Anyone who follows me knows I’m very protective of masculine DFAB people, and you all probably already saw me complaining here about the lack of representation of butches. A couple of months ago, a friend of mine posted about how most of the representation of lesbians in the modern media were mostly composed of feminine, conventionally attractive woman, and this is true: not even in lesbian oriented media, you see more than that. People are so scared of writing off an stereotype that they forget that this same stereotype is the reality of many people who don’t get the chance to see themselves represented on books, movies or tv. Butches are so underdeveloped in the media that it was a hard-to-tackle subject for series like The L Word, who was supposed to make a decent, realistic representation of the lesbian woman. You could argue that Shane was a butch, but the series didn’t identified her a such, having it’s creators introducing a character who’d later came out as a trans man as the only “real” butch of the show.
I think the reasons for this to happen are pretty obvious: feminine lesbians are more palatable for the straight male viewer, and although they also need representation, they’re not the only ones. Masculinity is not considered a good trait in DFAB people, and I can see it everyday: I can see it in my sister (my beautiful, very feminine, and straight big sister) being mocked by her friends after she wore a pair of boots of mine she particularly loves even though they’re too big for her. In her feet, my shoes were referred as the Brazilian equivalent of the expression "bull dyke’s"*, and I’m talking about those black unisex hiking boots. I can see it with people around me, asking each other when they think no one is listening why someone who was "born a woman" would dress "as a man". I can see it with the feminine lesbians I know from college, when they’re confronting prejudice themselves: "it could be worse, at least you’re, you know, a pretty lesbian, not one of those ugly and masculine dykes". As I said before, it’s not about the prejudice and harassment that lipstick lesbians do go through: they do, and they should be protected at all costs, but you can see at any top 25 TV lesbians/bi that butches are a much smaller minority if compared to feminine representation.
Which leads me to tumblr.
Tumblr is excited about lesbians, and that’s great. Lesbians were underlooked on fandoms, and in real life as well, so being excited about couples and characters is a very positive thing we have here. There are amazing, lovely lesbians being created on tumblr all the time, either in fan headcanon, or creative original plot bunnies. There’s tons of people genderbending already existing character as lesbians, and… and… They’re not different from what I just said about the current media. Tumblr is excited about lesbians, but almost exclusively feminine ones. You’d think genderbending a character like, I don’t know, Wolverine, would make a cool butch headcanon, but no. People will go as far as putting Wolverine in high reels and frilly lingerie to run away of masculine woman, and it’s kind of silly because I don’t see this problem occurring in other aspects of social justice. You’ll see feminine boys, but it will take pages worth of research to find one good post about genderbending a male character as a masculine woman, let alone an original idea about butches. I see so much wasted potential! There’s so many creative kids around here, but the majority sticks with the same that the current media already gives to them. Masculinity is not an exclusive trait of cissexual males, and it can and should be developed in DFAB people as well. Butches are such a key piece to queer history, and they still exist, they still need representation, they still need to fight everyday to have themselves be validated in a world that thinks they’re ugly for being who they are, a world that denies them jobs, safety and dignity.
You know that lesbian pirate you’re all obsessed with? Make it a butch. A fairy tale about princesses in love? Make them liking to dress up as princes. Imagine how much of a cool stud Peter Quill would be as woman. Make some of your new lesbians "manly". Make a butch/butch pairing because, hell, fuck it. Put girl!Wolverine in the exact same clothes her original counterpart was, instead of a delicate, curvy and stereotypically feminine girl with a shirt fitting her breasts and waist. Don’t forget butches, don’t forget that masculinity still isn’t accepted for people who were assigned female at birth. Wearing pants and suits is ok for woman as long they keep themselves feminines in other aspects of clothing, so put that character in a suit. With fancy oxfords instead of high heels. Femininity can be an amazing trait, but it can live peacefully with masculinity, and the two deserve protagonism of their own.
(*The expression was "machorra", a very crude and popular slang against lesbians, and particularly butch lesbians, because it’s intended to offend using the person’s perceived masculinity as an insult. A very common saying we have here in Brazil is "Lésbica sim, machorra não" (something like "You can be a lesbian, but not a machorra"). I could say the closest I’ve found in English is dyke, but it doesn’t have the obvious anti-masculine wording of machorra, and it’s not commonly appropriated as dyke seems to be. The -chorra suffix also rhymes with "cachorra" (female dog), so it only adds to the idea.)