in the lesbian community, having a "type" goes beyond physical attributes like height, hair color or ethnic background. of course, those things ARE important (trust me, you'll never catch me dating anyone shorter than i am. which is, i suppose somehow rudely self-loathing, as i am not particularly easy to find in any sort of crowd myself), but what is often most important is the lesbian "mold" into which a potential mate fits. i like to call this the LESBIAN LADDER OF LOVE, wherein lesbians who identify with a certain subsection of the community fit on rungs based upon some of the most common "types" of lesbians. lets face it, you've heard of them: femme, butch, tomboi, stone butch, lipstick lesbian, power lesbian, dyke, womyn, genderqueer, andro, etc etc. essentially, each of these labels describes a specific "type" of lesbian whose categorization is dependant on the level (or lack thereof) of her femininity, as well as the ways in which her femininity shapes her personality, behavior, style, and, of course, dating preferences.
this is where things get interesting. some lesbians are only attracted to ONE specific type of woman; others are more flexible in their self-created pairings. allegedly, some lesbians are even able to fall in love with the PERSON, rather than the type (i don't buy this and it sounds like total BS to me, but whatever). so what dictates our types? it is certainly more complicated than "femme + butch = lesbian love," but it is, in my opinion, undeniable that there is a level of socialized gender identity inherent to many lesbian pairings.
personally, i would never date a woman whose femininity even comes close to rivaling my own. at the risk of sounding like a total bitchy princess.... i'm a total bitchy princess, and if anyone's going to be a girly girl in my relationship, it's going to be me. this is not to say that i expect my mate to adhere to ridiculous antiquated gender roles and be the breadwinner, force me to watch football on the weekends and, like, stand up when i leave the table. similarly, as pink-obsessed, short skirt-wearing, and eyeliner-enamored as i am, i'm no delicate flower who is incapable of putting together IKEA furniture (it may take me twice as long and i may mess up every 30 seconds and have to backtrack, but I CAN DO IT!) or afraid of playing football in the mud.
having said that, i do see myself falling into a traditionally feminine pattern when it comes to relationships (friendship or sexual). and while i'm the one standing on a chair freaking out over a spider, my B.O.T.M. (bitch of the moment (although it looks like it says "bottom," which is a whole other story entirely.)) is there to kill it, my chivalrous knight in shining armor, kleenex in hand. unsurprisingly, i'm sure, after this explanation in my personal dating preferences (seriously, this is not a personal ad or a desperate attempt at self-congratulation. however, i am awesome and single), i tend to prefer hot babes who are a little more on the butch-y side (two things: 1. exes reading this: don't argue; you know its true 2. see this love letter to rachel maddow and you might get the picture) of the LESBIAN LADDER OF LOVE.
i tend to not stray far in my "type," and, frankly, neither do most of my friends. whether its the waify model type in the corner or the curvy brunette at the bar, it's never difficult to be out at a bar, see a girl and say, "so-and-so would think she's cute" (and then immediately text so-and-so and tell her to come because i've found a new B.O.T.M. for her). this is where wardrobe comes in, acting as a signifier in determining where a P.B.O.T.M (potential bitch of the moment) sits on the LESBIAN LADDER OF LOVE. in a dress? femme. ass-kicking boots? butch. mullet? run away. dressing the part for your particular lesbian role is important, and picking up on a P.B.O.T.M.'s style and the way that it relates to her lesbian identity is equally important in determining whether or not someone is our "type."
without this nonverbal code, we might be lost. in fact, if we lived in a futuristic society wherein everyone dressed identically and individuality was punishable by death via mosquito zapper, lesbian dating would suck. you'd meet, you'd make out, elope and be on your honeymoon before you're both shrieking on a chair, wondering "who's gonna kill the spider?"