“Are you butch?”
Mmm, opening messages like these on dating sites get me every time. One question, mildly offensive. She’s clearly “the one.” God. I should have sent her the link to Plenty of Match.com in response.
However, I’m not going to write about online dating (again). After much laughing/scoffing/grumbling, I realize that my not-so-suave admirer actually raised an interesting question. This was confirmed when I posed her question on a social networking site, and one of my acquaintances responded: “Isn’t it clear from your photos? Weird.”
Now wait a second. What does butch mean, exactly? I attempted to explain that I don’t identify as butch, and jokingly said I was a “boi,” further confusing some of those in my social circle.
What was a boi? If one is neither butch nor femme, what are they?
Labels! We need labels!! Everyone is so much more comfortable when people can be put in boxes. Good lord. It seems as though a bit of a lez-ucation is in order. Allow me to help. And stereotype as I see fit.
1. Boi: First of all, this term can be confusing in the gay world, as “bois” are something different to gay men. In the lez world, simply put, a “boi” is a younger lesbian that typically looks and acts like a guy. She dresses in clothes designed for men, has a boyish hairstyle and carries herself like a dude. Think of the “boi” as the metro version of masculine lezzies. Still, the operative word in this definition is “young,” as older lesbians generally aren’t referred to as “bois.” I’m 31. Hell, I’m taking this term to the grave with me. Simply because I’d rather not be called…
2. Butch: that other, less pretty term for masculine lesbians. Butches are generally a little more rough around the edges. Butches are the dykes on bikes. Butch women might go to the barber and not a stylist, and need to learn how to properly use hair products. [Note: I am now worried that a pack of dykes on bikes will be arriving to kick my ass.] Honestly, I love butches. Perhaps I will become one someday. (No). They remind me of my dad. Many of them like to be called dad(dy). Especially by women who consider themselves…
3. Femme/lipstick: Why “lipstick”? Because they WILL wear lipstick. I won’t even wear lip gloss. Femmes are often hard to differentiate from straight women. They look and act exactly the same. How to tell them apart from straight women? Check to see if A. they have their tongue in your mouth and B. Yeah, I don’t have any other ideas. Femmes wear dresses and skirts (NOT with army boots) and can walk in heels. Actually, they can probably run. They are into fashion, makeup, and hair. They are NOT into sports. They’ll look hot waving pom pons while watching you, though. If she looks femme, but she’s into sports, she’s a…
4. Sporty dyke: Oops, I just gave my definition above. She looks femme and she’s into sports. She can walk in heels, but prefers cleats. Or tennis shoes. Sporty dykes rarely wear their hair down. Ponytails, buns, and headbands are the norm. And not just during the game. Honestly, I could give more details, but there’s no way I could be more thorough than the definition on Effing Dykes. Other terms you might not be familiar with include…
5. Futch: This term comes from the combination of femme + butch. Duh. Dani Campbell, from Tila Tequila’s reality show, says she invented the term. Yeah, no she didn’t, but we’ll excuse that. She’s cute. Girls that identify as futch may not buy ALL their clothes in the men’s department. They might pick more masculine clothing still designed for girls. They also wear makeup. I could be futch. No way will I go out without my guyliner.
6. Soft-butch: Pretty much the same as futch. Somebody just decided we needed more labels. Girls that are bois/futch/soft-butch will often be…
7. Androgynous: There’s a great Joan Jett song with this name. When a person is andro, it’s difficult to tell on first glance whether they’re a guy or a girl. I’ve begun to realize that all the double-takes I’ve received are actually people trying to figure out what I am. Meh. Keeps it interesting.
8. Chapstick lesbian: I’ll always love this term, because Ellen DeGeneres coined it. When her character was asked on her TV show “Ellen” if she was a lipstick lesbian, she said that she was more of a “chapstick” lesbian. Chapstick lesbians are everywhere, and other labels may apply to them as well. Pretty much every lezzie that isn’t a femme is a chapstick lez. Seriously. Go up to any lezzie and ask if she has chapstick. Who wants to makeout with chapped lips?
9. Bull dyke: A dyke that looks like a bull. Ok, no. But she’s as strong as one. Bull dykes are butchies, and they are big. Not big as in fat necessarily, big as in thick. We need more of these on my football team. They wear cargo shorts and polos. Or flannel. They wear Birkenstocks, sometimes with socks. Bull dykes probably have a knife if you need one, and have something hanging off the karabiner in their belt loop. Using this term is often seen as derogatory, but I use it with love.
10. Stone Butch: First, these women are proud to be butch, but “stone butch” actually means she’s a giver, not a taker. Yes, that way. They are the touch-er, and not the touch-ee. [Random: Stone Butch Blues is an award-winning novel by Leslie Feinberg that is a fantastic piece of gay literature.]
11. Gold Star: Me. Ok, that wasn’t a definition. A Gold Star lesbian, plain and simple, has NEVER been with a guy. Good luck finding one. Pretty sure we are slowly going extinct.
12. Toaster: A toaster isn’t a type of lesbian, per se; it’s the hypothetical “prize” you win if you are a girl’s first sexual experience with another girl. NOT their first makeout – you must actually sleep with them. We’re playing for fake kitchen appliances here. Sometimes it’s also fun to refer to your straight female friends as “toaster” if they’ve never been with a girl. “You’re next, Toaster.”
13. Stud: An African-American butch lesbian. Check out Skyler Cooper. Damn.
14. Baby dyke: A baby dyke can be one of two things – a really young lesbian, or one who has just come out. They often insist that they are “very mature for their age.” Don’t believe them. You will break their cute little hearts. Let them date other baby dykes. Just a friendly word of advice.
15. Genderqueer: This term is the umbrella word for any gender identity other than man or woman. People that see themselves as genderqueer could be saying that they are both man and woman, neither man nor woman, moving between genders, unlabel-able (apparently “genderqueer” isn’t a label. Mmhmm.), or blurring the lines between genders. Thank you, Wikipedia.
16. Flower/hippie lesbian: These lesbians are easy to find. Just look for the guitar slung over their shoulder. And their dreads. And unshaven…everything. Or go to any Ani DiFranco concert. They’ll win your heart by serenading you with something that they write for you on the spot, and if you break theirs, they’ll write songs like “Untouchable Face.”
In all sincerity, I don’t understand the need to label. Do YOU feel safer if you can label me? Do you feel safer with a label? Me, I’m a short-haired, make-up wearing, beer-drinking, opera-singing, deer-hunting, football-playing, theatre-loving, dog-owning lesbian. Put that in box.
Disagree with Riley? Has she missed anything? Would you like to hear more?
Share your comments below or email her at RDylan1980@gmail.com