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Everyone was a butch or a femme at the time, and if you weren’t, you were called a “kiki.”Butches (and femmes) faced criticism from middle and upper class lesbians who felt that they replicated heterosexual relationships.The first lesbian organization, the Daughters of Bilitis, formed in 1955 and pressured butches to appear more feminine.
It’s at this time that “butch” materialized as an underground term used by working-class women, as well as gay men to describe masculinity in their own communities.Check out the full video, and the script below, to learn more about how the word has evolved over time.From its emergence among working-class lesbian bar culture to its resurgence in the 1990s, the word “butch” has had a hidden history.Yet, a new generation of young, political, and college-educated lesbians developed in the years that followed. “Butch” and “femme” made a comeback in the 1980s as sexually empowering terms, and not just for working class women.The rise of feminism on college campuses left out working-class bar dykes — and butches were even considered “politically incorrect” by lesbian feminists in the 1970s. There were “butch bottoms” and “femme tops” who used the terms for their own pleasure.