Butch and Femme

A reoccurring theme that I have noticed over the course of reading Stone Butch Blues is how important the titles of butch and femme are. The definition for each according to the Oxford English Dictionary are as follows; butch: “a tough youth or man; a lesbian of masculine appearance or behavior,” and femme: “a lesbian who adopts a traditionally feminine identity or appearance.” I find it incredibly interesting the way the women in Stone Butch Blues cling to these titles like a safety net. The words are treated like they are a part of their beings and are even included in many of the names the women are referred to as by Jess. The most interesting part of these titles to me are how strongly they follow the traditional role of a man with a women; though, in this case it is a masculine woman with a feminine woman. These women, even though they clearly deviate from multiple norms, specifically gender and sexuality norms, feel the need to have a relationship that echoes the relationship of the standard, heterosexual relationship. In many ways I am reminded of Rubyfruit Jungle when I read about the butches and femmes in the bars. The way that they have to be in butch/femme relationships is prominent in each; however, in Rubyfruit Jungle it is more expressly stated rather than Stone Butch Blues where it is mostly just observed over the course of learning the relationships.

Why do you think these titles are so important in this community?

Do you find it interesting that it follows closely the “normal” relationship pattern? Why?


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