Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


Another Post About Lesbians

Oh my god, it’s another logic post about being gay.

The idea from this originally came from one ex-friend telling me that being a “butch lesbian” was racist, but their argument held up about as well as you think it would. Instead I decided to write on a topic that’s filled with misconceptions – that butch lesbians have the male gaze. If you don’t know what the term male gaze means – it’s not the creepy dude who sits in the corner of subway staring you down for an hour.  The male gaze is the sociocultural phenomenon in media and literature, wherein the world is presented through a typically heterosexual, masculine point of view: presenting women primarily as the objects of male pleasure. If you’re not familiar with inter-community identity terms, here’s a rundown on butch and femme terms.

Butch and Femme are terms used to describe identities and cultural markers in the lesbian community. The terms aren’t to be confused with gender identity – they’re a form of gender expression. Butchness is associated with a masculine role in the lesbian relationship, while Femme is associated with the traditionally feminine role. There’s a surprising amount of politics and discussion around the two, as Second Wave Feminists, as well as some third wave feminists, view butch/femme as replicating heterosexual power dynamics.


Butch identity is equivalent to being male

This argument isn’t truthful – your gender is your gender identity, as stated above, and the butch identity is more a form of gender expression and a cultural marker. You could argue that since butch lesbians attempt to emulate masculinity, that they’re close enough to just copying the male gender role and basically “acting like men”. However, masculinity is a social construct, but is made up of both socially defined and biologically created factors. This means that masculinity was originally derived from what it means to be male and encouraged males to mimic the male gender role of aggressiveness and power over women. Butch is not male, Femme is not female. Butchness isn’t based around power over women like the male gender role is. Butch identity is mostly defined by the butch aesthetic than any particular personality traits.

TLDR; Gender expression, or the way others perceive your gender expression, is not your gender identity.


Men have the male gaze

To understand this premise we have to understand the male gaze. The male gaze is the sociocultural phenomenon in media and literature, wherein the world is presented through a typically heterosexual, masculine point of view: presenting women primarily as the objects of male pleasure.  It is not something you can accuse real life men of having or doing to women in their day to day life . Sexual attraction to women is not equivalent to the male gaze, and is not necessarily objectifying or misogynistic.


Butch lesbians have the male gaze

There’s not really a logical reason as to why butch lesbians would have anything similar to the male gaze – saying otherwise is similar to point one and implying that butch lesbians are men. The theoretical “female gaze” is non-existent in our media and literature – half of the examples you could use are ironic and used for humor.

The conclusion here makes this a valid argument, but it doesn’t make it a truthful one. The conclusion logically follows the premises, and the argument has the right form that makes it valid. However, the first premise isn’t true, and neither is the conclusion.



2 Responses to Another Post About Lesbians

  1. kirsten says:

    Hi Erinn,
    your post brought up some very interesting topics such as sociocultural phenomenon and the misconceptions between gender and sexuality. I think these are important topics to bring up in the evolving times that we are all currently living in. I personally think that these topics can relate very closely to the topic of political correctness that the class talked about the other day. I was just wondering what your thoughts were on connecting the two ideas. there seems to be many connections between the ignorance of people who make crude comments that put down other groups of people, and the association of one’s presentation to how they behave. Whether this assumed behaviour is a character trait, thought process, or natural tendency; physical appearance tends to make people predetermine an opinion of someone before even meeting the person. When talking about political correctness our class discussed how most fear and hatred comes from the unknown. Do you think that overall awareness for society could create less confusion/inaccurate comments surrounding phenomenon such as the “male gaze” and gender expression?
    Once again thanks for the read
    Sincerely kirsten

  2. erinn says:

    Hey Kirsten! Your comment is great – I agree with you in how you think that topics like these can relate to political correctness and other social justice topics in general. I’d like to be optimistic and believe that everyone is inherently good and is honestly just misguided in their opinions and assumptions. Because of my appearance, people who I’ve never came out to have yelled slurs and assumed suuuuuuuper strange things about my lifestyle. Physical appearance has a huge impact on how people interact with you, and like most people, I’ve found that most people have assumed a million things about me before I’ve even opened my mouth. Overall awareness for tons of issues could be solved by giving the proper information to the right people, as well as stepping up and trying to correct behavior that could be offensive in your social circles and environments. Things such as equality and even basic human politeness and decency could honestly be solved just by asking the right questions to the right people, or giving the right information to people who are misguided and have assumed things about groups without learning anything about them. A ton of discussion can be created around topics like the male gaze as well as gender expression, and the best part is that this is one of those topics where the experiences and opinions of non-minorities can be a useful part in a conversation. A greater awareness for social issues and the clearing up of misinformation can be a couple of great things that come out of conversations like these.

    Thanks for commenting!!! (sorry for the essay :/ )
    – Erinn


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