1950s 60s


1940s (left) and 1972 (right)

Dorothy Putnam was born in Massachusetts in 1895. As a young woman, Putnam moved to Los Angeles, where she developed an interest in automobiles. In 1918, she became the first licensed female chauffeur in California, her clients including Carole Lombard, Clark Gable and Charlie Chaplin. She also won a number of driving contests in L.A. during the 1920s.

In the 1930s Dorothy met her lifelong partner Lois Mercer. They both served in the Air Force during WW2 and moved into a Los Angeles apartment together after the war. Louis became a bookkeeper and Dorothy started working for the LA Sheriff’s Department. They stayed together for the rest of their lives.
Louis died in 1989 at the age of 94, Dorothy less than two years later at the age of 95. They were together for over 50 years.

Babe I'm Gonna Leave You
Led Zeppelin
Babe I'm Gonna Leave You

One of Led Zeppelin’s greatest songs is also an excellent rendition of The Plebs’ (Anne Bredon) original late 50s hit. The song was further covered by Joan Baez (in the early 60s) before Zeppelin added their touch to it.

It’s good that we’re having these conversations about how butches don’t have male privilege, but I think a lot of y’all are…missing the point, at least to a degree. 

It’s true that butchness doesn’t come with a specific code of behaviors or personality traits - butches can be kind, gentle, shy, silly, soft, nurturing, etc.! That is absolutely true! But we don’t have to be any of those things in order to qualify as women. Being tough or aggressive doesn’t magically grant us male privilege, and in the 1950s-60s bar scene where butch/femme culture originated, butches tended to develop these “tough” “aggressive” attitudes so we could cope with and defend ourselves from the horrific violence we experienced at the hands of men. I’m using the past tense here, but homophobia, transphobia, and misogyny still affect us, sometimes in equally violent ways. 

If you say “Butches don’t have male privilege” and mean “Butches don’t have male privilege as long as they don’t talk too much or take up too much space”, then you don’t actually support us.