“the butch gaze: blatant lesbian desire”

in recent years, there’s been an increasingly vitriolic push-back out of the queer community against the idea of butch women being open in their desire, especially if their desire is fem women. the gender non-conformity of butches here is used to project an essentially male status onto them in relationship to other women. therefore, their sexual desire for women – their “butch gaze” – is equal in its exploitativeness and objectification of the male. or so goes the logic.

but so much of my perception of self, as a lesbian and a fem, lies in the butch gaze. how can anyone think it even vaguely resembles the invasiveness and entitlement in the way men stare at women – the way that men have stared at me? the butch gaze is something completely different. it is the gaze of blatant lesbian desire, a powerful and empowering expression of women who want other women. I find strength in being stared at and desired by other women, especially – explicitly – by the women I desire most. in this homophobic world that furiously demands all women be for the consumption of men, it is an act of resistance to be unapologetic about the fact we want to fuck each other, and only each other. I never feel more womanly, more sensual, more beautiful or more lesbian than when I am openly desired by a butch woman.  the butch gaze makes me dizzyingly aware of my own returned desire for her, her presence and unabashed lust reminding me that yes, I can want other women too. yes, it is okay. it is more than okay, it is beautiful. it is fulfilling. and yes, it is hotter than hell. the erotic charge of our dynamic is blatant. the world does not condone the sexual autonomy of women – most especially when it excludes men. the butch gaze is an autonomous and resistant manifestation of female sexuality – embodied by women who both refuse to be desirable to men, and who do not themselves desire men – that is entirely outside of the heteropatriarchy and maleness. the butch gaze is a powerful, transformative act that both affirms women beyond the objectification of male fantasy, and the sexual, erotic desire of lesbian women. the butch gaze is exciting and arousing and necessary to me as a lesbian fem. the butch gaze uplifts and admires. the butch gaze invites. the butch gaze liberates.


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