However, the 1980s saw a resurgence of butch and femme gender roles.
In this new configuration of butch and femme, it was acceptable, even desirable, to have femme-femme sexual and romantic pairings.
By daring to be publicly attracted to butch women, femmes reflected their own sexual difference and made the butch a known subject of desire.
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Some lesbian feminists have argued that butch–femme is simply a replication of heterosexual relations while other commentators argue that, while it resonates with heterosexual patterns of relating, butch–femme simultaneously challenges it.
Research in the 1990s in the United States showed that "95% of lesbians are familiar with butch/femme codes and can rate themselves or others in terms of those codes, and yet the same percentage feels that butch/femme was 'unimportant in their lives The word femme is taken from the French word for woman.
The butch web designer Daddy Rhon created a symbol of a black triangle intersecting a red circle to represent butch/femme sexuality, which was first used at the beginning of the 21st century on the website and has started to be used elsewhere.
There is debate about to whom the terms butch and femme can apply, and particularly whether transgender individuals can be identified in this way.
Stereotypes and definitions of butch and femme vary greatly, even within tight-knit LGBT communities.