The separatist feminist movement of the late 1960s and 1970s forced butches and femmes underground, as radical lesbian feminists found lesbian gender roles to be a disappointing and oppressive replication of heterosexual lifestyle.
However, the 1980s saw a resurgence of butch and femme gender roles.
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Scholars such as Judith Butler and Anne Fausto-Sterling suggest that butch and femme are not attempts to take up "traditional" gender roles.
Instead, they argue that gender is socially and historically constructed, rather than essential, "natural", or biological.
Some lesbian feminists have argued that butch–femme is a replication of heterosexual relations, while other commentators argue that, while it resonates with heterosexual patterns of relating, butch–femme simultaneously challenges it.