Definitions

Slut Night

Slut Night

A slut night is a butch-femme social gathering (mainly for self-identified dykes and lesbians) to celebrate gender expression and the butch and femme gender roles which have a long tradition in lesbian culture. Slut night had its origins at a small bar in Oakland, California, and has spread across the United States and to Montreal, Canada thanks to online networking which has brought on the "the golden age for Butch-Femme culture." On "slut night" at a bar or other social meeting place, femmes dress in erotic and often hyper-feminine clothing like bustiers, corsets, and feather boas, while the butches dress in masculine suits and ties usually made for a man but customized or fitted for them including the use of binding to flatten their breasts and packing to fill out the crotch. For some participants it is a regular night out, while others may revel in the chance to explore gender roles within the butch-femme continuum like being a soft butch or a stone femme or even playing into the androgynous genderqueer spectrum where gender ambiguity can be seen as a goal.

History

Background of the Butch/Femme Socials

A grassroots social networking group, Butch/Femme Socials of San Francisco and Oakland, regularly would meet up at bars and other venues for socializing, game nights, film nights and at clubs for dancing. Special events in the queer, kink and BDSM communities like annual leather events (Dore Alley Fair and Folsom Street Fair) provided a safer play space where pangenders, gender benders and stone butches are as much a part of the community as the (more) feminine lipstick lesbians who traditionally pass in mainstream society. The larger events also double as a low-cost social outing where not only could they attend but even be celebrated for their high-camp fashion and genderfuck bravado.

Defiantly diverse

The group is decidedly diverse in age as well as backgrounds and interests, "artists, writers, academics, blue collar, leather, professionals, students, etc. We are ethnically, spiritually, politically and sexually diverse." They also expressly welcome people of color who often face extra marginalization within queer cultures. Lisa Moore, publisher of RedBone Press, dedicated to the work of black lesbian writers shares, "blackness and femininity don't exactly go hand in hand in the mind of the dominant culture." "Black women historically have been thought of as being very masculine, which feeds into the negative self-esteem of femme-identified black women, as well as their invisibility within butch-femme communities," states Samiya Bashir in her article Fear of a Black Lesbian Planet discussing the intersections of race, gender and sexuality.

The Bay Area group created a unity through embracing diversity of butch-femme identities which aligned with lesbian separatism claiming their own reality even if the space was only temporary and used that space to share support creating an atmosphere of defiant self-determination.

Online networking

Meanwhile online communities and mailinglists for butches and femmes including Femmedykes and Boychicks were newly established facilitating networking and coordinating both online and "real world" gatherings. In 1995, Texas-based Butch-Femme.com was created becoming "home to the first Butch-Femme-specific personals" and a few years later the first registered domain dedicated to butches and femmes. With an underlying philosophy of community building the free and non-commercial site is one of the oldest and largest queer websites, with over a million unique visitors a day, 300,000 newsletter subscribers and hosting the only chat rooms exclusive to butches and femmes helping share information including the "slut night" happenings.

A tradition is born

On one Butch-Femme Social at Oakland's White Horse bar a femme, DisasterDiva, was admonished for removing her coat revealing a cocktail dress that the gay bartender thought too revealing. Another bartender, who was a butch herself, diffused the potential trouble. In the aftermath the femmes decided to "go all out with slutwear for the next social." The following month the social was officially named "slut night" possibly in honor of Jackie Collins' New Hollywood Wives when she wrote "The poor dear is experiencing a slut night!" The femmes wore undergarments as dresses including slips, camisoles, corsets, boas and bustiers while "the gents" (butches) mostly came in suits and ties with the bar's owner welcoming back DisasterDiva with an apology and drink.

Slut nights currently

Slut nights are usually still informally called for and in regular rotation with Femmes and Butches United (FABU) chapters organizing them as needed to "bridge the chasm of cyberspace." Sometimes the events are held as a fundraisers for events like the Gay Games VII participants or for traditional charities like Hurricane Katrina relief.

The original San Francisco/Oakland outing was quickly followed by slut nights in New York City and Portland, Oregon. On February 23, 2002 the first Washington, DC Slut Night was held and have continued every 1–2 months including "attending drag shows, to a basic dinner and night spent clubbing, to house parties."

The annual "Butch-Femme.com Bash" is a weekend convention held once a year in different cities across the United States to celebrate the Slut Night tradition attracting hundreds of butches and femmes. In 2008 the annual event is slated to be held in San Francisco, slut night's birthplace.

See also

Footnotes

External links

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