_This is the third of a three-part series of posts about butch-butch relationships. These posts are based on my own experiences, as well as those of about 15 butches I interviewed who are, or have dated, other butches. You can read parts one and two of this series here and here.
Toughness and Vulnerability
Several members of butch-butch couples said one aspect of their relationship they particularly loved was the mixture of toughness and vulnerability in their partner. K was particularly eloquent on this point: "We don't usually think of butch women as being... vulnerable, do we? After all, if butch means masculine, and if boys are encouraged to be tough, then doesn't it follow that a butch lesbian should have a thick skin, and brush off all the hurts... collecting broken hearts and belt notches, and racking up a lifetime of hard knocks? ...[T]he best thing about being with her [is that s]he makes herself vulnerable to me."
Butch-butch couples loved that their relationships allowed them not only to exhibit their own toughness, but to take refuge in their partner's toughness. Z told me, "The best thing is that we are both very strong, in ways that compliment the other's weaknesses." And Jennie wrote, "I can be strong and tough for [Lisa], be her butch. But I can also use her toughness and let her be my butch when I need it." Indeed, as one astute femme Facebook buddy pointed out, the qualities that butches seem to appreciate in other butches aren't too different from those that femmes seem to appreciate in butches.
Occasionally, some butches in butch-butch couples feel like their "masculinity" or "butchness" is threatened by being with another butch. For example, one anonymous respondent feels a little uneasy when her partner wears a tie: "Then will they think I'm the femme?" she asks. K.D. explains that she and her partner, Becca, sometimes "have butch-offs: 'Sweetie, let me carry that,' 'I'll get the door,' etc. Sometimes I just want to be the sweetheart that helps the other person, comforts the other person, demonstrates chivalry etc. and when Becca wants to be that part of the relationship it can be interesting to navigate." Donnie added that butches are a stubborn breed, and that neither partner likes to be the one to give in!
A few butches offered suggestions for making each other feel butch. Jennie said that since she and Lisa "fight over some 'butch' duties," they needed "to buy 2 shovels, 2 chainsaws, etc." Lisa added, "We need to buy a second snow shovel, cuz I am NOT watching her have all the fun!" KT said that it's important to reinforce each others' butchness, since for both her and her partner, being a masculine or androgynous woman was an important part of their identity. Z admitted to a little concern that her partner might one day leave her for a femme, since K has dated femmes before. And alas, I can personally confess to having a similar pang of worry now and then. It's not only important for butch-butch couples to respect each others' butchness, but to be very explicit about valuing this in each other.
What Butch-Butch Couples Share
Navigating the world as a masculine-of-center woman can be tough, and several respondents mentioned that it's nice to have someone who understands those experiences first-hand. AJ said that being in a relationship with another butch gives her 'permission' to be herself: "I'm allowed to be me. There is no expectation for me to change myself or be more 'feminine' because I am female. We are best friends and lovers. She just gets me." Becca wrote, "I truly appreciate that the other person knows where I'm coming from and understands what it's like to move around in the world as a butch." Jess said, "The best thing is just having someone you can relate to."
K.D. + Becca = awesome.
_Butch-butch sharing extends to more practical arenas as well. Becca noted that she loves being able to share ties, and Jess wrote, "You can share - hair gel, clothes and shoes, toys. You have someone you can talk to about anything - getting called sir, woman staring at you in the ladies bathroom, packing or not packing, cargo shorts vs. cargo pants." Several butches also mentioned that butch lovers are quicker in the bathroom: "Chopper doesn't take long to get dressed," Z said. "[S]he is rough around the edges like me. We don't really worry too much about whether our socks match or if we have some dog hair on us." AJ said, "[I]t is quick to go out because I don't have to wait for her to do her hair, makeup, nails and stuff."
Nearly every respondent said the best part of being in a relationship with another butch is that they are simply very attracted to other butches. Some of them are attracted exclusively to other butches, and others have no generalizable preference or pattern. Either way, being in a relationship with someone to whom you are physically attracted is, well, hot. Butch-loving-butches are no more in charge of their own chemical attractions than femme-loving butches, butch-loving femmes, or anyone else. This is one of the many reasons it made me sad that a few people wrote, in response to my previous posts, that butch-butch relationships are "gross" or "a waste." When two consenting adults are in love with each other, a "waste" is about the last thing I'd call it.
Butch in the Bedroom: Just Us and Our Socks
A few bashful butches didn't respond to this question at all. But I'll let those who did tell you in their own words what it's like for two butches in bed:
Stacy: "Butch/Femme is something very different than Top/Bottom, but people assume it's the same. I have had very different roles in each of my relationships in that area. If you have enough trust with someone, you have enough freedom to explore all sides of yourself and your partner. I believe everyone has their butch side, their femme side, their top side and their bottom side. The fascinating thing is to see how yours pairs up in each relationship."
O: "Things are very hot in the bedroom. We are both takers and givers so it usually works out very nice. The only thing is sometimes we fight over who tops."
eL: "It is amazing. I don't want to kiss and tell... but it was magical."
Donnie: "I think it's amazing! It's a true give and take of feelings, emotions, and love on an equal level."
Anon: "Really hot! This might be because I'm really only attracted to other butches, and it's fun to have sex with people to whom you're attracted. But yeah, it's great. Sometimes there's a little argument over who tops, though, since we both love topping."
Becca: "I think it depends on the butches. :D I appreciate that everyone expresses their sexuality differently, and I'm grateful that my current partner and I are very compatible and satisfied in that area."
Lisa: "Completely open and free. I don't have to always butch-up, and I don't have to always be the 'girl.' We can wrestle, we can fight for who has top tonight, or we can take turns, or we can snuggle and cuddle."
LG: "Same as any other relationship."
K.D: "AMAZING!!! Luckily we are not the stereotypical stone butches (I do not feel like many are.) We get to enjoy each others bodies the way that they are with little to no question about it."
Tammi: "I don't know what it's like for 'just any' two butches in bed… It strikes me as a creative wellspring of opportunities, and each time leaves me wowed and full of ideas for the next time."
Anon: "There's no hairspray on the pillowcases, or heavy perfume, or itchy lace underthings. Just us, and our socks."
There you have it, dear readers--everything you wanted to know about butch-butch couples, and more! A huge thank you to the wonderful butches who let me interview them: AJ and Jo, K (aka Chopper) and Z (aka Zed), eL, LG and KT, Donnie, Becca and K.D., Jess and Beth, O, Stacy, Chelsie, Lisa and Jennie, and a handful of others who preferred to remain anonymous.