Femme=Bottom (And Other Myths)

It’s been a looong day, plus I chipped 2 nails right before I left the office (damn!), so I’m pissed as well as exhausted. Maybe this is the reason I’m seeing red after reading ASK A LESBIAN: “Sleeping with Straight Girls”, which is (sort of) a straight girl’s guide to sleeping with chicks in Q & A form.

This post reproduces so many offensive stereotypes about queer femininity–such as the myth that femme equals straight–that I keep asking myself if the whole thing is meant to be a satire. (But a satire of what? Sapphic cluelessness?) Seriously, would it kill these folks to do a little homework about femme, butch, and stone femmes?!!

I can’t believe that any lesbian who’s been out for more than 5 minutes really believes that femme and bottom are “synonymous terms.” I’ve pasted an excerpt from the post below. What do you think? Is this thing for real or a bad joke gone wrong??

So like whaddo I do? I guess I can’t just lie there anymore.

Scared str8

Dear Str8,

As it so happens, there is in fact a subspecies of lesbian for whom “just lie there” is precisely their distinguishing modus operandi. These lesbians are the first cousins of straight girls and are known as “femmes” or “bottoms,” which are synonymous terms (occasionally you will happen across an extremely rare breed of lesbian known as the “butch bottom,” but that is typically considered a crime against nature). Now, it might strike you as “unbalanced,” “unfair,” or even “aping heteropatriarchal relations” to have just one lesbian doing all the work in the bedroom, but femmes are possessed of a remarkable phenomenon known as “wiles,” which nearly all butches are powerless to resist. As a result of a femme’s “wiles,” a typical butch is not simply willing but rather indescribably eager to perform all the labor of sexual relations while the femme just lies there the whole time.

helpfully yours!

Stone Femme

I think my first girlfriend, Kristen, was stone. She was butch both on the streets and in the sheets (to tweak the old expression). She got off, but she didn’t enjoy or want me touching her genitals to do it, and our sex life was predominately organized around my pleasure. Many years after our high-drama relationship ended, I read an interview with a stone butch who said that she’d rather balance her checkbook than have an orgasm. I think that’s how Kristen felt. We naively thought we were rejecting “roles,” primarily because terms like stone, butch and femme were not in our vocabulary. I simply accepted the fact that K. had a boundary that she did not want me to cross. If memory serves, I had no problem with being the sexual center of attention!

This relationship took place in a gender galaxy far, far away, when lesbians in a certain uber lesbianic city all wore flannel and had bad haircuts (sorry, darlings, the truth can hurt, I know)–even yours truly! Those of you who’ve been reading for awhile may remember that I discussed this time in my life in my post What Makes (Me) a Femme. Looking back on it, what’s interesting to me now is that this relationship was the definining feature of my brief dykey,”andro butch” phase, but K and I were really anything but andro in private. She gave me a retro black lace slip–think Elizabeth Taylor in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof–for a Christmas present, so who were we kidding (except ourselves)?

Was K. a stone butch and was I a stone femme, even though we didn’t identify as butch/femme? What exactly is a stone femme, anyway? Here are a few possible definitions. #1 seems to me the one that’s used most:

1. A femme who partners with stone butches/transgendered butches/TG stone butches.
2. A femme who is uber femme, as in, “she’s a stone cold fox.”
3. An untouchable femme. Sasha at Card Carrying Lesbian discusses stone femme as a femme who is untouchable–either/or physically or emotionally in her post High femme vs Stone Femme: one interpretation

Personally, I always thought of a stone femme as someone who isn’t herself “untouchable” but who prefers to partner with butches who are–i.e. stone butches. I wonder, though, does this take us down the road of defining femme in terms of who we partner with, rather than who we are? If your stone butch transitions and becomes a transman, are you still a stone femme?