Although most powerdykes are butch, some controversy exists over inclusion of others in the definition. This is a paticularly notable issue among the femme and bisexual girlfriends of powerdykes. They often have as much social clout as the butches themselves, but some purists insist that the "powerdyke" label is related to the dyke appearance as much as it is to popularity. Consensus on this varies by region.
The term "powerdyke" itself originated on the UC Santa Cruz campus but has since spread throughout the nation. It is still primarily used in the college and twenty-something age groups.