A List Of 100 ‘Girl Meets Girl’ Pairings — And Not A Butch In Sight

The mainstream media has a major andro-phobia problem—and no one’s talking about it.

The Mainstream Media has a Major Butch-phobia Problem—And No One Is Talking About It.

Glee
Glee

Recently, I wrote that the mainstream media is like the great-grandmother who shows up at your lesbian wedding and says, “So, do I call her your husband?” To demonstrate the media’s severe butch-phobia problem, I’ve put together a visual list of 100 ‘girl-meets-girl’ pairings that have something in common… They’re all ‘femme/femme’ pairings (catered to male fantasy and often portrayed as sexually flexible). As a matter of fact, we almost never see a ‘butch’ character featured in mainstream media AT ALL. And, thus far, we’ve only had 1 butch actress that’s made it onto a mainstream show as a main character. So, while my list of 100 could go on and on (I’ve been diligently collecting screenshots for some time now), I only have a list of 5 ‘androgynous’ lesbian characters… And, sadly, that’s an exaggeration. It consists of the only butch actress to ever land a featured mainstream role (albeit as a tired ‘butch’ cliché), and a few ‘androgynous’ characters (played by talented actresses, who are not ‘butch’ in real life).

Mainstream media perpetuates the shaming of butch/androgynous/stud (call it what you will) lesbians, with homophobia that specifically targets lesbians— For the most part, butch characters only get to play extras, and only if they fit into a very particular ‘butch’ cookie-cutter prototype. They must be willing to take a slap in the face with the typical sarcastic— “Are you a boy or a girl?”— retort (like recently on Girlboss). Yet butch/androgynous/stud (call it what you will) lesbians aren’t trying to “be men.” They don’t “look like men.” And the women who love them aren’t with them because they “really want to be with men.” Sexuality can’t be tricked. Colors, haircuts, clothes, interests and activities don’t have a ‘gender.’ Rigid ‘gender norms’ are no more than sexist stereotypes created long ago (by men). Biologically innate same-sex attraction is as delicious as an andro-beauty in a Ralph Lauren suit. But the magic isn’t in the tie and the button-down shirt… It’s in the female heaven underneath it all. Say it with me now.

Shane and Carmen, LWord
Shane and Carmen, LWord

In 2017, the mainstream media wants us to know that they’re okay with ‘lesbians,’ but only if we fit their idea of the ‘right kind of lesbian’— the version of a ‘lesbian’ that’s obsessively rammed down our throats— feminine and open to whatever. They’ve sent a clear message to non-femme lesbians— Either change or make yourself invisible. There’s a very real and frightening desire to eradicate ‘butch’ lesbians from view. And this cruel dehumanizing sentiment is echoed everywhere— From schools, to the local diner, to the grocery check out line. As you look at the list of 100 below, imagine what it must feel like for a young ‘androgynous’ girl to never see herself as anything other than the butt of a joke. A riddle to be solved. Imagine what it’s like for all lesbians by extension. Consider the level of misogyny that the mainstream media maintains. Think about the message it’s sending, the internalized homophobia it may cause.

Now, without further ado (and in no particular order), I present you with the mother of all visual aids:

1. Stef and Lena. Like many other current shows, The Fosters is willing to break new grounds and push the limits, just not when it comes to putting a butch lesbian on their screen.

Steph and Lena, The Fosters
Steph and Lena, The Fosters

2. Waverly and Nicole…

Wynnonna Earp
Wynnonna Earp

3. Alex and Maggie…

Alex and Maggie, Supergirl
Alex and Maggie, Supergirl

4. Carol and Susan. Couldn’t resist this uber-femme F.R.I.E.N.D.S. wedding throwback.

Carol and Susan, F.R.I.E.N.D.S.
Carol and Susan, F.R.I.E.N.D.S.

5. Barbara and Tabitha…

Barbara and Tabitha, Gotham
Barbara and Tabitha, Gotham

6. Chloe and Catherine…

Chloe and Catherine, Chloe
Chloe and Catherine, Chloe

7. Mia and Guilda (and some guy)…

Mia and Guilda (and some guy), Head in the Clouds
Mia and Guilda (and some guy), Head in the Clouds

8. Renee and Barbara…

Renee and Barbara, Gotham
Renee and Barbara, Gotham

9. Leah and Arizona…

Arizona and Leah, Grey’s Anatomy
Arizona and Leah, Grey’s Anatomy

10. Yasmin. On a recent episode of Scandal, we find out Rashad’s niece, Yasmin, has a girlfriend, but (spoiler alert)…

Yasmin and girlfriend, Scandal
Yasmin and girlfriend, Scandal

… in true “Bury your Gays” fashion, she waves us one last goodbye and gets blown up on a plane. It was pretty cool to finally see an Arab lesbian represented on a mainstream show. Guess I’ll keep waiting…

Yasmin, Scandal
Yasmin, Scandal

11. Arizona and Carina…

Arizona and Carina, Grey’s Anatomy
Arizona and Carina, Grey’s Anatomy

12. Heather and Callie…

Heather and Callie, Grey’s Anatomy
Heather and Callie, Grey’s Anatomy

13. Nic and Jules. Apparently, mainstream’s version of ‘lesbians’ watch gay man porn… Jules, predictably, has an affair with the sperm donor.

The Kids are Alright
The Kids are Alright

14. Cosima and Delphine…

Cosima and Delphine, Orphan Black
Cosima and Delphine, Orphan Black

15. Wendy and Lana. Ryan Murphy’s vision of lesbians is always femme on femme, catered to the male gaze… And sometimes strapped to tables, raped, amputated and crawling out of basements.

Wendy-Lana, AHS (Ryan Murphy)
Wendy-Lana, AHS (Ryan Murphy)

16. Ramona and Countess…

Ramona and Countess, AHS (Ryan Murphy)
Ramona and Countess, AHS (Ryan Murphy)

17. more AHS girl on girl for men…

AHS
AHS

…literally.. This guy with a creepy doll is in the room watching.

18. Moira and her mistress (looking up at some guy).

Moira and her mistress, AHS (Ryan Murphy)
Moira and her mistress, AHS (Ryan Murphy)

19. Natasha and the Countess (and some guy) . Okay Ryan… we get the point.

Natasha and Countess, AHS
Natasha and Countess, AHS

20. Lyria and Eretria…

Lyria & Eretria, The Shannara Chronicles
Lyria & Eretria, The Shannara Chronicles

21. Jenny and Marina…

Jenny and Marina, the L word
Jenny and Marina, the L word

22. Bette and Tina…

Bette and Tina, the L word
Bette and Tina, the L word

…Bette and Tina (and some guy).

Bette and Tina, the L word
Bette and Tina, the L word

23. Throwback to Gia and Linda. But Gia is based on a true story.

Gia and Linda, Gia
Gia and Linda, Gia

24. Jody and Bette…

Bette and Jody, LWord
Bette and Jody, LWord

25. Nikki and Jenny…

Nikki and Jenny, the L Word
Nikki and Jenny, the L Word

26. Holly and Gail…

Holly and Gail, Rookie Blue
Holly and Gail, Rookie Blue

27. Alison and Naomi…

Alison and Naomi, American Gothic
Alison and Naomi, American Gothic

28. Bo and Lauren…

Bo and Lauren, Lost Girl
Bo and Lauren, Lost Girl

29. Root and Shaw…

Root and Shaw, Person of Interest
Root and Shaw, Person of Interest

30. Pippy and Tamara…

Pippy and Tamara, Rosewood
Pippy and Tamara, Rosewood

31. Tara and Denise…

Tara and Denise, The Walking Dead
Tara and Denise, The Walking Dead

32. Arizona and Eliza…

Eliza, Grey’s Anatomy
Eliza, Grey’s Anatomy

33. Alex and Piper. Piper’s character on Orange is The New Black (a.k.a. OITNB) is actually loosely based on a real person, Piper Kerman.

Alex and Piper, OITNB
Alex and Piper, OITNB

34. Penny and Callie…

Penny and Callie, Grey’s Anatomy
Penny and Callie, Grey’s Anatomy

35. Nikki and Lorna…

Nikki and Lorna, OITNB
Nikki and Lorna, OITNB

36. Erica and Callie (and Mark)…

Callie and Erica, Grey’s Anatomy
Callie and Erica, Grey’s Anatomy

37. Trisha and Mercy. The role of Trisha, a drug addict, was played by Madeline Brewer, on OITNB (spoiler alert)…

Trisha, OITNB
Trisha, OITNB

…The actress had the les-swag down really well. She became a victim of “Bury your Gays”

Mercy and Trisha, OITNB
Mercy and Trisha, OITNB

38. Nina and Lily…

Black Swan
Black Swan

39. Paige and Emily…

Paige and Emily, Pretty Little Liars
Paige and Emily, Pretty Little Liars

40. Throwback to Pauline and Juliet…

Juliet and Pauline, Heavenly Creatures
Juliet and Pauline, Heavenly Creatures

41. Allison and Emily…

Allison and Emily, Pretty Little Liars
Allison and Emily, Pretty Little Liars

42. Thelma and Anja. Sure to sell lots of mainstream tickets in 2017.

Thelma, 2017
Thelma, 2017

43. Janet and Bianca…

Janet and Bianca, Janet King
Janet and Bianca, Janet King

44. Julie & Nikki…

Julie & Nikki, The Returned
Julie & Nikki, The Returned

45. Arizona and Callie. Grey’s Anatomy is willing to push the boundaries… Just not when it comes to having a butch lesbian on their show.

Grey’s Anatomy
Grey’s Anatomy

46. Shay and Clarice…

<em>Shay and Clarice, Chicago Fire</em>
Shay and Clarice, Chicago Fire

47. Emily and Maya…

Emily and Maya, Pretty Little Liars
Emily and Maya, Pretty Little Liars

48. Lara and Dana…

Lara and Dana, the L Word
Lara and Dana, the L Word

49. Santana and Brittney on Glee

Santana and Brittany, Glee (Ryan Murphy)
Santana and Brittany, Glee (Ryan Murphy)

…The pair end up in flowing white wedding dresses.

Santana and Brittany, Glee
Santana and Brittany, Glee

50. Throwback to Suzie and Kellie.

Suzie and Kelly, Wild Things
Suzie and Kelly, Wild Things

51. Maggie and Sydney…

Maggie and Sydney, Saving Hope
Maggie and Sydney, Saving Hope

52. Clarke and Lexa…

Clarke and Lexa, The 100
Clarke and Lexa, The 100

53. Freya and Keelin…

Freya and Keelin, The Originals
Freya and Keelin, The Originals

54. Sabrina and Emily…

Sabrina and Emily, Pretty Little Liars
Sabrina and Emily, Pretty Little Liars

55. Bianca and Reese…

Bianca and Reese, All My Children
Bianca and Reese, All My Children

56. Tamsin and Bo… (and some guy)

Lost Girl
Lost Girl

57. Dani and Santana. Glee was willing to break new ground… So long as lesbians were still checking off the “pink is for girls” box.

Dani and Santana, Glee
Dani and Santana, Glee

58. Fionna and Charlie…

Fionna and Charlie, Degrassi
Fionna and Charlie, Degrassi

59. Frankie and Bridget….

Frankie and Bridget, Wentworth
Frankie and Bridget, Wentworth

60. Imogen and Fionna…

Imogen and Fionna, Degrassi
Imogen and Fionna, Degrassi

61. Throwback to Queer as Folk’s Melanie and Lindsay…

Melanie and Lindsay, Queer as Folk
Melanie and Lindsay, Queer as Folk

62. Penny Dreadful is willing to push the envelope… Just not when it comes to casting women who don’t look the way mainstream insists women should look.

Penny Dreadful
Penny Dreadful

63. Adrianna and Gia…

Adrianna and Gia, 90210
Adrianna and Gia, 90210

64. Paige and Alex…

Paige and Alex, Degrassi
Paige and Alex, Degrassi

65. Luisa and Rose…

Luisa and Rose, Jane the Virgin
Luisa and Rose, Jane the Virgin

66. Delle and Aneela …

Delle and Aneela , Killjoys
Delle and Aneela , Killjoys

Delle and Aneela (and a group of men)

Delle and Aneela, Killjoys
Delle and Aneela, Killjoys

67. Talia and Emily…

Emily and Talia, Pretty Little Liars
Emily and Talia, Pretty Little Liars

68. Throwback to Kennedy and Willow…

Kennedy and Willow, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Kennedy and Willow, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

69. Tiana and Tory…

Tiana and Tory, Empire
Tiana and Tory, Empire

(and a guy)

Empire
Empire

70. Sara and Nyssa…

Arrow
Arrow

71. Fiona and Jasmine. Shameless pushes the envelope— Just not when it comes to giving us a story line with an andro-hottie.

Fiona and Jasmine, Shameless
Fiona and Jasmine, Shameless

72. Throwback to One Tree Hill’s Anna and Peyton (spoiler alert)…

Peyton and Anna, One Tree Hill
Peyton and Anna, One Tree Hill

…an early victim of “Bury Your Gays.”

73. Marissa and Alex…

Marissa and Alex, The OC
Marissa and Alex, The OC

74. Cat and Frankie… Frankie is one of my favorite bisexual characters… But my all-time fav bi character is further down on this list. Hint: Starts with Ka. Ends with “que linda!”

Cat and Frankie, Lip Service
Cat and Frankie, Lip Service

75. Samara and Emily…

Samara and Emily, Pretty Little Liars
Samara and Emily, Pretty Little Liars

76. Zoe and Grace. Degrassi pushes the envelope, but not when it comes to putting a ‘butch’ lesbian on their screen.

Grace and Zoe, Degrassi
Grace and Zoe, Degrassi

77. Mary and Nora…

Mary and Nora, Vampire Diaries
Mary and Nora, Vampire Diaries

78. Karma and Amy…

Karma and Amy, Faking It
Karma and Amy, Faking It

79. Sara and Emily…

Sara and Emily, Pretty Little Liars
Sara and Emily, Pretty Little Liars

80. Rasha and Zoe…

Zoe and Rasha, Degrassi
Zoe and Rasha, Degrassi

81. Tara and Pam…

Tara and Pam, True Blood
Tara and Pam, True Blood

82. Spencer and Ashley…

South of Nowhere
South of Nowhere

83. Jack and Imogen...

Jack and Imogen, Degrassi
Jack and Imogen, Degrassi

84. Throwback to Tara and Willow…

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Buffy the Vampire Slayer

85. Alice and Tasha…

Alice and Tasha, LWord
Alice and Tasha, LWord

86. Papi and Alice…

Alice and Papi, LWord
Alice and Papi, LWord

87. Jess and Naomi…

Jess and Naomi, Katie Kills People
Jess and Naomi, Katie Kills People

88. Kalinda and Lana. Kalinda is my favorite bisexual on TV. The reason: Her attraction to women is actually believable. You can feel the heat.

Lana and Kalinda, The Good Wife.
Lana and Kalinda, The Good Wife.

89. Nova and Chantal…

Nova and Chantal, Queen Sugar
Nova and Chantal, Queen Sugar

90. Linda and Gina…

Linda and Gina, Shut Eye
Linda and Gina, Shut Eye

91. Emma and Izzy…

Emma and Izzy, You Me Her
Emma and Izzy, You Me Her

92. Annalise and Eve…

Eve and Annalise, How to Get Away With Murder
Eve and Annalise, How to Get Away With Murder

93. Bette and Candace…

Bette and Candace, LWord
Bette and Candace, LWord

94. Max and Eleanor…

Max and Eleanor, Black Sails
Max and Eleanor, Black Sails

95. Astrid And Niska…

Astrid And Niska, Humans
Astrid And Niska, Humans

96. Betty and Veronica. Not a couple (yet). Just the one kiss and some flirting. But this is a list of “pairings” so here they are!

Betty and Veronica, Riverdale
Betty and Veronica, Riverdale

97. Jean and Sydney…

Jean and Sydney, Gypsy
Jean and Sydney, Gypsy

98. Robyn and Katherine…

Robyn and Katherine, Desperate Housewives
Robyn and Katherine, Desperate Housewives

99. Alice and Dana…

Dana and Alice, LWord
Dana and Alice, LWord
Kellie and Yorkie, Black Mirror
Kellie and Yorkie, Black Mirror

That’s 100— And I could go on, but hopefully by now you get the picture.

Here’s the teeny-tiny list of five…

…Five (5) main characters that are either andro-adjacent or butch. In fact, it’s such a short list, that I’m going to embellish it with extra screenshots and some fun facts.

1. Shane is 1-of-2 lead butch-adjacent TV characters in a mainstream show (LWord). They dabbed her with lip gloss and gave her smokey eyeshadow— You know, because all women MUST have some stereotypical ‘feminine’ indicator. Shane, played by actress Katherine Moennig, is the only lesbian TV character who has ever reached her particular level of les-super-stardom. She’s our lesbian anthem. The sex symbol heard ‘round the world. You would think mainstream TV might’ve taken the hint. But no. Sadly, they did not.

Shane, LWord
Shane, LWord

Unfortunately, Moennig was scripted to play yet another typical mainstream pliable ‘lesbian.’ The writers made her character into a gay man’s fetish— When Shane revealed a past of prostituting herself to gay men, millions of lesbians rolled their eyes at home. Baby butches cried out in the night. And I’ll let this belly-button revealing corset speak for itself. However, as far as casting goes, they hit the nail on the head with Moennig… because Shane put out an unprecedented level of on-screen heat.

Shane, LWord
Shane, LWord

2. Moira. The LWord finally gave us our first ever butch lesbian main character on a mainstream show. Daniela Sea isn’t a butch lesbian in real life, but she played one on TV. And we were over the moon. It had finally happened. It. Had. Finally. Happened.

Moira, LWord
Moira, LWord

…But then Moira became Max and began sleeping with gay men. In a recent People Entertainment video— where The LWord cast reunites to discuss a reboot— they sum up why the only butch character, Moira, becomes Max— “Moira kind of doesn’t really fit with the rest of the group… she’s not a girly–girl.”

Max, LWord
Max, LWord

So scratch that… The second spot is open. We’ll give it to Poussey— Yes, that’s the punchline of a name they gave her on OITNB

2. Poussey is the other somewhat-andro lead character to make it onto a mainstream show…

OITNB
OITNB

…But not really, because she’s arguably not-so-andro. The flashbacks show her ‘femmed’ up. Butch isn’t a performance and it isn’t a phase… No, great-grandma, it’s not a matter of finding the right shade of lipstick or discovering the perfect dress someday. But we’ll keep Poussey on the tiny andro list any way, since andro lesbians get no representation. Us lesbians take what we can get. (spoiler alert)….

Poussay, OITNB
Poussay, OITNB

Poussey quickly became a les-crowd favorite, so they killed her off in the mean-spirited media game of “Bury your Gays.”

Fun fact: Poussey is played by actress Samira Wiley, who married Lauren Morelli (a writer and producer for OITNB) in a 2017 fairy tale wedding. Too cute not to share.

3. Stella. The role of Stella was played by actress Ruby Rose, who perfected the butch-andro swag for this brief role on a mainstream show. She caused a stir. And then she was gone. And we were all sad.

Piper and Stella, OITNB
Piper and Stella, OITNB

Stella won our hearts on OITNB… And in real-life, actress Ruby Rose recently won the heart of Jess Origliasso from The Veronicas. And (in case you don’t already know) she loves to switch up her look and challenge stereotypes.

4. Corkey. In the movie Bound, Corkey is played by Gina Gerson, who isn’t a lesbian and isn’t butch, but you can tell she takes her craft seriously and definitely did her homework.

Corkey and Violet, Bound
Corkey and Violet, Bound

Fun fact: Gina Gershon has a new thriller out this year called Inconceivable… and I’m so there!

Gina Gershon and Nicolas Cage, Inconceivable
Gina Gershon and Nicolas Cage, Inconceivable

5. Big Boo. It’s 2017 and Lea DeLaria is still the only butch lesbian to ever land a main role on a mainstream show (OITNB). In an interview, “What Not to Love,” she talks about her disappointment with the ongoing media caricature of a ‘butch lesbian.’ She should know… She’s been playing the media’s butch punching bag since the 90’s. She used comedy and food as an escape— “There’s this thing inside your head, when you get home like at the end of your day and you walk into your apartment and you close the door and… there’s a part of you that goes, ‘phew. Made it. Nobody beat me up, nobody called me a dyke on the street. Today was a good day.”

Lea watches one of her OITNB scenes as a guest on a Late Night TV show.
Lea watches one of her OITNB scenes as a guest on a Late Night TV show.

In conclusion, the mainstream media has a severe butch-phobia problem, and they’ve perpetuated a dehumanizing brand of homophobia targeting lesbians that has real-life consequences. It’s not only sanctioned, it’s encouraged. As for the girls and women who don’t check off the “pink is for girls” box, the non-stop psychological warfare is only getting worse… and it’s left many a lesbian with some really deep scars.

Julia Diana Robertson is an award-winning author and journalist. www.juliadianarobertson.com

This article is dedicated to my wife, Claudia—The epitome of feminine beauty wrapped in a Hugo Boss suit.

©2007 JLI Photography
©2007 JLI Photography
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