A List Of 100 ‘Girl Meets Girl’ Pairings — And Not A Butch In Sight

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"The Mainstream Media has a Major Butch-Phobia Problem— And No One Is Talking About It."
  • This article, by Julia Diana Robertson, is also published on Huffington Post

Recently, I wrote that the mainstream media is like the great-grandmother who shows up at your lesbian wedding and says, “So, do I call her your husband?” To demonstrate the media’s severe butch-phobia problem, I’ve put together a visual list of 100 ‘girl-meets-girl’ pairings that have something in common… They’re all ‘femme/femme’ pairings (catered to male fantasy and often portrayed as sexually flexible).

As a matter of fact, we almost never see a ‘butch’ character featured in mainstream media AT ALL. And, thus far, we’ve only had one butch actress that’s made it onto a mainstream show as a main character. So, while my list of 100 could go on and on (I’ve been diligently collecting screenshots for some time now), I only have a list of 5 ‘androgynous’ lesbian characters… And, sadly, that’s an exaggeration. It consists of the only butch actress to ever land a featured mainstream role (albeit as a tired ‘butch’ cliché), and a few ‘androgynous’ characters (played by talented actresses, who are not butch in real life).

screenshot, Shane, played by actress Katherine Moennig on The L Word

Mainstream media perpetuates the shaming of butch/androgynous/stud (call it what you will) lesbians, with homophobia that specifically targets lesbians— For the most part, butch characters only get to play extras, and only if they fit into a very particular ‘butch’ cookie-cutter prototype. They must be willing to take a slap in the face with the typical sarcastic— “Are you a boy or a girl?”— retort (like recently on Girlboss). Yet butch/androgynous/stud (call it what you will) lesbians aren’t trying to “be men.” They don’t “look like men.” And the women who love them aren’t with them because they “really want to be with men.”

Sexuality can’t be tricked. Colors, haircuts, clothes, interests and activities don’t have a ‘gender.’ Rigid ‘gender norms’ are no more than sexist stereotypes created long ago (by men). Biologically innate same-sex attraction is as delicious as an andro-beauty in a Ralph Lauren suit.

But the magic isn’t in the tie and the button-down shirt… It’s in the female heaven underneath it all. Say it with me now.

screenshot, Carmen and Shane, LWord

In 2017, the mainstream media wants us to know that they’re okay with ‘lesbians,’ but only if we fit their idea of the ‘right kind of lesbian’— the version of a ‘lesbian’ that’s obsessively rammed down our throats— feminine and open to whatever. They’ve sent a clear message to non-femme lesbians:  either change or make yourself invisible. There’s a very real and frightening desire to eradicate ‘butch’ lesbians from view. And this cruel dehumanizing sentiment is echoed everywhere— from schools, to the local diner, to the grocery check out line. As you look at the list of 100 below, imagine what it must feel like for a young ‘androgynous’ girl to never see herself as anything other than the butt of a joke. A riddle to be solved. Imagine what it’s like for all lesbians by extension. Consider the level of misogyny that the mainstream media maintains. Think about the message it’s sending, and the internalized homophobia it may cause.

Now, without further ado (and in no particular order), I present you with the mother of all visual aids:

1. Stef and Lena.

Like many other current shows, The Fosters is willing to break new grounds and push the limits, just not when it comes to putting a butch lesbian on their screen.

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screenshot, Steph and Lena, The Fosters

2. Waverly and Nicole

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screenshot, Waverly and Nicole, Wynonna Earp

3. Alex and Maggie

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screenshot, Alex and Maggie, Supergirl

4. Carol and Susan.

Couldn’t resist this uber-femme F.R.I.E.N.D.S. wedding throwback.

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screenshot, Carol and Susan, F.R.I.E.N.D.S.

5. Barbara and Tabitha

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screenshot, Barbara and Tabitha, Gotham

6. Chloe and Catherine

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screenshot, Chloe and Catherine, Chloe

7. Mia and Guilda (and some guy)

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screenshot, Mia and Guilda, Head in the Clouds

8. Renee and Barbara

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screenshot, Renee and Barbara, Gotham

9. Leah and Arizona

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screenshot, Arizona and Leah, Grey’s Anatomy

10. Yasmin.

On a recent episode of Scandal, we find out Rashad’s niece, Yasmin, has a girlfriend, but (spoiler alert)…

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screenshot, Yasmin and girlfriend

… in true “Bury your Gays” fashion, she waves us one last goodbye and gets blown up on a plane. It was pretty cool to finally see an Arab lesbian represented on a mainstream show. Guess I’ll keep waiting…

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screenshot, Yasmin

11. Arizona and Carina

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screenshot, Arizona and Carina

12. Heather and Callie

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screenshot, Heather and Callie

13. Nic and Jules.

Apparently, mainstream’s version of ‘lesbians’ watch gay man porn… Jules, predictably, has an affair with the sperm donor.

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screenshot, Nic and Jules

14. Cosima and Delphine

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Cosima and Delphine, Orphan Black

15. Wendy and Lana. 

Ryan Murphy’s vision of lesbians is always femme on femme, catered to the male gaze… And sometimes strapped to tables, raped, amputated and crawling out of basements.

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screenshot, Wendy-Lana, AHS (Ryan Murphy)

16. Ramona and Countess…

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screenshot, Ramona and Countess, AHS (Ryan Murphy)

17. more AHS girl on girl for men…

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screenshot, AHS (Ryan Murphy)

AHS… literally… This guy with a creepy doll is in the room watching.

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screenshot, AHS

18. Moira and her mistress (looking up at some guy).

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screenshot, Moira and her mistress, AHS (Ryan Murphy)

19. Natasha and the Countess (and some guy) .

Okay Ryan… we get the point.

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screenshot, Natasha and Countess, AHS (Ryan Murphy)

20. Lyria and Eretria

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screenshot, Lyria & Eretria, The Shannara Chronicles

21. Jenny and Marina

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screenshot, Jenny and Marina, the L word

22. Bette and Tina

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Screenshot, Bette and Tina, the L word

.

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screenshot, Bette and Tina, the L word…Bette and Tina (and some guy)

23. Throwback to Gia and Linda.

But Gia is based on a true story.

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screenshot, Gia and Linda

24. Jody and Bette…

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screenshot, Bette and Jody, LWord

25. Nikki and Jenny…

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screenshot, Nikki and Jenny, the L Word

26. Holly and Gail…

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screenshot. Holly and Gail, Rookie Blue

27. Alison and Naomi…

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screenshot, Alison and Naomi, American Gothic

28. Bo and Lauren…

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screenshot, Bo and Lauren, Lost Girl

29. Root and Shaw…

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screenshot, Root and Shaw, Person of Interest

30. Pippy and Tara…

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screenshot, Pippy and Tara, Rosewood

31. Tara and Denise…

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screenshot, Tara and Denise, The Walking Dead

32. Arizona and Eliza…

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screenshot, Arizona and Eliza, Grey’s Anatomy

33. Alex and Piper.

Piper’s character on Orange is The New Black (a.k.a. OITNB) is actually loosely based on a real person, Piper Kerman.

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screenshot, Alex and Piper, OITNB

34. Penny and Callie…

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screenshot, Penny and Callie, Grey’s Anatomy

35. Nikki and Lorna…

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screenshot, Nikki and Lorna, OITNB

36. Erica and Callie (and Mark)…

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screenshot, Callie and Erica, Grey’s Anatomy

37. Trisha and Mercy.

The role of Trisha, a drug addict, was played by Madeline Brewer, on OITNB (spoiler alert)…

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screenshot, Trisha

Trisha, OITNB…Brewer had the les-swag down really well…She became a victim of “Bury your Gays.”

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screenshot, Mercy and Trisha, OITNB

38. Nina and Lily…

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screenshot, Nina and Lily, Black Swan

39. Paige and Emily…

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screenshot: Paige and Emily, Pretty Little Liars

40. Throwback to Pauline and Juliet…

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screenshot, Pauline and Juliet, Heavenly Creatures

41. Allison and Emily…

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screenshot Allison and Emily, Pretty Little Liars

42. Thelma and Anja.

Sure to sell lots of mainstream tickets in 2017.

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screenshot, Thelma and Anja

43. Janet and Bianca…

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screenshot, Janet and Bianca, Janet King

44. Julie & Nikki…

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screenshot, Julie & Nikki, The Returned

45. Arizona and Callie. 

Grey’s Anatomy is willing to push the boundaries… Just not when it comes to having a butch lesbian on their show.

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screenshot, Grey’s Anatomy

46. Shay and Clarice…

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screenshot, Shay and Clarice, Chicago Fire

47. Emily and Maya…

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screenshot, Emily and Maya, Pretty Little Liars

48. Lara and Dana…

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screenshot, Lara and Dana, the L Word

49. Santana and Brittney on Glee.

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screenshot, Santana and Brittany

Santana and Brittany, Glee (Ryan Murphy)…The pair end up in flowing white wedding dresses.

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screenshot, Santana and Brittany

50. Throwback to Suzie and Kellie.

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screenshot, Suzie and Kelly, Wild Things

51. Maggie and Sydney…

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screenshot, Maggie and Sydney, Saving Hope

52. Clarke and Lexa…

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screenshot, Clarke and Lexa, The 100

53. Freya and Keelin…

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screenshot, Freya and Keelin, The Originals

54. Sabrina and Emily…

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screenshot, Sabrina and Emily, Pretty Little Liars

55. Bianca and Reese…

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screenshot, Bianca and Reese, All My Children

56. Tamsin and Bo…

screenshot, Tamsin and Bo, Lost Girl

57. Dani and Santana. 

Glee was willing to break new ground… So long as lesbians were still checking off the “pink is for girls” box.

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screenshot, Dani and Santana, Glee

58. Fionna and Charlie…

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screenshot, Fionna and Charlie, Degrassi

59. Frankie and Bridget….

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screenshot, Frankie and Bridget, Wentworth

60. Imogen and Fionna…

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screenshot, Imogen and Fionna, Degrassi

61. Throwback to Queer as Folk, Melanie and Lindsay…

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screenshot, Melanie and Lindsay, Queer as Folk

62. Penny Dreadful is willing to push the envelope…

…Just not when it comes to casting women who don’t look the way mainstream insists women should look.

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screenshot, Penny Dreadful

63. Adrianna and Gia…

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screenshot, Adrianna and Gia, 90210

64. Paige and Alex…

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screenshot, Paige and Alex, Degrassi

65. Luisa and Rose…

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screenshot, Luisa and Rose, Jane the Virgin

66. Delle and Aneela…

screenshot, Delle and Aneela, Killjoys

…Delle and Aneela (and men)

screenshot, Killjoys

67. Talia and Emily…

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screenshot, Emily and Talia, Pretty Little Liars

68. Throwback to Kennedy and Willow…

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screenshot, Kennedy and Willow, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

69. Tiana and Tory…

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screenshot, Tiana and Tory, Empire

(and a guy)

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screenshot, Empire

70. Sara and Nyssa…

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screenshot, Sara and Nyssa, Arrow

71. Fiona and Jasmine. 

Shameless pushes the envelope— Just not when it comes to giving us a story line with an andro-hottie.

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screenshot, Fiona and Jasmine, Shameless

72. Throwback to One Tree Hill’s Anna and Peyton (spoiler alert)…

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screenshot, Anna and Peyton, One Tree Hill

One Tree Hill…an early victim of “Bury Your Gays.”

73. Marissa and Alex…

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screenshot, Marissa and Alex, the OC

74. Cat and Frankie…

Frankie is one of my favorite bisexual characters… But my all-time fav bi character is further down on this list. Hint: Starts with Ka. Ends with “que linda!”

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screenshot, Cat and Frankie, Lip Service

75. Samara and Emily…

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screenshot, Emily and Samara, Pretty Little Liars

76. Zoe and Grace. 

Degrassi pushes the envelope, but not when it comes to putting a ‘butch’ lesbian on their screen.

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screenshot, Grace and Zoe, Degrassi

77. Mary and Nora…

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screenshot, Mary and Nora, Vampire Diaries

78. Karma and Amy…

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screenshot, Karma and Amy, Faking It

79. Sara and Emily…

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screenshot, Sara and Emily, Pretty Little Liars

80. Rasha and Zoe…

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screenshot, Zoe and Rasha, Degrassi

81. Tara and Pam…

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screenshot, Tara and Pam, True Blood

82. Spencer and Ashley…

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screenshot, Spencer and Ashley, South of Nowhere

83. Jack and Imogen…

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screenshot, Jack and Imogen, Degrassi

84. Throwback to Tara and Willow…

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screenshot, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

85. Alice and Tasha…

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screenshot, Alice and Tasha, LWord

86. Papi and Alice…

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screenshot, Alice and Papi, LWord

87. Jess and Naomi…

screenshot, Jess and Naomi, Katie Kills People

88. Kalinda and Lana.

Kalinda is my favorite bisexual on TV. The reason: Her attraction to women is actually believable. You can feel the heat.

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screenshot, Lana and Kalinda, The Good Wife.

89. Nova and Chantal…

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screenshot, Nova and Chantal, Queen Sugar

90. Linda and Gina…

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screenshot, Linda and Gina, Shut Eye

91. Emma and Izzy…

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screenshot, Emma and Izzy, You Me Her

92. Annalise and Eve…

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screenshot, Eve and Annalise, How to Get Away With Murder

93. Bette and Candace…

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screenshot, Bette and Candace, LWord

94. Max and Eleanor…

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screenshot, Max and Eleanor, Black Sails

95. Astrid And Niska…

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screenshot, Astrid And Niska, Humans

96. Betty and Veronica.

Not a couple (yet;). Just the one kiss and some flirting. But this is a list of “pairings” so here they are!

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screenshot, Betty and Veronica, Riverdale

97. Jean and Sydney…

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screenshot, Jean and Sydney, Gypsy

98. Robyn and Katherine…

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screenshot, Robyn and Katherine, Desperate Housewives

99. Alice and Dana…

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screenshot, Dana and Alice, LWord

100. Kellie and Yorkie

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screenshot, Kellie and Yorkie, Black Mirror

That’s 100— And I could go on, but hopefully by now you get the picture.

Here’s the teeny-tiny list of five…

…Five (5) main characters that are either andro-adjacent or butch. In fact, it’s such a short list, that I’m going to embellish it with extra screenshots and some fun facts.

1. Shane

Shane is 1-of-2 lead andro-adjacent TV characters in a mainstream show (LWord). They dabbed her with lip gloss and gave her smokey eyeshadow— You know, because all women MUST have some stereotypical ‘feminine’ indicator. Shane, played by actress Katherine Moennig, is the only lesbian TV character who has ever reached her particular level of lez-super-stardom. She’s our lesbian anthem. The sex symbol heard ‘round the world. You would think mainstream TV might’ve taken the hint. But no. Sadly, they did not.

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screenshot, Shane and Carmen

Unfortunately, Moennig was scripted to play yet another typical mainstream pliable ‘lesbian.’ The writers made her character into a gay man’s fetish— When Shane revealed a past of prostituting herself to gay men, millions of lesbians rolled their eyes at home. Baby butches cried out in the night. And I’ll let this belly-button revealing corset speak for itself. However, as far as casting goes, they hit the nail on the head with Moennig… because Shane put out an unprecedented level of on-screen heat.

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screenshot, Shane, Lword

2. Moira

The L Word finally gave us our first ever butch lesbian main character on a mainstream show. Daniela Sea isn’t a butch lesbian in real life, but she played one on TV. And we were over the moon. It had finally happened. It. Had. Finally. Happened.

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screenshot, Moira, LWord

…But then Moira became Max and began sleeping with gay men. In a recent People Entertainment video— where The L Word cast reunites to discuss a reboot— they sum up why the only butch character, Moira, becomes Max— “Moira kind of doesn’t really fit with the rest of the group… she’s not a girly–girl.”

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screenshot, LWord

So scratch that… The second spot is open. We’ll give it to Poussey— Yes, that’s the punchline of a name they gave her on OITNB

2. Poussey is the other somewhat-andro lead character to make it onto a mainstream show…

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screenshot, Brooke and Poussey

…But not really, because she’s arguably not andro. The flashbacks show her ‘femmed’ up. Butch isn’t a performance and it isn’t a phase… No, great-grandma, it’s not a matter of finding the right shade of lipstick or discovering the perfect dress someday. But we’ll keep Poussay on the tiny andro list any way, since andro lesbians get no representation. Us lesbians take what we can get. (spoiler alert)….

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screenshot, Poussey

Poussey quickly became a les-crowd favorite, so they killed her off in the mean-spirited media game of “Bury your Gays.” Fun fact: Poussey is played by actress Samira Wiley, who married Lauren Morelli (a writer and producer for OITNB) in a 2017 fairy tale wedding. Too cute not to share.

View image on Twitter
screenshot, social media, Martha Stewart Weddings


3. Stella

The role of Stella was played by actress Ruby Rose, who perfected the butch-andro swag for this brief role on a mainstream show. She caused a stir. And then she was gone. And we were all sad.

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screenshot, Piper and Stella OITNB

Stella won our hearts on OITNB… And in real-life, actress Ruby Rose recently won the heart of Jess Origliasso from The Veronicas. And (in case you don’t already know) she loves to switch up her look and challenge stereotypes.

4. Corkey

In the movie Bound, Corkey is played by Gina Gerson, who isn’t a lesbian and isn’t butch, but you can tell she takes her craft seriously and definitely did her homework.

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screenshot Corkey and Violet, Bound

Fun fact: Gina Gershon has a new thriller out this year called Inconceivable… and I’m so there!

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screenshot, Gina Gershon and Nicolas Cage, Inconceivable

5. Big Boo

It’s 2017 and Lea DeLaria is still the only butch lesbian actress to ever land a featured role on a mainstream show. She was on OITNB. In an interview, “What Not to Love,” she talks about her disappointment with the ongoing media caricature of a ‘butch lesbian.’ She should know… She’s been playing the media’s butch punching bag since the 90’s. She used comedy and food as an escape— “There’s this thing inside your head, when you get home like at the end of your day and you walk into your apartment and you close the door and… there’s a part of you that goes, ‘phew. Made it. Nobody beat me up, nobody called me a dyke on the street. Today was a good day.”

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screenshot, Lea watches one of her OITNB scenes as a guest on a Late Night TV show

Well, my dear lesbians, the mainstream media has a severe butch-phobia problem, and they’ve perpetuated a dehumanizing brand of homophobia targeting lesbians that has real-life consequences. It’s not only sanctioned, it’s encouraged. As for the girls and women who don’t check off the “pink is for girls” box, the non-stop psychological warfare is only getting worse… and it’s left many a lesbian with some really deep scars.


Julia Diana Robertson is an award-winning author and journalist. You can find her at www.juliadianarobertson.com

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This article is dedicated to my beautiful inside and out wife, Claudia Lucas—The epitome of female beauty wrapped in a Hugo Boss suit. © JLI Photography

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