Change Your World-NOT your Body

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Butches: Holding Back

I recently had a young Femme ask if it was normal for Butch women to hold back with their feelings, and had a half dozen Femmes closer to my age recently complain about the same thing with Butch after Butch. Given that this has been and remains a major problem in Femme/Butch relationships I'll address here. So do Butches hold back? Yes. The more difficult question to answer, why do Butches hold back?

I know I've made mention a few times here and there that by and large when it comes to making the first moves (or hell any move), its nearly always Femmes having to do so first.  This is where Butch holding back begins, before Femmes and Butches officially even meet. A Butch could be at a club, have a Femme make serious eye contact, walk past said Butch half a dozen times, send a drink over to said Butch and that Butch will not make a single gesture that she's interested until that Femme finally comes over and says "hi". This prime scenario gets repeatedly played out in a multitude ways, even online. A Butch can be DYING to talk to a particular Femme, be given as I said every sign that says "go", permission to cross every street, green lights everywhere and yet remain motionless. Paralyzed to be exact. This is another example where the ignorant myth about how much alike Butches are to men gets shredded and illustrates how those who believe Butches to be like men prove they know nothing whatsoever about us Butches. We can and have had beautiful, sexy, naked willing Femmes at our feet and would like nothing more in this world than to pull them up, kiss, hold, love and make love to them with everything that we are as a living breathing human being and yet we wont make a single move towards her. Not exactly something MEN are known for is it?

But those are the facts and most Femmes know them or will learn them in dealing with Butches. Back to the question of why? The simplest answer is Butch shame and thats where simple ends where Butch women are concerned. I have written about how Butches come to Butch shame, so I'm not going to repeat myself here. What I will say is this, because of Butch shame Butches develop a strong feeling and need to be and stay in control. There is a near pathological fear that if we approach a Femme we would be rebuffed and there is an equal fear even in a relationship when our Femme approaches us to say yes. Both situations, both answers require a loss of control. Our Butch bodies may be screaming at the tops of their lungs for us to let go and lose all control with our Femme partner, but our Butch brains will ultimately keep the brakes on the whole time. A Femme can create the most private loving space for us so that we can hopefully feel comfortable enough to lose that control, and dont think for a minute most Butches arent appreciative of that, dont worship Femmes all the more because of that, we do, but the shame that lies underneath the control you so desperately want us to lose is greater than your loving touch.

What Femmes need to understand, what we Butches need to understand as well is the thing that is informing the Butch shame, which informs our need for control. Weakness. What so many Butch women cannot wrap their Butch brains around is the power of letting go, whether thats sexually, emotionally or both. We cannot understand that power exist in letting go, that maybe the most powerful thing we could ever do in our lives is to let. But losing control feels shameful and shame makes us feel weak aka female. And I'm not talking about those Butches who are so horribly shameful they no longer even ID as female/woman, but those of us who do. Hetero-male society has driven it into our brains that women are weak, all in efforts to make them (men) feel strong, not because they actually are. Any women who has ever been in any kind of crisis with males, knows full well where true strength lies and it isnt with the menz. But women have been written, portrayed, seen, viewed as weak, we internalize that nonsense, feeling shameful for our NATURAL needs and feelings.

We know biologically males are much more suited to their one dimensional emotional lives, their natural biology dulling their emotional points. But as Butch WOMEN with multi-dimensional emotions, sharp as a needle, trying to live as if we only had that single dulled dimension, it is a miracle we dont all just implode, truthfully though far too often, many of us do. Holding back is its own form of self abuse, self punishment and self deprivation. This is why it is SO important for Butches to step up, be seen and make ourselves known, so that maybe new generations of Butches can avoid the horrors of living a half dead life. But before we can even do that we as Butch women have to work through our shame, discover our strengths in womanhood and truly  represent so that these baby Butches can have a chance to grow up and lead emotionally/sexually FULL healthy lives.

There is no simple switch a Femme can flip to change a Butch so that she can see herself through Femme eyes. See the beauty, strength, power, uniqueness, exquisiteness that Femmes see in us through letting go and expressing our feelings and sexual wants. More often than not no matter how many times a Femme may verbalize these things to us, it is only through Femme hands and mouths that it all becomes clear. That Femme mouth that whispers to our cunts in the dark the thing we needed to hear most in our life. But far too often our fear and shame and need for control gags that Femme mouth from uttering a single word, that Femme tongue from licking a single letter. I say all this not because there is no hope for us, but precisely because we need to create that hope. The more we talk about Butch shame in our communities, with our friends, in our relationships the more we drive that shame away, opening the door for a universe of possibilities.

I urge this to Femmes: please continue creating those safe spaces for us, we need them so, we need you. Please be more vocal, especially in public spaces about your wants and needs and desires for our Butch women's bodies. Tell us how much you love our breast and the taste of our cunts. Because when all we hear is how much you love our strong legs or our big biceps then we assume you have no desire for our breast and cunts which only furthers our Butch shame. Lets us know exactly why you are a lesbian! We need to hear it, even if it scares us.

Butches I urge you: listen to what Femmes are saying. Think about how you would feel if you reached for her and she turned you away. Not just once but over and over and over again. Let her know how you feel, know your fears. Even if all you can do to start is to write down on a piece of paper, do it. Give it to her. You'll be surprised how that can lead to a whole different way of living, a good way, a less shameful way. If you're single, bring this stuff up with Butch friends, because it does affect us all. Chances are if Butch shame has you against the wall, it has your Butch friends backed up against the wall as well. There is nothing weak or unbutch in discussing our Butch feelings.




  1. This explains so much to me. What an enormous help, as I always thought I wasn't adequate to understand my darling butch. I love her so much and I've kept trying to get "it"; and stayed even when I was rebuffed wrongly.
    I can back up for a better start now.
    It is very difficult to tell butches what lies in the heart of a good femme. It is something very special and beautiful. And in my butch I see the most awesome person! And when I say that to her she throws it off like nothing I say counts. Is that what you really feel about femmes' efforts to love you?
    The sky won't fall in if you let go of something. Letting go is a sign of strength not weakness.
    Thanks, Dirt.

  2. You are at your best Dirt when you write like this. I have felt this approaching both Femmes and Butches...different things in both....with other Butches, I have to know they're open to Butch on Butch...with Femmes, I don't want them to see me as a predator(in that negative way)so, there are times I've held back to make sure there ARE those green lights, and that they REALLY WANT what I have to offer. I'm quite intense, and they have to know and consent to that level of intensity. Perhaps that's what it spew their boundaries like the marking animals they are, all over the place, whether the woman wants their approach or not...since like you mention, us Butches ARE women, we're more sensitive to that, and we don't want to be seen like a dog marking any indiscriminate territory...while I don't tend to wait since I'm generally the more Dominant partner about 90% of the time, I generally do approach after recieving signifiers of interest, or determining that they are truly SINGLE at a party. I don't want to approach a gameplayer whose into playing two Butches against each other, I WANT to know she's single and available(or polyamorous and available as the case may be). I'm decidely NOT into competing, so in that sense, when you talk about the Femme approaching, I like it in that sense of them coming to me....I'm NOT the type to vye(compete) for someone's attention.

    And then there's the part of me that's shy...that HATES rejection, like you've mentioned. Yes, us Butches have egos and sometimes they're fragile, and sometimes WE HATE to be rejected, so sometimes we don't have the self-esteem, the gumption to make the effort! It takes alot of nerve to do so, and if the woman approaches us and breaks the ice, then that is so much to the better.

    I too agree about doing as much as possible to grow Butch self-esteem so that Butches DON'T play these games, so we CAN be vulnerable and get both our sexual and emotional needs met. There have been times early in relationships it has been hard to 'let go' and allow the other to make love to me, it's so much easier for me to be the aggressive one, and doing the lovemaking...but I love both.

    And I certainly do want someone who enjoys my breasts, my sacred Yoni as much as any other part...well sometimes I'm embarrassed about my breasts...I'm very self conscious about them in fact. Fortunately I have a partner who appreciates them greatly.
    -In Butch Sisterhood,


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