How to Be Butch*

*Author’s Note: This blog is mostly meant to be tongue-in cheek, a funny take on my life and observations. I never mean to imply that I am the sole “authority” on being butch (or even any authority at all), or that my way of being butch or my style of being butch – or even a lesbian, for that matter – is the only way to be. I will write more about the amazing diversity in the lesbian community, and the relative paucity of butch-femme relationships soon. Suffice it to say now that I mostly want to make you laugh, intrigue you, or perhaps give you insight into another point of view. I do not mean to pass judgment on whoever you are, whatever your style may be (except for you over there in the ratty t-shirt and cargo shorts), or however you live your life.  Now, that said, let me tell you how to be butch.

I know, dear readers that you may be so delighted, so intrigued with my life experiences that you want to know how you, too, can be butch. You must have the secrets – and, stat! If only…if only there were an instruction manual. Wait just a tick; I have found such a manual, dear readers, which I have written. Read on for a step-by-step guide to being a proper butch.

1.  Clothing. Go to your closet. Find every piece of women’s clothing. Throw it out. Well, ok, donate it, but it has got to go. You can’t look butch in a blouse for chrissakes. Shoes, too. Straps are out. Heels are ok if stacked or on a cowboy boot. Otherwise, not so much. Ok, jeans are good, always. Buy some vests. That will get you started. There are lots of more advanced rules, but I could write blogs and blogs about just lesbian fashion. Actually, I already have – see Tipping the Velvet (, Out of Pocket (, and Tie One On ( And there will be more.  Fashion is fun to write about.

2.  Jewelry. I am pro-jewelry as long as it’s the right kind. Nothing you would buy for your girl.  No hearts. No unicorns or rainbows. Fleur de lis, shamrocks, skulls – all acceptable. Silver is golden. Gold is a bit too New Jersey Shore. Jewels are your own call. Just remember, less is more.

3.  Sports. You can’t go wrong with a team sport:  football, basketball, hockey (extra butch), volleyball (high quotient of attractive sporty spice lesbians here – neither femme nor butch, but displays qualities of both), softball (where you will find many femmes and loads of sturdy, but not quite butch, lesbians). Shooting sports like archery and marksmanship are obviously butch, although obscure and inaccessible. Hard to imagine your femme coming out to watch your archery match. Country club sports are tricky and can go either way – largely depending on what you wear. There is kind of a spectrum starting with tennis (no tennis skirts or ladies wear) being less butch, moving to racquetball which is more butch, and then handball which is super butch.  Hitting something that hard with just your hand? Wow. Scary butch activities would include things like boxing, kick boxing, hunting, sport fishing, and cage fighting. Do one of these and you are sending out a very scary vibe. Badminton (hitting a “shuttlecock”?) is out. Golf is the holy grail of butch sports in my opinion. Hitting a small ball hundreds of yards with a metal club, stylish, wonderful clothing options, lots of drinking while you play. Great opportunities for being charming (not out of breath), lifting heavy things for your femme (golf bag), offering to clean off her spikes, smoking cigars (without it being odd). Of course, as an avid golfer, I am biased.  Plus, lots of lesbians play golf and straight men seem to embrace this – a bonus.

4.  Drinks. Alcohol? If not, nothing wrong with that at all. Drink whatever you like, but no fruit or cherries in the glass. If you do drink alcohol, don’t order a cream-based drink if you want to be butch – think Bailey’s. Drink that at home (yum). Stick to beer and you can’t go wrong. The hard stuff (whiskey, bourbon, scotch) are super butch – as long as you don’t get sick. If you can’t hold your liquor, don’t drink it. If you do drink it, nothing with an umbrella. In my opinion, nothing even with juice. The down side to beer is gas…not too sexy. Drink slowly!

5.  Jobs.  Let’s see, what is the butchest job? Unless you are one of those Deadliest Catch fishers, you probably don’t need to think about having a butch job. I will go so far as to say ANY job is a good job. Pay your bills. Handle your business. Be secure. If you decorate cakes for a living, that is plenty butch if it allows you to meet your needs and take your date out for dinner and a show. I don’t care if its floral design, or painting nails. Being employed and responsible is very butch.

6.  Hair. The shorter the better. I would like to try and change the butch world a little bit here.  It doesn’t have to be shapeless. Style is sexy. Style is cool. Yes, style is butch. If you’ve had the same do for a couple of years, it is time for a change. The Bieber is cute and fairly butch now, but probably not so much in two years. Even my mohawk – which my fiancé and I think is uber-butch – won’t be around two years from now, at least not on me. But, no matter what hair you rock, no mullets, please. Represent, butches!

7.  Makeup.  You should not have any. Your sole collection of makeup should be the high-end chapstick or lip balm you carry. My current favorite, by the way, is the Jack Black men’s skin care line – not that Jack Black. Anyway, the lip balm is fantastic, and it gives me something to look for at Sephora when my girl is busy looking at mascara and nail polish – or whatever. Black guyliner is awesome on occasion, but you will use your girl’s makeup for this. You should not own any yourself. Unless you are single; then guyliner is a must.

8.  Nails. Keep them very short and clean. You don’t have to just hack them off yourself with clippers, though, there is nothing wrong with a nice manicure. I always choose “buff” rather than any polish. Recently, though, my girl painted my nails black and put some silver crackle stuff on top. To my surprise, it looks very, very butch! Plus, there is nothing wrong with giving your girl a reason to stare at your hands.Think outside the box, I guess is the lesson here.

9.  Pets. Dogs, lions (or any other big cat), turtles, sharks, yes. Seriously? Come see my pet shark? Hella butch. Cats, birds, and fish, not so much. Not all dogs, though. The bigger the better. St. Bernard, Mastiff, Dane, Sheepdog, Lab – you are rocking the butch pet. Terriers, Poodles, Schnauzers, and anything miniature or teacup, forget about it. But it’s okay if your girl has one and you happen to be seen walking it for her on occasion. 😉

10.  Bowties. Learn to tie them. And fast. I mean learn how to tie a bowtie fast, not quickly learn how to do it. This is very sexy to femmes. Plus, other butches, straight guys, and your gay brethren will be envious at the end of the evening when you untie your bowtie and leave it gallantly hanging around your neck – James Bond style, thereby proving it’s not a clip-on.  Clip-ons are for 5 year olds. Seriously, my 5-year-old son has one. But tie it yourself? Oh, yes. It’s hot. But Butch, I don’t know how! No problem. Here’s a link to the drawing I used for a couple of months until it clicked for me ( No shame in asking a friend or the lady at Nordstrom’s for help. As for regular ties, if you want a real tie knot go with the Windsor. My dad showed me how to tie a good old-fashioned Windsor knot. Thanks, Dad! Now, I’m set on both fronts.

11.  Books. This is a wide open category. It doesn’t matter much unless you are on vacation. You don’t want to be seen by the pool with anything by Danielle Steel or Mary Higgins Clark. Any kind of fantasy, sci-fi, spy, or thriller is ok. Romantic novels are right out! Michael Crichton, Stephen King, Tolkien, yes. Stephanie Meyer, no.

12.  Music. This is a tough one for me because I am a music fanatic. I can’t get enough: classical, easy listening, dance, adult contemporary, electronic, big band, and house – questionable choices for a butch, but that’s not very evolved. Metal, rock, country, hip hop – obviously safe, but who wants to be safe when it comes to music? If you play an instrument,  lead guitar (acoustic or electric), check. Drums, yes. Bass guitar, of course. Sax, maybe. Piano, this is a tough one. I say yes. It’s not super butch, but certainly passable butch. Flute/violin/clarinet/harp/viola/tambourine…you play one of these and you can leave your butch card at the door.

13.  Movies. No chick flicks. Terms of Endearment, Steel Magnolias, Something’s Gotta Give, The Notebook (I’d rather stick my face in a notebook and slam the rings closed than see this movie), and all romantic comedies (anything by Nora Ephron or starring Meg Ryan) are out. If it makes your girl cry, it’s not a butch movie. Contrast this with the typical action movie – Terminator, Star Wars, Bad Boys, Lethal Weapon – and any bromance movie – I Love You Man, 21 Jump Street, Dumb and Dumber, The Hangover. These are butch movies. Notice that the inclusion of a love story does not contradict the butchness of the movie. Violence, spies, sex, explosions, and car chases make a movie butch. A romance thrown in is just fine, especially if the woman is hot. Over the top violence is not butch; that’s just a waste. Hollywood showing off. Look what we can do! Look how realistic this death and gore is! No, thank you. Even butches don’t have to sit for that. Saving Private Ryan, and Braveheart are out in my book. Super hero movies are platinum – even bad ones – and fantasy flicks like Lord of the Rings. Oh, and comedies are always butch – Ace Ventura, Bridesmaids, Coming to America, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Art films are not technically butch, but can be great for getting laid. Sadly, if it won an Oscar, it’s probably not butch. Notable exceptions: The Godfather, No Country for Old Men, Casablanca, and anything directed by Scorsese or starring Clint Eastwood. You have carte blanche to see these. Relationship note: There are deals to be made here. My fiancé likes art house flicks and plenty of chick flicks (although she hates romantic comedies), so we trade off. A real life example: I saw Black Swan for her (WTH!?), and she came to see Thor with me. Plus, if you go see an indie or chick flick with your girl, bring tissues and provide that shoulder for her to cry on.

Alrighty then. Now that you know everything that the “how to” guide says about being butch, you are all set.

Better yet, it is very butch to be yourself. You define whether or not you are butch. So throw out this guide and just be yourself – as long as you lose the mullet! Be butch.

About Tristan Higgins, aka Butch Jaxon

I am a butch. This blog is about what I think. If you do not know what butch means, you are probably on the wrong blog. In the interests of inclusion, though, I can tell you that “butch” means a lesbian that is big, strong, tough, more macho, less girly. Of course, there are no hard and fast rules – which is an ongoing theme in my blog (and in the comments), but those are the basics. A butch will most likely not wear makeup. A butch is often referred to as “sir” by someone who is not paying attention. What else? I am, after all, not just a butch. I am happily married to the most amazing woman ever, and the mother of two fantastic kids. I am also a lover of, in no particular order, beer, bow ties, breasts, movies, hiking, bookstores, travel, dogs, geocaching, polar bears, the gym, music, gadgets, and more. By day, I am an intrepid corporate entertainment lawyer. Although I try hard not to be labeled as such – sporting a bleached Mohawk, for example. Think more entertainment and less corporate. By night, bring it all on! In my blog, I talk about things from a butch perspective, but this is not just for butches. We all love our femmes. Please do not let me offend femmes, mine in particular! If you like what you read here, I hope you will comment and let me know what you think. If you do not like what you read, well, what the hell do I care? Start your own blog. Be Butch. View all posts by Tristan Higgins, aka Butch Jaxon

7 responses to “How to Be Butch*

  • Bejai

    Very enlightening stuff and it explains a lot. Mother’s day is coming up; do you have any advice for mothers of butch daughters?


    • ButchOnTap

      Bejai, Thanks! As for Mother’s Day gifts for your butch daughter, I would say anything made by her kids would be great – unless its a dress! Seriously, for others who might wonder, make sure the gift is something that your butch daughter/mother/friend will like and enjoy, rather than something you want them to enjoy. Seems like a whole post – thanks for the idea!


  • Kenda Smith

    “Come see my pet shark? Hella butch” This made my day! It wasn’t long ago that I would have aced half of these suggestions. Is there such a thing as a ‘faux butch’? 😉


    • ButchOnTap

      Kenda, LOL! I am glad that you liked that little bit. I was imagining a villain from a Bond film, or more recently from Despicable Me. Did you see that? There is a shark swimming around under the villain’s living room floor. I thought, wow, that could play as some game in the dating scene. Faux Butch, you mean because you are straight? How about “honorary butch”? Thanks for taking the time to comment! :o)


  • Alice

    “Hair. The shorter the better.” Amen! Nothing sexier on a butch than a number 2 on the back and the sides! Turns this femme’s head every time!

    Just happened to stumble upon your post while web surfing. Thanks for the laughs!


    • ButchOnTap

      Alice, I’m a fan of No.2 for haircuts, too. Although right now, I’ve got a No.1 everywhere except for the hawk. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to let me know you were here!


  • natasiarose

    Haha, this is great advice! I love girls with faux hawks who play sports. swoon.


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