Written by Eden Carswell
Nestled between the extremes of the hard, rough-and-tumble stud and the sultry, heel-wearing, lipstick-loving feminine lesbian is the soft stud, a unique hybrid community that I happen to identify with.
Soft studs, a variant of the ebony butches we’ve come to know in popular lesbian culture, are lesbians whose dominance is more subtle.
They hit the men’s section of H&M after work and don dreadlocks or fades, but proudly allow their inner (and sometimes outer) femininity to flow through their lives like curl activator down the back of Lionel Richie’s scalp.
Soft studs often embrace their womanhood before their masculinity. They don’t change their names, stance and stroll, voice tone, gesturing and posturing or behaviors to fit the stereotypical male image, regardless of what clothes or hairstyles they choose to wear.
In the black lesbian community, many people see all studs as thuggalicious, fitted-hat-toting, tattoo-getting, strap-on-wearing boss types that beat their chests like cavemen and smack booty like a character on ‘Mad Men’, telling their girlfriends to go make ’em a sandwich and bring ’em a Corona.
With passion in my heart and a twang in my voice, I promise you, WE ARE NOT ALL LIKE THAT.
Since there are studs on the other side of this that take a mellow, less obvious approach to living their lives, the dating and love habits of the women who seek them need to accommodate them as well. How, you ask? Well, just to help nudge you along, I’m going to give you a short list of Don’ts, Bryson Tiller-style:
1. DON’T emasculate your soft stud.
The word “soft” in this instance doesn’t equate to the Pillsbury Doughboy or that plush pink pillow that you keep in your bed. It’s simply a differentiation between us and other studs. Understand that identifying as a STUD of any kind means that her masculinity is still important to her, even if she doesn’t wear it like a feather boa and wig in a drag show.
Soft studs can take control, be protective, be sexually aggressive and strong while still maintaining their femininity and gentleness.
Avoid poking holes in her confidence by telling her she’s weak, to toughen up, or to do anything that might imply she’s not “manly” enough.
2. DON’T call your soft stud “sensitive” when she expresses emotions.
We all know when someone calls a person “sensitive,” usually they’re deeming them hyper-emotional, whiny or weak. Since emotional distance/unavailability is considered a standard male trait, lesbians have adopted this idea when it comes to studs as well. This is another way to emasculate your lady AND make her associate expressing her feelings with weakness.
Allow her to be vulnerable and emotionally honest with you; don’t encourage her holding back to flex a stereotypical stud persona. More than anything, don’t feed into the stereotype that soft studs are just cry machines with no handle on their emotions. Trust me, you won’t spend your life with a soft stud buying tissue in bulk, and wiping her tears and snot.
3. DON’T LIMIT YOUR SOFT STUD SEXUALLY.
Rule to live by: We are NOT all touch-me-nots. This is IMPORTANT. Soft studs express themselves differently in the bedroom than some of the harder ones.
Many soft studs actually enjoy being naked, kissed, caressed, stimulated through oral play AND penetration (yes, even using toys), and other things that may be considered “too feminine” for studs to enjoy.
Don’t assume your soft stud girlfriend doesn’t want her boobs and cooch parts to be played with because your ex-girlfriend Tae Beezy wasn’t into it. “That’s the wroooong thing to do” (in my Drake voice—yes, I switched singers). Ask her what she likes, push your judgments down an elevator shaft to die, and be willing to learn.
That’s right pillow princesses—chuck that pillow in the trash, do a couple stretches, and put in some work. Orgasms don’t just fall from the sky!
4. DON’T try to change your soft stud.
Lipstick ladies, there are PLENTY of thug-a-studs and Siya-type doms out there that will sex you with a snapback and Timbs on, grab their crotches like they’re scared they’ll fall off, and talk like Queen Latifah in Set It Off. If you want one, they aren’t that hard to find. But not all of us are SUPPOSED to be like that—this isn’t a one-size fits all kind of thing.
So, if you find yourself liking a soft stud but wishing she were more like a “regular” dom or wanting her to dress or carry herself differently, do both of you a favor and go back to whatever girl club or lesbian dating app you found her at, and keep looking. If you can’t take her for who she is, don’t take her at all. Soft studs are not fifth-grade science projects that need to be worked on.
In short, just let your soft stud LIVE! See her as a woman FIRST, appreciate the versatility in her, and let the love rain down like ones at a strip club. Enjoy!
Eden Carswell is a freelance humor writer with the jokes of a high school class clown, and the dating wisdom of a lover scorned and reborn. In her world, laughter is the best medicine, and using fun to approach black lesbian love, dating, sex and commitment will make the everyday slip and pitfalls, successes and failures of stumbling towards love easier to digest, and genuine love easier to accept.