Femme Invisibility

Femme Invisibility. The term has been tossed around a great deal in the last decade, but it has been suffered by Femmes forever.

 Let me begin by defining Femme Invisibility as I, a Butch woman understands it. Femme Invisibility is invisibility tripled. Femme's experience invisibility first, through the assumptions from the hetero world that because visually how they carry female falls within the range of the general straight woman that they too must also be straight. Secondly, the way Femme's carry female they are assumed even in the lesbian community to be card carrying lipstick lesbians and lipstick lezbo dating material by other lipstick lezzies! Last because of both of the above, Femme's are often invisible to the Butches they so desire.

Passing is one of the greatest complaints/problems that Femme's have with Femme Invisibility. When Femmes pass as straight woman, their lesbianism is invisible leaving them open to male attentions they do not desire. Couple this with Butch invisibility, even when Femme's do come out, since straight girl on straight girl sex is a mainstay of hetero male porn, men's first sick thoughts when a Femme declares she is a lesbian is envisioning her with a long nailed hyper feminine chick having sex for his minds dirty pleasure! This straight girl on girl male porn that usually winds up with the male jumping in, leads to the assumption that Femme lesbians are not legitimately lesbian at all.

Because the lesbians in male porn/fantasy readily accept a male watching/joining in. This is often why the lesbianism within Femme/Butch couplings is suspect by hetero-patriarchy. If a Femme resembles the lesbians in porn and the Femme is dating a woman who "looks like a guy", she is just confused and really needs some man dick to show her the way! This barely touches on the mind/field Femme Invisibility endangers Femme's to, but it gives a minor notion of the kind bullshit Femme's daily deal with.

Femme Invisibility within the larger lesbian community present its own set of problems. The larger lesbian community makes plenty of their own assumptions about Femme lesbians. Like say if at a lesbian bar many lesbians assume Femmes to be interested in other Femme/inine lesbians. Often when non Femme lesbians find out Femmes are interested in Butch partners, non Femme lesbians may and do turn on Femme lesbians, viewing them as traitors of a sort. I remember an ex telling me when she had moved to a new town she began going to the local lesbian bar and was soon befriended by a lipstick lesbian.

My ex started hanging around with this lesbian knowing she said, straight off this woman was attracted to other lipstick lesbians. She enjoyed this woman's company and they had a few things in common, who this friend was attracted to had nothing to do with their friendship. Some weeks into their friendship they both hit the local lezzie bar. After an hour or so there was a Butch who came in that my ex found attractive. My ex said something to her friend about how "hot" she thought this Butch was, where upon my ex's friend showed immediate disgust and said "that’s what you're into"? Needless to say this woman never contacted my ex again. I have heard over the years similar stories by Femme friends. Because of the type of woman (Butch) a Femme dates, her lesbianism is automatically suspect. This is why Femme Visibility and Butch Visibility are so dependent upon one another. Were Butches actually viewed and understood by the larger lesbian community as the women we are, Femme's would be understood as the lesbians they are. 

Invisible to the general public, invisible distrusted and disdained for who they love by lesbians, then to top it all off invisible quite often to the Butches they wish to attract, isn’t Femme Invisibility grand! I have often laughed with Femme partners and Femme friends at the interesting twists dating usually takes with Femme and Butch. Funny because there has and remains the ignorant notion that Femme/Butch is nothing more than male/female mimicry and Femme/Butch dating techniques are yet another thing that illustrates how nonsensical those ideas are. Most Butch women never got the chance to develop asking a girl out in school, we fear trying it as adults.

What usually happens is, in many instances if we were to compare Femme/Butch to male/female it is the Butches taking on the straight girl role, not the Femme like most might think. Butches are notorious for letting Femmes make the first move. What happens when we see a woman we might like, do we go up and talk to her? No way! We sneak a glance, we make ourselves seem available, we laugh at everything as cool as we can. If at a bar setting we might find a reason to walk past her as smooth and as butch as we possibly can. Then like so many straight woman before us, we sit back and wait and hope this Femme makes a moves. I don’t believe I'm exaggerating when I say I bet 9 out of 10 Femme/Butch relationships began with the Femme making first serious contact with the Butch! Femmes like all women grew up being conditioned to think when it came time for them to date, all they would have to do is simply say yes or no. But because of Femme Invisibility and Butch fear, Femmes have had to completely rewrite for themselves a different dating manual, no easy feat I would wager!

Just as there are things only a Femme knows about a Butch, this is something only Butches really see, get and appreciate about Femmes. This strength that creates uniqueness in Femmes that most women do not posses, and which is hidden/unknown to all except Butch lesbians. Make no bones about it, it is strength, strength of femmeness we Butches do not posses, that allows a Femme to dare against all she was raised and conditioned to ask another woman, a Butch woman at that, out. Without that unique Femme strength we Butches would be some very lonely souls.

Personally I am as interested and invested in Femme Visibility as much as I am Butch Visibility, I believe they're both dependent upon one another. I am also interested and invested because I care about Femmes and their deserved happiness's and life simplicities. One shouldn’t have to struggle so hard for something as simple as being seen. I fully understand what needs to take place for Butch Visibility; though that is no small task, it is at least definable. The answers for Femme Visibility are more difficult to nail down, obviously regularly coming out (in safe places) is a given. I think for the good of both Femme and Butch women within lesbian spaces Femmes need to be more vocal about their lesbian desires.

I think this would help non Femme/Butch lesbians to see Femme lesbians are just as lesbian because they too want a woman's body sexually-only difference being that woman's body is in a Butch package with Butch energy behind it. I think Femme sexuality has taken a back seat in a similar way straight women's sexuality gets diminished because it’s all about what the man wants. Check out any B-F forum and under sexuality most of it reads pretty hetero based/Butch based. There is a great shame in Butch sexuality and Femme's will mask their own desires publicly by downplaying or not mentioning that their desire goes past being fucked by a Butch. And that’s not to take away any pleasure both Femmes and Butches gain from that, but we all know behind close doors there's a little more to Femme sexuality than merely lying there!

The prime factor in Femme IS lesbian. That is something Femmes need to reclaim and reassert if they are ever to truly be visible. Butches need to encourage the lesbianism behind Femme, for Femmes and also for us too. To take away some of the shame once and for all rather than letting Femmes mask it for Butch partners, which in the end only hurts us both. In soooo many Femme/Butch spaces both RT and online it has almost become shameful for a Femme to admit she enjoys a Butch's breast/pussy. And if she does admit it all too often she must slip into some insane Orwellian doublespeak of "chest" for breast and "cock" for clit. I say shame on any Butch who has EVER put her Femme in that position out of their own shame and sexual insecurities. (Side note-I'm not talking about playing around in bed-I'm talking legitimate sexual discussions)

 I realize I have given only a few examples in the ways in which we can begin fighting Femme Invisibility, clearly there is a multitude of Femme Invisibility factors Femmes face every day and each an arrow cutting through the heart of every Femme. I hope talking about it even a little will begin a discussion leading to more discussions leading to a little light on a distant horizon that is the first signs of change.



  1. Thank you for this post. I found your blog via the gender area on Curve, where you posted an entry a few mos ago.

    I've been starting to think I should give up on butch girls. I find myself wary of inadvertently offending someone by referring to them as "she" or "her". I'm sorry but stone would not cut it for me, and neither does hy/he. I'm glad it works for others - whatever works! - but just not for me. I like girls / women, and that's what I want -- only with a buzz cut and a man's button down shirt. And I don't want to just lie there and not be able to ... reciprocate in the same ways. Again, not hating on stone relationships or TG or any of that for people it works for, but it's not for me and it's frustrating...

  2. Thank you so much for writing this post Dirt, as a younger Femme it's always even more annoying when my lesbianism is downplayed to merely "a phase" or like you said the apparent willingness to just concede to bullshit male desires (honestly, what part of LESBIANISM do people just NOT undertand.) I might come & post more here as I think of it but that was the first thing that sprung to mind.

  3. Pardon my ignorance, but what's the difference between a femme and a lipstick lesbian?

  4. TS,

    Do not give up, there plenty of Butch girls out there who could use a real Femme who desires them as the women they are! Butch breast and Butch pussy are HOT and something every true Femme wants and cant live without! They are also within reach, dont let the disordered have you believe otherwise.

    (per my email-again I'm here anytime you need to talk)


  5. Aileen,

    Glad you got something out of it!


  6. VP,

    Femme's specifically partner with Butch women.

    Lipstick dykes date each other.


  7. I thought this was great too Dirt! I'm always learning from you and I think it's great for me to hear these stories. Us straight chicks need to listen to our Lesbian sisters more often, how else can we be sure to support you if we don't listen!?? Wanna know something? That male fascination with girl on girl can piss off the non-lesbians too! I love lesbians, as people, as women, but not sexually, and I'm not going to perform otherwise just to please a man! I am annoyed by it whenever men talk about it. Which part of Lesbian don't they get?! If you're a Lesbian, you don't want a man, if you want a man, you're NOT A LESBIAN! If I want to fuck a man, i want his undivided attention, not to be playing second fiddle to the other woman in my own fucking bed! It stops being about a connection, about sharing, about intimacy between two people and immediately becomes soulless theatre. So really, it's insulting to ALL of us, there's no way for the women to win! The straight girl wants the other girl gone, the lesbian wants the man gone! Really, it's about the male ego, and him feeling more important as if the whole world exists as his dominion, even women who want NOTHING to do with him! And meanwhile, the ones who DO love him are treated as secondary, less than, their feelings unimportant. Invisible. it makes us ALL invisible.
    See, this is why it's such a good use of time to listen to the lesbians! I learn about your world and simultaneously my own world makes that much more sense. Weird how your difference experience validates mine because we are all women, and that's the most important thing really isn't it?

  8. Cass,

    Thank for your comments and I'm glad you as a straight woman get something out of my posts. I think it says a lot about the common foundation (woman), we share.


  9. Another great post. I really enjoy when you write about Butch/Femme issues. They make me think. Thank you Dirt for opening a safe space for us Femmes - we have very few of them. (Even the so-called Butch/Femme sites/forums are not safe for free speech.)

    As far as passing and men goes, the worst part is the anger and violence when those men realize that you are seriously a Lesbian and just not fantasy-fodder. Men will and do strike out. When I am out, I send mental thoughts toward men - telling them to stay away! I do this in conjuction with discouraging body language. It does work sometimes.

    On Femme-invisibility in Lesbian communities - I have a story - One night right after I "came out" as a Femme, I attended an open Lesbian event all dolled up. I felt sexy and empowered. That quickly changed after I arrived. I was treated like an enemy. I was given ugly looks and ignored anytime I started a conversation. If not for my older butch friend who supported me, I would have run out of there crying and even so, I felt awful afterwards.

    I would also like to mention that we can't forget the ultimate Femme strengths - the ability to give love, comfort, and compassion freely and without fear.

    I do enjoy reading Butch views on Femme invisibility. I often find they have insights that we might miss.

    I think Femme inactivity is linked to fear. It takes courage to set youself apart from the crowd and be on your own.(Honestly, it's a courage I don't have - yet!)I think that we Femmes would greatly benefit from the support of Butches (see my story above as an example.) But we have to let them know they are welcome and not shun them!


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