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Queer culture has always recognized, and celebrated, people who deviate from the gender norms imposed in the dominant heterosexual culture.
In the queer community, however, this is much less the case.I myself have felt a strong attraction to some of my fellow butch dykes.There's a uniquely butch self-confidence, an insouciant swagger that draws my eye when I see butches out in public.This distinctive attitude and its charms may be due, in part, to the fact that every butch knows full well that she doesn't look the way most people expect women to look, and yet she's found the confidence to persevere in spite of the side-eyes and the disapproving thin-lipped faces of people marching past, eyes averted. In order to treat this question with the seriousness it deserved, I took the liberty of asking some of the more feminine, more conventionally attractive, lesbians of my acquaintance just what it is that makes butchness so darned irresistible.“It's like a pheremonic, energetic, physical thing,” my friend Madeline of the band Unstraight (or Ashley Blum when she's not rocking), told me. Short hair, or mohawks, the way [butch women] dress, the way they wear their clothes, that attitude ... I can't even tell you.” The reason it seems so unlikely that many lesbian and bi women find butches attractive is that the commonly understood meaning of “attractive” is nearly synonymous with “gender-conforming,” especially for women.(In truth, “bi” implies attraction to members of both one’s own and other genders).Ultimately, it felt easier to define my sexuality in terms of what it But in the long nights I spent telling my partner about all the “gay moments” in my childhood that suddenly made a whole lot more sense—always volunteering to play the groom in playground “weddings,” asking other girls at a slumber party to “practice” making out, romantic friendships with a long line of teenage BFFs—it became increasingly apparent that I really wasn’t straight, either.This room in queer culture for gender-bending aesthetics also allows room for definitions of attractiveness that don't hew closely to manly man-ness and feminine girlitude.An attractive butch woman is not a pretty girl wearing men's clothing (although that, too, can be highly attractive). What any given person does and does not find attractive is deeply personal—there are no right or wrong answers when it comes to feelings of desire.For whatever reason, it seems that masculinity in women is something that some ladies really respond to.While there are males out there with a penchant for butchness, the anecdotal evidence of my straight butch friend, not to mention the overwhelming femmeness of the women our mass media uses to attract male viewers and sell them products, strongly suggests that this is a somewhat rarer phenomenon.