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Butch is an adjective used to describe ones gender performance.A masculine person (of either gender) can be described as butch.Thus, although these women did draw on models in heterosexual society, they transformed those models into an authentically lesbian interaction." Antipathy toward female butches and male femmes could be interpreted as trans-phobia, although it is important to note that female butches and male femmes are not always trans-gendered or identified with the trans movement.Many young people today (in the homosexual community) eschew butch or femme classifications, believing that they are inadequate to describe an individual, or that labels are limiting in and of themselves.Although femmes also fought back, it became primarily the role of butches to defend against attacks and hold the bars as lesbian space. assigned Stella Rush to study "the butch/femme phenomenon" in gay bars.Rush reported that women held strong opinions, that "role distinctions needed to be sharply drawn," and that not being one or the other earned strong disapproval from both groups., because they believed that all butch/femme dynamics by necessity imitate hetero-sexist gender roles, leading to butch-femme relationships being driven underground.
Their increased visibility, combined with the anti-gay rhetoric of the Mc Carthy era, led to an increase in violent attacks on lesbians, while at the same time the increasingly strong and defiant bar culture became more willing to respond with force.
Moreover, some genderqueer people identify their gender primarily as butch or femme, rather than man or woman.
It is also important to note that those who identify as butch and femme today often use the words to define their presentation and gender identity rather than strictly the role they play in a relationship, and that not all butches are attracted exclusively to femmes and not all femmes are exclusively attracted to butches, although this was traditionally the norm.
For example, to suggest that a butch woman is attempting to annex heterosexual male power or privilege - a claim leveled by some radical feminists (see Sheila Jeffreys and others) - fails to take note of the social censure leveled at individuals who reject social and cultural imperatives that link biological sex with what Judith Butler calls 'gender performance' (see Bodies that Matter, 1993).
It is difficult to determine how long butch and femme roles have been practiced by lesbians as prior to the middle of the 20th century in Western culture, gay and lesbian societies were mostly underground or secret.