Friday, September 14, 2007

friday's word: butch

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exaggeratedly or stereotypically masculine in appearance or behavior

short, close-cropped haircut

unknown origins--perhaps from old british slang for 'to cut,' then applied to short haircuts + then, ca. 1940s, applied to lesbians + gay men with short hair + affected masculine traits; or perhaps a nickname for 'butcher'

in the 1940s the homosexual subculture began to apply the term to lesbians + gay men--now applications of terms like 'butch' + 'femme' are more common to lesbians, less common to gay men, though mostly out of date for both (like 'homosexual subculture')

'straight acting' would not be a synonym since 'butch' connotes a deliberate intensification of masculine qualities, a 'queering' of gender norms for men (esp. american men)--among gay men, the phenomenon (+ thus the term) all but disappeared after the 1970s

closer synonyms are 'bear,' 'boi,' 'clone,' 'drag king,' 'gym bunny,' 'macho,' 'tomboy'

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