Many thanks to Rachel Rayner for this guest post, resulting from a conversation we were having on twitter about just this very topic.
you all for coming to this very important feminist debate. We have a
panel of female politicians, discussing very important women's issues
before the upcoming election. And we made CUPCAKES!"
did this happen? The cupcake, a symbol of the Sex In The City brand of
feminism has been fully embraced by the more sincere, unshaven,
blog-reading feminist public. What was once a delight, an excuse to eat
calories (calories!) guilt free because it's a cupcake and you deserve
it has become a mandatory part of any feminist event.
of this is simply good hospitality. Breaking bread with friends is
truly a wonderful thing, and a cuppa tea and something sweet makes any
event flow more smoothly. The problem is that cupcakes are a faff.
They're more labour-intensive than asparagus rolls, and more difficult
to transport than biscuits. They're not fairy-cakes, those simple, rock
hard little things, smeared with icing and splattered with sprinkles: a
cupcake is an immense wodge of cake, topped with a swirl of pastel
icing. The icing is sickly sweet, the cake is bland and dry. The paper
casing flakes off in skin-like clumps as the still apron-clad baker
watches closely. Do you like it? It’s a new recipe. I bought the edible
are representative of privilege in ways that barely need explaining.
Even the simplest recipes take hours to pull together, and assumes
access to ingredients and money to buy them; some level of skill;
tolerance to gluten; and an environment rich with mixing bowls, muffin
tins and those little paper cases. While this is arguably a pretty low
hurdle (thrifty recipes which don’t call for butter or eggs! No-fail
cake mixes! Just buy some damn cupcakes and call it a day!), any
privilege creates cliques and excludes those outside it.
sometimes a fine line between sincerity and irony. We can ironically
embrace cupcakes and high heels and foofy skirts and all the rest - it's
when heels become mandatory and cupcakes a chore that it's a problem.
Spending hours and hours in the kitchen can be a delight, it’s true, but
when cupcakes are baked not out of choice, but to meet the expectations
of others, we’ve circled around to a place I thought we’d left behind.
the pervasiveness of cupcakes that irritates me. Your discourse is
still valid without sprinkles. If baking is your thing, by all means,
bake. It can be relaxing, meditative, and delicious baked goods are a
wonderfully concrete way to express affection. But let’s leave behind
cupcakes for cupcakes sake. Put the jug on, and open a packet of