What is a “Lipstick Butch”?
I came across a term the other day that finally felt right—“Lipstick Butch.” A queer woman who is “feminine” in appearance and “masculine” in personality.
At last, a “label” that doesn’t peel off no matter where I stick it.
A similar coinage is “Tomboy Femme,” though “femme” usually connotes a feminine woman who prefers the beauty of butch whereas “Lipstick” typically implies a feminine woman attracted to feminine women.
“Tomboy femme” is pretty darn cute though, slightly more self-explanatory, and I almost like it even better.
What does “feminine” and “masculine” even MEAN, though, really?? It’s so abstract, and so founded on stereotypes. Yet those very stereotypes strongly dictate how we behave and present ourselves interpersonally.
Image credit: Short Leash by Kelly Reemtsen
Despite this, there is an incredible amount of variety in the way individual Queer Womynself-identify and determine the criteria for a potential mate.
I love that about our community, and I feel this diversity is often understated in favor of go-to black-and-white categorization. It’s just so much less effort to organize our understanding of the world that way.
I’ve been exploring what it means to me to be a “Lipstick Butch.” I’m weighing my traits against gender stereotypes to better understand who I am inside. I recommend this sort of personal exploration to anyone else who has ever felt alone or marginalized within a larger community.
To me, my “masculine” personality doesn’t mean I fix cars—but I do love the feel of a hammer in my hand.
It doesn’t mean I’m a football fanatic, though I am a bit of a baseball nerd.
It doesn’t mean I’m obsessed with video games—I never really got beyond Mario Bros. myself, though I’ve spent plenty of time chilling with guy pals while they drink Red Bull and button-mash.
It doesn’t mean I’m a dog-person; confirmed cat-lover here, and, yes, I have been known to squeal at overwhelming cuteness. BABY BUNNIES, OKAY. Baby bunnies. Have you no heart.
It doesn’t mean I’m naturally gifted at math. I hopeless mix up digits and it takes serious concentration for me to mentally multiply or subtract anything too complex.
It doesn’t mean I’m emotionally unavailable. Most of the straight men I’ve known are much more “emotional” than women, when you really get to know them. They’re just socially conditioned to stuff it down.
It means I despise chick lit and adore modernist literature, even though the authors are overwhelmingly men; male voices and perspective speak to medeeply, unlike Prada-wearing-devils or whatever.
It means when I buy a book on philosophy I don’t restrict myself to feminism, gender politics, or other social sciences; I am enraptured by the brains of men like Kant and Hegel—however male-biased they may have been by their historical context.
It means I hardly ever leave the house without a coat of red lipstick, but I typically decline to gunk up my face with layers of primer and foundation and concealer and blush.
It means I held out on handbag culture as long as I possibly could—until I scored my first vintage Louis at a fraction of their typical ungodly prices. Yes, it is authentic, and no, I don’t need 20 of them.
It means I find the whole “Intuitive Earth Mother Spirit” stuff weak and a bunch of malarkey. I accept my uterus—love it, even, though I’m not sure yet if I want babies in it or not—but I don’t imbue it with some primordial power.
It means I seriously have the pervy sense of humor of a 15 year old boy. Peener jokes never fail to amuse me.
Really, like everyone, I’m a mix of male and female stereotypes. I skew girly lookswise and boyishbrain-wise, but I’m not black and white when it comes down to either.
I’m Jenny Chisnell, and I’m a proud “lipstick butch.” I’m a cisgendered “boi” at heart, and superficially attracted to long, silky hair and a nice pair of gams. But I’m ultimately more deeply attracted to dimensional human beings with androgynous qualities. It can be incredibly hard to identify kindred spirits at first sight; there’s no tell-tale bagginess to our pants as a social indicator of identification and preference.
But I know they’re out there.
Take off your mask, and show us who you really are, whether it’s short hair or skinny jeans that make you feel like you.