We’ve all heard the stereotypes: Butch lesbians wear too much flannel, clunky shoes and suffer from an excess of bad hair (mullet, anyone?). But that stereotype, which reflects a broad cultural discomfort with masculinity in women, has another side: the erotic. For those who like their lovers to be more genderqueer than traditionally feminine, butches rock the house.
To give props to the butches who make many a lesbian’s heart skip a beat, I put together a panel of four lesbians — three butch-loving femmes and one genuine butch — to rank the hottest 15 butches in film, TV and music.
Dawn — A femme who appreciates the gentlemanlike behavior of an old-school butch.
Claudia — A femme with a superb ability to shop and a keen fashion sense.
Gabby — A femme who enjoys an old-fashioned romance but doesn’t hesitate to speak her mind.
Sarah — A butch who appreciates butches. And if the other panelists ranked her, she’d be No. 1.
I brought the panelists together to discuss what makes a butch a butch, and they concluded that there are five important qualities to consider:
Handiness — Beyond being able to fix a leaking pipe or knowing how use a power drill, “handiness is what she can do for me,” said Dawn with a smirk.
Hair and Fashion — The panelists all agreed that a butch could have long hair and still be butch, but the hair must not be feminine in appearance. Similarly, being a butch doesn’t necessarily require a woman to wear men’s clothing, but she must avoid fashion that makes her look girlie.
Posture — This quality encompasses a woman’s physicality, from how she walks and sits to the sound of her voice and how she holds her beer.
Butch Attitude — A combination of chivalry, machismo and that butch je ne sais quoi, this quality may be hard to define but, as Claudia said, “Girl, you know what we’re talking about.”
How Hot She Looks in a White Ribbed Tank Top — The way she carries off this essential lesbian fashion accessory is a key determining factor of hotness.
Once the top five butch qualities were determined, I showed the panelists video clips and photos of butch lesbian characters in film and TV, as well as lesbian and bisexual female musicians. Each panelist rated each woman on the five qualities, giving her a score from one (least butch) to five (most butch).
Some women who score highly on one quality may score lower on another (which allows for variation in types of butches), but all the panelists agreed that a really hot butch would score very high in each quality. To determine how the women ranked, I averaged the panelists’ scores in each quality and then added them up. There is a possibility of 25 total points, and only one woman earned a perfect score.
Without further ado, here’s the countdown of the top 15 hottest butches in film, TV and music:
15. Joan Jett: The Is She a Butch?
Despite Joan Jett‘s rock-star attitude, multiple tattoos and flirtation with the sultry Carmen Electra, the panel was united in ranking her low on the butch scale.
According to Claudia, “She’s not really butch,” and Gabby thought that Jett looks more like an “edgy femme,” even though she admitted that there’s “nothing girlie about her.” Nonetheless, Dawn and Sarah gave her points for her macho guitar-playing style.
Hair and Fashion: 2.25
Butch Attitude: 3.75
How Hot She Looks in a White Ribbed Tank Top: 3
Total Score: 14.1
14. Kim (Christina Cox) in Better Than Chocolate: The Artsy Butch
In this 1999 romantic comedy set in British Columbia, lesbian bookstore clerk Maggie meets butch artist Kim (played by Christina Cox) and doesn’t let the fact that Kim lives in a van prevent her from falling in love.
Claudia noted, Kim is a “perfect portrayal of an early ’90s soft butch artistic Canadian type.”
Gabby was less impressed, reporting that her hair and fashion was uninspired, but it “could have been worse.”
As for Kim’s butch attitude, Gabby said dismissively, “I don’t really feel it.”
Sarah added: “She actually has a nice rack! Wait, who’s the butch?”
Hair and Fashion: 2.6
Butch Attitude: 2.3
How Hot She Looks in a White Ribbed Tank Top: 3.3
Total Score: 14.3