A soft butch, or stem (stud-fem), is a woman who exhibits some stereotypical butch and lesbian traits without fitting the masculine stereotype associated with butch lesbians. These traits may or may not include short hair, clothing that was designed for men, and masculine mannerisms and behaviors. Soft butches generally appear androgynous, rather than adhering to strictly feminine or masculine norms and gender identities. In the spectrum of gender expression among lesbians, a soft butch lies closer to a butch lesbian than to a lipstick lesbian.
This type of behaviour is also considered socially acceptable of alternate gender roles within the lesbian community. Whereas it is sometimes considered a betrayal of the lesbian community to be "too feminine" or "too masculine" (a stone butch), the soft butch is seen as an acceptable in-between state that generally receives greater acceptance.