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Butch or Femme

What Am I?


Hello. I'm fifteen years old and came out to my parents a few weeks ago as a lesbian. Since then I have been doing research, which led me to Lesbian Life. I've been reading about different types of lesbians and this has confused me beyond belief. Both about what exactly they are, and what I would be classified as.

From what I've gathered, there are "butches" and "femmes" and the butches are the more masculine whereas the femmes are the more feminine of the relationship. Is this correct?

As for me...I find this really odd because I am a pretty masculine person, but in the few relationships I have been in, I definitely see myself as the more meek, cautious of the two...so I have no idea what I am or really what the definition of these two "types" are! Please help me!

Dear Newly Out Teen,

Thanks for writing in about the topic of butch and femme lesbians. First of all, let me tell you that you don't need to take on any label or act in any way that doesn't feel genuine to you. You do not need to decide whether you are butch or femme. You don't need any label at all.

Some lesbians are very into the butch and femme dichotomy and take it very seriously. It's part of their core identity, how they see themselves and how they want to be viewed in the world.

Other lesbians like to play around with the labels and have come up with all sorts of variations like soft butch, stone butch, blue jean femme, lipstick lesbian, etc.

Still other lesbians, reject the labels altogether and don't understand why we need more definitions to further separate ourselves from one another.

Back in the 1950s in some parts of the community, there was a huge pressure for young lesbians coming out to choose whether they were going to be butch or femme. Butches dated femmes and femmes dated butches. Since that time, we have come a long way. Feminism has taught us that there is no one way to be a woman and there is no one way to be a lesbian.

Please don't worry about taking on a label or definition that doesn't seem right to you. Just try to be who you are, date the kind of women you're attracted to be yourself. If you decide that you do relate more to being a butch or a femme, then go ahead and take that label for yourself.

Having said all that, I also want to note that there are stereotypes about what it means to be a butch and what it means to be a femme. You can identify as butch and still be the meeker one in the relationship. You can be sensitive, you can cry, you can be cautious.

You can identify as femme and fix cars, take control in the bedroom and hate cooking.

Being butch or femme is more about how you feel on the inside. How you view yourself, how you see yourself in the world and how you relate to the people around you.

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