If you want to know what "butch and femme" actually means, try asking some lesbians : in particular butches and femmes. Ask *actual* butches and femmes if butches are "masculine and tough" and femmes are "feminine and passive."
The answer you will get from ME is that "masculinity" and "femininity" are constructs that can (and should be) dismantled. To me, femininity describes anything a female does and masculinity is anything a male does. The problem is when we ascribe certain traits and outward presentations as masculine or feminine. Cultural differences vary WIDELY on this.
Also, don't you think that there are passive butches and tough femmes?
The bottom line is that both butch and femme are females. Neither one is trying to "be the man" in the relationship - both are women in the relationship. To think otherwise is to adopt a *highly* androcentric view of lesbian sexuality and romantic attraction.
Are butches and femmes playing an outdated role that mimics heterosexuality? NO. Butch and femme are strictly *lesbian* concepts. Butch and femme are two sides of the same coin - historically butches and femmes presented as such in order to find a partner. Butches stood out from other women and femmes were their partners. Femmes initiated with the butches (so, how on earth are femmes passive)? If you weren't one or the other you often weren't let into gay bars for fear that you'd cause trouble.
Femmes are just as feisty, just as powerful, just as independent as butches. Butches are just as nurturing, just as considerate, just as tender as femmes.
So, for the love of Artemis, please stop conflating butches with men and the butch/femme dyad as mimicking heterosexuality. These concepts are WORLDS apart. Thank you.
This is just my understanding of this. If I am wrong, don't hesitate to correct me. Also, if you have your own stories of butch/femme misconceptions you have encountered, feel free to share them below!