You know, I think Maia had one tiny point in amongst the letting us all know that blogging about cupcakes is Diluting The Great Feminist Message.
Posting something frivolous to a feminist group or blog does imply/assume that thing is feminist or should be treated as a feminist issue.
Where we disagree* is that she thinks that means we have to explain why that thing is explicitly feminist or refrain from posting it. And I think the very fact of a thing being discussed on a feminist blog puts it in a feminist or wider progressive context.
So just what is a feminist issue?
Are silly boutique clothing stores which cut clothes to fit bigger-busted women a feminist issue?
Of course they fucking are because we live in a patriarchy that demands conformity to an incredibly narrow set of standards of beauty. The fit and fashionableness of clothes have implications for women’s lives from the ability to meet professional or corporate wardrobe standards to being able to feel comfortable in their bodies to presenting a challenge to those beauty standards by the merest fact of being a non-standard body shape wearing edgy, new, well-fitting or fashionable clothes in public.
Are “aesthetics” a feminist issue?
An alternative title for this post was “Because wearing lipstick can be a feminist act”. I just said it a paragraph above: beauty standards. Daring to be visible in public. Add to that gender performativity and people’s choice to challenge norms or desire to blend in to make their lives that little bit easier if they need/want to. Add to that the entire area of human attraction and romance and celebrity crushes or appreciation of the physical form and our ability to challenge those things without scrapping the notion of finding other human beings fucking hot.
Are cupcakes and knitting feminist issues?
Obviously not, I mean, duh, there’s no room for reclamation of traditionally “feminine” roles and crafts. No space for a discussion of the pressures of modern life depriving people of time to really engage with the food they eat or maintain old customs or challenge that big evil capitalist system by taking charge of the means of production even in small home-cooking cottage-industry ways. We definitely don’t want to break down orthorexic messages about “bad foods” and we definitely shouldn’t prop up our mental health and self-esteem defences against the constant criticism of patriarchy by taking pride in creating things.
But what if we don’t spell out why these things are feminist issues?
Plenty of conversations about cupcakes or clothing stores don’t actually involve posts saying “I have baked cupcakes in accordance with my personal desire to bake uninfluenced by notions of proper women’s roles, for a bake sale at my children-who-have-my-surname’s school because my male life-partner was too tired after a hard day’s respecting my reproductive choices.”
Do we seriously fucking have to?**
I am a staunch fucking warrior for the feminist cause, people. I will rant at the drop of a hat or the merest sighting of a Cosmo cover, I will march, I will campaign. But sometimes I have to take a break. Sometimes people who work even harder than me, like Sady Fucking Doyle, need to take a break, and build up our reserves of stamina and anger in order to continue the fight and not burn out.
Sometimes I just want to have a fucking glass of cider with some friends, and talk shit about baking and weddings, and it’s really fucking awesome to be able to do that in a group where I am guaranteed not to encounter casual racism or homophobia or transphobia or classism or any other gratuitous exercise of privilege. It’s really fucking awesome to know I could post on a forum about hating fucking Valentine’s Day and not run the stellarly high risk of having someone fucking bingo me with “oh but you’ll feel different when you’re in a relationship” or “oh you just need to drop your man and find one who’ll treat you right.”***
And I can imagine someone coming across Emma’s, and thinking “who can I share this with without getting a dozen “oh I had that problem but then I tried X diet” or “tee hee I’m so lucky I can just buy straight off the rack at Glassons” or “do you ever try wearing your bra as a hat?”**** responses?”
And maybe they just fucking thought hey, this group of women who I know are all in Wellington and who I can probably assume will all have some understanding of basic feminist critiques of beauty standards and the fashion industry will totally want to know that there are other patriarchy-busting resources out there for those of them with this particular problem.
But fuck, I guess they just weren’t being real feminists.
*And oh my god can you BELIEVE that we might be able to disagree without me declaring Maia has lost 10 Feminist House Points?
**Statement of the fucking obvious: some places have narrow commenting policies. Some places explicitly spell out what qualifies as on- or off-topic. The owners of those places get to make those calls and as always, it’s fucking rude for anyone to declare that those policies must be changed because all feminist conversation must follow a, b, c rules. Which is why I’m a lot less cussy elsewhere and anyone trying to rehash fucking over-cooked topics is getting no linguistic mercy.
****Also true story.