4. Tachi, butch, stone butch, top and more!
I was wondering, what's the difference between "butch" in English and "tachi" in Japanese? Each is strongly defined by the woman's boyish exterior, so they could be easily seen as the same, but are they?
I think they're different - probably. First of all, "tachi" (much like "top") and "neko" (much like "bottom") refer to roles people have in a (sexual) relationship; they're therefore something played out internally and are not necessarily recognizable on the outside. Of course, it seems that most "tachi" posture themselves as more masculine or boyish in appearance, but that's certainly not always the case. On the other hand, when you talk about "butch" and "femme", you're talking about what's going on on the surface. "Butch" and "femme" don't dictate roles as much as they describe appearances. So, I think that's one fundamental difference. In the States I think the concept of "tachi" and "neko" has pretty much gone by the wayside, the 1950s may have been its prime. But it seems that several Asian cultures really explore it.
Parisa Parnian, the designer behind RIGGED OUT/fitters and a fashion columnist for OurChart, had told me some women are called "stone butch". How is that different from butch?
They're very different actually. This probably goes back again to the 1950s when sexuality was not seen in the same way as it is now - especially things relating to gender identity.
Which means, stone butches are not actually part of the "butch" category but comprise a group all their own, right?
I thought that since "butch" was a bit like "tachi", "stone butch" would be equivalent to "bari-tachi" (much like an "ultra-top"). Like, it was indicating where on the butch spectrum someone is. So that's not exactly right now, is it?
They' re words describing people in two different types of situations. Currently we have new popularized expressions like "gender-queer" and "transgender", but "stone butch" may have been the only expression available to women back then who saw themselves to be more like men. In other words, "butch" is a reference for how someone physically looks - it's their self-expression and sexuality; however, "stone butch" involves someone's sense of their own gender.
"Tachi" and "neko", common in Japan and Asia, describe roles-like a masculine role and a feminine role. These roles almost seem like they're modeled directly from valued behavior in "straight" society. This was prevalent in the US too, but now - following decades of gender activists - the newest queer generation is erasing the whole concept of predetermined roles from the board; this can be seen in a lot of cities, like LA, SF or New York. Though such roles may have not disappeared in smaller communities and rural areas in the US, many young gay women are now eager to discover blends of behavior and sexual expression that they feel are right and unique for them.
I would suppose that the more male-dominated a society is, the more important that those roles would appear. Where heterosexuals feel obligated to abide by gender roles, then non-heterosexual people too tend to exhibit similar behavior.
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