One Tumblr is working hard to ensure the world is getting its daily dose of cute, perhaps from an unlikely source. Butches And Babies is exactly what the title suggests — photos of butches holding, playing, cuddling, and lovin' on babies.
"About four or so years ago, after a number of conversations with friends who were butch-identified or partnered with butches, the idea came up to have a blog full of photos of butches with babies," creator Meaghan O'Malley told BuzzFeed. She modeled the project after similar established Tumblr accounts such as Butches With Cute Animals, which is also exactly what you think it is. The project is about more than just "aww" factor – it's about breaking down commonly held stereotypes and prejudices. "I wanted to provide a space to normalize a dynamic that is rarely seen in the mainstream," she said. But yes, it's also about the "aww" factor.
O'Malley makes it quite clear that the site will never define what "butch" means for its audience or users sending in submissions. "You have the freedom to do that yourself," the project's FAQ section reads. "I believe butch exists on a spectrum, just like gender, and it without a doubt includes our trans* brethren. I will not judge or critique you, and I encourage the same from the readership. Butch, in all of its iterations, is welcome here."
O'Malley has received a hugely positive response to the project. "People are excited to see other people who look like them, or people who look like the people they love."
"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."
"And while the vast majority of the butches and babies seen on the blog are not in family dynamics together, I hoped that [the project] would at least give young butches permission to hope for that life (if they wanted it) and to construct that life in whatever way they see fit, including pregnancy, childbirth, adoption, co-parenting, breastfeeding/nursing, and so on," said O'Malley.
"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 has also received some negative feedback when it comes to determining who is 'butch' and who is not. She remains adamant that the site will not police or define anyone's identity.
"There have been some people who have privately criticized me and the people featured on the blog for not being butch — either not butch enough or 'too trans' - and I have only addressed this once."
O'Malley herself does not actually identify as butch; she is a self-described queer femme woman.
"So while I have not walked in the shoes of people who identify as butch, I do feel like I have some insight into the experiences of butch identified-people as someone who is queer and someone who is married to a trans masculine butch-identified person. Is my grasp of butchness a comprehensive understanding? Absolutely not. It never, ever could be," O'Malley wrote in response to some of her critics.