A stone butch is a lesbian who displays female butchness or traditional "masculinity", as opposed to a stone femme. Identification with the terms is not necessarily dependent upon the person's physical appearance or gender expression, or upon the identity of a partner.
Etymology and history
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.
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. Zimmerman notes that this may have been particularly prevalent in the 1940s and 1950s.
The term "stone butch" has also been used in reference to a subculture or set of mannerisms, as opposed to a statement about sexual behaviour. In this context, "stone butch" can describe the opposite of "femme" or "high femme" attributes, although an individual can identify with both categories.
Stone butch identities can overlap with non-binary gender identities and transgender masculine identities among assigned-female lesbians. 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. Similarly, Jack Halberstam has contextualised stone butch identities as one of many distinct female masculinities.
- Halberstam, Judith (1998). "Lesbian Masculinity: Even Stone Butches Get the Blues". Female Masculinity (1st ed.). Duke University Press. p. 111. ISBN 0822322269.
- Feinberg, Leslie (1993). Stone Butch Blues: A Novel (1st ed.). Firebrand Books. ISBN 1563410303.
- Zimmerman, Bonnie, ed. (1999). Lesbian Histories and Cultures (1st ed.). Routledge. p. 140. ISBN 978-0815319207.
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- 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.
- 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.
- Halberstam, Jack (1 January 1988). Female Masculinity. Duke University Press. doi:10.1215/9780822378112. ISBN 9780822322269.