by Boitumelo “Mimie” Sepotokele
Jade & I were sitting and chatting about a day we had and discussed this couple we were hanging with that night, and what we saw did not sit well with us, we both could not understand why should there be a dominating and a submissive partner in a lesbian relationship.
I mean we both women who identify as Lesbian and automatically we should be Feminists Right?
We should know better than to treat each other in a patriarchal manner right?
So I decided to do some research about dominance within the Lesbian community
I was asking myself many questions like : why should we label our selves as Butch, Femme, Tom etc…
Do these labels condone a submissive and dominance kind of relationship?Is the dominance/submissive relationship condoned by Age?
Or financial status?
Or is it because Most femme Lesbians treat their butch partners as “Men”?
They forget that they too are Women?
Or Maybe its because Most butch looking lesbians are actually Transgender?
So I posted this status on facebook and other groups I chat with:
Morning family, I have a burning issue lana about dominance….what’s your take on it?
I personally have a problem with it, I feel lesbians have taken the heterosexual norm about dominance. If one does not feel the need to dominate you, they feel you should dominate, Can’t we just have a relationship and be equals?
We are two women who love each other right?
So why do we want to take the heterosexual Norms and make them ours?
I for one identify as Lesbian because I am a Woman who loves other Women and Note neh “WOMEN” not “MEN” and I won’t treat anyone or be treated like a “MEN”… I simply want a relationship where am treated with love, appreciation and be taken into consideration that I am as much of a human as them…
What’s your take on this Issue @ hand?
I think that’s where we get it wrong and that’s why our relationships don’t last as lesbians. We adopt things that are not for us and will never be….
It has came to my understanding that dominance is a touchy subject within the lesbian community, with many factors.
On my research I came across Femme lesbians who don’t mind being dominated, who believe that the butch should take care of them financially and in turn they would do anything and everything for their partners, other even call their partners by handsome, husby etc
I have came across those like me who are allergic to dominance, who actually believe in 50/50 kind of relationship. Finance wise and even sexually, the kind of femmes who would like to be treated equally, who like their women as woman as can be no matter their dress code, those who would treat a hard headed butch as a woman they are.
And even came across femme lesbians who are in fact dominant them selves, the kind that will make sure that their partner is well taken care of even if the partner is not working. They would make sure that things run smoothly in the house hold and expect their partners to do their womanly duties, either butch or not and even go as extreme as controlling who their partner befriends and so on.
Even in femme on femme /butch on butch relationships, one is expected to be dominant and the other be submissive because one might appear Tomish/Femmish or has a strong character.
To me dominance is a form of power to belittle the other, as most would go to an extreme of expecting their partners to wash, cook and clean for them. And it can also turn out abusive in an emotional manner as the dominant one would think they have every right to control the submissive, the abusive behavior might go as far as sexual abuse.
This dominance thing is so extreme that if we have a Butch /Tom Lesbian and a femme lesbian Sleeping around, the butch/tom is regarded or seen as a hero or a charmer or as they would say it in my Kasi “Isikhokho”. But if she is Femme she is called Names like Isifebe “Bitch” and would be belittled even by other femmes.
I don’t know if all this is promoted by the labeling within our community or is it by us trying to look as normal as possible in the eyes of the heterosexual community?
According to me, we have to treat each other equally. I don’t get why should we adopt heterosexual Norms. It’s either you are a feminist or you are patriarchal, and it is impossible for one to be Lesbian and patriarchal.
Mimie is a feminist; activist and a lesbian mother.
She has volunteered for many LGBT organisations including the Forum for the Empowerment of Women (FEW).
hhhhhmmmm. this is a very interesting topic and like i said before, it can be explored in soo many ways and argued for in so many. (the issue of dominance is a philosophical one,) i like your take on things and i agree with all the points you made because at the end of the day we are all women, there is no need to fake/ play roles that are not naturally ours, like wanting to do things men do and call ourselves boyfriends/ husband.
but at the end of the day it comes down to preferences, if couples treat each other that way, it is because they are ok with it and they do not see a problem in it all. it is not up to us to judge and be disturbed by the way they treat each other. this is why i always say: we always talk about homophobia from the world outside the LGBTI community and how we don’t like it blah blah blah.. but when i sat and observed, there is a lot of phobia going on around within the LGBTI circle especially trans-phobia and what i call butch phobia… yooh, butches are bashed most of the time hle by most lesbians because we think what they are doing is wrong….
i say let everybody be, if she walks around thinking she has a penis, that’s her own definition of being lesbian, if another walks around thinking she is a femme and can not touch her partner sexually, let her be, that her own definition of being lesbian. if another wants to take care of their partner, its not because they want to dominate, but let her be, that’s her own definition… if i am the 50/50 kind of person and i can rock high heels as much as i rock sneakers, let me be, that is my own definition…
i loved the articled though, well written.
hi. thanks for sharing your thoughts Butterflythepoet.
Wow!!! Butterflythepoet, where you in my head space yesternight when I was thinking about this. You said exactly what i was thinking, for God is my witness. Thank you for voicing it out.
To the writer, thank you for voicing out your thoughts, I agree with you to a certain level though. It’s like some of us forget that we are women dating other women. I know for a fact of some butch lesbian who love being called my husband/boyfriends and it makes them feel dominant and they get Furious should you call them the opposite of that. Most important let us just respect each other and love one another.
It all started with labelling our selves, and I think some lesbians are loosing touch of what it is to be lesbian!
It’s not about mimicking heterosexual dynamics, it’s about yin and yang energy and sexual polarization. Why can’t it all be about love and enjoying ourselves, without having to fit in a box and please the Gold Card Carrying Lesbians? Why not quit the labeling and love each other, not only as lesbian-identified, transgendered, feminists, queer, but as people?
What message does it send to the world when we refuse to be inclusive of all expressions of gayness and desire?
As a femme with a long past as heterosexual and bisexual, I find I can’t find support or a sense of community because there is always someone who is longer in the tooth in the community to tell me I don’t belong. I am able to love fiercely and deeply, give intense pleasure, and I can get into a mutually sexually fulfilling relationships with someone I trust enough to dominate me.
Like I said, it’s all about love.
I like what I see here .
I always read and never comment,it’s not like I have nothing to say I have something in my mind but it’s hard to write it.
I only came to say I really love reading Inkanyiso.org articles cos I learn a lot from them.
When I’m here it’s like I’m in some outside unknown beautiful world.