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The Butch-Femme Scale

The Butch-Femme Scale

I wonder how many of you have heard about some version of this scale (or "continuum," as it is often called). I remember when I learned about it a few years ago I felt as if a probing searchlight had been turned on to the dark cavernous mystery of my own erotic nature. Because, even though I knew I always leaned "butch" in my attractions, I never could really quantify or understand why in some predictable way certain energies lit me up and others simply did not.

And, without trying to be overly reductive about it all, I have to admit this scale elucidated a lot (though, admittedly, it leaves out all the other qualities like wild minds, heart, creativity, generosity, astrology charts, and so on).

You simply imagine everyone lies on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being the most butch, 10 being the most femme, and 5 being total androgyny. It's easiest if you start with yourself.

I realized quickly I was about a 7 on the femme side. Some days I think if I could run around in the outfits similar to what Madonna wore in Desperately Seeking Susan in the 70s without being considered a total freakazoid I would do it. I love sensual bohemian artsy stuff. I play with makeup and jewelry. On the other hand, I'm a total jock who likes being strong and getting sweaty. My idea of a good time is a fifty mile bike ride or an intense vinyasa class. And, while I can enjoy someone pulling out a chair for me on a date, I might seriously cringe if she tried to order for us.

That sort of thing. 

On the other hand, my friend Carlotta is a true femme 10: dragon-lady nails, long voluptuous hair, high heels, the whole shebang. And she really does it well, because, no joke...she is the Apotheosis of High Femme. Once I drove her and her very butch GF to the airport on a hectic holiday week. I remember pulling up to the curb and realizing she was just gonna sit there, poised and perfect, waiting to be taken care of, as the cabs honked and the policeman screamed bloody murder. The GF rushed to open Carlotta's door and properly assisted her lady from the car as I heaved her many suitcases to the curb like a steveadore. (Only one for the butch, of course). I was astonished but admired in a nutty way that those two never broke form. They were the consummate 10/1 art piece. 

For a while before I met my last partner, I played around on a popular dating site that was clueless about this butch/femme stuff. The scale got to be really handy when I was trying to decipher my attractions.   Androgyny (a 5) really didn't pull me no matter how I tried; it simply wasn't masculine enough.  On the other hand, when someone was at the far, far yang-end of the spectrum, I couldn't quite "feel" them either.  So I figured out my draw was to 3s, which made sense as a 7, their energetic complement.

To my mind, and maybe you'd disagree, Rachel Maddow and KD Lang are both rockin' 3's. At certain times, they each have left me almost breathless and disoriented...which is pretty darn good for random public figures who wouldn't know me from a hole in the wall. (To be honest, I have no idea what Ellen is, maybe one of you know? A 4? She's totally off my radar.)  

A woman from the site and I got into deconstructing the scale on the phone one night. She considered herself a 5 drawn to 5s (and higher) but couldn't fathom my own leanings. To her, androgyny simply meant butch. "Ok," I teased, "let me ask you. You've never been stopped for being in the wrong bathroom, right?  Well, I've never dated anyone who hasn't been. Anyway I knew we were doomed when you referred to the 'blouse' you wore..."  

She laughed and finally got it. 

On the other hand, I had an affair once with a definite 3 who sometimes wore earrings, Kohl eyeliner and tight black velvet jackets and reminded me of a female Adam Lambert. Her flamboyant butch glam-rock look totally did me in while Carlotta just rolled her eyes and called me crazy.  

And then there are my friends who are 8s and only attracted to lipstick 8's and higher. And 2s who are only drawn to 3s and lower.  

And androgynes whose hearts bleat only for each other.

I mean, who can figure out the mystery and diversity of these attractions?

Wanna even try?


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