Field Work, Prospekt: Femme–Butch in the Arctic Landscape

Urszula Dawkins


This fictional piece, extracted from the ore of truth, draws parallels between desire for the butch and the liminal spaces of Europe’s remote north. Beginning in a remote Arctic mining town, shifting to a space of attenuated desire closer to home, and finally confronting the landscape itself, I explore both the differences and the alignments that fire the femme-butch dynamic.

Woman and landscape have often been read together, but the butch woman in the landscape is not a woman, and not a man: she is irreducible to mother or destroyer, discoverer or coloniser. Her territory is always complicated, unknown, yet deeply familiar to me. In it I am uncomfortable, frustrated, excited, adventurous, restricted, brave, timid, awed, touched, overwhelmed, rejected, moved, held. These qualities always exist together: endlessly, pleasurably irresolvable.

Alongside the femme, the butch is both opposite and mirror, ultimately showing the same self-protection, the same subtleties of retreat and hunger and protection and passion, recast in the masculine. With her I stand in the threshold, right at the centre of knowing and not-knowing; in the midst of a landscape of intimacy and distance, emotion and physicality, love and separation. 


Gender; Sexuality; Queer; Femme-Butch; Masculinity

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