The Emergence of the
Lesbian Romantic Hero
and the Plot She Thrives In

DC Bardfest October 2004

Remarks from a Panel by Authors:
Jane Fletcher, Jean Stewart,
Radclyffe, and Lori L. Lake

The Femme Heroine Archetype
by Jean Stewart

The Femme Romantic Hero is the complement to the Butch Romantic Hero. She is the companion, the best friend, the lover. The presence of this character in the story enriches 1) her fellow protagonist, the Butch, and 2) the tale that is being told.

This is because the Femme's own unique strengths and gifts invest the tale with additional emotion. Because the Butch Hero and the Femme Hero are operating within two different shades of persona, the Femme simultaneously provides contrast and enhancement to the character of the Butch. Likewise, the Butch provides the same contrast and enhancement to the character of the Femme. A comparison might be the white and black of the yin and yang symbol. Each character is seen more clearly because she exists side by side with the other.

The two lesbian leads are portrayed differently by different writers. Sometimes, one role is scripted as clearly boyish, and the other role is scripted as clearly girlish. More often, both leads possess an assortment of masculine and feminine traits and are written so that each character is presented as a blend, a more androgynous rendition of the more traditional Butch and Femme roles. Each character's weaknesses and strengths are revealed as they go into action. The best tales seems to have one quality in common: the writers render emotionally rich characters whose love for one another infuses each scene, and serves to strengthen them both.

In an email to her fellow panel members, Jane Fletcher put it quite nicely:

"Heterosexuality tries to get everyone to act like half a human being, with a set of predetermined characteristics; butch-femme keeps the same to sets but lets you pick which one you feel happiest acting; modern lesbian lets couples mix and match characteristics. Since 'strong', 'brave', and 'heroic' all belong in the male characteristics set, women have a tough time getting equal roles in a heterosexual action-romance. In lesbian action-romance we can play with things like 'strong in different ways in different situations.'"

Personally, I enjoy Femme Hero characters immensely. Rather than hold forth anymore on the topic, let me draw your attention to four of my favorite scenes involving Femme heroes and read excerpts:

Gun Shy by Lori L. Lake. Pages 209 - 213
… Jaylynn Savage, police officer … Dez Reilly, police officer

Honor Bound by Radclyffe. Pages 115 - 119
… Blair Powell, daughter of President, artist … Cameron Roberts, Secret Service Agent

Lorimal's Chalice by Jane Fletcher. Pages 342 - 346
… Jemeryl, sorceror … Tevi, Storenseg Royalty, mercenary

Wizard of Isis by Jean Stewart. Pages 169 - 172
… Kali Tyler, mage … Tomyris (Whit) Whitaker, Leader of Isis

Each of these scenes is a very interesting glimpse into the characters. It is fairly easy to see that the "femme" in each case is acting beyond the roles previously designed for femmes in lesbian fiction. For further examples, please take a look at these scenes. We don't have time to read them now, but they are well worth examining. The other four scenes involve actual dialogues between the butch and femme characters; the women discuss the aggressive and passive roles and their awareness of how they exchange which of them acts what part.

Above All, Honor by Radclyffe. Pages 170 - 175
… Blair Powell, daughter of President, artist … Cameron Roberts, Secret Service Agent


Under The Gun by Lori L. Lake. Pages 76 - 79 // Pages 188 - 192
… Jaylynn Savage, police officer …. Dez Reilly, police officer

The World Celaeno Chose by Jane Fletcher. Pages 252 - 255
… Lynn / Imprinter … Kim Ramon / Ranger Lieutenant

Winged Isis
by Jean Stewart. Pages 89 - 91
… Kali Tyler, mage … Tomyris (Whit) Whitaker, Leader of Isis

Next up in the presentation's order: JANE FLETCHER

 
An Historical Backdrop
Lori L. Lake
The Hero and
The Lady

Radclyffe
 
The Femme Heroine Archetype
Jean Stewart
...And The Plot
She Thrives In

Jane Fletcher
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