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on . Posted in Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity/Expression.

Labels- why do you hate them?

Some people hate labels because they don’t fit into any category:
“I am not femme; andro or butch!”
“I am a little femme… a little andro, what does that make me?!”
“I behave differently at different occasions. What does that make me?”

Some people hate labels because they don’t identify with the stereotype of that category:
“I am femme BUT i am not passive DAMMIT. I wanna take control!”
“I am butch but that doesn’t mean that i want to give (in bed) and not receive!”


Ask lesbians what they think the labels mean and you would find variegated answers:
“Femmes are passive… wear skirts… girly… expect their girlfriends to take care of them…”
“Andros are masculine… prefer pants… might wear skirts to work… many high-flyers in this group… Andros don’t bind (their breasts) but are masculine…”
“Butches are totally masculine… totally out… flat-chested… prefer one-way in bed… new age butches do it two-way… some pay for everything for their girlfriends… generally more laid-back…”

Characteristics entailed in the stereotype of these labels:
Mannerism, Dressing, Socio-economic status and even Personality traits.
And different person pick different combinations of what these labels mean. Some think it’s just dressing. Some thinks it’s dressing and bedroom preference… some thinks that all lesbians who wear skirts are homogeneous!

How confusing- there is no concensus in the lesbian community what each label really means… And this frustrates a lot of people.

Maybe this is what would be better… More consensus on what these labels really mean- what is the defining characteristic of a certain label? As in: what makes a femme a femme and not an andro or a butch?

Ah. But labels can never say enough about a person…

Nonetheless, labels are still around… it goes to show that they have not outlived their usefulness (yet).

Okie, let’s put things in perspective.
Physical attraction is one of the major components of a relationship for most. Without physical attraction, there ain’t no relationships. So, when someone, who prefers girls who dress feminine, is seeking a potential mate, her ears would perk up at the sound of “femme” rather than “andro” or “butch”.

Beyond appearances, as a diverse group of individuals, we would have the following:
Girl A likes zesty girls who pose great mental challenges day in day out.
Girl B likes someone princessy, so that she can shower her with tender love everyday.
Girl C likes a motherly figure of sorts; someone meticulous and fastidious around the house.
Girl D likes someone with compatibile interests e.g. SM, extreme sports, traveling to the wilderness of African plains.

So… It doesn’t matter that a self-identified femme prefers pants or is extremely aggressive in bed or digs her nose in public etc. Such nitty gritties would be ironed out at the second round of elimination. Labels thus serve as the first round of selection for attention. Without labels, you might end up spending a lot of time on just selection alone- by the time you get a mate, you are probably 85 years of age.

Someone who hated labels told me: ”I cannot be with butches!” AHAH! There~ you just made use of labels!
Love ‘em or hate ‘em- Labels labels are here to stay.


# pleinelunee 2010-02-02 03:18

pleinelune said,

April 28, 2006 at 9:04 pm

About the last comment: I would identify with that, but before you trumpet your victory over my surrender to labels, I’d like to explain. Butch is a label – girls who choose to conform to this STRICTLY are usually chauvinistic, wannabe, overly macho people, who would expect their GFs to be submissive, which is something I can’t stand. [Note, not all butches may be like that] Hence, it is the way they conform to the label and not be intelligent enough to break away from that kind of thinking, that I would hate. Not the label itself.
# Adult Journal 2010-02-02 03:18

Adult Journal news links said,

April 28, 2006 at 9:07 pm

[...] Labels Labels- why do you hate them? Some people hate labels because they don�t fit into any category: �I am not femme; andro or butch!� �I am a little femme� a little andro, what does that make me?!� �I behave differently at different occasions. What does that make me? [...]
# Mier 2010-02-02 03:18

Mier said,

April 28, 2006 at 9:20 pm

Oops Pleinelune… i always thought that you didn’t like labels on yourself. That’s why i thought you hate labels too.
Also, i thought you didn’t romantically like those who identify as butches. It’s a physical outlook preference, no? At the first general decision-making of allocating attention, would you be more likely to perk up at the sound of “femme” than “butch”? No actress in L word early episodes is butch…. =P

But anyway, the point of the post is:
When a label is meaningful, it gets used. And when it gets used, it will remain in our pool of vocabulary for a long time…
For example: you just said “not all butches are like that”. The word “butches”… That’s what i mean when i say they are here to stay.
# pleinelunee 2010-02-02 03:19

pleinelune said,

April 28, 2006 at 9:36 pm

I don’t like it on myself…. and I roll my eyes when others use it. Call me close-minded if you want.

Yes, I also do not like them romantically… but in the extremely rare occasion that I am attracted to a butch – the previously mentioned factor would impede me from forming relationships with them. Both mentality and physical appearance are big factors. For example, I wouldn’t date a “femme” who expects to be treated like a princess either, even though I might be attracted to her.
# Amajor_resonance 2010-02-02 03:19

Amajor_resonance said,

April 29, 2006 at 6:41 pm

I was rolling over with laughter when I am reading this!

Mier, good one!

�I behave differently at different occasions. What does that make me?�

This really sounds like what I said… this is copyrighted ok? LOL.

Ok the interesting thing about categorizing of people is that this whole label thing, it will take a fine balance in order for labels to aid understanding of people. If we push it to either extremes, that is “Oh butches must be masculine and femmes must always wear skirts and remains passive”, or the other side, “there is no need for labels to exist, people are different as far as individuals go”, we are not going to promote better understanding.

I think I said that before, labels are not totally useless. Just that it is irritating when people push it too far and expect others to behave entirely in the way their labels define.

On a side note, I think I can identify with andro-femme. LOL. I wouldn’t mind andro, if not for the fact that almost all the andros I see are more masculine than me. Hoho.
# Eemisme 2010-02-02 03:19

emisme said,

April 30, 2006 at 10:50 pm

This is always an interesting topic. I think Mier has said it well. Even for myself, I often swing between labels. People around me attached labels because I am gay. They wouldn’t have done that to an ‘identified’ straight woman. I’ve seen many identified straight women having very strong masculine character but generally people around them do not attach a label on them.

Whether it’s fair or unfair, I guess we have to judge it ourselves. I was offended by a new friend whom upon first conversation, proclaimed my status as an andro because of my photo?! She didn’t have the right to impose a title on me but of course, she was free to comment.

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