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Pet Sins September 2007

Lesbian feminists and the butch-femme dichotomy

I briefly dated another lesbian AJ who was a soft butch. I myself do not play butch-femme roles. AJ did not seem to expect me to play a 'femme' role and she seemed every bit the 'feminist' from our conversations. Then she invited me over to dinner with her extended family. I asked if it was necessary for me to bring a dish of my own to share. She said yes. Then she made a big deal about how excited she was to taste my cooking. I did not think much of that at first. But when I got to her family party, I found that only the women in AJ's family did the cooking. Her female relatives brought dishes to share, but the men just did the eating. AJ herself did not contribute to the cooking. I did not like what I saw. Far be it from me to tell other people's families how to divide their chores, but I don't have to be part of it. By making a big deal of the fact that I should bring a dish to share (I have no problem with bringing food to a party to contribute, but on looking back, it seems that she was trying to push me into a 'role' that she herself was not willing to take) and then not bringing a dish herself, AJ was trying to put me into the role of the womenfolk in her family while she was taking the men's role.

It was the beginning of my decision to cut off contact with her. There were other factors involved, but they all boiled down to the same issue - her actions did not always match her stated ideals. I conversed with other queer women on the issue. One woman said that if she was going to date a 'sexist' butch, it would not be any different from dating a man. Even some straight guys help their female partners with the cooking, and from what I've seen, some (not all) butch lesbians are more attached to gender roles and 'male privilege' than some heterosexual men are.