Butch Bible: A How-to Guide for the Proper Butch

I am working on a compendium of sorts, a listing of all things butch. Guidance for me and my beloved Butches. My hope is that we will build a primer that can be used for generations to come. [Cue dramatic music.] If you send me thoughts you have for good verses, I will include them in updates. What do you think? I will name each chapter after a famous and historical lesbian suiting the topic. Here are my first 5 entries, of a foundational nature, and so,of course, they can be named after no one but Sappho.

Note well: the Butch Bible is tongue-in-cheek. Remember that there are no real rules. In this butch’s opinion, though, if you get it right, your cheek isn’t the only place your tongue will be.

Also, note well: this butch is a confirmed atheist. I mean no disrespect to any of you who are religious and follow the better known bible (there are others). Remember, tongue-in-cheek, good fun, and all that!

Sappho, Chapter 1

In the beginning (of western civilization anyway, and by that, I mean Manhattan), there were pretty much only Butches and Femmes. Being in the closet forced many lesbians to identify this way, and any other lesbians were invisible. Obviously, this has changed, but it was very common in the 1900s. It turns out, by the way, that some of us choose to identify like this. These women were the mothers of our movement, along with their drag queen brothers. These are the people who were subjected to police raids and enforcement of laws that required them to wear three pieces of clothing belonging to their gender. Yikes. Three? I’ve got, let’s see… One. Ok, so Google Stonewall Inn Riots if you want to know more. On to the verses.

1:1 Butches are more masculine than Femmes, and are often mistaken for men by people who are not paying attention. Butches are defined (variously) as lesbians that tend toward the masculine or who are notably manly or masculine in appearance. Exception: It’s a generalization, so of course there are plenty of exceptions.

1:2 Femmes are more feminine than Butches and other lesbians. Femmes tend towards make up and dresses, but not always. Femmes are defined as being lesbians that are attracted to Butches. Exception: See above. [I note that it feels troubling that a femme is defined by her attraction to a butch; that seems unfair. Perhaps I will tackle that another time.]

Get it right, rock on. Get it wrong, you are an asshole. (courtesy of weheartit.com)
Get it right, rock on. Get it wrong, you are an asshole. (courtesy of weheartit.com)

1:3 Butches shall have some amount of swagger. This is key to being a butch. Plus, it makes Femmes swoon. Exception: Beware of too much swagger. This makes you an asshole. So, good luck figuring out the balance.

1:4 Butches are presumed to be tough, and most of us like that presumption – play into it as it were, but this doesn’t mean we have to be tough. Butches shall let their Femmes see their softer side.

1:5 Butches shall take care of Femmes, protect them and make them feel safe. This is our butch privilege. Exception: If your particular Femme doesn’t like this, then don’t act this way.

That’s it for the first chapter – the foundational one. More to come as you share with me or I divine them from the Butch Femme Gods. It’s butch to use a how-to guide to become a proper butch. Be Butch.

15 thoughts on “Butch Bible: A How-to Guide for the Proper Butch

  1. The first thing I think of… is that ‘Butch’, is a noun and is not defined by clothing or style of dressing… it is innate and of the core of ones being… ‘butch’ is an adjective, discribing that which is not femme. Thus I am Butch, but not always butch… (wink)

  2. Butches tend to make the first move. ( However, never mistake this for being in charge.) They may participate in stereotypical masculine social behaviors when around a femme, such as door-opening/holding, drink-purchasing, tab-paying, and jewelry presenting, (Depending on your butch, though, your mileage with that may vary,)

  3. Hello! I wanted to respond when I first saw this, but wasn’t able to do so.

    I love this effort, and most of the verses you’ve started seem right on target–awesome idea, and great advice.

    One observation: Your intuition was correct on one point. My femme-ness is not defined by my attraction to butches. I love it that my partner is butch, and find that makes for a more beautiful balance in our own lives, but that’s not always the case. I’ve known femmes who preferred other femmes, and even–yes–butches who adored one another. I have even personally dated another femme rather seriously in the past, although the balance was off then.

    So what does define me as a femme, then? I’d say it has more to do with my comfort level with stereotypical female roles and manners in my own culture. I wear girl clothes and accessories comfortably, to give just one example. I could certainly list more internal examples, too, but this is your blog, not mine. 🙂

    I also think this core concept contributes to the much-discussed issue of femme invisibility. We see what’s salient, and what stands out in a crowd are the outliers, the norm violators, the unexpected variations. (Picture those color blindness test boards full of circles, for example.) Femme lesbians are violating “traditional” social roles in many ways, but many of those violations are in private rather than public areas. We’re not violating expectations in terms of manner, dress, profession, and so forth. Butch lesbians are violating all the same rules about whom to lust after, flirt with, date, love, and marry–but are also violating lots of tiny expectations about mannerisms, dress, professional/social roles, and so forth. They’re more visible. I’m such an ordinary woman at first glance that I literally drape my office space in rainbows, regularly mention my female partner in conversations, and *still* have coworkers who don’t get it. That’s frustrating for me, but I don’t want to cut my hair and stop wearing makeup to be visible. It’s also frustrating for butch lesbians, who may face more negative reactions than do femmes, and may therefore end up feeling we’re not quite as gay as they are.

    OK, I’ll quit posting an epistle on someone else’s blog bible, now. Just wanted to address the one thought, and seriously–overall, I LOVE this!! 🙂

  4. Loved the article..I am starting to embrace the butch side of me after years of trying to conform….I love it!…my femme girlfriend loves it!
    The femininity of my girlfriend is definitely the ying to my yang..once the connection is established; it just gets better as time goes by..

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