Stone butch

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A stone butch is a lesbian who displays female butchness or traditional "masculinity" and who does not allow their genitals to be touched during sexual activity,[1] as opposed to a stone femme.

Etymology and history[edit]

The term stone butch was popularized by Leslie Feinberg's 1993 novel Stone Butch Blues, which describes the protagonist's explorations of the lesbian community. A large segment is devoted to the tribulations of being a stone butch person, and the experience of being a lesbian while identifying with masculine traits.[2]

Bonnie Zimmerman documents a use of the term to refer to a lesbian who "does not allow herself to be touched during lovemaking", but may experience vicarious sexual pleasure from her partner's enjoyment.[3] Zimmerman notes that this may have been particularly prevalent in the 1940s and 1950s.[3]

Social role[edit]

The term stone butch has also been used in reference to a subculture or set of mannerisms,[4] as opposed to a statement about sexual behaviour. In this context, 'stone butch' can describe the opposite of 'femme' or 'high femme' attributes,[5] although an individual can identify with both categories.[6]

Stone butch identities can overlap with non-binary gender identities and transgender masculine identities among lesbians.[7][8][9][10] The sociologist Sara Crawley has written that, while stone butch and masculine transgender identities may share significant characteristics, the primary distinction between the two is that lesbian self-identification prioritizes communicating one's identity to a specifically lesbian audience, whereas transgender masculine self-identification does not.[11] Similarly, Jack Halberstam has contextualised stone butch identities as one of many distinct female masculinities.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Halberstam, Judith (1998). "Lesbian Masculinity: Even Stone Butches Get the Blues". Female Masculinity (1st ed.). Duke University Press. p. 111. ISBN 0822322269.
  2. ^ Feinberg, Leslie (1993). Stone Butch Blues: A Novel (1st ed.). Firebrand Books. ISBN 1563410303.
  3. ^ a b Zimmerman, Bonnie, ed. (1999). Lesbian Histories and Cultures (1st ed.). Routledge. p. 140. ISBN 978-0815319207.
  4. ^ Nussbaum, Emily (22 April 2019). "Chick magnets on "Gentleman Jack" and "Killing Eve"". The New Yorker. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  5. ^ Mathers, Charlie (7 May 2018). "Where do you stand on the futch scale?". Gay Star News. Archived from the original on 19 May 2022. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  6. ^ "Based on LGBTQ+ style terms, I've never been able to put a label the type of lesbian I am". Bustle. 5 April 2019. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  7. ^ Bergner, Daniel (4 June 2019). "The struggles of rejecting the gender binary". The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  8. ^ "Andrea Lawlor explores the wild possibilities of sexual-shapeshifting". Dazed. 18 April 2019. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  9. ^ "17 lesbian slang terms every baby gay needs to learn". Refinery 29. 30 March 2018. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  10. ^ Ormiston, Wendy (July 1996). "Stone butch celebration: A Transgender-inspired revolution in academia". Harvard Educational Review. 66 (2): 198–216. doi:10.17763/haer.66.2.46r7n64515203412.
  11. ^ Crawley, Sara (5 October 2008). "Prioritizing Audiences: Exploring the Differences Between Stone Butch and Transgender Selves". Journal of Lesbian Studies. 6 (2): 11–24. doi:10.1300/J155v06n02_04. PMID 24807655. S2CID 11095070.
  12. ^ Halberstam, Jack (1 January 1988). Female Masculinity. Duke University Press. doi:10.1215/9780822378112. ISBN 9780822322269.