C is for (Feminist) Cookie
I've been a feminist for at least two decades, and I'm pretty passionate about gender equality. But there's one thing that I may have loved even longer: cookies. Yes, chocolate chip (especially the soft kind, although under certain circumstances a hard one is better) make my heart race. Peanut butter cookies make my mouth water. A tender sugar cookie with sprinkles? I am in love. When I moved to New York City, I met black and white cookies. At the holidays, my Jewish palate craves Christmas cookies. It turns out that there is a special link between feminism and cookies. I love the "feminist cookie."*
While discussing Joss Whedon's work, Jennifer Kesler at The Hathor Legacy defines (for me, anyway) what a "feminist cookie" is:
When we talk about whether someone deserves a feminist cookie, what we're asking is not so much whether they did a good thing or are a nice person as whether or not they deserve accolades for whatever they’ve done. No one deserves accolades for being a feminist, even if they’re really awesome at it – feminism is the belief that women and men are equal, and that belief should be a base requirement for human beings. People should get accolades for doing work that furthers the cause of equality...
I believe that like mainstream cookies, feminist cookies can be very tasty. In a flickr photostream, sajbrfem says that they talk about feminist cookies all the time, and that "sometimes a metaphorical cookie is not enough so I made a batch" and photographed them. Each cookie has a message, like "Not a Rapist" or "Thinks women are people."
Palimpsest at Secondary Refuse wrote that a recent report she wrote for a faculty meeting got her "thinking about hidden service costs. Case in point: cookies." See, in many workplaces, female staff will spend hours making homemade treats for potluck staff gatherings while males tend to bring store-bought items. Palimpsest loves cooking, but after a co-worker stayed up all cooking for a staff event, she "promise[d] never to bring anything to a faculty event that I hadn't bought at a store. She called this her 'feminist statement' (hence, 'feminist cookies')."
(This reminds me, actually, of a recent story in The New York Times about how moms are burning out from all the volunteer work they do at their kids' schools. Women - whether we work or not - are repeatedly asked and even expected to do certain work for free. Many women feel that "the system preys on maternal guilt and that it creates a sense that a mother’s worthiness is measured in how many hours she puts in at her children’s schools." As a result, women are scaling back, or as I like to think of it, eating their feminist cookies instead of just baking them for others.)
This holiday season, while I unabashedly cram cookies into my maw, I will try not to think about the number of calories I am consuming. Instead, I will consider each cookie's potential to be a feminist statement. Who made the cookie and why? What can I do to ensure that the cookie bakers of the world have decent living standards? (As opposed to what happened Stell D'Oro factory workers went on strike and rather than pay the workers fairly, the factory was closed. I used to love Stella D'Oro because my grandparents gave them to me when I was a child, but now I realize that they are not feminist cookies and thus taste awful.) In the new year, I hope that more and more people earn feminist cookies.
*Perhaps this explains my love for Samoas Girl Scout Cookies, although these are, as feminist cookies tend to be, controversial. (A delicious way to empower young women, lesbian, baby-killing feminist militia treats, or capitalist exploitation of child labor? You decide.)
Photo Credit: Sajbrfem.