02 July 2011

Cupcaeks and Ponys and Chainsaws and GUNZ

Just twat this with my twitter:
It's great being male. I can bake whatever the fuck I want without making any kind of a statement about my attitude to feminism.
and got pointed to this article by this lady.

It's a weird article. It links to this blog post, which starts off vaguely feminist but (seriously) turns into a venomous diatribe against "cold, indifferent", "eerily reptilian and unfeeling" non-bleeding birds. It advises young women on their posture and punctuation. It's also peppered with stereotypes about adult women and men:
Let him take you out on a date, maybe not on a walk or an Xbox session, even if you are, God help you, addicted to LA Noire. Meet your friend for wine instead of fro-yo one night.
Apparently women only play video games as a favour to men, and I never had to drag my ex off Spellforce 2: Shadow Wars at any point in our time together. When two women get drunk together, they under no circumstances drink bitter. And old women are, of course, unseamly:
Nobody's asking you to be matronly. Laura Bush is no longer in the public eye-as I write this, she's cheerfully douching somewhere far away, in private. You can make your own modern womanhood-there's no need to fear the dowager.
And it's just generally got this air about it of screaming "YOU'RE THE WRONG KIND OF WOMAN" at anyone she thinks is too childish.

Anyway, I'll concede. Cupcakes are bollocks. I hate the texture of icing and the sound of meringue is like fingernails on a blackboard to me. But cooking and eating cake are both highly enjoyable pastimes, and this may go some way to explain the motives of cupcake feminists. Rather than this theory
It's all to the same ends— women are trying to broadcast to men that we won't bite their dicks off. It's just that now, instead of lipstick, we're wearing glittery lip gloss, or that shit you get in the drug store that tastes like Dr. Pepper.
I suspect that, in a manner similar to the sex-positive branch of feminism, a key factor underlying the tendency to bake cupcakes is because creating and devouring delicious foodstuffs is a fucking brilliant hobby.

Besides, you want to see the infantilisation of men. Girls, you're way, WAY behind. The fact is, I don't see My Little Pony being made into a multi-million dollar film-franchise, and this might be because women are infantilising themselves to mirror us. So why do we do it? Well, it's partly a reaction to pop-feminism. If women are all intelligent and mature and serious and career-oriented, then surely manly qualities are silliness, childishness, pisstaking and neglecting work for Call of Duty 2. The pantomime drag of masculinity sends women a message saying "Look! I am a heterosexual! If you were to fancy me, there is a serious possibility I would reciprocate. Therefore consider me from the outset as a potential sexual partner". Which is handy. Capitalism associates maturity with professionalism and ambition, so the best retreat from your soul-crushing job is retreat into childhood. Also, and perhaps most importantly, it's fun.

The thing is, for someone who describes herself as "in general, a Funny Lady", Julie Klausner is taking this whole process very seriously. Most people who actually take part in it don't. Probably the best example of this is Hyperbole and a Half. Much of the time, it's hilariously, heartbreakingly cute. But it's also peppered with supermanly awesome, not just to take the piss, but also terrifying monsters and death blood killing attacks. It's self-infantilising, deliberately, consciously and to both genders to the point where it's often hard to distinguish one from the other. And it's funny, because irony and stuff.

And, as I constantly blather on about, irony means a lot more than we give it credit for. One of the most pathetic, wrong-headed, essentialising things I've seen for a while was the Real Men Don't Buy Girls campaign, and look how much mockery of traditional masculinity they deploy in their mildly amusing videos. The campaign genuinely seems to believe in Real Manly Manhood for Actual Real Men as something worth aspiring to and a serious way of promoting a serious issue, but still ironises images of masculinity through hyperbole. It's also a keystone of German humour. The reason we can get away with it, the reason Ashton Kutcher can entrench prescriptive masculinity while simultaneously sending it up, the reason a German can call you a big girl's blouse while mocking the entire concept of big girl's blousehood, is because it's part of the game. Perhaps more so in America than here in the Kingdom of the Sarcastic Understatement, but ridiculous hyperbole is a masculine quality going back as far as the Mesopotamians. Irony, flippancy and not taking your sexuality seriously are all straight masculine qualities. Women are disadvantaged by it. Queers struggle to accept and define it. Transpeople reject it yet still have it nailed to them against their will. But if you're a boy who knobs girls, gender identity is all good clean fun.

The fact that women are not acting like Serious Grown-Up Feminists, that they're dabbling in pastel-pink, cinnamon-dusted, kitten-soaked femininity is not necessarily a sign of disadvantage. If anything, it shows confidence, like gay men who publicly and semi-ironically play up their gayness. It shows women no longer have to assert themselves by taking womanhood seriously. They're joining men on the fun, flippant side of the gender binary because, well, it's a lot better than the serious, professional one. Though I'm still not sure if it's all a good thing. Do we joke about it because we're all so mature about sexuality these days that nobody takes it entirely seriously? Or have we just updated our model of gender to allow ourselves room to arse about exaggerating, so long as the underlying message of Men Are Tough and Women Are Pretty gets through? Anyway, I suppose the moral of the story is this:

If you like cupcakes and enjoy cookery, bake cupcakes. If you dislike either, don't. Ignore feminism.

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