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A Purplestocking Rants….

August 24, 2008

No photos today, but I will do a photo update in the next day or two.

In a couple of online communities I’m in, this article from Friday’s Guardian has been causing a bit of an uproar – Do Good Feminists Bake Cupcakes?

Apparently, according to this article, the recent resurge in interest in afternoon tea, knitting and baking is viewed by many who take part as subversive and ironic…well, actually, I enjoy all of those and more…

Lets see, I bake, cook, sew, knit, embroider and enjoy the various pleasures of feminity (well,as much as I can) but I am still a feminist (or should that be equalitist?) and theres nothing in my actions that is ironic and subversive. I’d crochet as well if I could ever actually get the hang of it, but Ifear that, is probably a lost cause! I like Cath Kidston stuff because its nice and its got a nice vintage edge to it, in a world that all melamine and pine cupboards.

Why should my believing in equality negate my being able to enjoy these things?

I happen to adore afternoon tea, especially with friends. I am planning a small one this week when a friend comes over for the afternoon and I’ve spend the last couple of days deciding what biscuits to make and which of the mismatched china to use.My prize charity shop find in the last week or so is a a two tier cake stand – I’ve needed one for a while.

Its a chance to sit and relax for a while, get away from the rush of everyday life and its demands and just be yourself and you know what, to just feel a little bit special.

One of the reasons I love to do all of these things is that it gives me more control into what is going into what I am making, and it also gives me an immense sense of satisifaction and pride to know that I made it, that it was my effort that produced it.

Yes, all these tasks are seen as domestic and to be honest, it doesn’t bother me. In the last few days I have knitted my first ever pair of socks, attended my fortnightly knitting group, nattered about sewing clothes, researched fabric sources, pored over recipe books,  made my first batch of home made tomato and basil soup, and started planning what to take with me when I go to stay with a friend in cornwall for a week of sewing, crafting, baking and afternoon tea.

For years I took the view of all this things in some way negating my need for equality, as if by performing these frankly enjoyable tasks I was some how less of a feminist but you know what? No one (and especially journalists dangnabbit!) is going to tell me what I can and can’t do. I’ve seen enough of that in my life and its sure as hell going to stop here.

Part of the ruckus this seems to be installing is that people are worried that people will start seeing these things as soley feminine tasks again, and I can see the point of the arguement, but all this things are part of the pleasurable side of domesticity. No one is forcing us to do them and no one is expecting them of us. We do them because we enjoy them.

( I was greatly amused to watch one of the threads I was reading re this idea become a discussion of peoples favourite baking recipes 🙂 )

Now, I’m off to the kitchen, because I have biscuits/cookies to bake and butternut squash and spinach soup to make for the freezer, then I plan to have a nice afternoon knitting while watching F1 with a nice cup of tea. After that, I may play computer games for a while but I’ll probably write a letter to a lovely friend who enjoys these things too!

This is who I am and I happen to be proud of it.

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2 comments

  1. I understand the idea of wanting to separate yourself from what could be perceived as the symbols of something you don’t want people to assume you are. But, in my mind, most feminists don’t go about this in a way that is… inauspicious.

    Burning bras for example. Have you ever gone for an extended period of time without some kind of support? Have you ever felt how wonderful it is to wear a properly fitted one? OMG it’s glorious. Burn the old ones yes, they’re uncomfortable and probably bad for circulation. But don’t expect me to join you and go without if you can’t be bothered to come up with something better!

    There are these two books, The Dangerous Book for Boys and The Daring Book for Girls.

    The boys book came out first and is full of all the sorts of fun and “dangerous” things kids did when I was a kid such as building tree houses and slinshots and so on. The book cover is red.

    The girls book came later and it’s thankfully not pink (the cover is light blue actually).

    A friend got me the boys book for my birthday because she said, “The girls book is full of stuff like crochet and (names two or three other things I would be interested in) and that didn’t sound fun at all. So I got you the boys book.”

    I looked in the boy’s book and it contained everything I needed to know about stuff I already knew how to do or had done as a child. And no information about things I would be interested in as an adult. (Well, okay navigation and making cloth fire proof are pretty cool.

    I was kind of annoyed by this but I didn’t say anything, ’cause she meant well. I’m keeping the book though, because I assume I’m going to have kids at some point.


  2. hear hear!!! well said!!



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