The Butch/Dyke Divide-Never the Twain Shall Meet-Nor Do They Have To

The Dyke population is not only the LARGEST population of lesbians in the world, they are also the most visible in both TV/Film/News and the general public/lesbian events. A few of the more popular examples of dyke:

Dykes range like the dyke collage above, from smart, attractive, sporty, intelligent, passionate, prideful, talented, musical to name but a few positives gracing dyke populations everywhere. For all intents and purposes our most well known dykes and many in our home dyke communities are something to aspire to. It has long been in admiration myself for many of these dykes that has long puzzled me in seeing so very many dykes through the years desperately trying to reach for some imagined attainable Butch-hood always beyond their reach. Not satisfied with their own uniqueness, dykes have a continued history of innocently mislabeling themselves as Butch or labeling themselves as Butch with Malice Aforethought.

I can remember as a baby Butch (pre internet) with hope in my heart trying to find any information I could about Butch lesbians after I had first heard the word and felt for the first time there were other girls like me. I can also remember the disappointment each time I hunted down a butch artist or actor or writer. Disappointed because their experiences, stories and lives outside of female attraction I shared nothing in common with. I can acutely recall after running across Lee Lynch's name, a "butch author writing about butch lives and loves." I couldnt wait to read her!

 Imagine my surprise (am I channeling Holly Near) and shock opening the two Lee Lynch novels I had purchased at my local Lesbian bookstore? (Yes, once upon a time not only did bookstores exist, so to did lesbian/feminist owned and operated ones.) But I digress, instead of a shiny mirror where I expected to see myself through other women like me, what I saw was a story of men and women where the men had been replaced by some unrecognizable thing called butch. The situations, actions, interactions and romances between the female characters mirrored that of straight society right down to the little ladies and darlins tossed from the lips of butches where they treated delicate femmes like China dolls.

This butch dyke world no matter what direction I looked, history/book/music/pridefest or sport, none reflected my Butch interior/exterior, life, loves or desires. Transitioning from the written word to the real only proved more troublesome. Dykes either looked straight through me, sir'd me or wanted to be "butch buddies." In the decades since I've learned that as a Butch my observations/experiences with dykes were the norm rather than the exception.

But it wasnt until the internet age that I realized just how prevalent dyke envy and their colonization of Butch identity was. I also realized how misconstrued, misunderstood and misconceived dykes were portraying Butch. The butch that dykes were acting out on the big screen of their lives resembled biological men more than they ever resembled Butch women. But worse than these gross caricatures of Butch by dykes using our name, were these B movie renditions of Butch sold to willing movie goers as Hollywood true stories!

But the REAL story is:
  • Butch lesbians do not look like men.
  • Butch lesbians do not act like men.
  • Butch lesbians do not want to be men.
  • Butch lesbians are not the most visible lesbians.
  • Butch and Femme lesbian relationships do not mimic male/female ones.
  • Butch lesbians arent men.
  • Femmes lesbians arent straight women.
  • Butch lesbians havent all transitioned.
  • Butch lesbians rarely transition.
  • Butch lesbians are maternal.
  • Butch lesbians make great homemakers.
  • Butch lesbians dont in the majority play softball.
  • Butch lesbians arent all mr fix its.
  • Butch lesbians cant all read maps.
  • Butch lesbians can and do cook.
  • Butch lesbians do not use male pronouns.
  • Butch lesbians have girl names.
  • Butch lesbians are invisible to straight AND lesbian society.
  • Butch lesbians are attracted to Femme lesbians.
  • Butch lesbians ALL suffered from/through body dysphoria.
  • Butch lesbians arent all protective.
  • Butch lesbians sometimes need protecting.
  • Butch lesbians arent always in control.
  • Butch lesbians in the majority shave unwanted body hair.
  • Butch lesbians do not wear mens clothes, they wear clothes they are comfortable in.
  • Butch lesbians are Earth Mothers, NATURAL!
  • Butch Lesbians are butch without anyone noticing.
And FAR too many other subtle erred Butch depictions, portrayals and presumptions to list.
Chances are if you see a lesbian performing male, she isnt Butch, she's a DYKE! Dykes imitating men dont a Butch make! Say it with me...

Dykes imitating men don't a Butch make!

Not being a Butch lesbian isnt an insult. Being a dyke of any variety isnt an insult. All are nuances of nature. But not being true to your own unique nuance is a crime against nature, yourself and us all. It is normal in childhood to pretend to be someone you admire, in adulthood it is dysfunctional.



  1. Wow... you know, I like your writing and I think you're providing a great service to would-be transitioners. But you don't seem to know much about the actual, live, living and breathing lesbian community. The lesbians in my real-life community do not make the distinctions you're making here. Get off the internet and get to know us.

  2. >> But you don't seem to know much about the actual, live, living and breathing lesbian community.<< Neither do you, if you think only your community describes all of us. *shrug*

  3. The lesbians in my real-life community do not make the distinctions you're making here.

    I tend to agree..... butch and dyke are sort of interchangeable to me..

    Not always, but most of the time. I don't know if I would call Ellen DeGeneres a "dyke". She is just a beautiful and funny lesbian.

    Why is the queen of queer theory, Judith Butler, in the "dyke" category? She is a queer theorist not a "dyke".

    Queer Theory tends to view butch as just a role, or facsimile of male of "masculine" behavior.

  4. I feel more comfortable identifying with butch or dyke. Queer not so much.

    And the urge to transition into an almost male? Never.

  5. I'm sorry,but I still don't get it. I'm just a neutral, midle-aged dyke. Never was into butch/femme, but have been called... both. I think it's relative.

    So, who IS butch, in your eyes?

  6. will someone please explain the difference between dyke and butch to me? assuming there is a difference. i always thought they were the same or that dyke was just an insult way of saying lesbian. thanks to anyone willing to help.

  7. I am still learning, but I *think* the distinction here is this:

    Butch would be the utter rejection of the feminine/female gender role, by a lesbian, *without* trying to take on masculinity.

    A Dyke would be a broader category, which would include masculine lesbians.

    It doesn't seem like its worth making the distinction for most people, but I can see that there IS a difference. Whether one wants to go with the terminology is up to them.

    (Dyke in this context is obviously NOT a slur.)

    Dirt- Am I close?

  8. So many times I have seen you talk about Butch (with a capital B) but always, you talk about what it is not. I don't know what "Butch" is, and am mystified by your attempts to explain.

  9. Dirt touches on what defines Butch pretty explicitly when she discusses the fact that Butch women experience dysphoria and work through it. It is a particular experience of the body. This is not all of what defines Butch, of course, but it is certainly a large separation point from what she is categorizing as Dyke in this post.
    To experience dysphoria is not to feel male; male is not a "feeling," as Dirt highlights over and over again. Dysphoria, however, certainly is a feeling. It is one that many Butch women struggle with daily, and overcome in their own ways.
    Quite simply put, if you have never struggled with dysphoria (no matter which stage you are at in adapting to it or overcoming it), chances are you are not Butch in the way that Dirt categorizes Butch. Butch is not male or even remotely male-adjacent, and I think "freedomfromsexozzies" said it well when she wrote "Butch would be the utter rejection of the feminine/female gender role, by a lesbian, *without* trying to take on masculinity." However, I think that in some ways that can be directly applied to Femmes as well. The further distinction is the experience of the body, and the feeling of one's body.

    I hope that I'm getting at what you mean Dirt. If I've misinterpreted I do hope you clarify. :)

  10. butches are the girls who never conformed to femininity. and still don't as adults.

    dykes are visible lesbians

    1. I've been reading this site for am hour now, very much in the middle of figuring myself out and trying to understand these categories.

      The biggest issue I seem to be running into is that I am and always have been unequivocally attracted to men, but I do have dysphoria and have never really figured out where I fit in any classification of "female," even though it's biologically obvious that I am one. I know "butch" and "straight" don't go together, but I don't really know how else to describe myself. I'd been leaning toward "nonbinary" just because I can't seem to find any camp of men OR women where I fit, but I'm hoping maybe someone else can shed some light on this?

  11. How does how you carry female (different though that may be) affect your relationships with males? If it doesnt, why are you seeking some label beyond straight woman to define yourself?



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