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08/10/2014 05:02 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Why Do Lesbians Often Like Masculine Women, Yet Have No Attraction to Men of Equal Masculinity/Femininity?

This question originally appeared on Quora: Why do lesbians often like masculine women, yet have no attraction to men of equal masculinity/femininity?

Answer by Erica Friedman, The Librarian is IN, 5₵

This question starts with a presumption - lesbians like masculine women. This is not generalizably true.

Masculinity is not what lesbians like. Lesbians like women. Really that's the only characteristic we all incontrovertibly have in common.

Some lesbians like masculine women, some lesbians are masculine women.

So, the assumption underlying the question just isn't true. But, setting that aside...

So why do some women like masculine women? Let's talk about one of the straightest things I've ever enjoyed ... Takarazuka.

Takarazuka is, for the purposes of our discussion today, an all-female musical theater troupe. The troupe and the school associated with it split the actresses into women who play female roles, called musumeyaku and women who play the male roles, called otokoyaku. According to the Takarazuka organization, there is nothing at all gay about the actresses, the cross-dressing, the audience or the shows. In fact, being an otokoyaku back in the day was supposed to make a woman a better wife, since she knew what it was like to wear those manly clothes.

So, there I am at an event, watching a panel about Takarazuka. All the panelists are straight women, and they are going on about how the otokoyaku look just like men! I, my two gay female friends, and two straight male friends who were sitting with me all start to shake our heads back and forth. No, they look nothing at all like men. We think they look like women in tuxes,(or suits or uniforms or whatever costume). They have deep voices, but "like men"? Uhh-unh, nope.

And yet, there are the straight women in the audience nodding. Huh? How do straight women see "men" in what are clearly women in suits? I can't tell you, because I really don't know.

No guys here.

Everyone looks good in a tux. Go ahead, tell Marlene Dietrich she doesn't look feminine. She'd probably have kissed Anna May Wong harder.

/swoon/

I like a woman in a suit. I also like feminine women. Here's a famous feminine woman who was famous for being feminine...doing something you might think "masculine."

Being "feminine" and being "masculine" are some of the most supercharged words in English. If I call a man "feminine," I am apparently not only insulting him, but his father's genes as well. If I call a woman "masculine" you start looking for the carabiner on her belt.

But, maybe I mean a guy is sensitive or intuitive, or just not all up in his own balls all the time, and maybe I mean the woman is capable or likes to chop her own wood. Maybe we all decide what we mean when we say those words and we think that what what we mean is universal? Only...it's not. Sometimes we just arbitrarily make a decision and convince ourselves we're right.

Lesbians like women.  Not "masculinity."

As many different lesbians as there are, there are exactly that number of opinions on what they like in women.

And as much as I like a woman in a suit...my wife is as soft and round and feminine as any woman. And, trust me, I get no special bonus from being the butch. All I get is to be the one who crawls under the dining room table to tighten the screws on the table legs. ^_^

Masculinity is not the point. Lesbians like women. Women come in many forms. Femininity comes in many forms. Masculinity comes in many forms.

And almost none of that has anything to do with being a lesbian.

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