Butch Bakery: It’s the camo that makes them manly

Via Sociological Images, we bring you Butch Bakery.

Text reads: Butch it up Buttercup, These ain’t your grandma’s cupcakes. Our objective is simple. We’re men. Men who like cupcakes. Not the frilly pink frosted sprinkles and unicorns kind of cupcakes. We make manly cupcakes. For manly men.
With that kind of name (and located in NYC) I half expected it to be a super gay bakery catering to Butch lesbians and gay men.
I guessed wrong.
These cupcakes seem to be in line with our new era of anxious masculinity. We saw it layed out in the Docker’s ad campaign Vanessa posted, and further reiterated in the series of Super Bowl commercials that Jessica covered.
Butch Bakery has had so much success so far they’ve had to postpone the delivery of new orders.

Join the Conversation

  • Kathleen Hagerty

    Macho cupcakes? More than likely, all the pre-orders they’re bragging about are mostly from gay men. I’m kind of curious as to what that camoflage shit on top is made out of?

  • Comrade Kevin

    And to a very real extent, as a man, you get messages like that from everywhere beginning as soon as you can remember. You’re told to not be feminine or effeminate and you know pretty much what that entails, more or less, but then you’re told to be as masculine as possible. So then you choose to form your own identity based on a very loose, undefined notion of what you consider to be “masculine”.
    Gender is, as we know, a construct, and if men ever talked about such things openly they’d admit that there are different types of masculinity that conform to the very natural differences within being born male. What has always been constricting to me is that the masculine ideal is so narrowly defined, when the reality underneath is it that men are not at all monolithic in expression or design.

  • Toongrrl

    I take it that Macho cupcakes have that oh so manly sweat and blood and is tear free?

  • Mighty Ponygirl

    Well, to be fair, the description of the cupcake did make me drool a little. So they might be incredibly tasty cupcakes. It’s just a shame their so obnoxious.
    I still think it’s funny that man, manly strong manly men are so fucking fragile. Anything that even *hints* of femininity is treated like a radioactive isotope that will somehow destroy them from within, so they have to invent some bizarre circle-jerk totem to ward off the encroaching pussification. “We’ll put camoflage on our cupcakes! That will show everyone we’re not a bunch of girls!”

  • A Fortiori

    Isn’t this kind of… a joke? I’m pretty sure this is meant to be parodying anxious masculinity. I’ll admit that I could be wrong, but to be frank, I would be surprised if this was meant seriously. It just seems too absurd, considering it’s being applied to cupcakes, of all things. I know that anxious masculinity can often be taken to absurd lengths, but it seems more likely that this OMG SO MANLY men would just avoid cupcakes altogether, instead of, uh, whatever the hell they’re doing here.

  • Av0gadro

    I’m pretty sure it’s fondant. That’s what I would use if I were making camouflage cupcakes instead of frilly girly monstrosities that no real man would ever eat. Except for, you know, every man I know.

  • mordred1988

    They are just cupcakes… silly, fun cupcakes…

  • kaje

    Good gravy, does it even use the same fonts as the Docker’s ad? I have to find the creator of that font, and petition to have it renamed “Truck Nutz”.
    Makes me wonder if the same graphic designer did both ads.

  • jayjay323

    First of all, I feel mocked as a man when I see this kind of thing. Second of all, Comrade Kevin, the problem is not only that we’re told to not be feminine or effeminate, but that feminine qualities have now become the social expectation, which is sort of a problem for men (and women, but they don’t seem to see it). I’ve said for a while that masculinity is the next big thing in gender, but it will be much more difficult to have that debate, because we’re so afraid we’ll never get laid again if we so much as show uncertainty. Feminist women may be a tad bit better (there even was a study about this), but the trend certainly is intact. What remains? Butch Buttercup, and being made fun of by the daily show…

  • GalFawkes

    You know, I’d actually like a lot of those cupcakes. They sound delicious. I hope non-he-man-macho cupcakeries put them on the menu.
    Also, I thought of this: http://www.theonion.com/content/news/johnson_johnson_introduces_nothing

  • attentat

    I agree. Most of the orders are prolly who Miriam expected.

  • dondo.myopenid.com

    Wow. Just… wow. It would never, ever, under any circumstances, have occurred to me that cupcakes could possibly be “macho” or “not macho.” Maybe “childish” or “not childish,” but mostly I’d be thinking “yummy” or “not yummy.” That cupcake doesn’t look very yummy.
    For me, this conjures up an image of unpleasant men, compensating for unhealthy eating habits with an appeal to “manliness.” I’m totally disinterested in eating any of these. I guess I’m no longer manly enough to eat cupcakes. Sigh. I feel inadequate. I guess I’ll go watch some sports and drink beer to make myself feel better.

  • kapogin

    A spoonful of sugar helps the sexism go down…

  • IAmGopherrr

    “but that feminine qualities have now become the social expectation,”
    Def not. And anyways, theres no inherent aspect to masculinity or femininity.They were jusr words designed to maintain male privilege while inferiorizing females. Anyways, I see books all the time telling women how to act more aggressive to make it to the top (s stereotypically male attribute). I have never seen a book telling men to be more passive (a traditionally feminine trait).

  • IAmGopherrr

    “You’re told to not be feminine or effeminate ”
    Agreed. I think if we figured out new ways of raising boys that didnt depend upon misogyny it would make more progressive, secure and evolved men. Its one thing to say “___ is weak” its another to associate that with an entire gender and subversily imbue that gender with some sort of fault or inferiority and to strain to be opposite of it-whatever it is. Its like males are running from invisible monsters that dont even exist because they never stopped running to look it squarely in the eye and see it for the ridiculousness/misogyny that it is.

  • IAmGopherrr

    “they have to invent some bizarre circle-jerk totem to ward off the encroaching pussification”
    lol!!I love it! Totally agree.

  • paperispatient

    the problem is not only that we’re told to not be feminine or effeminate, but that feminine qualities have now become the social expectation, which is sort of a problem for men (and women, but they don’t seem to see it).
    Wait, feminine qualities are the expectation for whom? Men? I don’t think I understand what you’re saying.

  • instrumentjamlord

    Shhhh! SHHHHHHHHH! Shhhhhh! You’re giving it away!

  • char3169

    ..it’s supposed to be funny, you realize.
    joke? humor? you know,a positive response to a ridiculous idea meant in a non serious tone?
    I personally find it more offensive (as in, quite offensive for a feminist website) that you felt it necessary to point out that you assumed upon hearing the name “butch bakery” that it was going to be a gay-themed business (gaykery? anyone?).
    however, i wouldn’t be surprised in the possibility that this *was* a gay-marketed bakery that you guys would be posting about how cool and hilarious this ad is. bias is a funny thing.

  • Hamlet

    This seems like it might be a bit ironic.

  • MaggieF

    I wonder if this isn’t a step in a good direction for the gender spectrum. Guys, men can eat cupcakes now! And use body wash! And face wash! And CONDITIONER!!!
    Yeah, that’s a little snarky, but think about it. When I was in high school a decade or so ago, even those things were waaaay too feminine for any self-respecting man to go anywhere near. Now they’ve gotta be dressed up in manliness, and have manly smells and colors (according to various marketing machines, anyway), but maybe that means that in three, or five, or ten years they won’t. I can’t help but read a lot of these anxious masculinity things as the desparate, dying gasps of something that knows its time is almost up. Sort of like the American religious right.
    So go ahead, men. Eat your manly cupcakes. Wash your face out of a black Neutrogena bottle. Learn that baked goods and hygiene aren’t going to make your balls shrivel off, and in the process maybe become a little more secure about yourselves.


    Actually, I think the guy who runs that bakery is dead serious – and he really is that insecure about his masculinity.
    Apparently, he was one of those Wall Street “master of the universe” types who got laid off – and the loss of that high paying job makes him feel …less manly.
    So he started this business with his severance – and he had to “man it up” to make himself feel less emasculated.


    “I feel mocked as a man when I see this kind of thing. ….the problem is not only that we’re told to not be feminine or effeminate, but that feminine qualities have now become the social expectation”
    Hold on there now, jay jay 323.
    Are you honestly trying to say that us men are oppressed as a gender?
    Because that’s not actually true.
    the problem is not only that we’re told to not be feminine or effeminate, but that feminine qualities have now become the social expectation

  • sage

    i am currently trying to decide whether this is all a big joke. personally, i think it’s hilarious. but it raises a question about satire – is it good satire if some people are going to take it seriously? and clearly, if the creator wasn’t going for satire, then the whole joke is simply created in my mind. i scoured the website looking for some sign, but in the end, i really can’t tell. and maybe the creator doesn’t really know either. depending on who he’s talking to it’s either a big laugh or a brilliant idea for a niche market.

  • Unequivocal

    is it good satire if some people are going to take it seriously?
    Absolutely. In fact I think it could be argued that a distinguishing characteristic of good satire is that some readers take it seriously.

  • paperispatient

    I think that’s a really useful question to raise. I recently got into a spat with a former roommate of mine who made a blog post about female sportscasters on the anniversary of the passage of Title IX. She gave Erin Andrews an award for being pretty and another sportscaster an award for having a “hot ass,” then concluded the post with a disclaimer that she was actually making fun of men and that nobody should get offended.
    When I asked how she was mocking men, she quite condescendingly explained that the post was satirical. In my mind, it was a complete satire fail because her post was indistinguishable from the men’s magazine-type posts and articles that say the same thing. It didn’t exaggerate or problematize anything or make apparent how ridiculous the status quo is, it just replicated the discourse on women in the media and appearance that’s already out there. To me, that’s not satire.
    Forgive the digression, but you raised a point that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. :)

  • instrumentjamlord

    Along those lines, the other thing worth noting is that he’s creating a business where it’s standard operating procedure to charge 4 bucks for a cupcake. Nearly fifty dollars for a dozen. Making them in volume, I’m guessing markup is close to a thousand percent. I think maybe he wants to be the next Starbucks, the place where they normalized the idea of charging 3 bucks for a 25-cent cup of coffee.

  • supremepizza

    The whole metro-sexual thing is one manifestation of the ‘feminization’ of masculinity. In business they talk about the art of listening & art of diplomacy, two things historically associated with the feminine. I don’t know where these trends will head, but they’re definitely present.

  • thecynicalromantic

    Yeah, same here… I can’t tell if it’s supposed to be parodying anxious masculinity or not, because the lengths to which the dead fuckin’ serious anxious masculinity ads, or the fakely-ironic Shroedinger’s Douchebag type of dudebro humor (It’s a joke! It’s a joke which is funny cos it’s true, unless you then won’t shag me if it’s true, in which case it’s totally funny cos it’s false, JEEZ YOU PEOPLE HAVE NO SENSE OF HUMOR), are just so far gone as to be pretty much unparodyable.
    I HOPE it’s a parody, so then I could not feel bad about buying some of those cupcakes. I think they look hilarious and sound delicious.

  • Dawn.

    I for real got excited when I read Butch Bakery because I thought it was a lesbian-owned bakery. I was expecting baby dyke cupcakes and instead I got anxious masculinity cupcakes. I am not happy about it.
    A man opening a cupcake shop and men baking/buying cupcakes isn’t a bad thing, of course. And honestly, the cupcakes sound mad yummy. When they saturated the activity in masculine tropes, it become a bad thing.
    Our society conditions everyone, including men, into two very narrow gender roles based on a handful of secondary sex and biological characteristics. If anyone deviates from any gender norm, even benign as baking or buying cupcakes, they are immediately persecuted. We, as feminists, know this better than anyone. So it’s understandable why some men, when exploring activities that are not traditionally acceptable for them, become anxious and try to defend themselves from social persecution.
    It’s also understandable why some men, at this current time, feel the need to “assert” themselves, to let the world know “I’m not one of them.” One of them = someone it’s socially acceptable to look down upon, i.e. an effeminate man. Because effeminate men are like women. I love how it often comes back to good ole misogyny.
    Unfortunately this just reinforces our strict gender norms. While trying to protect themselves they only end up harming themselves. Gender roles hurt everyone, even those who think they are “natural” and/or “ordained.”
    It’s really sad, actually. I wish they didn’t feel the need to be all “butch butch OMG I’m a manly man” just to sell a fucking cupcake.

  • jayjay323

    When I got my MBA, there was not a single day in which female qualities, nature or nurture, were praised as the future of humankind, while male qualities were responsible for things that go wrong. Testosterone caused the crisis kind of stuff.

  • jayjay323

    Absolutely. These days, aggression is largely identified with masculinity, and usually not with positive notions like assertiveness and getting things done, but with violence, and in a business context, with leadership styles of the past. Problem is, leadership never works without occasionally telling people to do things. So, all this means – double bind: you’re not allowed to be what you need to be to succeed. Same double bind for men as such.

  • jayjay323

    “Are you honestly trying to say that us men are oppressed as a gender?”
    I’m saying there’s a problem in how masculinity is socially constructed, and it’s an important problem that leads to camo cupcakes because there’s no other outlet. If you say that amounts to social oppression that’s your term, not mine.

  • paperispatient

    I’m still not seeing how what you’ve said in this comment has anything to do with “feminine” qualities being expected or demanded of/in men.
    And I think I would argue that masculinity is associated with being effective and getting things done, I think that’s the paradox that women in the corporate world often confront – if you’re feminine, you’re emotional and frivolous, but if you display “masculine” traits like assertiveness then you’re either manly or bitchy.

  • adag87

    I think the way masculinity is constructed in our society is problematic, for sure. Maybe the real problem, though, isn’t whether or not people are instructed to be assertive – It’s that assertiveness is associated with masculinity and that passivity is associate with femininity. When really, neither one of these traits HAS to be associated with either gender. One could argue that our patriarchal society has used gendering of traits, like anything else, as a way to distinguish who is “stronger” and who is “weaker” (i.e., pitting men against women and subsequently women against men).
    The point is, there’s always going to be gray area. You can be assertive without having to be a cannibal. Likewise, you can be diplomatic without being a meek flower. You can be feminine and assertive. You can be masculine and diplomatic.

  • jumpcannon

    Pfft. The owners WISH they could try some of my grandma’s cupcakes.

  • aka spike the cat

    Hmmmmm. Re: metro-sexual. I think the inspiration from metro-sexual might come from southern-European and Latin American metropolitan cultures than it does from feminity.
    And American metro-sexual grooming/style still has nothing, say, on your average Italian or French, et. al, businessman strolling down the street. And I assure you that with gelled & perfectly cut hair, crispy shirt, shined shoes, clean nails, smelling good, fitted slacks, pink scarf and all–these fellas are well within masculine norms in their communities. They might on the other hand, test American sensibilities, but again, it’s a cultural thing.
    Plus, historically in European tradition, men used to wear make-up, wigs, frilly collars, etc anyway. How come metro can’t just be revival of that old masculine standard? It’s not like men these days are scrambling to twist their ankles in high-heels, lol. Now that would get me re-thinking.

  • Nepenthe

    I totally want a baby dyke cupcake right now.

  • jayjay323

    oh, absolutely. I’m not saying that’s not possible. I’m saying that the current masculinity discourse is problematic, because it puts men in an impossible situation. Just look at GregoryButler’s comment, which is basically saying – we want you to discuss masculinity on a more interesting level than cupcakes or Dodge vipers, but before you do, let’s clarify that women have it worse – which is a systemic reformulation asking men to not be weak, which, in turn, is what we are hearing all the time anyway. And why the discourse is limited to cupcakes.

  • Jeanette

    So, since, according to the article, there is a big demand for these things, that means that other companies will start doing the same thing, and gendered baked-goods are about to become quite common.
    I’m so looking forward to “women’s” and “men’s” Krispy Kremes.

  • Jeanette

    Oh, I forgot, isn’t calling camo “manly” insulting to all the women in the military?

  • paperispatient

    That’s interesting, the “metrosexual man” idea hadn’t occurred to me. Metrosexual men seem to be ridiculed more often than not, at least by the media and on TV. I don’t know that I would call metrosexuality an expectation for men, since it seems to earn the rancor of (certain) other men and some women too. But it is interesting to consider.

  • paperispatient

    I personally find it more offensive (as in, quite offensive for a feminist website) that you felt it necessary to point out that you assumed upon hearing the name “butch bakery” that it was going to be a gay-themed business
    Can I ask why you found that offensive? Personally, when I hear the word “butch,” a butch lesbian is the first image/idea that enters my mind; I associate that word with queerness more than with hegemonic masculinity.

  • brad

    Doesn’t this argument sound a little like one they should be having in Vancouver for gold, silver and bronze?

  • msmaddy

    Over on the west coast, we have this alternative: http://www.bigmanbakes.com/.
    I think you can still take issue with the name of the company, which draw novelty off the idea of a man-especially a 6’5″ black man-baking, but you don’t see all the visual tropes of stereotypical masculinity. Thoughts?


    Diplomacy has historically been associated with women?
    So Ben Franklin was a woman?
    And Henry Kissinger?
    And Neville Chamberlain?
    And Andrei Gromyko?
    And 100 other famous male diplomats that I could name?
    And, significantly, there are only a handful of famous female diplomats I can think of off the top of my head – Jeanne Kirkpatrick, Condolezza Rice, Hillary Clinton.
    Historically, diplomacy was a very male career – prior to the 20th century, women diplomats were few and far between.
    Even today, most of the world’s major diplomats are men.
    So, I’m sorry, historically diplomacy was a male pursuit – and even today, most diplomats are men.
    So, an increase in emphasis on diplomacy is not a symptom of “feminization”!

  • Shy Mox

    I thought this was a lesbian bakery too!
    And now I think I want to open a gay bakery! And it’ll be vegan, too.

  • Auriane

    LOL! I totally thought this might be a “cool lesbian feminist bakery” before I actually read the article. I thought they might have been ex-military dykes or something; I know a few who blanche at pink cupcakes but who would simply love to “butch it up” with camo cupcakes.
    To me, this is a “win” on the irony front, but a massive FAIL on what I think it is that they’re trying to do. Way to go, dude!
    How could he not know how the word “butch” has been transformed over the past 3 decades? Oh, never mind, he was an asset based securities attorney on Wall Street before he became a baker!

  • Jesus Christine

    Do they still taste like cupcakes? Cosmetics are stupid.


    Not really.
    Since men are not oppressed as a group, we are not eligible for the Oppression Olympics.