A few days ago, popular feminist(ish) blog Jezebel published a rant titled “Fuck Cupcakes.” If it was some elaborate form of satire, I am about to be sorely embarrassed.
To summarize the post, Jezebel staff writer Katie Baker thinks cupcakes represent femininity, capitalism, and for some reason, “a vagina and the female orgasm.” Thus, their downfall (which she judges by a Wall Street Journal article about the crash of the cupcake industry) is a “a victory for feminism.”
Woah. Now, unless I really screw up and speak without thinking (as I do much more frequently than I’d like), I will never question a person’s right to feel personally oppressed by anything in our society. Different strokes, right? Everyone has their own baggage and issues to deal with. If something non-traditional or seemingly harmless factors into your personal equation somehow, who am I to judge? But once you post an article on a well-read news(ish) site with a sub header “The death of the cupcake is a victory for womankind” you better back that up somehow because now you’re speaking for me.
Now, it’s clear the author takes some personal issue with cupcakes: she writes, “the cupcake represents everything I am not but often wish I could be: domestic, meticulous, modest, sweet.” I can roll with that. Most of the time I don’t embody the femininity that society sometimes forces on me either. But this is also pretty much the only way Baker links cupcakes to women and femininity, and it’s not a very good link. I mean, you know what else is sweet? Mountain Dew. You know what else is small and cute? Doxins. Sliders. NAA Guardian Pistols (adorbs!)
Her other problem seems to be that cupcakes “represent capitalism” because there are successful cupcake businesses that trade expensive stock. I’m sorry, but pretty much everything you buy with money from a stockholder-owned corporation represents capitalism. That’s kind of how it works. Also, if you’re not going to even mention how you think a capitalist system is harmful, why bring it up?
Possibly the most ridiculous part of the article is where the author tells us that in addition to feminine domesticity, cupcakes are also “a symbol for both a vagina and the female orgasm.” First of all, she pulls this idea from another equally subjective article about cupcakes published in Jezebel last year (what is with all the cupcake hate you guys?) I don’t know if most people realize this, but if you make outlandish statements and cite them, they are still outlandish statements. “My colleague said so!” is not a credible source because last time I checked, Jezebel is not peer reviewed. Second of all, how are cupcakes like the female orgasm? They are things we need more of in this world? They are surrounded by misinformation? SOME PEOPLE THINK THEY ARE MYTHICAL? I aced AP LIT back in the day, but I’m missing the symbolism here.
Like I said before, if Fuck Cupcakes turns out to be a masterful satire of contemporary, mainstream, #firstworldproblems feminism, then I will apologize on bended knee. But for now, I object to this piece because articles like this make skeptics take feminism less seriously. They are designed to snag readers, not discuss issues. To me, feminism represents the chance to talk about very real social pressures on women, reproductive rights, rape culture, the intersectionality of women and racism and socioeconomic status. There is room for humor but not for making sweeping statements for all of womankind about how we’re oppressed by cupcakes. What do you think this does to my credibility when I’m arguing with my conservative relatives about why we still need affirmative action or how the media’s response to the Steubenville case perpetuated rape culture?
I’m all for reading things into the way our society works. I’m all for dismantling patriarchal oppression in as many different contexts as I can find them. But sometimes, a cupcake really is just a cupcake.
Photos from bubblews.com, imperialscatering.com, thecupcakeblog.com