Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme” as Want to Read:
Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  1,084 ratings  ·  73 reviews
Lambda Literary Award finalist

American Library Association Stonewall Honor Book

In the summer of 2009, butch writer and storyteller Ivan Coyote and gender researcher and femme dynamo Zena Sharman wrote down a wish-list of their favourite queer authors; they wanted to continue and expand the butch-femme conversation. The result is Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme. The s
Kindle Edition, 314 pages
Published May 3rd 2011 by Arsenal Pulp Press (first published April 1st 2011)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Persistence, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.05  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,084 ratings  ·  73 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme
Feb 28, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: queer
I would say about 25% of the essays I really liked, 50% were forgettable, and 25% made me extremely uncomfortable. Things that I loved: reading about different kinds of gender expression and gendered desire. Things I didn't like: oppression Olympics, the who's-more-radical-than-who competition, anyone complaining about "butch flight" or resenting transgender or genderqueer people for abandoning "real butches." Some essays were wonderful. ...more
Danika at The Lesbrary
If I could guarantee one thing, it's that at least one entry in this collection will piss you off. There are opinions all over the spectrum in this collection, and there is a lot to be debated. For example: do butch and femme constitute each other, or can you be a butch without a femme and vice versa? Are femmes more privileged by having "passing privilege", or are they invisibilized, or are people just not looking hard enough for femmes? Is the concept of "butch" too tied to whiteness to be use ...more
Apr 19, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbt, essays
This is an anthology of writings on femme, butch, and more. It looks at how these identities have evolved and what they mean to individuals. With an excellent forward by Joan Nestle and two fantastic editors--Zena Sharman and Ivan E Coyote--I was very excited for this anthology. As a young person in Vancouver, Coyote's novels represented an universe I dreamed of accessing. I remembered the euphoria at seeing how my high school librarians loved them. However, it took me this long to finally pick ...more
Dec 26, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There were a small handful of essays that I really loved and more that actually made me pretty uncomfortable or angry, like the ones that argued that cis women femmes are "straight-passing" or that butches and femme men are the only people transgressing gender. ...more
Jan 14, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbt-nonfiction
with something so heavily theorized, it's nice to get personal narratives; but then, personal narratives can also be just as grating, self-indulgent, and/or obnoxious as theory sometimes. I liked a handful of these essays: Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is a wonderful, powerful, smart writer; Victoria Brownworth's commentary on how lesbian identities in the mainstream are being so straightwashed, and the forcing of lesbians to be viewed as sexually available to men, is extremely important; I a ...more
Kat Heatherington
brilliant anthology. this collection of personal stories is thoughtful, relevant, insightful and frequently powerful. anyone interested in gender studies will find a goldmine of valuable material in this book. my one criticism is the same criticism i have for most gender studies books: where the heck are the bisexuals? in only a small selection of these essays is bisexuality mentioned or addressed. i valued those essays that much more for including us. on the whole, however, this book is incredi ...more
Jean Roberta
May 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This thick collection of essays and manifestoes, with some poems, short fiction and brief autobiographies mixed in, is a current report on the diversity of queer gender identities in the twenty-first century. Its title is similar to that of an earlier book, The Persistent Desire: A Femme-Butch Reader, originally published in 1992. Joan Nestle, a legendary femme writer who remembers the early Gay Rights movement, edited the first anthology. As she says in the foreword to the current book:

"When Iv
Margaret Adams
Picked up a copy of this at my friend Dave’s house in Santa Barbara – never met the roommate who it belonged to. A mix of stories, analysis, & stories-as-analysis, some very good, some much less so. The personal is political, etc.
Iskra Ryder
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
fascinating takes on butch and femme as identities
Sep 18, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, queer
Super hit or miss. Some gross gender politics (TERFy things, bizarrely essentialist things), some crappy, meandering writing. Also, and this is the strangest part for me personally, I'm in the book - as a character referred to as "S" in someone's essay about their gender development. Very strange to see a conversation I remember described and interpreted by the other person, on the page. Also makes me feel famous 💃 ...more
Eliot Fiend
Mar 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
loved it.
a few words of my greatest appreciation: thanks for helping me learn the names of my ancestors and remember to remember them.

our butch and femme and genderfucked, trans, genderqueer, in-between stories are all too easily silenced and whitewashed over even over a decade, a generation. books like this are important for young queers to read (and without having read it yet, "persistent desire" is now definitely on my reading list for the same reason.)

this book broadened my understanding o

I always like to think about what audience the author had in mind when I’m reading something, whether it be a short story, essay, or full-length novel. While reading this, I struggled with that question.

I identify as a non-binary gay person, “queer” when I’m feeling extra radical, and I identified with a couple of the stories in this, especially the first few (shoutout to “Home/Sickness: Self-Diagnosis” by romham padraig gallacher!) . But as I kept reading, they begun to feel...for lack of a bet
C.E. G
3.5 stars. Some of the essays here were fantastic, but mostly I felt like they were written for a different crowd. As you can guess from the title, the essays here talk about butch and femme - being one or both or bouncing between the two. But there wasn't much about being neither, which is something I've been aching to read about. Not the fault of the book, but an explanation for why it wasn't a personal 5-star read.

Still, a lot of good writing, and I appreciated the diversity of voices, even i
For Books' Sake
"At times simplistic, at times sentimental, at times uncomfortable and alienating, despite its flaws overall Persistence makes for fascinating reading. With a contributors’ list featuring authors, performers, artists and activists, there’s a diverse range of identities and experiences represented, from butch pregnancy to femme invisibility to sex work and all sorts that’s inbetween."

(Excerpt from review of Persistence: All Ways Butch & Femme at For Books' Sake)
Edited by the impressive team of Ivan E. Coyote and Zena Sharman—an adorable married couple (see photo below)—the collection Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme (2011) certainly does live up to its name. It’s refreshing to see an anthology reflect a remarkable diversity of perspectives on these two loaded concepts and identities. It’s exactly what you’d expect from the Vancouver-based Ivan—a storyteller and writer—and Zena—a radical government bureaucrat and gender researcher, and from the fan ...more
Jun 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: good-and-gay
it's weird seeing the low ratings for this book based on the pieces from trans-exclusionist lesbians, when i feel like those pieces exist purely to provide the context needed for the clear, concise, and entirely necessary rebuttals that follow. the anxiety and prejudice that make up the former don't hold up once you encounter the warmth and surety of the latter, but you still need to see the journey. terf stuff is anxious and angry and defensive, and it sticks out like a sore thumb. seeing it ja ...more
I really liked to read a book that validated femme identity as more than just a choice to wear fabulous clothing. I also appreciated that most of the essays were personal stories as opposed to academic takes on gender theory. The anthology had a number of different voices that took part to create a more textured vision of the butch-femme dynamic. I do appreciate the effort, though it had its flaws.
Jul 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some of these were powerful and beautiful and great, and some of these just seemed to valorise (cis women) butch and femme identities at the expense of androgyny, trans* and other queer identities, which was just effing punishing, tbh. There really was a broad spectrum of essays and pieces, though, and many that I really enjoyed reading.
Dec 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This hit me like a tonne of bricks, like a comet from out of space, like any other cliche you can think of.

I’ve only recently begun putting effort into my outward appearance regularly. It’s embarrassing to say that my teens traumatised me this thoroughly...but they did. It was a combination of never wanting to be seen to make too much effort (because then the ridicule hurts more right?) and my clumsy understanding of what feminism meant. I spent years in overalls, hair shaved off, no makeup on,
Molly Roach
Sometimes books of essays can be hard to rate. Some of these essays were so good, yet others were hard to stomach. There was a theme of “butch flight” in many of the essays, making them very TERFY. I get that many of these essayist grew up in the 50s-70s, and the idea was to include generational perspectives, but this was just bad.
I think there were great essays in this collection also. Leah Lackshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha wowed as always. I also very much enjoyed the pieces by B. Cole, Chandra Ma
Mam Flam
Several of these essays are excellent! However, it’s a bit dated... I mean... I guess it’s interesting in a way to read that weird perspective some butches and femmes had that non-binary and trans ppl were erasing butch/femme culture. But... eyeroll! Very diverse group of writers in terms of background, ethnicity, gender orientation, age, mental health, (dis)ability. Funny how much focus there was on butch/femme couples. Not much femme 4 femme representation which would have been nice. Read this ...more
To anyone looking for a book on how butch and femme has developed over the years,with personal experiences crossing intersectional lines I would say either:

1.Wait for a reprint and hope they remove the TERF crap
2. Rip out pages 137-148, that’s what I’m doing

There is a bunch of wonderful trans voices in this book but the inclusion of one “their stealing our butches” toxic take ruined it.
Dec 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
This collection of essays helped me to learn much more about the butch/ femme communities and how it plays out for all kinds of people. They had essays that contradicted each other and were from different perspectives and time periods. I've written down many passages from this book and it's helped me to grow in my queerness. ...more
Emi 🐝
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
one of the best things i've ever read

as a femme, this book speaks directly to my heart. i've reread it...three times now? and every time i find something new that resonates with me. incredible, amazing, might actually buy a physical copy so i can hug it.
You know when you read a collection of essays & there are always a few that when you finish the book you feel a little unsatisfied?

This was not the case, in this instance.

A superb collection of essays exploring gender, sexuality & identity.

I also want to hang with almost all these people.
Mar 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is full of sensitive, hilarious, angry, questioning voices and can open your mind to a whole diverse range of gender, sexuality, and presentation that I had never seen laid out so clearly in all it’a messy glory.
Caty Murray
Apr 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bought in Dublin. A great read, with some really interesting essays. Unfortunately an essay by a TERF, but lots of other essays which counter the points made really well which I think is a good way to do it
Sean Estelle
What a fantastic collection. Over under and through all sorts of gender complexities. HIGHLY RECOMMEND.
Rachel Godin
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you didn't have enough queer voices in your life, this book will introduce you to so many writers you never knew you needed in your life. ...more
Jan 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There were a couple essays I did not care for but on the whole I really enjoyed this read.
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Stone Butch Blues
  • I Hope We Choose Love: A Trans Girl's Notes from the End of the World
  • Nevada
  • Rebent Sinner
  • I'm Afraid of Men
  • Girl Meets Boy
  • Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good
  • The Persistent Desire: A Femme-Butch Reader
  • Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader
  • Nonbinary: Memoirs of Gender and Identity
  • Out of Bounds (Inspector Karen Pirie, #4)
  • Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl
  • Dykes to Watch Out For (DtWOF, #1)
  • You Were Born for This: Astrology for Radical Self-Acceptance and Living Your Purpose
  • Something That May Shock and Discredit You
  • Butch Is a Noun
  • The Well of Loneliness
  • Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women and the Rest of Us
See similar books…
Ivan Coyote was born and raised in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. An award-winning author of six collections of short stories, one novel, three CD’s, four short films and a renowned performer, Ivan’s first love is live storytelling, and over the last thirteen years they have become an audience favourite at music, poetry, spoken word and writer’s festivals from Anchorage to Amsterdam.

Ivan E. Coyote,

News & Interviews

Happy Women's History Month! One of the undisputedly good things about modern scholarship is that women’s history is finally getting its due....
69 likes · 11 comments