Look out, Gloria Steinem. Get out of the way, Susan B. Anthony. Go suck an egg, Betty Friedan. There’s a new gang of feminists in town—and they’ve got a rolling pin, and they know how to use it. I refer, of course, to the local chapter of the American Association of University Women who last week fought centuries of oppression and unequal treatment by … baking. It’s true that an older—some might say more effective—generation of feminists fought long and hard to liberate their sex from the kitchen. But all the bigwig politicians know when you want to make an important point, you take off the boxing gloves and put on an oven mitt.
They articulated their disappointment over wage disparities by giving free cookies to San Luis Obispo City Council members. Again, I’m doubting the effectiveness of their point. The kicker was that the cookies were only “three-quarters of normal size,” as very seriously reported by the Trib in “Women’s sweet treat to make bitter point about wage disparity to SLO’s City Council.” I see what you did there, Bob Cuddy, with the contrast between sweet and bitter, but one is a flavor and the other is a political message!
If it were me, I’d make a pun about cookies and fair wages being apples and oranges—see what I did there, with food? Oh yeah, and I’d also balk at giving so much play to what was essentially a tea party for grown-ups. Maybe next week Atheists United will get pissed about public prayer at city council meetings, and I’ll bring my teddy bear for Darjeeling and cucumber sandwiches. I guess this is what you get when you live in a town where back rubs and handies qualify as legitimate political protest.
I would have loved to have been in the room during that brain-storming session: “We’re really mad about pay disparity! What communicates rage? What says, ‘I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore?’”
“Do you think that statement might be a bit strong? I mean, you did use the H-E-double hockey sticks word. Now, I’m mad. I’d like to receive wages equal to a man, but I’d like a message that says, ‘I’m mad, but I probably will continue to take it because the truth is I’m not equipped for the kind of commitment true social change requires.’”
“I have to make cookies for my son’s bake sale. I can just double the batch and we’ll present munchies to the SLO City Council!”
According to this scenario, anyone genuinely committed to social change had long since left the room. They were out looking for more legitimate expressions of anger—like Chia Pets and Peeps.
Irony could be an argument in their defense, but how many levels of message are we supposed to wade through? I like my protests like I like my cake: single layer, thank you.
What really baffles me is how the hell the City Council members were supposed to know their cookies were only three-quarters size. Cookies aren’t like footballs; there’s no regulation size.
It seems to me that the only point the AAUW is making is reinforcing gender stereotypes. Which raises the question: Which university did they attend? Was Martha Stewart by any chance a professor there? Was the word culinary in the title? Or did you all just major in home ec?
That might sound harsh, but if they’re going to bake cookies every time they feel discriminated against, I suspect SLO County is going to get a lot more sexist.
“You want to vote? Whip up a batch and we’ll talk, and don’t be stingy with the peanut butter this time.”
“You want the right to own your own land? Eh, we could give you that right. Or you could throw together some snickerdoodles.”
Essentially they’ve turned women’s rights into a joke.
Don’t get me wrong: If ever there was a time for women to fight tooth and nail for their rights, it’s now. Conservative commentators—well, one really vile one, at least, who is still being aired locally—are running around calling women sluts for asserting their right to access to contraception. Virginia, Georgia, New Hampshire, and Idaho—and about a half-dozen other states I’m probably not even aware of—are trying to cut off access to abortion through various roundabout—and downright intrusive—clauses, such as one requiring women to get a transvaginal ultrasound, which is exactly as horrifying as it sounds, in the hopes that humiliation will change women’s minds about abortion. Federal legislators had the gall to assemble a house oversight committee comprised entirely of men to discuss women’s reproductive issues.
In Afghanistan, women are essentially under a constant state of government-imposed house arrest, and in Southeast Asia they’re often the victims of acid attacks. And you’re empowering yourself with measuring cups and flour?
Your rights, your bodies, your privileges as adult individuals to dictate the terms of your medical care and rights are on the line. The attack on women’s rights has escalated from battle to no-holds-barred war, and you’re cracking eggs in the kitchen when you should be cracking heads in Washington, D.C. I’m sure while Alice Paul was outside the White House picketing for her right to vote, you would have been around the corner serving three-quarter cups of tea to local bigwigs.
Congratulations AAUW, you’ve accomplished the impossible with your ankle-deep foray into politics: You’ve managed to make the local Occupy movement look effective—at least until they decide to bring out the big guns and serve local politicians homemade apple pie or strudel. Maybe served in 99-percent-sized pieces?
Shredder likes oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Send crumbs to firstname.lastname@example.org.