The stories in Sometimes She Lets Me: Best Butch/Femme Erotica, edited by Tristan Taormino, make good on their promise for hot butch/femme action.
What marks this collection as a must-have is the type of butch visibility in these pages. I think a lot of the time, butches and the queers that love them have to read in-between the lines of smut—and, let’s be honest, media in general—to find images of themselves. He is imagined as she, problematic images of femmes, especially in hetero erotica, are ignored—butch sexuality yearned for but not found. The stories collected here feature butch bodies, butch swagger, and butch realities—subtext has become the text.
Tristan Taormino’s introduction sets the tone:
Butch/femme is erotic iconography. Butch/femme is sexual electricity. Butch/femme is power exchange. Butch/femme is bulging jeans, smeared lipstick, stiletto heels, and sharp haircuts. It’s about being read and being seen. Sometimes it’s about passing or not passing. It’s about individual identity and a collective sense of community. It’s personal, political. It’s performance and it’s not. It’s the visceral space between the flesh and the imagination.
Notable Stories include: D. Alexanderia’s “Tag,” in which a stud chases her naked girl in the woods and fucks her in one of the hottest scenes in the book, and Amie M. Evan’s “Anonymous,” a story that starts out laugh-out-loud funny, as a femme tries to find an anonymous hookup among Boston lesbians and finds a butch so perfect that she and “Jimmy,” despite the no-strings approach, plan another quote-unquote anonymous sexcapade.
Many of the stories in this collection address and play with ideas of intimacy, vulnerability, and gendered power. Ideas about butches’ sexual boundaries—like butches don’t get fucked, butches don’t fuck other butches—are subverted, played with, and taken apart when the butches in question desire other kinds of (supposedly non-normative for butches) sex; such as in D. Alexandria’s “Butches Don’t” and Samiya A. Bashir’s “LIVE: By Request,” in which a femme with a hard-on describes entering her butch lover:
i entered sacred space you opened to me…helped you fight the monsters of old humiliations…the staggering dread that i wouldn’t be able to see the strong, sexy woman you need to be anymore. you let me bite your back and grab your cunt and tits and whisper over and over that you’re mine, tell you this time how good your pussy feels from the inside because we know this is the kinda love that reaches thru these barriers.
The stories revolve around forming and shifting identities and butches getting what they need. There are Daddy stories and stories about cops; stories about butches having their way with their femmes; about butch cocks being sucked and penetrating femme cunts; and about femmes who give butches the strength to survive.
In “Homecoming Queen” a femme meets a butch, who was the visible queer kid in her high school, and they find themselves years later hooking up and playing as if they were back in that time. While the butch humiliates the femme, orders her not to make noise lest she wake the parents, lest the whole school finds out, she tells her femme:
You liked that, didn’t you, baby, you liked feeding me your hungry little pussy, didn’t you, Homecoming Queen; you pretender, what would your boyfriend say if he saw you here with me, letting the big dyke eat you out, begging for her dick? Let me hear you, baby. Beg me for it.
It’s important to have stories in which the reader feels visible, spoken to. Erotica is a way of telling stories about sexual identity and sexual experiences and when its good, which the stories in this collection are, they are more than one-handed reading (though definitely good for that too)—they are important in articulating some truth about butch/femme dynamics and lives.
—— SOMETIMES SHE LETS ME
Best Butch/Femme Erotica
Edited by Tristan Taormino Cleis Press