible bastardization of Mary Daly- in use to bash lesbians, no less. Horrible.]

If the radical feminist idea of gender is that it is universal human characteristics that have been falsely categorised and placed into a hierarchy of masculine over feminine is true, then a practice which seeks to eradicate behaviours that are perceived by society to be feminine would potentially render a woman masculinised, therefore a woman who has lost half of herself, not a true woman in the sense of free from male supremacist thought and action.

[OMG. Again, just ewww. Disgusting conflation AGAIN of butch lesbians with MALES. Butches are working class lesbians who don’t “pass”. All humans have various characteristics. Butch lesbians have characteristics which are falsely categorized as masculine. We have fought, figuratively and literally, not to have these characteristics beaten out of us. Yet sexist genderist homophobes like you claim we are LESS THAN HUMAN. You claim we are ONLY HALF HUMAN, having “lost half of ourselves”. FUCKKKKKKKKKKKK YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU. Seriously, fuck you and every butch-stabbing hating nasty-ass fucker who ever stomped on a dyke.]

Though in theory these women claim to exist outside of relation to women they see as conforming to femininity, [LIAR!] I often notice self-labelled ‘butch’ women talking about ‘other’ women in a disparaging and very superior manner. To me, it seems obvious that these women see ‘butch’ as better than other women who are not perceived as ‘butch’ essentially keeping the false categories and hierarchy firmly in place.

[RIGGHHHTTTT. Bulldaggers OPPRESS WOMEN. Butch Pride HURTS women. Because= POWER! MAGICK BULLDAGGER POWER! Fucking disgusting lesbian bashing here. ]

The second definition of ‘butch’ is in relation to ‘femme’ within the context of lesbian relationships and the wider lesbian community. These feminists believe that gender is damaging only within a heterosexual/heterorelational context. [IE: SEX-BASED OPPRESSION. HELLO?] They put forward the notion that gender is not only safe within the lesbian community, but necessary, and an intrinsic part of every lesbian relationship.

[ WHOA. Wait. You just conflated TWO things. SEX-BASED OPPRESSION (which is a HUGE, actual thing) with an entirely invented, ficticious, demonization of butch lesbians claiming we think Jendur: sex-based hierarchy- is good. And Needed. And INTRINSIC. WHAT A REVERSAL. What a transparently false association you have created out of thin air to try to back up your bashing of butch lesbians. What a horrible misrepresentation of lesbians you have constructed here. It is so fucking distgusting that you would tack this shit onto butch dykes. You say this is the “second definition of butch” : what is that definition? You never say. Outlining the difference between sex-based oppression and inter-female relationships doesn’t offer a “second definition” of butch lesbians. Just stringing total crap together to shit on working class daggers. Nice. Lesbians who have characteristics coded under patriarchy as masculine are shit because whut?? JUST BECAUSE, apparently.]

From a brief discussion with a proponent of gender role playing/identity within lesbian relationships it seems like a very convoluted way of tacking gender onto lesbians with little rhyme or reason.

[Butch lesbians aren’t playing a role. But you had a brief discussion with someone who likes roleplaying? WHAT?? You shit on bulldykes because Whut???]

From what I could gather, the butch/femme thing in this definition is largely about appearance. A woman who wears a dress is ‘femme’, a woman in pants/short hair is ‘butch’. [You are not a lesbian if you think this. You just aren’t. This reminds me of a “political lesbian” (straight woman) who recently claimed assembling an IKEA table was a butch act.] I don’t really understand how categorising women into gendered identities because of clothing choices is in anyway meaningful or necessary for lesbians seeking liberation. Also, surely any relationship forged upon, and beholden to, the aesthetic appearance of the women involved is an incredibly shallow way of relating. [Do you think lesbians are retarded? Butch lesbians are clockable regardless of what they wear or don’t wear. This is disgusting homophobia and misogyny.]

It seems that within this community a lot of attention is paid to ‘loving the butch’ and women classified into ‘femme’ will often exclaim about how much they love ‘butches’. I find this quite disconcerting as it reads like the worship of the cult of masculinity, which is surely something that we, as lesbian feminists, are trying to escape. And this again shows up the hierarchy involved as it is less often that I see ‘butch’ women exclaiming about how much they love ‘femmes’. When this occurs, I find it disturbing for similar reasons. We should not be worshipping the cult of femininity either, as it is a building block upon which women’s oppression is founded.

[Women’s oppression is NOT based upon naturally occurring variations of female characteristics. Women’s oppression is based on biological sex. Women whose personal characteristics are coded “feminine” or “masculine” under a sex-based hierarchy DO NOT OPPRESS OTHER WOMEN DUE TO THEIR PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS. HOW FUCKING OBVIOUS IS THIS. Women-hating, lesbian-hating women like you and Cathy Brennan CANNOT MAKE IT SO. ]

As I was writing this article, a young woman wrote the following post in a feminist facebook group. I feel like this exemplifies the problems caused by engaging with gender, even within the lesbian community.

i had a run-in with a lesbian who was butch/”trans” … and very condescending and abusive towards feminine women. she liked to walk around with a strap-on under her pants, admitting she liked to feel “above” women because of it, and practically used it as a weapon against her girlfriend. i also recently got out of a relationship with another butch who was very abusive in a similar way. i was bullied by her for my previous experiences with men, but she had the same experiences as me. i felt like i was shamed for being feminine as well.

what the hell is this? self-hate? they both seemed to kiss their male friends’ asses too, all while blatantly emotionally abusing their female friends. i love butches, don’t get me wrong, but i’m a little apprehensive now. both of these women said they were feminists, albeit the first one subscribing to queer/trans BS. the one with the strap-on dealio actually graduated with a women’s studies degree (tho that doesn’t account for much), but she was also involved with radical politics so i don’t know how the hell she thought this shit was ok. she loved BDSM and literally beating the shit out of women, especially drunk women who found themselves at her place. i had to take a woman she was sleeping with home once, who was way too drunk, who she tied up and did God knows what else to. after that i refused to be anywhere near the abuser. my ex, though, seemed more put off by feminine images or “beauty”, whereas the first one seemed put off by body or sex.

i feel a little traumatized from what i’ve been through with these two. to make matters worse, they lived together at one point and the strap-on chick liked to hit on me and touch me without my consent. i was scared to defend myself because of her anger and passive aggressive attitude, so to not cause any trouble i just kept my mouth shut and asked my girlfriend to say something to her. considering my past experiences with men and how they guilted me, shamed me, buillied me into shit i didn’t wanna do, i kinda attributed that to this person because she was so aggressive and obsessed with her strap-on or whatever. but my ex didn’t care to do anything to make her stop touching me. she would literally say “i don’t want to mess up my living arrangement”. so you’re practically offering me to your friend?!

[HAHAHA! What a disgusting bizzare butch-bashing quote conflating us with trans, pseudo-males, and demonizing us. Dear lord. Oh GOOD GOLLY! Some women are all “yay porn”, “yay trans” SO WHAT??? FUCK YOU for you butch lesbian-bashing and FUCK every commenter in support of your post. Women-bashers and Lesbian-bashers like you and Brennan ARE A DIME A DOZEN.]

I want lesbian feminism to be a safe place for lesbians, like the young woman above, who have been harmed by gender within the lesbian community. We need to be providing young lesbians with the tools to be able to sort through the damage that queer and pomo ideas have had on lesbianism. The idea of ‘butch’ will not protect women from transitioning, but a vibrant, healthy, loving anddiverse lesbian community will. There are as many genders as there are people which renders gender completely meaningless to lesbians, feminists and women in general. As lesbian feminists we want to make gender meaningless to the world and we will start with our communities. True sisterhood is loving women, without recourse to ‘butch’ and ‘femme’. Not ‘butch’, not ‘femme’: WE ARE WOMEN!!!

There are as many genders as there are people” WHAT???? Shitting on, demonizing, bashing and seeking to invisibilize butch dykes is NOT a progressive idea. Just ask South Africa! Or Iran! “Recourse” to butch? FUCK YOU!

Here’s the definition of a Butch Lesbian:

Butches (and Studs!) are the dykes you will NEVER SEE on the L-Word or any other fucking TV show.

Is there any dyke ever on television that vaguely reminds you of yourself? YOU are NOT a butch lesbian.

We are the dykes that FTMs call “failed to launch”

We are the dykes being put on puberty-blockers and sterilized

We are the dykes that “political lesbian” straight women and bisexuals call pseudo-males

We are the dykes that rich white college women’s studies majors call distasteful due to femininity=fail

We are the dykes bashed by “radfem leaders” because: working class

We are the dykes our community refuses to call by female pronouns

We are the dykes conflated with males and FTMs by women who call themselves feminists

We are the dykes who will continue, unflinchingly, in the face of all your marginalization and hate, to champion the rights of all females, everywhere, through ACTION every minute of every day, using ourselves as a weapon against female-hating BULLSHIT.

Also, FUCK YOU. (if that wasn’t clear).

137 Responses to “Response to Butch Lesbian Bashing and Erasure in the “RadFem Community””


  1. Thank you for this. xoxoxo

  2. amazondream Says:

    Allecto is just so fucking ignorant it’s unbelievable!! OMG, I’d be embarrassed if I ever wrote such shit as this!! Talk about not being able to find your ass without directions.

    I remember my first encounter with a butch dyke on the streets of Los Angeles in the sixties. I was young, 12 or 13, and she was across the street from me. I remember having the distinct sense that she made herself visible to me in a potent psychic way that reached into a part of myself I was unaware of. Like a chameleon coming out of camouflage briefly she made herself known to me and then faded again. I remember she was small & thin, white with dark hair and dressed in black jeans, white shirt and black leather jacket.

    ” Butch lesbians are clockable regardless of what they wear or don’t wear. ”

    Ain’t that the truth. I was going out with a friend of mine and made the mistake of asking her if what I was wearing was ‘too butch’ for what we were doing. She laughed and said “Girl you could go buck naked and you’d still be butch”.

    Butch is a quality that derives out of shedding the nonsense of gender. We don’t shed the feminine only to take on the masculine. We come from the working class because it is the necessity of earning a living at low-paying jobs that forms our pride at being survivors in a world that would kill us at any time. We are self-made women and we will always be more of a woman than the likes of Allecto and Brennan ever will.

    Brava la Butch!!

  3. amazondream Says:

    I left this post over at the liberation collective site (snort). Since they engage in the Orwellian fuckspeak of call themselves a ‘liberation collective’ while engaging in oppressive tactics I figured this is the only place my post would be read.

    “Sadly you are so ignorant Allecto and you do so much damage with this post. Butch lesbians are working class lesbians and we are more closely aligned with the pains and horrors of being female than you will ever know. What you write here is just another take on transgender revisionism that attempts to align us within the structure of gender identity all over again.

    Do us all a favor and refrain from talking about that which you know so little.”

  4. Dykey O'Dykerson Says:

    Hear hear.


  5. I got confused. Such an obvious straw man to attack too.
    “this is what butches are” (without any evidence) and then proceed to say “no, they aren’t this”.
    Gender can be oppressive for conforming and non-conforming. If we do away with gender there is no problem and people can be who they are. It also seems to make the assumption that femininity is the standard for females that one is contrary against.

    Or have I seriously missed the point?

    I’ll be honest, I’m not too sure I grasp the meaning of ‘butch’. Would anyone mind explaining it to me please?


  6. It’s a femme love-in over there, isn’t it? 😦

    • Femme Says:

      Don’t equate the crap going on over there with femmes; they hate us as much as they hate butches. I’m sure the post about it is coming soon.

  7. Bev Jo Says:

    Oh my god, Gallus Mag, that was just brilliant. Thank you so much. I hope every woman and every Lesbian reads what you wrote.

    It was sickening (literally) to read Allecto and Cathy Brennan who idenify as Radical Feminists (though of course that doesn’t make it so) being SO un-Radical Feminist as to join with the trannies in trying to re-write our history and distort our Lesbian community.

    To actually say that Butches don’t exist??? Sounds awfully like some past male Leftists who claimed Lesbians did not exist in their countries.

    Who does it serve to re-write Lesbian Feminist history? (Men.) Who does it serve to join in the male and trannie attacks and undermining of Lesbians who are the foundation of our culture and movement, women who helped create Feminism? (Men.) Who does it serve to lie about, insult, and attack Butches) (Men.) Who does it serve to deny the existence of those of us who refused femininity from girlhood? (Men and women obeying male rules.)

    Why would women who pretend to be feminists deny the existence of Pat Parker, Judy Grahn, Julia Penelope, and later younger Butches like our beloved Gallus Mag, and so many others who helped create our movement and have done so much for us? I was also there as a teenager Butch, writing Radical Lesbian Feminist politics, building our community with one of the first Lesbian Feminist Conferences in 1973, speaking against male/trannie infiltration, etc.

    What kind of person joins a decades-old Radical Lesbian Feminist culture and community that has changed the world and not bother to learn about its history and proceed to lie about it and dismantle it? (Men who appropriate our identity, and women like Cathy Brennan and Allecto.)

    What elitist feminine world is Allecto in that she is unaware of Butch existence? Of course Butches are in Australia! We are everywhere! Butches are a small minority of all US Lesbians –I would say 5 to 10%, although there is a much higher percentage among African-American and Latina Butches — but Butches have always existed in all cultures. Part of why the old Lesbian Feminist community in Aotearoa/New Zealand was so powerful, with Lesbian-only space common, unlike most of the world, was the higher percentage of Butches.

    I know Butches from Bangladesh, India, Thailand, China, Mexico, Peru, Israel, Iran, England, France, Germany, Romania, Hungary, Canada, Viet Nam, Singapore…. A Butch refugee from Singapore singlehandedly started the free Queer Women of Color Film Festival, which is an amazing three days of mostly Lesbian films. Who does it serve to deny the existence of Butches of Color and Butches from around the world?

    Meanwhile, Allecto is anti-abortion (that is such a basic issue of mainstream feminsm) and openly discussed on fb with a man about why longtime Radical Lesbian Feminist author and activist Lierre Keith should not be allowed to speak at last years’ Radical Feminist conference because of her work supporting women to not be pressured to be vegan. (Allecto’s man friend referred to this as “male violence.)

    And Cathy Brennan could not be doing more harm to feminism than if she were being paid by the “Men’s Right’s Activists.” Thank you so much for reminding everyone that the self-annointed “radfem leader” Cathy Brennan is a fraud who recently did not have a clue about basic feminism, including that men were not women. She became a stalking enemy of of mine because I tried to explain why we should not call men “transwomen” or “she” or “her.” Women are still being conned by her self-promotion, even after her double-dealing was revealed about how she had her trannie man, Mr. Rahne Alexander, tucked away in the Lesbian Caucus where he ridiculed Lesbians.

    When you were almost shut down last week, it was infuriating to see Brennan’s “anonymous” post plagiarizing Martin Niemoeller’s anti-Nazi statement (“First they came…”) where she pretended to support you while listing famous Radical Feminists and inserting her own name in the list. But what has she done for us? Anything positive in her writing is plagiarized from you. Meanwhile, her Butch-hating/Lesbian-hating blog post wildly misunderstands or willfully misrepresents my and Linda Strega’s and Ruston’s work against Butch oppression. Either her reading comprehension isn’t good or she didn’t bother to read us before attacking — but then she didn’t have to read Lierre Keith’s “The Vegetarian Myth” to ridicule and criticize that brilliant book either.)

    To read what we REALLY wrote:

    http://bevjoradicallesbian.wordpress.com/2011/08/09/ Supporting Butches Supports All Lesbians

    http://bevjoradicallesbian.wordpress.com/2011/07/27/
    The Big Sell-Out: Lesbian Femininity by Linda Strega

    http://bevjoradicallesbian.wordpress.com/2012/04/11/
    22YearsLater2012ButchUpdate


    • @BevJo

      I really appreciate those links. I read them and found them damn spot on.
      I think I have a better understanding now. I will never truly understand butch opression (because I am hyper-feminine and I have not experienced it) but I definitely have a much better insight about myself and my behaviours after reading.

      It made things clearer in regards to the “butch lesbians just want to be men” and the parallels between rejecting femininity as a female and rejecting masculinity as a male.

      Trans advocate that any rejection of gender based stereotypes means that you are somehow wrong and must be fixed. Butch lesbians reject femininity as unnatural or absurd but recognise that doesn’t make you any less female or human.

      This quote:
      “Every girl is faced with the choice of either submitting to feminization and being accepted, or resisting and being punished. The pressure on girls to feminize themselves is universal and unrelenting. It exists in every patriarchal culture, and I don’t know of any culture in the world today which isn’t patriarchal. The styles of femininity vary in quality and degree from culture to culture, but in every patriarchal culture “woman” is defined by her allegiance and orientation towards male values and desires.”

      I know there is nothing natural about paying someone to rip your hair out (waxing) but the fear of having hairy legs and being ridiculed for it is very strong. On the rare occasions I’ve gone out without makeup there is an endless stream of comments about how tired you look, how old you seem (I’m 23!).

      I used to rationalise these behaviours to myself by saying that I could afford to keep up the extreme maintenence, that being hair free made me feel softer and more comfortable and how wearing make up was somehow like a tribal warpaint I put on.
      These behaviours I fear have become deeply ingrained and the fear of being treated like a leper for not conforming is overwhelming.
      I admire you and all other women like you who are strong enough to reject this bullshit. It seems tragic that your place as females is constantly under attack in movements where you should be safe, movements that you helped shape and fought for.

  8. Bev Jo Says:

    It certainly is, CallMeLesbian. No coincidence that the women who pretend to be Radical Feminists and attack Butches like this are male-identified feminine/Fem in a number of ways. And no coincidence that they are extremely opposed to the mention of other traditional Radical Lesbian Feminist politics, like acknowledgement of classism, heterosexism, ableism, ageism… among us so that we can make our community as welcoming and diverse as possible. I keep saying that they want a segregated community. They never deny it.

    I do know some class-privileged Butches, but our culture is poverty-class and working class, and even they present as more class-oppressed than Fems from their similar background.

  9. Bev Jo Says:

    Amazondream, I love your comments!

  10. pikuthulu Says:

    I read as femme, but I get what you’re saying. The Allecto post is the worst, but the Brennan post also attacks a straw women.
    Women that read as ‘femme’ do have problems of their own under a patriarchal system, but I never saw you or BevJo claiming that we don’t.

  11. Marie-France Lesage Says:

    I’m reading all this and realizing that I honestly don’t understand. To me, “butch” = gender and “femme” = gender and I hate, loathe and despise gender because it facilitates the oppression of women. In my mind, all adherence to gender interferes with our right to just be our true selves, free of all pernicious and limiting sex-role stereotypes, so…WTF?

    I honestly have never thought of “butch” as being merely the refusal to participate in female sex role stereotypes — nor have I ever seen “butch” as something exclusively working class.

    I admit that I’ve always seen “butch” as a swing too far into male sex role stereotypes — a kind of reaction, albeit an understandable one given the pervasive gender insanity within Patriarchal cultures.

    If I can use a shoe metaphor, I’ve always seen “butch” as a teenager buying army boots as a rebellion against years of being forced into patent leather Mary Janes, but that eventually women need to get past the awkward, uncomfortable army-boot stage and start really living our lives and working for change in comfortable, practical walking shoes.

    Obviously it would be helpful if I read more. Thanks Bev Jo for the links.

    That said: I hate to see women in-fighting when we should be smashing the fucking Patriarchy to smithereens. I know it needs to happen sometimes, but still.

    Oh, and even though I lived in the lesbian community for five years, I eventually realized that I’m bisexual so maybe what I have to say on the subject is irrelevant to lesbians.

    • GallusMag Says:

      Your thoughts are always relevant and welcome to me.

    • amazondream Says:

      As a teenager I wore Army boots all the way until I was 21–But then again I was in the Army. Your characterization of butch as something to grow out of is rather demeaning don’t you think? My boots are better now but no less functional and comfortable.

      • Marie-France Lesage Says:

        I’m curious why you think my metaphor was demeaning?

        If as feminism posits, the natural, healthy state of human beings is neither “butch/masculine” nor “femme/feminine” — neither adopting sex-role stereotypes, nor sorting ourselves into gendered silos — but just being our own true selves apart from the limitations of gender and gender roles — wouldn’t it be a natural progression as we mature and grow to move away from “butch” and “femme”?

        I do think that being authentic means letting go of personae and role-playing. I believe that just being (metaphorically) nakedly oneself is ideal in terms of emotional health and mental well-being.

        Continuing throughout our lifetime to present a persona based on a reaction to our oppression seems to me to be taking on the oppression as almost a life partner. Why not just throw it off and seek to be authentically free of the oppression? Truly free.

        If your true, authentic, most-comfortable, most-happy self is freely choosing those metaphorical army boots at age 50 or 60 or 70, then that’s OK. But if your true, authentic, most-comfortable, most-happy self is wearing blue nail polish to match your blue flip-flops, then that’s OK, too. And if you switch back and forth depending on your mood and the weather — with some red cowboy boots and a pair of lace-up trainers thrown in when you feel like it — so much the better.

        To me, the litmus test isn’t the boot per se. It’s whether of not you’re wearing the boot as a reaction (“I’ll show THEM”), or because you think that you have to in order to maintain an image (“I must wear these boots or something very like them in order to maintain my membership in the ‘butch’ sub-cuture”), or if you’re really wearing the boots because you love them, they’re comfortable and serviceable, and have been freely chosen by your ever-evolving, most-authentic self.

      • GallusMag Says:

        Incredibly offensive stuff. You were right the first time when you said you were confused and should read more. Instead you opted to regurge more butch bashing. Maybe you should just keep quiet about women you know nothing about instead of smearing your creepy misogynist lesbophobia all over them. I’ll just leave your comment here for other butches to “enjoy”.

      • GallusMag Says:

        Lest anyone thinks I am being unfair to Marie, her is her butch bashing lesbian bashing comment left on Brennan’s disgusting post:
        “Marie-France Lesage Says:
        January 31, 2013 at 1:08 pm
        That was my understanding of what you might call Early Butch (i.e. late 1950′s/early 1960′s Butch) — they were not to be touched sexually by the Femme (or anyone.) The Butch would be in charge of getting the Femme off (provide her with an orgasm or seven) but she was not allowed to touch the Butch sexually because for a Butch to orgasm in the presence of a Femme was to show weakness/vulnerability and to somehow give up Butch power.

        Butch dignity and Butch power in that era was wrapped up in behaving as much like a stereotypical Marlboro Man as possible: not smiling, not laughing, being hyper-vigilant about “dignity” to the point of being scary/grim, looking down on anything remotely feminine as frivolous and highly irritating, having the same attitude towards “woman things” as the most macho, misogynist males around. It was not “femmy things do not appeal to me, personally”; it was “femmy women are dumb, irritating creatures and so far beneath me in the social hierarchy that I can hardly stand to be in the same room with them.”

        Then they’d hook up with a Femme and treat her like crap in the exact same way that their fathers and brothers treated their wives like crap — maybe worse. It was a near-replication of the most sexist male-female relationships, up to and including (in some cases) physical battering if the Femme dared to “mouth off” or “get out of line.”

        My first read of the whole situation was that it was daft and forty years later, it still seems daft. Why in the world would any lesbian want to act like Stanley Kowalski in “Streetcar”? He was a repulsive brute. Where’s the draw in wanting to either be him or be with him?

        In my twenties I briefly had a relationship with one of these women and she was the most sexually dysfunctional person I’ve ever met.

        The Butch persona has of course evolved quite a bit over the past forty years, but I am still leery of any woman who replicates the Kowalski/Marlboro Man machismo. I may not know what a natural woman is, untainted by Patriarchal brain-fuckery — but I know it’s not THAT.”

      • GallusMag Says:

        @Marie- policing the motives of 70 year old women sporting combat boots: FUCK YOU. Just, FUCK YOU, seriously.
        “Goddess wept”. *snicker

    • loveangellove Says:

      I’m also incredibly disheartened by this latest development within the lesbian/radfem community.
      I think it is one thing to recognise that trans folk, who claim to be “outside” gender, are actually reinforcing it. I think it’s another thing entirely to suggest that butch lesbians are doing so, seeing as the history of butch women tells us that butch is primarily an expression of gender non-conformity.
      That femme exists is not a response to the existence of butch. The two are not a gender binary in and of themselves, nor does the wider social understanding of “masculine vs feminine” get to dictate what it means to be butch, simply because they have only the “m vs f” binary to understand it through.
      I hurt for those affected by this latest attack. Of all the people in the world, I have always felt that butch lesbians were leading the way to an era without gender, and it saddens me to have them unfairly lumped in with those who would reinforce it. Solidarity, sisters. Xx

    • GallusMag Says:

      @ Marie France Lesage:
      Army boots are exquisitely comfortable. Why can’t women wear army boots? Do army boots oppress women? And did you leave your long anti-butch comment over at Allectos AFTER you left this comment here?

      • Marie-France Lesage Says:

        I don’t remember leaving an anti-butch comment anywhere, could you link me to it or give me a quote as to what you found anti-butch?

        I am admittedly confused by this entire discussion because to me (as I have said before) butch/femme = masculine/feminine = gender and gender is alway oppressive/limiting for women and never women’s friend, especially as long as we’re living in Patriarchy.

        I am quite surprised (shocked?) to hear mature radical feminists self-identifying as “butch” and feeling/being attacked by “anti-butch” women and I’m busy trying to sort through my thoughts and read other people’s thoughts without pre-judgement in order to understand.

        This is obviously a hot-button topic for a lot of people, but I don’t get why.

        Re. army boots: I find them protective but terribly uncomfortable — but they really were a metaphor.

        Heavy boots don’t oppress women, obviously, unless women feel that they HAVE to wear them — no one should go through their life feeling that they HAVE to wear something constricting and uncomfortable — whether high heels or army boots — to spend every waking moment either conforming to or rebelling against Patriarchy.

        Rather than constricting ourselves into roles in order to conform to/rebel against the expectations of Patriarchy, I think we should dismantle Patriarchy instead.

    • GallusMag Says:

      You realize you are ill-informed, should read more about it, and that as an “ex-lesbian” (from 40 years ago) your opinion may not be relevant. You then proceed, without pause, to spew the most woman-hating, lesbophobic shit all over the fucking internet. Ugh. Just fucking Ugh. Fuck you.

      • Marie-France Lesage Says:

        Despite your egregiously hateful, irrational and abusive behavior, GallusMag, I don’t hate you. I hope you get some serious help with your rage-a-holism. I really do. I am not your enemy, but you chose to treat me as one because I have different opinions than you do on this subject. You should look at that.

        My experiences with butches in the lesbian community twenty-five to thirty (not forty) years ago were not universally negative, but after seeing physical abuse, emotional abuse and sexual abuse perpetrated on other women by butch-identivied women? After reading multiple historical accounts written by women of abusive behavior by butches against femmes being accepted as normal in the lesbian community in the 1930’s to early 1960’s? After being in an abusive relationship (briefly!!!) with a seriously sexually dysfunctional (stone) butch-identifed woman?

        Yeah, I did form some negative opinions of people who self-identify as butch.

        Then I deepened my understanding to realize that performing butch or performing femme are two sides of the same gender coin — more Patriarchal bullshit infesting the lesbian community. (It infests the gay male community, too, but that’s for a different discussion.)

        Guess what? Lesbians are not immune to Patriarchal mind-fuckery and you’re not above feminist critique. Neither am I. No on is above or beyond feminist analysis.

        If that sends you into a rage? You should look at THAT.

      • GallusMag Says:

        I had some bad experiences with _____ women in the 1960’s. I have read bad things about _____ women. I was once in a brief relationship with a dysfunctional ____ woman.

        You are nothing but a common, everyday bigot. Through and through. Also: stupid.
        I’m done listening to your bile. Piss off now and forever. Thanks.

      • Linda Radfem Says:

        Marie: “I am not your enemy, but you chose to treat me as one because I have different opinions than you do on this subject.”

        If you were treated as enemy it’s because you chose to act like one.

  12. Linda Radfem Says:

    Hey Gallus, thanks so much for wading through all that bile and breaking it down so skillfully. I’m just so shocked, I’m still reeling too much from being hit by a random awareness bullet, to even formulate a response in my mind just yet. But faaark, this hatefulness from people I once called allies…srsly wtf? Why even presume to speak about people you obviously have no idea about? This is what men do! Again, thanks for the heads up.


  13. Nothing constructive to add, because I’m not a lesbian, but I do get irritated when people misunderstand or “mis-paraphrase” Mary Daly, so thank you for drawing attention to that.

  14. GallusMag Says:

    Rich White “radfem leaders”. Gotta love ’em!

  15. Feuerwerferin Says:

    GallusMag, it’s great that your blog is still there! I’m glad for you and everyone reading it!
    My condolences to all of you for being missrepresented and demonized like that. I’m not a lesbian but I support you. Feminity and fuckability is forced onto girl children from day one and most girls give in and even internalize this. I also did. It is admirable and nothing else that you did not give in to it. Since I started to understand and see that feminine clothes (“women’s clothes”) look ridiculous and make you unable to protect yourself or even run away, I get why you don’t want to wear them. High heels make any woman an easy rape target, because she can’t run away. They are not healthy to wear too. “Women’s trousers” don’t give enough freedom to move and kick – I realized that when I started to learn carate. What is the knowledge of carate worth if you can’t kick properly because of trousers that are too narrow? You’re still defenseless. An easier prey. “Women’s clothes” are an insult by men in order to show the subordination to them. They make women look like “meat on a stick” (you can see everything – less bodily privacy than men have), helpless, childlike and ridiculous. There is nothing natural (to females) about it. Nothing.

  16. Feuerwerferin Says:

    I hope I didn’t go wrong. Sorry, if I did.

  17. Linda Radfem Says:

    They won’t even publish this comment of mine:

    “Is this post representative of the way Liberation Collective views butch dykes? I thought you peeps were my allies?”

    Their facebook conversation above would indicate that they won’t be doing any serious reflection on just why the post is so upsetting, any time soon.

  18. pikuthulu Says:

    I am working class and I have to say that butch, as I see it, is a mainly working class thing. The reason I ‘pass’ is because I did accept (or tried to with a lot of mental and physical pain) gender norms. Now, even when I wear ‘men’s’ clothes, I still seem femme because of my whole socialisation. I think more often working class women reject that socialisation because it’s hard enough for them to survive in the first place without weakening themselves by following feminine norms.


    • I’m going to wade in here. I was raised in a working class environment (although my mother had a middle class occupation).

      Anyway, the reason I kind of knew I was heterosexual, and have trouble with the idea of political lesbianism, was because I knew (and was friends with) a few girls who, (I now presume, looking back) were butch lesbians. I mean it was pretty obvious, growing up, if a girl was a lesbian or not. None of us articulated it at the time because a) it wasn’t relevant. We wanted to run around in the wood or whatever, and b) it was not something we would have known how to bring up in conversation.

      At any rate, I lost contact with them into my late teens because I began hanging around with a group of feminine heterosexual women.

      What struck me was that they were so very obviously not feminine, the way I was. I don’t know if it’s genetic, or learned behavior or what. I mean femininity is, of course, learned. But why are some girls born knowing how to resist it? While others comply completely? I felt that they weren’t doing it as an active choice. We were just kids after all. I felt they just “were”.

      I was very feminine (still am) but my butch friends were very gentle, much gentler than me. I felt very protective of one of them because I just felt she wasn’t going to make it somehow, looking and behaving the way she did. That’s how I knew lesbianism wasn’t somehow a choice. I knew that they were going to have to face all sorts of hell in the future.

      So yes, when I read Sheila Jeffreys in Beauty and Misogyny, about Butch women mimicking masculinity, I did a double take, because it did not resonate in any way with what I personally had seen or experienced.

      BUt because I’m not a lesbian, and could very well not know what I’m talking about, I’ve always sat back when it came to any discussion on lesbianism.

      • pikuthulu Says:

        I don’t know if it’s innate or not. I know I’m attracted to women and I’ve always known. For a long time I was scared of that and I was in the closet. I really don’t know to what extent I’m naturally ‘feminine’, but I know that it’s definitely less than I was trying to be when I was younger. Some girls seem obviously butch in working class communities, but I don’t think I was one of them. People started to ‘clock’ me only when I hit puberty and they noticed that I wasn’t genuinely interested in looking at boys or talking about them. I often had romantic feelings towards girls when I was a child, especially the butch ones – but I did feel I was different to them. Like I said, I haven’t a clue how much of that is natural.

        I do think butch women are just being themselves as genuinely as anyone else is. I’m trying to ‘be myself’ more these days, so I find those women inspirational.

    • cherryblossomlife Says:

      Yes, I too find them inspirational.

  19. Linda Radfem Says:

    I would say it’s not so much a conscious rejection of it, pikuthulu, but simply not having the time, energy or money to indulge in femininity.

    • pikuthulu Says:

      I often found and still find that I don’t have the time, money or energy for femininity either. I still tried for years, which was very damaging to me. Now I’m less scared of patriarchal disapproval, I find it easier to reject those norms. Whether it’s conscious or not, it’s still brave.

    • cherryblossomlife Says:

      I shouldn’t have used the word “genetic” because that connotes the “sick queer theory” that Bev Jo mentioned, which was NOT what I meant. The word I should have used is “innate”, and what I mean by that is: Why are some girls ABLE to reject femininity, while others are apparently completely unable to?
      Because I have a girl child, and I therefore see a lot of girl children, I’ve noticed that, at a VERY young age, some of these girls are overtly gender non-conformist, while others just seem to have been born as sweet little fragile butterflies.
      I would say it could be parental influence to a certain extent, among other things. But when I say I’m feminine, I’m not talking about time I spend on hair or make-up (because I never wear make-up). I’m talking about my petite frame, my gait, my facial bone structure, nothing I really do consciously. I mean if you’re a butch lesbian, slapping on a bit of make-up is not really going to make you feminine, and similarly, if you have my tiny frame then wearing a pair of army boots or whatever is not going to make anyone believe you’re a gender non-conformist.

      • GallusMag Says:

        There are definitely genetic influences on some of our personality traits and on our sexual orientation in some cases. Which is why fetal dexamathasone treatments are being conducted on developing females to prevent lesbianism and “tomboyism”. See : Preventing Homosexuality (and Uppity Women) in the Womb-
        http://www.thehastingscenter.org/Bioethicsforum/Post.aspx?id=4754

      • GallusMag Says:

        They want to eradicate us in the womb, They want to eradicate us on the streets worldwide, They want to eradicate us by puberty blocking us and sterilizing us, They want to eradicate us by hounding us with false stereotypes, derision and shame, They want to eradicate us by calling us trans, They want to eradicate us in the Radical Feminist Community. It never fucking ends.

      • cherryblossomlife Says:

        I read that link. Jesus Christ.

  20. GallusMag Says:

    “As women’s collective awareness of their status in society approaches critical mass and shit seriously starts to hit the fan, it will become more imperative than ever that male-identified, dick-pleasing feminists conspire with their oppressors, even if it means posting hate speech about butch dykes and other lesbians. By the way, thanks, Allecto, for pushing us a bit closer to the wheels of that big bus – like we’re not close enough already.”

    http://apublicblogging.wordpress.com/2013/02/03/wordpress-practicing-censorship/

  21. Jo Moreau Says:

    Thanks for this post GallusMag. As a non-working class, not conforming either to gender stereotypes or to Butch stereotypes, I’m butch to my bootstraps (or shoelaces), feminist from birth. I’ve always been totally visible, ‘clockable’. I’m with you on most of your response to these two twisted, dishonest posts which do nothing but unfairly misrepresent and deride Butches
    However, please don’t start bashing Femmes as a reaction to Butch-Bashing. These supposed radfems know and understand nothing about Butch and Femme lesbians. These Un-Butch radfems are just ‘lipstick lesbians’ – passing as straight in a culture that accepts and embraces a limited range of gender performance in women, from straight girl fashionable feminine through to barely androgynous. Butches and Femmes make their gender presentation more of a statement about who they are.
    I’m now quoting from a Femme who was responding to adiscussion with me in qa private forum:
    “I agree… that “lipstick lesbian” is totally different to Femme. For me the main difference is that Femme is a gender presentation not just a style of dress… It’s a specific queer identity that reconstructs typical “femininity” in personal, perverse and powerful ways.
    A “lipstick” lesbian will usually dress in a typical, fashionable way – a Femme will have her own fierce style. Her dress is an articulate advocate of her gender and her queerness.”
    There is so much in your post and in the comments made above that I can endorse and validate, don’t let the main thrust get diluted in any way. There have always been Butch women. I hope that the attempts to erase us since the advent of 2nd wave feminism right down to now, are seen for what they are: The embarassment of straight women confronted by realities that are beyond their own experience, their intellectual grasp, and apparently antithetical to their political agendas. The poor dears just can’t cope, so they have to bash Butches – why not, we can take it, we always have. We’re so tough, right? And they conflate us with men, so it’s OK to hate on us.

  22. GallusMag Says:

    ” FeistyAmazon
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    February 2, 2013 at 10:07 pm
    Utter b.s. There are TONS of Butches that are NOT the dominant sexual partner in the relationship, or who like to recieve sex as much as give it…you and your kind really have it out for Butches, and Feminine women are far more employable than Butches where we’re always told to ‘femme up’ or ‘pass better’ or pressured to wear humilating feminine clothes or put down one way or another to try to get work, or when working, or to wear makeup…ALL women are targeted for male harassment, feminine ones for ‘passing’ as straight and looking available to men, and butch ones for looking obviously Lesbian and ‘threatening his manhood and let’s make an example of her’. You don’t address the disparity of employment issues and struggles we have JUST TO SURVIVE, especially the more blatantly Butch and nonfeminine we are! I won’t be erased, nor will I allow my Butch Dyke brethren to be erased either! And don’t assume just cuz I’m Butch I prefer Femmes, in fact the opposite. I’m a Butch loving Butch..cuz I like being with a Dyke who looks like one, and shares my struggles on the most intimate levels, and can both give and recieve…
    -FeistyAmazon”

    http://masteramazon.blogspot.com/2013/02/its-not-butch-oppression-its.html

  23. Bev Jo Says:

    Thank you so much for all the female-loving, Lesbian-loving, Butch-loving comments, Linda Radfem, Jo Moreau, loveangellove, pikuthulu, Feuerwerferin, liberalsareinsane, Feisty, and of course, Gallus Mag, in your posting this.

    I’ve been online all day trying to deal with the harassment I got in an fb group for daring to link here, with incredible dishonest trashing from women with ulterior motives (such as the troll who is continuing to troll feminist fb groups but we aren’t allowed to talk about past history, so I was prevented from answering her insults towards Gallus by telling the group that a few months ago she posted her as a trannie and as another alias to trash Gallus on behalf of that disgusting girl molester. Unbelieveable that she was allowed to refer to him, but I can’t, in reference to why the fuck she supported him here.) And then there are the friends and lovers of the Butch-haters who are posting. So much behind the scenes, with the ongoing element of a reinforcing of a bizarre liberal/rightwing feminism which undermines true Radical Feminism, even while they insist THEY are the real “radfems.” Well, fem, yes. Rad, no. (I never liked that cutesy term.)

    And what is with the pretend outrage that Gallus Mag actually swore!!! Oh my fucking god, she cussed! She said “fuck you” to someone who hatefully harmed her and all of us. How terrible. How un-middle class. Sure, be as vicious as possible, but do it in a pretend-feminine privileged way. Some of the same liberals who feigned horror at such emotional class-oppressed language, talk like that themselves when it suits them. Games, lies, pretense. And in all of this, no acknowledgment of Gallus Mag’s courage, how she was just attacked, gets death threats, and is in the forefront of the fight for our culture and community from the men who are trying to appropriate it. No, they just steal from her and pretend they are equally as Radical Feminist activists, while they snipe and manipulate to hurt her and all women.

    Who does it serve to malign Butches using the same hateful stereotypes and lies that men and their women supporters use against us?

    The hypocritical double standards are disgusting.

    And then the joking when I referred to the numbers of Butches who have committed suicide because it’s bad enough to grow up being marginalized, othered, policed, and sometimes severe abuse from family, “friends,” schools, religions, etc. WITH NO ONE ELSE LIKE YOU simply because you want to be yourself and not obey those ridiculous, demeaning, and weakening feminine rules…. Yes, it’s so funny, like how too many Butches have died way too young, out of proportion to their numbers from stress-related illness.

    In response to a comment here, NO, of course being Butch is not “genetic.” Women are still promoting the “sick queer theory?” This is partly why Butches were pushed out of the Radical Lesbian Feminist movement we helped create, just as Lesbian Feminists were pushed out of feminism by het women.

    It is obvious to some very young Radical Lesbian Feminists in their twenties who CARE to notice, so why do some not get it after decades. BECAUSE THEY DON’T CARE. As one friend who is not afraid to identify as Dykey Fem said, “Just look around you to see Butch oppression.” (And yes, we do have very wonderful allies in truly Radical Lesbian Feminist friends, like Linda Strega, who got harassedt for writing in our defense both in “Lesbian Ethics” in the Eighties, and in our book.)

    It is not that difficult or complicated. Those who flail around in a tizzy because they just do not understand what a Butch is, or they keep picturing some bizarre male lie, just read what some of us wrote almost 25 years ago. You know it’s there, but you would rather keep with the Butch-hating, Lesbian-hating, female-hating than read it.

    Patriarchal mind-fucks are quite simplistic. Distract from male crimes. Focus on the few females who take the most risks in saying no to men to scapegoat for male crimes. (Women who love men are somehow frightened of Butches?) Make Butches be such an object of ridicule and horror that women will do any amount of self-demeaning to not be taken for one of these terrifying women. And then let the women destroy them.
    Same trick as is used against Lesbians in general: “Lesbians are unnatural freaks of nature or something went terribly wrong in their childhood to make them not want delightful men. Keep them away from decent women or they might catch this horrifying ailment.” I remember when Radical Feminists and many other women realized being a Lesbian was a choice of love, and not a “sexual orientation” or “being born this way.” But the men had to stop the women from thinking this way, since feminists were coming out in droves, so now even women coming out in their Sixties obediently echo the silly line, “Oh I was always a Lesbian, but I just didn’t know it.”

    Simple, make Lesbians so Other that most women stay obedient to their masters. And make Lesbians so equally horrified of Butches, that they volunteer to police other Lesbians as collaborators to. Tap into the Lesbian-hatred all women are taught, and aim it at Butches.

    So what is the excuse to not know all this? For some, keeping privilege, no matter who they hurt. And for others, a great way to try to destroy real Radical Feminists by using the bogeywoman that is Butch.

  24. Bev Jo Says:

    Had to read this again. Here is an excellent example of the passion, brilliance and clarity of a poverty-class Butch writing politics as opposed to distant, dishonest, academese. Not coincidentally, Gallus’ style is what many middle class Seventies’ Lesbian Feminists tried to emulate.

    Just brilliant. Keep linking and spread this beautiful post around….

  25. IceMountainFire Says:

    Thank you so much for this post!
    I’m a ″lurker″ on your great blog for months now, and this post, like your work on the trans con, is not just brilliant but also much-needed. It is hard to find voices of reason like you and Bev Jo, but your outstanding work gives me hope there is a corner of basic rationality left in the net for Radical Lesbian Feminists. Thanks again!

  26. sapphocles Says:

    I think this is a really important conversation, because it highlights another of the ways that false dichotomies are used to divide females and turn us against one another. “Butch” and “femme” are *adjectives* — words that describe something in relation to something else. Unlike adjectives that have a basis in physical reality — colors, for example, which can be related to particular wavelengths of reflected light — “butch” and “femme” refer to positions along a continuum that has no basis in physical reality. They are based on a social construct that is itself subject to change; as such, they are terms that have no inherent meaning, separate from the context in which they are used. Like the fluid *concept* of gender on which they are based, the contexts in which these words have been used have varied a great deal — over time, geographically, within specific communities — and it is nonsensical to try to define them as if they had a fixed meaning in and of themselves.

    I came out in an east-coast culture in which the terms “butch” and “femme” were almost universally rejected as unfortunate relics from a Fifties culture in which internalized homophobia meant having an answer to the question, “So, which one of you is the man?” A decade later, when I moved to the midwest, I entered a culture in which my *aversion* to the term “butch” was almost as widely regarded as evidence of internalized homophobia — of denying a set of attributes that everybody but I knew was essential to my identity. Still later, I started using the term myself, this time as shorthand for the subset of lesbians whose very existence I saw as threatened by the emergence of queer culture and the pressure that began to be exerted on some young women to seriously consider whether they might “really” be hormone-deficient men.

    As disparate as those contexts are, they all still involved “butch” as a relative term — more like a man than the other woman in a B/F relationship, less likely than other women to “pass” as female, more likely than other lesbians to be subjected to pressure to transition. And they were all tied to more or less generally accepted definitions of certain behaviors as masculine and others as feminine. But they were still *descriptors* — ways of placing oneself or others on a spectrum that even the stonest butch knew didn’t tell the whole story. Because no amount of butchness would ever be sufficient to trump the essence that *is* based on a physical reality — that of being female.

    Enter identity politics, in which we *are* whatever we “feel like,” whatever we say we are. Where the physical reality of maleness and femaleness carries no more intrinsic meaning than the subjective reality of social constructs like masculinity and femininity or butch and femme. Now, all of a sudden, the lines aren’t so clear. Being butch and being female may be mutually exclusive, while having a penis and being female may not. Huh??? No, I don’t think so.

    • GallusMag Says:

      “I think this is a really important conversation, because it highlights another of the ways that false dichotomies are used to divide females and turn us against one another. “Butch” and “femme” are *adjectives* — words that describe something in relation to something else. Unlike adjectives that have a basis in physical reality — colors, for example, which can be related to particular wavelengths of reflected light — “butch” and “femme” refer to positions along a continuum that has no basis in physical reality. They are based on a social construct that is itself subject to change; as such, they are terms that have no inherent meaning, separate from the context in which they are used. Like the fluid *concept* of gender on which they are based, the contexts in which these words have been used have varied a great deal — over time, geographically, within specific communities — and it is nonsensical to try to define them as if they had a fixed meaning in and of themselves”

      You could apply this to anything. The word “woman”. The word “lesbian”. Some pomo and liberal folks who call themselves the word “feminist” do. They call males women. They call women not sexually-oriented to women “lesbians” (or “political lesbians”). But women’s experiences DO exist, Lesbian lives DO exist, Butch lesbian experience DOES exist. We use these words to discuss and communicate those specific realities. Is language a perfect system? No.
      You could apply your statement to any of the ways women name their experience. But you don’t. Why not?
      .

      • sapphocles Says:

        Actually, I do… with the possible exception of “woman,” which I think can (and should) be defined as “adult human female,” which would ground it in the same biological dimorphism as “female.” I think it was a huge mistake to go along with calling M2T transsexuals women — a mistake that grew out of a mix of kindness, pity, and political correctness, but a mistake nevertheless. I just think that particular horse is too far from the barn for it to make any difference whether we now decide to close the door or not.

        The other terms you mention are also social constructs, and are subject to interpretation (including change from one generation to the next) in a way that biological sex is not. Even lesbian… How many times can a woman have sex with a man and still be a lesbian? Can asexual women be lesbians? Can women who have men as their primary sexual partners be “political lesbians”? There is no answer to any of those questions that has the same grounding in objective reality as the answer to the question, “What is a female?” That doesn’t mean the topics aren’t worth discussing; it just means that there is no objectively right answer.

        As for feminism, don’t even get me started. Are you and the sex-positive Slutwalk-supporting we-don’t-need-no-dykes-at-this-dyke-march ladies in spike heels all feminists? What meaning could the word possibly have if it includes both them and self-identified radfems? Of course, I may not be the best person to ask, since I think the phrase “radical feminism” is redundant. And I don’t even *want* to know if there are now women whose lived “experience” includes both of those extremes.

        My point is not that any of these terms aren’t meaningful or that they don’t serve as useful shorthand when people are actually trying to communicate. But when people are trying to obfuscate — as I believe transsexuals must — it is important to stay clear about which constructs are negotiable and which are not. Descriptors are not the thing itself. You can reasonably debate whether someone is butch (enough), or whether she is feminist (enough), whether she is lesbian (enough). When it comes to female, there is no “enough” — human beings are a sexually dimorphic species, and despite the fact that errors (rarely) occur, it is a simple yes-no question whether a person is or isn’t female.

        Does that make it any clearer where I’m coming from?

      • GallusMag Says:

        Perfectly clear. You sound like a tranny arguing that female doesn’t exist because: intersex.

      • sapphocles Says:

        I’ll take this comment seriously when you produce one “tranny” who agrees with anything I’ve said.

  27. girlsoftheinternet Says:

    Sorry Gallus. Feel free to publish this comment or not or give whatever response you feel is necessary (or not), but I feel this is totally uncalled for and a misinterpretation of allecto’s piece. I’m really not sure why accusations of classism and unsavory allusions to the “superficial” issues facing affluent lesbians are part of this analysis at all. As a working class girl I felt pushed into the femme box from a very early age and was bullied for not being feminine enough from about the age of 5. Compulsory heterosxuality, feminization and unwanted sexual attention were a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. This affected my growth as a person in huge ways because I couldn’t totally reject it and survive. Why is “butch” and “working class” being conflated here?

    • GallusMag Says:

      For what it’s worth, unlike the women who made the butch lesbian bashing posts, I have not un-approved a single comment. They have, like the men they serve, attached the worst misogynist, lesbophobic and “othering” stereotypes to us. They have cited “that thing they heard”, “that awful woman I once knew”, “that brief conversation I once had”, “what I sort of thought when someone once called me butch because I have a short haircut”. They have monstered us, stereotyped us, misrepresented us, and condemned us, just like the men whose dicks they suck (literally or figuratively). And then they have refused us right of reply.

    • GallusMag Says:

      “.. I felt pushed into the femme box from a very early age and was bullied for not being feminine enough ..”

      All girls are bullied for not being feminine enough. And some grown lesbians! By “radical feminists”!😉

      • girlsoftheinternet Says:

        “All girls are bullied for not being feminine enough”

        That was kind of my exact point. It isn’t a class issue. In fact I feel like the pressure to conform to femininity was more extreme in my community than the pressures that my middle class friends report. I don’t understand why you are using class as a way to attack people that you disagree with. Do you know allecto personally to know her socioeconomic circumstances? And the scare quotes around “radical feminist” are irking me immensely too. Is it some kind of exclusive club that you hold the keys to?

        And I agree that if you or other women are being silenced on liberation collective then that is bullshit.

      • GallusMag Says:

        I don’t give a shit if you are irked. You questions have already been addressed in the post and subsequent comments. Also, go fuck yourself. You obviously don’t give a shit about the bizarre trashing and misrepresentation of butch dykes. Piss off.

  28. Bev Jo Says:

    Oh Gallus, you said that brilliantly. Yes, you allow even the usual Butch-hating, female-hating insults. It is so important to not censor. And that shows how premediated, deliberate, and dishonest the attacks on Butches were in those recent posts. Those women pretending to be feminist don’t even care that in their effort to wipe out and malign Butches, they are hurting all Lesbians and all women.

    They are also part of the reactionary, rightwing “feminists” who try to undermine and erase the strong early Radical Feminism of the Seventies that wanted diverse and welcoming Radical Feminist communities by trying to prevent mention of serious differences in power among women, like classism, racism, ableism, ageism, fat oppression. They want to make sure that the most privileged dominate, and, as we know when men do that, it’s about wanting elitist, segregated “communities.”

    For those who claim to be confused and horrified by the “infighting,” just know that what you are witnessing is the exposing of basic differences that were here all along, between real Radical Feminists who are keeping our original strong and powerful movement and politics alive, and those who merely play at “Radical Feminism” while trying to dismantle it and use it for their own egotistical purposes, and who, for some reason (because it’s trendy, I suppose), want to be called “radical” when they are simply not. They waver between mainstream/liberal and outright reactionary. (Being against men appropriating our identity only became “radical” recently, but it’s not in the forty-plus years of Radical Feminism or even liberal feminism.)

    Thank you so much for saying so clearly that Butch-hatred is feeding patriarchy and the men who hate us. It is so clear if any woman wants to think beyond her own privilege. Just apply any of the weird comments and false accusations aimed at Butches to Lesbians or women in general. Hateful stereotypes and outright lies against Lesbians and feminists are clear, so then why not see that when it’s done to Butches? It’s because they deliberately suddenly lose feminist politics and common sense — this is where they join with the men in wiping us out. If they can’t segregate us out, they will lie until more women join with patriarchy against us.

    We do have support though. This is not a generational divided. Women of all ages do recognize Butch reality and oppression, and do support us.

    XOXOXOXOXO Love that Gallus and her courage.

  29. Bev Jo Says:

    And no, sapphocles, Butch is a noun, just as woman and Lesbian are. Butch is no more “identity” politics than woman or Lesbian. (Where did that crap come from?) It is real. We are real. We exist, even if it offends men and women who can’t or won’t get the men out of their heads.

    Butch is no more connected to “Fem” than women are connected to men. We exist separately. It’s not that difficult to understand.

    Patriarchy is full of mind-fuck women-hating and Lesbian-hating propaganda against us, yet feminists find the truth. Just because the hateful propaganda is also in our own communities doesn’t mean the truth isn’t there too.

    I’m guessing the fear of reading pro-Butch Radical Feminist work is too overwhelming to even try. But why?

    Again…

    http://bevjoradicallesbian.wordpress.com/2011/07/27/
    The Big Sell-Out: Lesbian Femininity by Linda Strega

    http://bevjoradicallesbian.wordpress.com/2011/08/09/
    SUPPORTING BUTCHES SUPPORTS ALLLESBIANS\

    http://bevjoradicallesbian.wordpress.com/2012/04/11/
    22YearsLater2012ButchUpdate

  30. girlsoftheinternet Says:

    @Gallus. Fine. No need to be so pissing abusive. “I have already had my points addressed”? Fuck you.

    • GallusMag Says:

      Abusive? What’s abusive is you coming here COMPLETELY IGNORING the HORRIFIC MISOGYNY and STEREOTYPING of and TRASHING of butch lesbians, calling us ROLE-PLAYING, PSEUDO-MALE, INAUTHENTIC, and HARMFUL. TOTALLY IGNORED BY YOU. OF NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO CONSEQUENCE TO YOU WHATSOEVER. COMPLETELY UNIMPORTANT. and FAILING TO READ ALLLLLLLL the comments on the relation of class status to the lesbian butch, to talk about your PARTICULAR (non-butch, possibly non-lesbian) ME ME ME class experiences which you fail to relate to butch lesbians in any way. And you call ME abusive?!?! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! FUCKKKKKKKK YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU.

  31. GallusMag Says:

    KEEP IT COMIN’ HATERS! I’M HERE ALL WEEK!

  32. Bev Jo Says:

    WTF? sapphocles, of course there are answers to reality. Like, the truth. It was the sado-masochist/porn-supporting/bisexual “sexologists” posing as Lesbians, like Joanne Loulan and Pat Califia who re-defined Lesbians as women who “have ongoing wonderful sexual relations with men.” That was trendy self-serving Lesbian-hating crap to sell books and make money conning Lesbians. It is NOT a “social construct…subject to interpretation” to ask, “How many times can a woman have sex with a man and still be a lesbian?” Mind-fucking/re-defining us out of existence to suit you is not feminist. Appropriation!

    And do NOT play the generation con game when I have Radical Lesbian Feminist friends over thirty-five years younger who share my politics about everything.

    It’s amazing that some of the Butch-haters have been around Lesbians for decades and never noticed how differently Butches are treated… by men, het women, and most “feminists.”

    • sapphocles Says:

      It’s also self-serving crap to attempt to define “butch” as anything you and Gallus Mag agree it is, or anything that is consistent with your past writings. I can assure you that there are very few women in *any* segment of the lesbian/feminist community who would classify me as anything other than a lifelong, gold-star, butch lesbian, and your construct defines *me* out of existence. That may be okay with you, but it’s not okay with me. Neither you nor Gallus Mag speaks for me.

      • GallusMag Says:

        I don’t know that Bev and I entirely agree on “defining butch”. It doesn’t really matter though.The important thing is that you believe there is no such thing as a lesbian OR a butch.
        Oh, and no other person should “speak for you”. Especially since you don’t believe in lesbians or butches. Congrats on that star though.

      • sapphocles Says:

        That’s just not true. I *am* lesbian and I *am* butch. What I don’t believe is that there is an objective definition that everyone who uses either of those terms would (or should) adopt or agree with, including yours or Bev Jo’s or anyone else who sets herself up as an authority on the subject. In my opinion, the reason for that has to do with both of those terms being *aspects* of an identity, but not an identity unto themselves. Which makes them different from “female,” which is a word that has a biological meaning that does not differ from one individual or subculture to the next, and is not debatable. It is ridiculous to translate this as saying that I don’t believe in lesbians or butches; what I don’t believe is that you get to decide for everyone what those words mean.

      • GallusMag Says:

        I must have mis-read. I agree that butch is not a “gender identity”. It is an experience descriptor for lesbians who have been objectively sex-role uncompliant since childhood.

      • GallusMag Says:

        I should add OVERTLY and PROFOUNDLY and OBJECTIVELY noncompliant.

      • GallusMag Says:

        Butch is a natural variation of dyke. I do not believe that butch is an adoptable state to be aspired to. Butch is not about haircuts or clothing or fashion. Butch is not about being fake or playing a role or being a pseudo-male: as sick-ass lesbophobic fucks like Allecto, Cathy Brennan, and Marie France Whateverthefuck would proclaim.

      • GallusMag Says:

        Butch dykes may partner with femmes, butches, or lesbians who are neither. Butch dykes can suffer from body dysphoria due to constant hatred from society at large, and the hatred of lesbians like Allecto and Cathy Brennan, and bisexual hangers-on like Marie France Whateverthefuck. Sometimes they opt out of the hatred by shooting themselves full of testosterone so they can pass as male and avoid the hatred.

      • GallusMag Says:

        I don’t mean to lay things out as if you are an idiot. But after the shocking events of the last few days I have no way of knowing the depths of stupidity AND UNDISGUISED HATRED AND MISOGYNIST BIGOTRY harbored by women formerly thought to be allies towards butch dykes.

  33. amazondream Says:

    Hey Gallus, is there a special password for your new password only post? I’d like to get in and participate.

  34. BadDyke Says:

    “It is an experience descriptor for lesbians who have been objectively sex-role uncompliant since childhood.” With you on that.

    And I see sapphocles above is trying to play the same ‘who are you to define a word’ game that we see from the trans cult. O, and the constant reference to ‘identity’.

    Words have meanings, so what ‘butch’ means to butches is being said on here, loud and clear, plus the herstory of the usage. No surprise that, constrained by gendered thinking, ‘butch’ has then been appropriated and attempted to be (re)-defined in terms of just another gender, or butches & femmes playing at masculine/feminine, who’s the man, all that crap. It is the thinking that’s the issue, NOT the word, focus on the concept. So, the concept of what we are talking about as butch here EXISTS, even if some think the WORD butch means something else.

    Yet another attempt at taking what butches are saying about their reality, re-defining the words at your leisure, then trying to RE-INVENT our reality in terms of that mistaken definition. Just as the trans lobby are trying to re-invent female reality to include them, by shouting continually, who are WE to dare to define female……….

    Or in simpler terms, NOT LISTENING. And CB is guilty of not listening to butches.

  35. RE Says:

    I have mixed feelings about the label ‘butch’ (I know I’m asking for a FUCK YOU…) As a (40 year old) woman who has never worn makeup, never worn a dress or heels or had a manicure and who even wears mostly ‘male’ attire (and has since childhood) (and is totally lesbian) I still feel I wouldn’t be considered butch by the butchier among us since I’m kind of delicate by nature and from an artsy background and liberal upbringing and work in the art/fashion city world… if ‘butch’ is more prevalent in poorer/working class communities is it because one must be ‘tougher’ or project a tougher image for survival’s sake? Is that necessarily good? And weren’t ‘butch’ and ‘femme’ originally used in the gay male community? Can’t these ideas change over time? This is kind of a rambling comment even after all my thinking about the topic, sorry. I never like claiming a label for myself like that; puts a sort of conformist pressure on. But unlike the commenter above I do think that ‘lesbian’ has nearly as much meaning as ‘female,’ while ‘butch’ is kind of subjective. And I find the common conflation of butch & FTM disturbing in a big way but in another way it means that the transitioners are still seen as female.

    • RE Says:

      (makes me feel a bit like when I was younger and was treated shabbily at clubs because I wasn’t ‘punk’ enough, even when I was in the band…I never really fit in with any group, probably the same with proper ‘butches’ but I don’t like to feel alienated from women who generally share my philosophies just because I don’t fit the mold or share the exact life-experience)

  36. BadDyke Says:

    “I never like claiming a label for myself like that..”
    Okay, I HAVE to jump up and down on this one, because THAT is the game the genderists play — where labels have to be claimed, and depend on what others think of you/how you present etc etc. Whereas the CONCEPT of butch as GM defined it earlier:

    “It is an experience descriptor for lesbians who have been objectively sex-role uncompliant since childhood.”

    ….it’s not a label in that sense — you may not recognise that about yourself, you may not realise that was what you were doing, or that that IS your experience, but unless we can NAME that experience, we can’t talk about it, recognise it in ourselves and share it with others.

    Which is a whole different ballgame to not thinking you look/act/present as butch enough etc etc. It’s the SAME difference, in effect, between women-born-women who say that being a woman is an experience that we have in common as females raised as females, NOT something that you can have by ‘looking like’ a woman, or identifying as a woman, or claiming that you are a woman.

    Not being very clear here — I guess I’m trying to say that you can claim or not claim a label, but there IS more to it than that. You can claim a label BUT GET IT WRONG, like M2T who try to claim the label woman, but without the FEMALE experience (or even being female). Doesn’t matter how much they claim, they still score zero in terms of biology and zero in terms of experience.

    Whereas with butch, you may not ‘claim’, or think you ‘look’ it, but that may mean that you just haven’t recognised your own experience as fitting the concept that we’re talking about here.

    It’s not whether your face/presentation/choice of clothes fits, it’s whether your experience fits.

    I really don’t care much about the gay male community, or whatever, it’s the pressure and misunderstanding coming against the WORD butch here (misunderstanding it as gender), and the attempted effect is to stop us naming and discussing OUR experience by using the word that we have always used whilst discussing it. Our word/our meaning/our experience, and a big fuck-off to those who don’t like OUR choice of word, ‘cos they got their definitions twisted or can’t cope with a word that has developed several different meanings in several different groups.

    Just as the trans cult is trying to take ‘woman’ and ‘female’ and remove the deep meaning and replace it with a superficial one, so the same is happening here with butch. And what I said earlier about some taking the word, twisting it, and then trying to project back their misunderstanding onto us, and thereby deny/negate the importance of the word/concept to us. So, trans tell us that female biology either doesn’t matter, or can be superficially created by hormones/surgery, and that shared girlhood is a myth. Similarly, trying tell us that butch IS gender tries to erase our common experience of butch. And claiming that labels means conformity stops dead any recognition of SHARED common experience as butch, just as the trans cult is trying to suppress recognition and discussion and NAMING of the common female experience that they don’t have.

    • GallusMag Says:

      Bad Dyke I just want to thank you so much for having the heart to explain things that one would think were obvious to any who have known and loved a butch lesbian. I am so disgusted and disheartened by the outpouring of hatred towards butch dykes that I can’t even. Obviously someone needs to edumacate the haters but it isn’t going to be me. Fuck em. I’m going to crawl back under the covers and stay there, weeping. LMAO.

      Seriously tho, thank you for doing the work sister. xoxox

      • BadDyke Says:

        Gallus, I ain’t explaining, I’m just trying to sort my ideas out and get them into half way sensible words — trying to explain to myself, that’s about it🙂

        Same stuff, different day. The CLUE perhaps is that CB used a picture of Pat Califia, who ‘identified’ as butch, just as she now ‘identifies’ as a man. Doesn’t mean butch IS gender, just that the gender-bound MISTAKE it for gender, just as they mistake female for gender. And just as they mistakenly label anything NOT feminine as masculine. And CB has been listened to them, rather than to us.

        The point is, if CB just bothered to come over here and read, she would hopefully find that how butch is defined/described/experienced on here ISN’T gender. Then she’d have learnt a thing, and realised that her first impression looking at this from outside, was wrong. And might then have appreciated WHY we get so angry.

        I’m not so sad she got it wrong, I’m sadder that she won’t listen.

      • GallusMag Says:

        Your assumption is that she posted out of ignorance rather than malaise. I see no evidence to support that assumption. Using grotesque mischaracterizations and false stereotypes commonly used to attack butch dykes AS A MEANS OF ATTACKING US when such fuckery has been addressed ad nauseum by butches, including here on this blog? Nah.

      • BadDyke Says:

        I guess I just prefer to believe some people are very, VERY stupid, rather than malicious. But then I’m not very good at excusing stupidity either…………….

        But refusing to listen? That’s bad. Listen and disagree, listen and argue, but if she won’t listen…………….

        Inconsistent that she has listened to what a F2T had to say about butch (i.e. Pat Califia as a supposed example of a butch), and attacked butch on that basis, whilst then totally ignoring what the SAME person has to say about their supposed male identity. If you think they’re talking bollocks (or rather, total lack of, silicone eggs shoved in yer labia majora ain’t the same thing at all!) about their ‘male gender’, then why listen to what they have to say about their previous supposed ‘butch gender’. Why not just assume they are WRONG about both what it is to be a man, AND what it is to be butch.

        “Secondly, and more importantly for this post, the Butch/Femme dynamic is a topic worth critical examination outside of your personal desires.”

        O dear, just replace butch/femme with male/female, and it’s like CR sessions and the realisation that the personal is political never happened! Yep, she thinks WE’RE all very, very stupid for not noticing………….Although she has yet to explain why people who have written such good stuff about why S&M and all that crap are bad for dykes, and why “critical examination ….of your personal desires” is totally necessary, have supposedly got a great big blind-spot when it comes to butch. Maybe she thinks that the lure of sturdy boots and work-shirts is just TOO much for any dyke to resist, whatever her supposed politics.

        Nope, she’s just had a total brain-fart on this one. Maybe she’ll get over it, just as she eventually got over thinking that M2T could be women…………………..

      • cabochon Says:

        GallusMag, everything that’s being hurled at butch women from MANY directions is horrible right now–various countries/religions ok-ing rape and murder of them, FtM being feted to the point that the ranks are being thinned of the young, MtF pushing their sexuality onto them as a right, media-indoctrinated images of sexay lesbianism erasing them, and now this? From women, self-identified radfems?? I wish you could kick the shit outta all of them, Mag!!!

        I’m asexual, but a proud born female wanting freedom, justice, and the right of assembly for born females. All three of these (freedom, justice, born-female assembly) are being severely curtailed or outright stomped from all sides, and you are a fighter for our rights! The hatred from all sides for butches makes me sick. Love to you all.

  37. BadDyke Says:

    “Butch is a quality that derives out of shedding the nonsense of gender. We don’t shed the feminine only to take on the masculine.”

    YES! It’s stifled genderist thinking to think that rejecting one MUST mean taking on the other (or some other sliding position on the feminine/masculine 1D gender line that the trans cult is so fond of).

  38. cherryblossomlife Says:

    I’m really starting to believe that the class element is huge here.
    I knew a couple of butch “painter and decorators” LOL. They were hilarious> Painter and decorators are usually a MALE duo. (If you’re not from the UK, P & Ds are basically usually two men who usually moonlight by going to your house and doing whatever you need done there for cheaper than if you paid a proper rennovation company.)

    Anyway, these two women just did whatever they hell they wanted, gender constraints be damned. They were NOT trying to be men. I almost think they became Painter and Decorators to TAKE THE PISS out of the fact women weren’t supposed to do that. They would have been targeted by men for abuse (not least by male duo painter and decorators who didn’t want the competition!). They always used to make me laugh by going, “We’re C and D, the Painter and Decoraters” with a twinkle in their eyes.

  39. cherryblossomlife Says:

    I think both lesbian and heterosexual women have certain sexual freedoms that women further up the classes don’t have, which might explain why this is a class isssue. Working class het women (providing they haven’t been cajoled into prostitution) are spending time with men who don’T OWN property, and are often unemployed. WOmen in these communities out-earn men. My point is that there is slightly less of a “chattel” status attached to women in working class environments as compared to the middle classes and upwards. Het women rarely marry in these communities.
    And it could be that this lack of chattel status among women in general in these communities gives rise to more VISIBILITY of butch lesbians.

  40. cherryblossomlife Says:

    BY “sexual freedom” for het women, I meant (obviously) the freedom NOT to have sexual relations with men, even after they’ve had children.

  41. magicpoppy Says:

    Hi Gallus,

    I saw your exchange on Twitter about the wonderful, much missed Debunking Serano website. Do you stay in touch with Radfemcrafts? I know there are a lot of radfems who’d love a download of the archive if she still has a copy. If she doesn’t, or she’s busy or uninterested, I totally understand, but those of us in the radfem cabal on Tumblr still talk about what a great website that was.

  42. Bev Jo Says:

    I agree, BadDyke. And Brennan doesn’t just not listen to Butches and slander us, she pretended to be one to troll a Butch fb group. She is not the friend of Butches, Lesbians, or women, no matter how much money she spends and how many games she plays to try to convince women otherwise.

    There are some class-privileged Butches, but as a group, Butches still tend to appear as more class-oppressed. There is a higher percentage also of racially oppressed Lesbians among Butches.

    Being Butch is what all females would be closer to being if it wasn’t for patriarchy. Butch girls reject male rules of femininity. Butch girls reject male. So why are Butches considered “tough?” Butches are far too gentle and kind for our own good considering how used and abused we are. It’s not like a special trendy club (those are the Fems posturing strange stereotypes of Butch.) Being Butch means knowing you are different and unacceptable, everywhere. Being Butch usually means having no role models growing up, no support, no one like you reflecting you back. Being Butch means being put down and ridiculed by other girls, or accepted as an inferior mascot. Being Butch means finally finding other Lesbians and feminists, and STILL being treated as abnormal and not proper.

    Butches might never identify as Butch, but if it is brought up to them, they recognize who they are, and don’t start measuring all the ways they might be. Butches also will go through hell to love those they love and do not give up and quit. Butches generally want passion and love-making with their lover and do not stop even when horrific flashbacks of being sexually assaulted as girls comes up. Butches don’t accept love-making without reciprocating with at least equal love, presence, and passion. When all else can be confusing, that is the final marker for me. Butches are real Lesbians, fully, wholeheartedly, and proudly.

  43. BadDyke Says:

    Can someone explain to me (okay, I’ll admit it, I can’t FACE reading some of that CB stuff at the moment!) — so, is there anyone who HAS done that, could they please explain what this sadistic feminism supposedly is?

    Plus, yeah, what a FUSS about that supposedly sexually abusive language.

    Dear me, sticking your mouth into vagina IS slightly polite, in that you didn’t say cunt. I guess anything other than cunnilingus is too rude……………….Anglo-saxon (working class) and classical greek/latin (middle-upper class).

    • GallusMag Says:

      LOL YES I should have said cunt! Vagina left out the clit, the labia, etc! But if I had, the rich white butch haters may have fallen on their fainting couches from the “abusive” “vulgarity” of mentioning lesbian bodies and sex. JESUS.

      I think the FUSS is about marginalizing and silencing the lesbians that CB thinks are pseudo-male minstrels due to their distasteful lack of “femininity”= ie. Butch Lesbians.We better start femming it up, yo! We are disgusting!

      Seriously the class divide couldn’t be more stark here. You have to be pretty damn insulated to not actually KNOW any butch dykes and base your impressions on the fact that someone once called you one when you got a short haircut.

      The shaming, the silencing, the marginalization, the fainting couch= it’s all the same old hatred and bigotry that has sent a generation of butches straight to the needle to escape it.

      Butch-hating “Radical Feminism” and Trans = Perfect Together.

      • Lezscum Says:

        CB will call anything misogynist to suit her needs.
        Also, why is it always (upper) middle class white women who get to decide what is vulgar or not?

  44. Chazz Says:

    Hi, Gallus…… Would love to participate in the —> Protected: Butch Lesbian Caucus…. But I, and I suspect some others, don’t know how to get passwords. HELP !

    • GallusMag Says:

      Ok Chazz- great! Any other butch dykes who want in, leave a comment with your email. xox


      • GallusMag, I would like very much to know more about and participate in the Butch Lesbian Caucus. I”m not so sure about leaving my email address in a comment here. Can you please DM me on twitter or on facebook (you will have both links from this and my previous comment.)
        Thanks

      • GallusMag Says:

        @Jo- even better! Will contact. xoxo

      • BadDyke Says:

        Like Jo, I don’t want to leave my email in a post either…………………

      • Chazz Says:

        Gallus, thank you. I’m not so sure about posting my email address publicly, either. What to do? You and I have a mutual friend. I’m going to ask her to give you my email address, phone number, army boot size, and whatever else you may need for me to gain entry into the BUTCH LESBIAN CAUCUS.

      • GallusMag Says:

        BadDyke I already have your email. I will send the password there. Chazz- I know how to reach you.😉
        NO ONE’s EMAIL ADDRESS WILL BE PUBLISHED.
        Also if you know Bev Jo on FB she will add you.

  45. Bev Jo Says:

    Gallus and BadDyke, you explained it all so well.

    “Seriously the class divide couldn’t be more stark here. You have to be pretty damn insulated to not actually KNOW any butch dykes and base your impressions on the fact that someone once called you one when you got a short haircut.

    The shaming, the silencing, the marginalization, the fainting couch= it’s all the same old hatred and bigotry that has sent a generation of butches straight to the needle to escape it.”

    If only feminists would realize that Butches are on the front line, but the strongest feminists are next on the hit list.

    It’s really about how dare we exist at all. How dare we say no to men, and later to women who pressure us to feminize to not upset male rule? How dare we not hide ourselves in shame? (I dare anyone to find ANY image in the feminist or Lesbian media which shows a single Butch, as opposed to the usual barbie doll stereotype or a variation of it. Even feminists who try hard to portray diversity of women in our movement, including fat and disabled women, still will not or can not draw Butches. What does that say?

  46. Bev Jo Says:

    Brennan’s and Allecto’s precious rants are a muddled combination of willfully “misunderstanding” basic Lesbian Feminist politics in order to stir up the outer as well as internalized lesbophobia and Butch-hating in so many “feminists.” That is exactly the technique of wildly confused and demagogic, which right wing fundamentalists use against Feminists and Lesbians. You don’t even have to try to make sense. Just throw out all the bogey woman crap you can think of, knowing some will stick. And part of why it works is that there’s been extreme censorship about even talking about Butch existence and oppression in Lesbian communities. It keeps reminding me of putting het women in a room and ask them to talk about Lesbians, and the most bizarre stereotypes and hatred emerges.

    I can’t bear to read Brennan either because it’s not like she’s good intentioned but floundering. She is deliberately trying to hurt us and all women. Her naming me to attack also personalized it. If she read my blog and our book, plus my more recent postings about the trans cult, she would have seen that we named Pat Califia several times as a fag hag bisexual sado-masochist pornographer. It was over 22 years ago that we wrote about the harm Califia did to our community. So Brennan was doing her usual lazy nasty swipes where she doesn’t care to even read who she misquotes. And considering she uses classism and her extreme privilege to put down Radical Feminists with ridicule, she seems deliberately not too bright.

    I think her charge of “sadistic” is her usual plagiarizing since I’ve written about her being sadistic, because I don’t know of any other way to describe a rich white woman who enjoys making trouble for feminists and hurting women. It’s all a game to her, like about how long can she get away with keeping her trannie friend, Mr. Alexander, in the Lesbian Caucus, while they laugh at the Lesbians.

  47. Bev Jo Says:

    I just have to answer

    “(makes me feel a bit like when I was younger and was treated shabbily at clubs because I wasn’t ‘punk’ enough, even when I was in the band…I never really fit in with any group, probably the same with proper ‘butches’ but I don’t like to feel alienated from women who generally share my philosophies just because I don’t fit the mold or share the exact life-experience)”

    This isn’t about you if you aren’t treated as less, inferior, marginalized and shamed for being Butch. But it IS about you if you have made Butches feel less, inferior, marginalized, and shamed.

    This is the classic person in the privileged position who suddenly realizes there are other women treated much worse and somehow she turns that around to feeling excluded. It reminds me of white women I’ve heard actually complain that Black women have their own culture and identity. How dare they? How dare any woman who has been oppressed her entire life dare to talk about her life and that she exists?

    This issue wasn’t even brought up here by Gallus to discuss the life, reality, and existence of Butch or Butch culture. No, we will never be allowed to get to that point.

    It’s about responding to several orchestrated really vicious, cruel, deceitful attacks, knowing that the Butch-hatred existing among women and Lesbians could be used to their advantage.

    Where is the sympathy and support?

  48. cherryblossomlife Says:

    Well, I’ve been mulling what has happened over for the past few days, and I know that not being a lesbian my comments aren’t particularly welcomed in lesbian spaces, but I have been commenting here for a long time because I do believe (and have always believed) that if there was any hope for the feminist movement, it was going to be from butch lesbians. The affrontery and audacity it takes to just live outside the proscribed box the way you all do just astounds me. I mentioned the Painter and Decorator duo above, and that’s exactly what I’m talking about. The strength it takes to live like that just blows me away. I never thought about doing it myself, it just never crossed my mind, and as discussed above, and this could be the result of innate tendencies (my hyper-feminine appearance couple with (perhaps?) innate heterosexuality)… or it could have been because I didn’t have it in me. Those women were not privy to feminist philosophy, none of the ones I knew had been to uni, but they just knew not to comply.

    I haven’t yet made up my mind completely on all issues, I need to read further probably before I do that, but I thought it was important I commented here because as someone who is not a butch lesbian, I can vouch OBJECTIVELY for their existence!!!

    • GallusMag Says:

      MUCH LOVE sister. xoxoxo

      • Chazz Says:

        I’m a woman-identified butch. The last thing I ever want to be is a man. When someone refers to me as “masculine”, I know I’ve run into someone who thinks in terms of gender constructs – someone who doesn’t understand what ungender constructed women look like.

        I’m not stone; I don’t mimic masculinity; I’m not a misogynist or a misandrist. I live and move in the world as a butch woman. It’s not always easy, but it is the only authentic way for me, and women like me, to live.

        As a butch woman, I’ve encountered all manner of conservative backlash in my life. That IS what this latest round of nonsense is all about. It’s conservative backlash from women who presume to speak as Feminists about something they are ignorant about and are too close-minded to rationally dialogue about. It goes beyond butchphobia to cainotophobia. (Cainotophobia being the fear of new things and experiences.)

        I do not care what these dolts think about me personally. I do care that they are spreading misogynist BS in the name of Feminism. It’s very retrograde. Butches like me have been here before. It’s time for us to permanently break from the alphabet soup “community” and stop communing with dolts.

      • GallusMag Says:

        @Chazz-

        I am a lesbian, as all butch lesbians are. When butch-hating lesbians and “political lesbians” (heterosexual women who “identify as” non-heterosexual) like Allecto and Cathy Brennan bash us for gender noncompliance, When they transify us by claiming butch is an “gender identity” rather than an experience descriptor, When they claim that lesbians with the experience of being profoundly, objectively, femininity non-performing since childhood should be mocked and shamed and ostracized and “othered” for naming and discussing that experience, When they apply sexist, misogynist and lesbophobic stereotypes to butch dykes, When they embrace genderist queer theory (but only when it comes to those yucky butch dykes!), When they claim that lesbians who are naturally femininity non-performing are a type of trans, a type of “pseudo male”, who oppress other women by our very existence, I am NOT going to let them get away with it. I am NOT going to let them prevent lesbians from naming and discussing our experiences, much as they might like to.

        Allecto and Brennan – as stated ever so clearly in Allecto’s horrific piece above- think that femininity non-performing dykes are less than human, “half human” lesbians who should be hounded into performing femininity or be transified. They are advocating for the transification of butch dykes. They are PRO “butch flight”: in fact, they would like to forcibly kick butch dykes out of the lesbian and feminist communities themselves, with a gendered foot up our ass.

        The Brennan’s and Allecto’s of the lesbian community who police femininity compliance among women are doing so out of pure misogyny. It is sad. It is dreadful. It is inexcusable.

    • BadDyke Says:

      “to just live outside the proscribed box”
      Yes, the ‘box’ here is several things. Being women, and not doing the expected gender behaviour for your sex, and also being women, and not doing the expected heterosexual behaviour (or the pretend porno lesbo with long nails for the guys to get off on!). And doing the former in terms of clothing/attitude/stance/the way you walk/whatever makes the latter obvious, the menz don’t even have to talk to you, they can spot you from a distance.

      It’s SHOUTING at them that you refuse to conform — and to try and defuse that threat, we have the obvious result, the attempts to try and fit butch into the gender rules they invented, to try and fit butch into their porno fantasies, and to try and fit butch into some sort of cute flattery of real men. And trans is just an extension of THEIR attempts to defuse the butch threat. As I think I’ve said before, I don’t think the menz are worried at all about F2M, because they can spot them a mile away, they weren’t raised as REAL MENZ, so again, just flattering that they try so hard to emulate them. And not a threat as regards their women, because they don’t even have a proper dick.

      And with gender in general, no surprise that some women get it wrong, and think that female as gender is REAL (and accept M2T as women), and that butch as gender is real (and try to criticise butches for not being the right sort of feminists).

      • Chazz Says:

        It’s remarkable to me that people like Brennan, Allecto and their ilk continue using gender queer and/or patriarchal constructs – depending on the argument they’re making at the time – to parse woman identified-butch identity – identities they, themselves, do not claim. It’s silly, and retrograde in the extreme…. Haute couture, hairstyles, power tools, etc, have nothing remotely to do with woman-identified butch identity. You seriously have us confused with the gender benders.

        The unspoken issue between the lines, here, is —> why do that?

        Metaphorically speaking…. Why would a white privileged woman from upscale Nyack, NY argue with a Afro-Colombian woman about what it means to be an Afro-Colombian woman? Why would the Nyakian then take it to the next level and presume to use Lithuanian culture as a way to parse the veracity of what Afro-Colombian women say about themselves?

        That answer is so obvious it’s laughable….

        ANSWER: Because it’s always been the self-assigned “right” of elitists to exercise dominion over those they see as “less then” by “othering”, naming and defining them.

        EXAMPLES:

        INDIANS = Native Americans (and,the negative, assigned characterizations, therein)
        NEGROES = African-Americans ( ” ” ” ” ” ” ” ” ” ” )
        BOONG= Australian aboriginal ( ” ” ” ” ” ” ” ” ” ” )
        CRIOLLO = Haitian ( ” ” ” ” ” ” ” ” ” ” )
        etc……….

  49. cherryblossomlife Says:

    Yes, butches are on the frontline, for sure.

  50. Bev Jo Says:

    Allecto and Brennan are on the same continuum as the men and women who want to wipe out Butches, and they don’t even stop to consider that they are trying to slander and eliminate some of the very Lesbians whose lives and work made it easier for them to come out decades later. Butches were in the frontlines, writing and talking Lesbian Feminism, changing patriarchy across the world.

    They are also on the same female-hating, Lesbian-hating continuum as the patriarchal medical system who called Lesbians mentally ill and locked us up, gave lobotomies, drugs, shock treatments. Is that what they would do now if they had the power?

    I agree, it’s inexcusable.

    Thank you again for your courage in fighting this attack that ultimately hurts all women.

  51. K S Says:

    Thanks so much Gallus, Bev, Chazz, Badyke and many others for excellent and informative posts. Wonderful that you’re back with your blog Gallus, it’s absolutely one of the best radical feminist blogs!

  52. The Zombie Says:

    Hello GM! I have never commented on your blog before but I am a very frequent reader and I am interested in taking part in your “butch caucus” post. If you would prefer to reserve this for more active readers/commenters, I understand that, but I am interested if possible. Thank you, for this, and for all of the things that you do with your blog.

  53. Antigone savva Says:

    Hi im a butch lesbian and most recently have felt quite isolated in arguing for butch women on various forums. I would like to be a part of your butch caucus in order to feel more supported in my viewpoints as a second wave feminist.

  54. SheilaG Says:

    Excellent article and very well put. Whether I wear a dress or not is immatierial. I’m seen as a butch or as male and clothing has very little to do with it. When I’m in all lesbian environments, no one ever mistakes me for male, because they all know I am completely woman loving, woman passionate.

    At any dyke march or dyke event or lesbian event, no one would ever see anything other than a butch dyke of a certain age that does not perform femininity or step and fetch it to male please.

    Butches love passionately, we cry in public, we reveal the depths of our feeling for women in profound and tender ways. A butch is a woman who simply does not conform to enforced femininity police or gender police, and that is what makes us so dangerous to patriarchy, that is why they are trying to FtoM us out of existence, it is why we are erased from lesbian movies, the L-Word, the male pleasing feminist movement. We don’t believe in the code of male pleasing or fake femininity, which is code for female enslavement actually.

    We are proud lifetime feminists and lovers of women, and some of us have never drunk the forced het cool aid ever. We are attractive to women because we are free, and freedom is intoxicating and lovely.

  55. bluejeans Says:

    Just a lurker (that sounds creepy, but for lack of a better word) unlurking to say that I appreciate this piece SO, so, so incredibly much.

    That there are so many Butch-hating “feminists” and even fellow lesbians.. as a fairly young butch myself, it seriously tears me apart to see that even among other lesbians we are hated so much. Other women throwing us under the bus. To see gender-critical feminists hating us like the rest of the world already does.. well, fuck that. I’m so grateful for ((((everyone))) here, especially ((((GM)))))). I’ve never done the bracket hugs before but I just really want to hug everyone here, seriously. well, not the haters.

    also, those “butch is a noun! butch masculinity! butch is tranzzz” people make me so angry. such heartless frauds. we butches are women through and through.

    sorry if this is a bit incoherent, I’m really tired right now. but thank you from the bottom of this dyke’s heart, to all of you, for speaking out and standing up for us. strength

    • GallusMag Says:

      ((((((((((bluejeans))))))))))

      • JoMo Says:

        And more (((((hugz)))) bluejeans!
        It heartens me to hear from young butches who will claim and proclaim their butchness, integral, deep and as a woman.

        You give me great hope that we will fight back against the attempts to redfine us out of existence, erase us and expunge is from the social record.

  56. JoMo Says:

    Reblogged this on Butch Anew and commented:
    elements with in the Rad Fem movement have been trying to erase Butch (and Femme) since the 1970’s, the advent of second wave Feminism. Middle class academics who percieved us as unenlightened – unlike them, ignorant and duped into an outdated aping of heteronormativity.
    They have not succeded. We are as alive and true as ever:

    Read deep – please ho to this post at gendertrender.wordpress.com if you wish to add your voice.

  57. Morriganscrow Says:

    I am a (late blooming) lesbian, and have been a TransAlly for a long time. Now, I am also a Butch Lesbian Ally. I am still woefully ignorant about the feminist and lesbian history and politics involved, although I am actively attempting to rectify that, but for me, it boils down to this. WRONG IS WRONG, Butches are women, passionate activists, many of them, deeply self-aware and real to who they are. They are women, they are lesbians, they are Sisters, Friends, Advocates, they are Us, and I refuse to marginalise them, or “other” them, or “transify” them. Butches are amazing, and I can learn SO MUCH from them, and, to the best of my ability, I will support them…and ALL lesbians!

  58. FeistyAmazon Says:

    THANK YOU GALLUS MAG! If it weren’t for the Butches I would NOT have come out as a Dyke, as a Dyke Witch, as a Lesbian Separatist, and felt entirely validated once I came out as a Dyke, BY Butches. I prefer Butch company. And my loving Butch on Butch DykeAmazon partner!!! Butches and Dykes Forever! Men never! And thanks for your wonderful statements at the end. We are caring feeling Butch Dyke, Bull Daggers who LOVE women, DykeAmazons to the last, and Warriors for the womenz, not the menz, and we will fight for the womenz till the end, and advocate for them…..many places we do not go anymore because we don’t want others calling us by male pronouns thinking that is respect. It is not, NOBODY will erase our Fierce Butch DykeAmazon Wildwomon FEMALENESS!

    Us Butches must take back our Medusan powers and fight for every young butchy, tomboy dyke coming out and encourage her to have PRIDE in her femaleness, and not go down the road of identifying with the male, hormones, breast binding and surgeries!
    -In Butch DykeAmazon Sisterhood,
    -FeistyAmazon

  59. MainelyButch Says:

    this is one awesomely written blog. Thank you for standing up for us Butches, it’s hard enough without reading some of these Butch-bashing blogs like Brennan’s recent one. Which doesn’t even make sense! I just followed you and look forward to more! ~Ang

  60. FeistyAmazon Says:

    I do like the company of other Butches and comradery andcsexual energy being Butch on Butch AS LONG AS they are Female Proud. One reason other than finding other Suster Butches attractive on a very deep level for me is that they intimately understand my struggles in the world in a way other womyn do not. We speak the same language and they are not chasing after all the tiresome trappings of femininity. They inhabit their bodies in a way many women do not and there is a level of fearlessness that EVERY Butch has to pursue what are often considered more taboo “manly” interests..for me it was the martial arts and the Trades..for my Butch partner its her love of motorcycles and biker culture and her obsession with team sports and statistics. We break out of the mold which many women fear being called “mannish” ” unwomonly” “dykes” ect ALL OF WHICH WE ARE. We have always been here through millenia as Amazons to break these moulds and go where other women fear to go…but it is in doubt if we will continue as we see our younger Sisters “Gendercated” and ASSumed to be male instead or put on hormones or blockers to deny and strip away their Femaleness or solidarity with other females.

    We are a different kind if Female but STILL FEMALE and we love Females first and foremost. It isn’t about tge clothes…its about tge lifelong attitude, our bearing and our Butch Dykely Beings….

    Thanks for speaking up Sister.

  61. FeistyAmazon Says:

    Reblogged this on FeistyAmazon and commented:
    Love this..and yes..a straight woman who considers herself radical feminist just said some butch hating things to me considering some Butches pseudo males. I had to remind her that FOR NOT ONE DAY OF THEIR/ our lives have we ever benefited from male privilege.

  62. nonny Says:

    Not my conversation so I’m keeping my comment to the following only:
    As someone who is not a lesbian (ergo, not butch either) I found this VERY informative and eye-opening. You can hear so clearly in the rebuttal of Gallus and commenters the truth, the heart, the reality of a certain kind of female experience, and it made me sit down and shut up.
    As someone who is gender non-conforming though, and visibly so, and from a young age, it also made me stand up and cheer.

    Our experiences are varied and we don’t all agree but I’m so thankful for yall. I’m standing on the side of the highway in the sun right now, just got off the bus, carrying a grocery bag containing shaving cream for my face and nowhere else, feeling the sun on my shaved head, and wearing….yes….wait for it….combat boots, lol, and I’m just so damn grateful.

  63. KgSch Says:

    I know this is an old post, but I liked it. I honestly didn’t know much about Cathy Brennan other than a bunch of trans cult members want her head on a platter, but I was unaware that she was posting such anti-butch things or sneaking her trans BFF into lesbian events so he could ridicule them.

    What butch is has been lied about (of course) but you don’t have to dig deep to know the truth. Just read Bev Jo’s blog. Or, I would say that if you see a woman and you instinctively know that she’s a lesbian, there is a high probability she’s a butch.

    Butch lesbians have rejected and hated the feminine sex role since an early age and we should see them as good role models. I am not a butch since I didn’t reject all femininity when I was a girl, but I reject it now.

    “Butch is a quality that derives out of shedding the nonsense of gender. We don’t shed the feminine only to take on the masculine.”

    I think that’s a good point. Refusing to be feminine doesn’t automatically make you masculine. Butch lesbians aren’t the ones enacting masculine behavior like destroying the earth for profit and are often at the front lines of opposing that kind of thing. Using the “logic” that not being feminine means being masculine, it would mean that women in STEM fields or girls who are good at STEM subjects are masculine.

    Also Pat Califa? Seriously? It is already know that she is not a lesbian, but a bisexual woman pretending to be a gay men and a sado-masocist. If she was lying about being a lesbian, and we know that she isn’t really a gay man, why assume that her claim of being butch is legit?

  64. mixelleleigh Says:

    I love your writing and I love butch lesbians!


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