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Butch and femme are terms used in the lesbian and gay subculture to ascribe or acknowledge a masculine (butch) or feminine (femme) identity with its associated traits, behaviors, styles, self-perception and so on.
Research in the 1990s in the United States showed that "95% of lesbians are familiar with butch/femme codes and can rate themselves or others in terms of those codes, and yet the same percentage feels that butch/femme was 'unimportant in their lives The word femme is taken from the French word for woman.
For example, Susie Bright, the founder of On Our Backs, the first lesbian sex periodical of its kind, identifies as femme.
Beyond depictions in pornography, the neo-butch and neo-femme aesthetic in day-to-day life helped add a sense of visual identity to lesbians who had abandoned these roles in the name of political correctness.
However, Joan Nestle asserts that femmes in a butch-femme couple make both the butch and the femme exceedingly visible.
By daring to be publicly attracted to butch women, femmes reflected their own sexual difference and made the butch a known subject of desire.