I found this neat little document online. It shows where we were at about ten years ago in terms of analytic ‘sociological’ understandings of the Butch-Femme Dynamic:
…the very movement that promised sexual freedom and autonomy for women instead made them slaves to a rigid and uncompromising form of sexuality, based on absolute equality in bed, which was both overly idealistic and ultimately unsatisfactory. In making “outlaws” out of anyone whose sexual practices appeared to operate on unequal power terms, the feminist movement effectively invalidated the experience of whole communities of lesbians whose identities were constructed around butch-femme role-playing…
Hollibaugh, Amber, and Cherrie Moraga. “What We’re Rollin’ Around in Bed
With: Sexual Silences in Feminism.” Heresies 12 (1981). (reprinted in Powers
of Desire: The Politics of Sexuality. eds. Ann Snitow et al. New York:
Monthly Review Press, 1983. 440-459)
But – ‘Role Playing’?
Sorry – no matter how positive some of these analyses of Butch-Femme Relationships may be – to me they miss the fundamental point that it’s not about role playing – it’s enacting our intrinsic, true selves. We cannot be whole and relate wholly unless we accept this in ourselves.
My truth is that I’m not ‘playing’ a role. Yes I play it up! I dress in a way that will be noticed, by appropriating strictly male attire and mixing it up with a bit of dandy flair. But I’m not playing a role – I’m being true to me.
So where are we at now?
Do we undertand this?
Or are we going to forever be in the shadows cast by the lesbian feminist, radical-feminist ideologies of the 1970’s?