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Adorable ‘Butches & Babies’ Tumblr seeks to challenge gender stereotypes

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The internet has brought us our fair share of adorableness. We all remember obsessing over Hot Guys and Baby Animals (don’t pretend you didn’t bookmark it) and now, in true cuteness overload, we have Butches & Babies.

It has taken the internet by storm.

Launched by Meaghan O’Malley in 2011, Butches & Babies describes itself as “the cutest place in the whole wide world”.

But the real drive behind the site is to provide a safe space on the internet where those who identify as butch can share images with children they love, free from judgement.

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Shannon with her nephew, Clark

The site features photographs of people who identify as butch, holding their own babies or the babies of their friends or family; playing with them, laughing with them, and generally spreading love all around. 

“B+B is full of incredible people, adults and minors, with a variety of gender identities (and sexualities, which are wholly irrelevant to this blog) all under the umbrella of butch,” says O’Malley.

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Ceewit with Milo

O’Malley is keen to assert that the blog is not about lesbian identity or motherhood, because these terms focus on fixed gender binaries constructed by a patriarchal society. Instead it is about celebrating an often overlooked identity and way of life.

On her the blog, O'Malley states she is hesitant to define the term ‘butch’, saying that, like gender, ‘butch’ lies on a spectrum and it is up to people how they wish to identify themselves.

Beth + Sophia (daughter)

Beth + Sophia (daughter)

This week, B+B issued a statement on the site saying that articles on the photoblog after the initial Buzzfeed coverage had missed the point of what it was about. 

“Not once ever in the history of B+B or in my interviews have I called this a “mommy” blog, an example of lesbian motherhood, or even a lesbian blog in general. Tumblr lists us as one of their Top Parenting Blogs, but that was a designation made without my involvement. I don’t use pronouns to describe the people featured on this blog, either. I specifically asked the journalists I spoke with to not couch their coverage in terms of “lesbian”, or only in terms of woman-identified genders, because I don’t feel that is an accurate reflection of the entire constituency, for lack of a better word, here at B+B. I was summarily ignored.”

The statement goes on to say:

“This is lazy journalism catering to a fixed binary gender-and-sexuality-focused, patriarchal media system, and I don’t like it.”

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“Jay and their nephew, “Juicy Bear” Jalen”

The blog does not seek and select images of butch people with babies, instead it is 100% submission-based, "so that people could tell me who they were, versus scanning the internet in order to find photos that related, and potentially misidentifying or misconstruing a person’s gender identity/expression, ” says O'Malley.

In an interview with Buzzfeed, O'Malley said: 

“Gender is complex, sometimes confusing, and people feel a lot of ownership over how it is manifested in themselves, and thus how the community they belong to presents as well.”

“While the number of celebrities embracing butch identities has increased dramatically over the past ten to fifteen years, the reality is that we don’t see those people building families publicly.”

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“Got caught snoozing at breakfast with Brooklyn the other day, you can’t blame us though - the beach is exhausting!”

The site also hopes to reach those who do not identify as butch or queer or trans – to normalise the idea of non-traditional family dynamics, and to reveal the beauty behind it.

“It’s also been an educational tool for people in my life, at least, who don’t often get to see butches and gender-nonconforming folks interact with children,” O'Malley states.

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“My partner Natalie and our niece Lily”

“When a butch holds a small child, relatively unaffected by gender (in a cognitive/behavioral sense), it is a simultaneous exchange of healing and freedom. Maybe I think about this too much, but that’s what I see. Every single time. I see hope and a new world.”

“But yes, it’s also about the “aww” factor,” she adds. 

You can submit your own photos by emailing meaghan@butchesandbabies.com.

Images: Butches & Babies

Words: Harriet Hall

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