The re-emergence has led to the development of a recent research literature on butch and femme genders (Levitt & Hiestand, 2005).
Historically the terms butch and femme were used as indicators within lesbian subculture to identify with whom a person might partner.
Butch and femme lesbians may share a sexual orientation but the ways in which others perceive them is quite distinct.
The types of interactions that butch and femme women face in the workplace may largely be driven by the extent to which they are out to co-workers, but even then there are stressors for both butch and femme women.
When lesbian women couple in a variety of combinations of butch and femme identities, (i.
The scale construction commenced by naming two large categories and labeling them butch and femme, where butch was expected to be more masculine than feminine and femme more feminine than masculine.
To say that there's a "resurgence" in the popularity of butch and femme roles is to suggest that these roles have waxed and waned over time, and this does appear to be the case.
Butch and femme roles resurfaced in the 1980's and 90's, primarily among young, urban, middle- and upper-class lesbians.
This finding already begins to suggest an asymmetry between butch and femme women as targets of desire, throwing into question the stereotype that lesbian relations in general are built upon a butch-femme pairing.
While our research does not support the notion that butch and femme roles are undergoing a major resurgence, it does indicate that butch and femme roles have not disappeared, and indeed that they remain salient for a substantial segment of American lesbians.
Instead, the butch and femme
represent an attachment to their preferred gender performativity as experienced in behaviour, appearance and a preferred desire towards an opposing gender performativity.