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Half Baked: The Trouble With Cupcake Feminism
Meryl Trussler , February 13th, 2012 08:02

Cupcakes! You can't escape them these days. Meryl Trussler examines the at times pernicious influence the baked goods have had on contemporary feminism

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As with any other ideology, the image of feminism has suffered from slander, misinformation, and some truly crooked spokespersons. But feminism is perhaps unique in just how nebulous its principles have become. Does biology have bearing on gender? What do we mean when we say ‘equality’? Is the ritual practice of female genital mutilation any of the US or Europe’s business? There is no unified feminist perspective on these issues.

Then there are the misguided think pieces, just to confuse things further. High heels and porn are the shackles of the patriarchy! As are, erm, burqas and marriage! The media has plenty of theories for why feminism is doomed, and many blame the silly bints themselves. (Few acknowledge that the prophecy might be self-fulfilling – which would be handy for those media giants who still profit from upskirt photography and cellulite-bashing. Wahey!)

All of these mixed messages mean that no one quite knows what feminism stands for anymore. Glibly: it has a branding problem.

Misbranding of feminism ranges from the inaccurate to the unrepresentative and back again. Misandry died with Valerie Solanas; the bra-burners were as mythical as Sirens. Now, from the shadows, rises the Fat, Ugly, Hairy Dyke you’ve heard so much about. She is, apparently, a combo-pack of the most terrible attributes a woman can have. She is the bogey-monster dreamed up by smooth, pretty straight girls when they utter that breathless suffix: ‘… but I’m not a feminist, or anything.’

How to make feminism appealing to these suckling lambs? Of course! A counter-campaign!

This move is not deliberate – probably not even conscious. But the pop-culture image of feminism today – as perpetuated at Ladyfests, in BUST magazine and its Craftaculars, on so-called ‘ladyblogs’ and at freshers’ fairs – is ostensibly the direct opposite of the Hairy Dyke. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll call her the cupcake feminist.

During my long-overdue feminist awakening in 2009-10, I did the rounds of what events I could find in London. Cupcakes – vegan! rainbow! wow! – clustered at every corner like barnacles. The aforementioned BUST Craftacular primarily traded in baked goods and hair accessories. Disciples of the ‘put a bird on it’ philosophy abounded. Of the disappointing number of small-press publications I could find, most were decade-old reprints and comics about boys. Everywhere I looked, everything was distinctly… twee.

Twee and retro have been seeping into feminism for a couple decades now, gaining potency. It’s all about cute dresses, felten rosettes from Etsy, knitting, kittens, vintage lamps shaped like owls, Lesley Gore. And yes - a lot of cupcakes.

It would be hypocritical to dismiss cupcake feminism outright. As outlined above, to tell women they are letting down the cause is vomitously snide and unproductive – and I like the associated aesthetic as much as anyone. (Except for knitting, which for me could only end in injury.) Admittedly, too, the cupcake feminist is a sophisticated invention. Rouged, lipsticked, cinched at the waist, she performs big-F Femininity as the drag–show that it is. Her 50s-housewife schtick sets off everything about her that is radicalised and new. And, importantly, she emphasises that typically ‘feminine’ pursuits are no less worthy or important than their ‘masculine’ counterparts.

By now, however, western women have largely reclaimed and detraumatised the concepts of marriage and homemaking. Sure, a person can still raise some hell and eyebrows with the housewife trope if, say, her grandmothers were more likely to be domestic labourers than ‘goddesses’, or she sports a poodle skirt in her wheelchair; more subversive yet if (gasp!) a man should take the role. But on a relatively privileged woman, the sugar’n’spice act counters next to no expectations. It comes off more nostalgic than ironic.

These are symbols of rebellion that have lost their meaning. They have been market-researched, mass-produced and sold back to us by Cath Kidston and Ephemera Inc. (Make sure to read Dorian Lynskey’s article on ‘Innocentese’ for a more in-depth disemboweling of cutesy marketing strategies.) It’s all well and good to Keep Calm and Carry On flogging these dead horses, but frankly, with misogyny still so rife – and we need only look to the recent UniLad debacle for proof of that – it begins to look like blissful ignorance.

Another problem with this trend towards the high-femme is that we inadvertently court the enemy. We inadvertently justify the vilification of the Hairy Dyke image, as if we were ashamed of it all along. Why are ‘fat’, ‘ugly’, ‘gay’ or ‘never-been-fucked’ still the first insults sent whistling towards the trench? What is their supposed import? To cry ‘We’re not all like that!’ only lends power. Some of us are fat/ugly/gay, some of us aren’t. So? Really, though, so what?

Mainstream society only finds cupcake feminism more palatable because it can lick off the icing and toss the rest. Just take Conservative MP Nadine Dorries, who defined ‘Tory feminism’ as follows on Twitter:

“Take feminism, remove man hating bit add high heels, style, mutual respect and a huge pinch of common sense.”

Icing. Revolting, at that. Dorries drops the f-word, but cares little for its meaning. (Speaking for abstinence education, she blathers: “If a stronger ‘just say no’ message was given to children in school, it might have an impact on sex abuse, because a lot of girls, when sex abuse takes place, don’t realize until later that was the wrong thing to do…”) Her imagined feminism plays like a hellish, unending Sex and the City montage, but with all the scandalous bits blacked out, and a MIDI instrumental of ‘I’m Every Woman’ looping ad mortem. To be acceptable to Dorries has to be the least punk thing in the world.

Even Caitlin Moran, author of the much-lauded How To Be a Woman, oversimplifies the cause in an attempt to make feminism cool again. As far as she’s concerned, a feminist is anyone who has a vagina and wants to be in charge of it. In actuality, this is just the kind of exclusion we should be worried about. Applicants must have a vagina? That rules out many trans women, then. Even to cis women, all this adoring quim-imagery stands to feel off-puttingly cold and anatomical. Cupcake feminists, too, incorporate the hallowed sex organ into their worship: lovingly screen-printing its ram-skull form onto knickers and shirts, carving vulvas into diverse confections. Vulva cupcakes, by heck – good for a laugh, I suppose, but you can’t get much more reductive of a gender than that.

Feminism can and should be fun and frivolous sometimes – otherwise the struggle can be exhausting. But let’s bring our riot grrrls back, too. Let’s bring our battle scars and our Xerox-stained fingers and our humourless academics into the picture. We’re too big to be branded. No slogans, no gimmicks: just compassion, respect, and freedom of choice for all women. The product should sell itself.


Feb 13, 2012 2:04pm

"to tell women they are letting down the cause is vomitously snide and unproductive"

Rest of the article: tells women they are letting down the cause.

I don't get it. I mean, I really don't get it. If I was to think of a homogenising characteristic of the feminists I know, it would be their individuality, which is to say, they're all really different to each other. I *just* don't know where this idea that high femme has taken over the movement comes from. Sure, some people like dresses and make-up. Some people like knitting and embroidery. These are not necessarily the same people!
Thing is, I kind of get what you're trying to pin down; I understand this feeling of there being a distinct 'feminist' aesthetic - like how you can sometimes just tell someone's a feminist just by looking at them. But I think it's more to do with individuality, creativity and a certain self-assurance - in style as well as manner - rather than to what extent they conform to some 50's housewife stereotype

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Amsicles
Feb 13, 2012 3:38pm

The whole purpose of feminism is so hard to brand because it's actually trying to do something that logically has to contradict itself - to support 30b individuals with different needs, pressures and choices.

The end of feminism will come when the term itself becomes obsolete, when there is no longer a need to draw attention to sex or gender for political ends. But by definition, feminists have to identify through terms of sex and gender.

Women are fat, thin, hairy, waxed-and-vajazzled, into Riot Grrl or Katy Perry but these phenotypes, expressions and interests do not define them and nor do they make their value as an individual (feminist or otherwise) any less or more relevant.

The only true goal of feminism is to defend and support every woman's right to make her own choices without justification or coercion. As long as women's choices conflict each other, so feminism will conflict itself. And that's just the way it should be.

Still, cupcakes can fuck right off.

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Feb 13, 2012 3:40pm

Feminism is always doomed to asymptote before it ever reaches its goal because it subsists on the fallacy that men and women are somehow different, a fallacy I've just propagated by using the terms 'men' and 'women' as if they're somehow different. Of course we're centuries, perhaps millenia, away from changing the language to extinguish the fallacy. Even 'fallacy' is fraught with genderized overtones. You can't extract yourself from this thing called language.

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Amsicles
Feb 13, 2012 4:03pm

In reply to :

Yes, you're right, but it has to exist to prove this fallacy wrong – it's a necessary paradox.

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Els
Feb 13, 2012 4:40pm

Bloody brilliant. Cupcakes 'clustered like barnacles' in particular.

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quiet riot girl
Feb 13, 2012 5:19pm

I wrote about what I called 'Mumsy Cupcake Feminism' last year and made some similar points but from a different perspective:

http://quietgirlriot.wordpress.com/2011/08/18/mumsy-cupcake-feminism/

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Alex Gibson
Feb 13, 2012 5:53pm

Really heartening to see any serious and respectful debate about feminism on a music website. tQ deserves a big thumbs-up for airing this issue with this, and previous, articles.
There are many feminisms, and always have been, the relative merits of which are of course up for lengthy and thoughtful debate if feminism is to re-gain some social currency. It's nice though to know that this generation are awakening to the idea that there might be more pressing feminist issues than being allowed to choose your own outfit. That should give you a hint as to my standpoint in the 'fun feminist' debate.
I haven't read Caitlin's book but it's on my list and I am in complete agreement when it comes to compulsory body-hair removal.

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Meryl
Feb 13, 2012 5:56pm

Re. first comment: if I've prompted this reaction then I've failed to express myself. I hope you'll forgive that from a green writer. This was commissioned on the basis of a throwaway tweet with which I increasingly disagreed as I wrote the article. That's why it's a rant against society contained within what is, superficially, a rant against some feminists. (D'oh.)

I don't hate whimsy or high-femme in feminism. I DO hate that it's the only way to be a feminist while still being seen as "acceptable". I feel that there aren't enough outspoken feminists who don't embody these qualities – because a deluge of morons derail their every argument with "lol ur just jealous because you're unfuckable" or "ur a closeted gay" or whatever. I despise that books like Moran's are marketed and reviewed with this "see, not all feminists are humourless troglodytes!" angle because that just reinforces the original prejudices. I want more visibility and mainstream acceptance for feminists who AREN'T femme or witty or "fabulous" because, as you imply, it shouldn't bloody matter.

Re. Caitlin Moran's comment: No, I haven't read your book, because I can't currently afford to buy books I don't think I'll like (based on this rather excellent review: http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/reviewofbooks_preview/10740) But if you don't, in fact, say the thing about vaginas as mentioned in many reviews, I'm sorry to have misrepresented you. (I'm aware also that you make mention of trans rights in the rest of the book, but if this line exists, it's still a misstep.)

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Petra
Feb 13, 2012 7:02pm

In reply to :

Excuse me. You _did not_just equate the Cath Kidstonisation of femininity with high femme, a radical queer trope, right? Right?

Meryl: this rules. Peferring 'decency' to equality is flammery, distraction, and shit politics. You're spot on.

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Lucy Cage
Feb 13, 2012 7:04pm

I think you hit the nail on the head when your referenced Dorian Lynskey's excellent article ('The Tweelight of the Gods'); this is a far wider problem than just that of feminism's image. There's a general meekness and cosiness going on that is utterly at odds with where the world - specifically how late Capitalism's remorseless wheels are currently grinding down on the most vulnerable in our society - is actually at. Lynskey is bang on about how twee culture has de-clawed counter-culture. It reminds why I hate Hollywood faux-indie (kookie girls in Smiths t-shirts: as the manic pixie dream girls spoof has it: "They ALL wear Smiths t-shirts!") and the "caring capitalism" of giggly-childish brands that talk to you like they're your pal not massive corporate exploiters of humanity and anything that is telling me to CALM DOWN. Makes me want to shout "woman up!" at people and burn things. We (all not just feminism) need anger not cutesiness. I'd eat cupcakes and wear mittens til the cows came skipping home if they could be accompanied by the RAGE appropriate to the political situation, including but by no means limited to the continued oppression of women.

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Luke Turner
Feb 13, 2012 7:30pm

In reply to Lucy Cage:

Hear hear Lucy, you're spot on. The whole cupcake thing is a part of the current vogue for retro 'ooo look at us at the beach in halcyon youth Polaroid picture massive fart ambitionless joyless sexless' culture, especially where it ties in with music. What's frustrating is where you find cupcakes and twee in supposed countercultures where you hope/expect to find grit.

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Dan B
Feb 13, 2012 7:37pm

There is no - absolutely none whatsoever - correlation between dressing like an indie Kirsty Allsop and political meekness. This is like when the Quietus tried to say that modern folk was conservative, it's just all allusion and prejudice and little substance. I've been on most of the marches with my friends in the PCS and seen lots of girls and boys dressed very 'twee' so now here's my lengthy justification of why twee is still radical. Of course, it is neither one thing or the other, it does not make the plural singular, a cake and a floral overprint doesn't transmit a significant enough semiotic alone to traduce them to this extent, however many abstruse connections one attempts.

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Feb 13, 2012 9:05pm

In reply to Petra:

No, the author did.

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Emily Mackay
Feb 13, 2012 9:24pm

I think the thing I liked best about this article is the way that while it raises reasoned points about cupcake feminism and argues with energy for alternatives, it doesn't try to score points or mock, because god, I'm so bored of think pieces where people deride other people for presenting the 'wrong' sort of image of a woman. What I come away from Meryl's article with is the hope that we can all stop arguing about whose sort of image is best, stop focusing on what clothes people wear and how they style themselves altogether so much and worry about something a bit more important.

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Petra
Feb 13, 2012 9:46pm

In reply to Dan B:

Dan, I think you're missing the point. The indie Kirstie Allsops may not be meek, but their references are enmeekening. Postwar floral austerity chic is even more of an insult on a march against austerity, and don't even try a detournement argument.

Blank, no she didn't, not even once. It's you who doesn't get the difference between high femme and 19 year olds dressed as Dot Cotton.

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Petra
Feb 13, 2012 9:48pm

In reply to Luke Turner:

Luke, I sorta think the opposite i t worse. i find a ton of grit in subcultures, which is why it's so fucking enraging when radical gestures are coopted as meaningless poses,

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Petra
Feb 13, 2012 9:48pm

In reply to Petra:

TYPING FIAL

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Dan B
Feb 13, 2012 10:10pm

In reply to Petra:

'Enmeekening'? Piss off. Clothes and cakes do not maketh the subculture, nor do they enmeeken or embiggen. Presumably you are currently decked out in clothes that offer no cultural touchstones: if you so can you post a full-length picture so I can understand what it is all good feminists should be wearing so I can fax it to 0800-Undergradriveters

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Petra
Feb 13, 2012 10:27pm

In reply to Dan B:

No, Dan, you piss off, and take your anaemic defence of austerity chic with you. Before you go, since you're so interested, I'm a macho slut, femme rising, fag moon, and no, you can't have a fucking photo.

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Dan B
Feb 13, 2012 10:30pm

In reply to Petra:

Anaemic defence? From the person whose argument is slamming her fists down and insisting that something is the case? Burden of proof is still with Team Twee Is The Product Of Hitler, or somesuch. Christ, they let ANYONE in humanities departments these days.

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Petra
Feb 13, 2012 10:46pm

In reply to Dan B:

Yes, sorry, I just meant stupid, actually. Here's why yr defence is stupid: it cites young women in austerity chic, on a march against austerity. My department and I will be right here, take your time.

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Dan B
Feb 13, 2012 10:49pm

In reply to Petra:

The act of marching has more political capital wrapped up in it than clothes ever will. If my liberator wore the uniform of my oppressor I wouldn't give half a fuck, it's the action that counts, not the presentation. Something you and your half-baked Dworkinisms routinely fail to grasp.

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Petra
Feb 13, 2012 11:22pm

In reply to Dan B:

There needs to be a Godwins for Dworkin comparisons. Poor Andrea! She'd be horrified at my Solfed vajazzle.

Your point about it being excellent that these young women are marching is, while true, neitehr helpful nor adequate. La revolucion sera feminista, o no sera. Sorry bout that.

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Dan B
Feb 13, 2012 11:31pm

In reply to Petra:

Well, yeah, the Dworkin insult was pretty half-arsed and I retract that. But if you'd rather not be potentially freed from a subjugated position because you disagreed with the uniform of your liberator then that is your problem entirely. And saying 'it isn't helpful' and then not following that through with any kind of substance is basically just weak-ass trolling. So far your one assertion - that girls who dress in 'austerity chic' cannot fight austerity owing to their lexical (but crucially, not their semantic) connection - has been batted away because it is an insipid argument. It is like saying that you cannot be against war whilst wearing khaki or against patriotism because you chose to combine red white and blue. I feel like I'm talking with the Richey Edwards of contemporary feminism here though, so I'll leave you to your poetic nothings.

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Feb 13, 2012 11:54pm

In reply to Petra:

"These are symbols of rebellion that have lost their meaning. They have been market-researched, mass-produced and sold back to us by Cath Kidston and Ephemera Inc. (Make sure to read Dorian Lynskey’s article on ‘Innocentese’ for a more in-depth disemboweling of cutesy marketing strategies.) It’s all well and good to Keep Calm and Carry On flogging these dead horses, but frankly, with misogyny still so rife – and we need only look to the recent UniLad debacle for proof of that – it begins to look like blissful ignorance.

Another problem with this trend towards the high-femme is that we inadvertently court the enemy."

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Lucy Cage
Feb 14, 2012 12:44am

"I find a ton of grit in subcultures, which is why it's so fucking enraging when radical gestures are coopted as meaningless poses"

Exactly. It's not that subcultures are twee-ed or Tweeded-up, it's that twee/cute is being used by huge corporations in an effort to appear cuddly. It *is* enraging. Offensive even, because the Innocents and Starbucks of this world are using counter-cultural tropes in the deliberate construction of a lie about the nature of business.
Of course there's nothing intrinsically reactionary about wearing vintage dresses, baking cupcakes or knitting (some of the most empowered and sorted women I know are demon knitters) but, as Meryl Trussler says "on a relatively privileged woman, the sugar’n’spice act counters next to no expectations. It comes off more nostalgic than ironic."
I know why riot grrrls wore pretty hairslides while they were spitting their venom. I know why they wore dresses and Mary-Jane sandals while scrawling vicious words on themselves. They were confrontational, complex, furious, contrary; didn't allow themselves to be pinned-down, reduced. What has happened is that the mainstream has co-opted the semiotics of riot-cute without its righteous rage. The vibrant, arty-crafty, self-sufficient DIY ethos of fanzine culture has been pounced upon by those it was once countering and sold back as owl-splattered apolitical domestic chic. There's nothing chic about domesticity. And it's not funny or cute or appealing when Tory politicians are talking seriously about what a great idea it is that more women are staying at home at the same time that women's choices about work and childcare are increasingly restricted. Coerced domesticity sucks. Enforced austerity sucks. It's one thing to celebrate the sharing of practical knowledge and skills, quite another to do so at the expense of resisting the politics that are turning back the clock. It's as if we're being gently pressed into making a virtue out of an apparent necessity, while colluding in the assumption that austerity is inevitable.

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Amanda Barokh
Feb 14, 2012 1:14am

For me the problem with cupcakes is that they are a big sugar coated metaphor for swallowing your anger. I agree with Lucy "RAGE appropriate to the political situation"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SzqB0VhTCOE&feature=related

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mayhem
Feb 14, 2012 12:15pm

I posted from my FB account earlier and got quite a frisson from being patronised as 'babe'! No I haven't read the book - but I've squirmed at the cultural phenomenon of cupcake feminism. Leaving aside the furry butch stuff, what it celebrates is a type of femininity that is quite white, very middle class, and REALLY ageist. My understanding of feminism is that it is very very broad, multigenerational, multigendered (coz the female is not a single sex), multiracial, multicultural and goddam multinational - and about subverting body fascism in all it's forms. Feminism is a VERY BIG CAKE, not a cupcake, but a 3-tonne heart attack cake - so enough with the cutesy reductionism, and more size queen big wild dreaming....

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Dan John
Feb 14, 2012 3:51pm

I think people interested in equality should focus on making maternity and paternity leave the same in law. Transferable time off, same allowance etc. Suddenly giving men and women the same options to take time off won't magically fix the inequalities in work, but without it inequality is perfectly expectable / acceptable in a meritocracy, I hope people agree with me, professors of gender studies do, well at least the 1 I know!
I know this isn't really on point, good article.

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PhilSmithisabadladbutPhilJenningshasnothingtobeashamedof.
Feb 14, 2012 8:34pm

I don't know a lot about cupcake feminism but that awfully smug tweet from Nadine Dorries would make me question tory feminism. For one thing she uses the phrase so beloved of anti-feminists " man-hating ". Ah yes - simplification ahoy.
Even using it to make a pro point seems misplaced - Incidentally when did we agree that men and only men have some inalienable right to be liked anyway? There's a vulgar implication when people use the phrase " man-hater " as though misogyny is somehow easier to rationalise but being a man-hate-ahhh???? oh the very idea. The bit where she says " add high heels " is also a touch crass flagging up the stereotype about feminism and femininity being incompatible. As for " a huge pinch of common sense " well feminism makes a lot of sense to me as it was/is so please Ms. Dorries don't kid yourself that what this movement needs is some good, improving tory-ism.

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quiet
Feb 15, 2012 3:29am

and this is why I don't call myself a feminist. too much hate!

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Lauryl Sulfate
Feb 15, 2012 3:22pm

In reply to Lucy Cage:

Well said, Lucy. :)

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Chloe George
Feb 15, 2012 5:58pm

What a brilliant post Meryl. You reference the Dorian Lynsky article which bemoans the language of Innocent-speak and features a gracious, thoughtful comment underneath from Innocent's Dan Germain. Sure Caitlin Moran is busy and all, but shame she couldn't extend the same courtesy to you.

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westlake
Feb 15, 2012 6:22pm

I think that anything that gets people who wouldn't call themselves a feminist (due to the negative connotations mentioned) but who blatantly have feminist leanings, talking to each other and their kids about what it means and what it's like to be a woman in this day and age is a good thing. Lets all stuff our faces with cupcakes made of Caitlin Moran's brilliant book, and when we've stopped guzzling, start talking.

Signed a proud (slightly) fat definately hairy lesbian.

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Bona Fido
Feb 16, 2012 12:53pm

In reply to Dan John:

Yes! Absolutely agree! I work in an industry where promotion and payscales are affected by number of years experience - and the clock stops if you take a year off to sprog meaning you lose a year's PQE and all the opportunities that come with it. If men were able to take this time off it would certainly level the playing field in an industry which actually has more women than men going into it at entry level, but very few women at the top.

Of course you would have to re-educate society about gender roles in childcare in order for this to work, but society needs to re-educate itself about this any way.

Regarding the article, some good points, but as someone who identifies as feminist, and endures the eyerolls of my contemporaries of both gender for doing so, I do wonder whether a bit too much is being read into this 'acceptable face' stuff. Some of us don't care that it's pre-packaged faux nostalgia engineered to make us appear a bit less intimidating, we just like flowery teacups, doesn't change my views or the likelihood that I might rant them at you.

Also, does that cupcake have vagina dentata, or what?

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Lipstick Terrorist
Feb 17, 2012 1:38pm

My response to this article can be found here.: Innocent(ea)se and the Rise of the Cupcake http://lipstickterrorist.wordpress.com/2012/02/17/innocentease-and-the-rise-of-the-cupcake/

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Dan John
Feb 17, 2012 10:23pm

In reply to Bona Fido:

Thanks for offering feedback. From http://www.fawcettsociety.org.uk/?PageID=972
"The time women take out of the labour market for caring is estimated to account for 14% of the gender pay gap (out of 23%). This pattern is reflected in the fact that partnered women without dependent children earn 9% less than men, whereas mothers working full time with two dependent children earn 21.6% less than men."
This is normalised to reflect part-time vs full time hours worked, but doesn't seem to have any direct occupation comparison, which could be rather problematic.
These stats are interesting to me as it seems to indicate that the larger contribution to the gender pay gap is from the meritocracy element rather than the sexism in culture. You would hope that equalising the meritocracy element, i.e. making work equal, would also help the culture element for free a little.
It seems like such a simple, easy to sell, high impact change, I really think we should focus on it! I was told the idea was abandoned in the UK because of cost though.

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garconniere
Feb 18, 2012 7:07pm

as someone who is queer, hairy, has a huge zine collection, and happens to love baking vegan cupcakes every once in a while i must say i love this article. i think at its heart, it's another argument for a multiplicity of feminisms.

my only criticism is that it focuses a bit too heavily on a primarily white-dominated middle/upper class kind of feminism... if we look at both the riot grrls xeroxing, or the lipsticked femmes baking cupcakes and thrifting vintage kitsch, the idea that comes to mind in both cases is an overwhelming white one. let's change that, and make room for all kinds of feminists who do work in all kinds of ways, without pitting one against the other constantly.

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Petra
Feb 28, 2012 3:06pm

In reply to Dan B:

Dan: your refusal to engage with my point isn't a rebuttal. I've had half a lifetime of angry boys telling me my feminism is a distraction from anti-capitalist struggle and being outraged when I dare disagree; believe me, you and your entitlement are nothing new.

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Neuroskeptic
Mar 3, 2012 11:00am

"Feminism is perhaps unique in just how nebulous its principles have become" - Maybe a sign that rather than trying to reconstitute it as a single monolithic thing, it's time to move forward by tackling specific issues one by one? Likewise "socialism" has become an almost meaningless term, no-one can agree on what it means, but the people who care about debating what "socialism" means actually have a lot in common and can agree on more specific issues.

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Emily
Mar 9, 2012 10:43pm

Hmmm, I have mixed feelings on this article. I understand the "cupcake feminist" trope but overall I found the tone to be very condescending. The author states that "the cupcake feminist is a sophisticated invention". First of all, who exactly invented this? Was there a secret branding campaign that I wasn't aware of? The reason why so many women are attracted to the crafting and DIY community is because of just that...it's a community! Many of these women in that community are gaining the knowledge to start their own small businesses, which means more women business owners and sustaining the local economy. I think the fact that a huge number of people drawn to this community happen to be young liberal women who identify as feminists doesn't mean they come with an agenda, or see their participation as a feminist act.

The author also wrote, "Cupcake feminists, too, incorporate the hallowed sex organ into their worship: lovingly screen-printing its ram-skull form onto knickers and shirts, carving vulvas into diverse confections." which I have a huge huge problem with. Has she been to a craft fair? Has she ever gotten together with a group of girlfriends to make something fun while socializing? If so, she might have noticed that most crafts are not vagina crafts. Besides, if she wants to say that vagina themed art is overkill, she probably won't ever want to look at the work of Judy Chicago or Georgia O'Keeffe.

I can only speak from personal experience but the perception she has of this "cupcake community" not being a safe space for riotgrrrls or GLBTQ folks seems absurd. I know many queer identified folks who lead their own DIY nights and sell their creations at local craft fairs. Some of them might even bake cupcakes.

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Lauren Ballinger
Apr 30, 2012 8:48pm

Meryl Trussler A) hasn't read the book and B) just wanted to use the phrase 'quim-imagery. Why not just shorten it to quimagery and have done with it?

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Emily Matchar
May 15, 2012 9:39pm

I think this is a brilliant piece, especially the points about how corporations have commodified the cupcake feminist aesthetic. I also find it somewhat troubling that housework has so thoroughly been re-imagined as fun and fulfilling and empowering, as if all proper women should love the "simple pleasures" of baking and cleaning and knitting. For some, that stuff's still work.
I write about all this on my blog, New Domesticity (www.newdomesticity.com).

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dgm
Aug 10, 2012 4:11pm

"That rules out many trans women, then"...I thought it was common knowledge that feminists ( I don't make the "radfem" distinction )despise the transgender community?

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