Feminism & Frosting: The Bake Sale Backlash
A lot of people think there is no need for feminism, especially here in modern Australia. They don’t think the issues Australian women face really rate a mention. Things like the Gender Pay Gap, the shocking rate of domestic violence, the lack of female representation in positions of power and many more- they all just get explained away, excused and ignored.
But every now and then, something happens. A near perfect example of why feminism is still important, still needed and still relevant even in our relatively progressive society.
This week, the University of Queensland Union is holding Feminist Week, run by the UQU Women’s Collective. One of the features of Feminist Week was a Gender Pay Gap Bake Sale. This was a cake stall with an aim to inspire discussion. The price was different, depending on your gender.
Sound confusing? It was actually pretty simple. From their website:
“…each baked good will only cost you the proportion of $1.00 that you earn comparative to men (or, if you identify as a man, all baked goods with cost you $1.00!). For example, if you are a woman of colour in the legal profession, a baked good at the stall will only cost you 55 cents!”
It’s not a new idea; its been done before in various places, but it’s still a pretty clever idea- it illustrates intersectionality and flips the script on the Gender Pay Gap by making those with the highest earning potential pay a bit more than others. End result being delicious cake and a discussion about the disparity in earnings between men and women, right?
However, some male students took exception to the idea that their gender should impact their finances.
I know, I know- my heart is breaking for them as I type. Why should anyone be worse off in any way due to their gender? Cake is serious business. Everybody loves a sweet treat every now and then. Bake sales have been the highlight of many a young person’s educational years and that should not stop just because they’ve progressed to university. So how can we justify even a single bake sale that may mean a male student has less access to cake than a female student? How can we as a society permit a cake-based fundraiser that allows a person of colour have any sort of advantage?
This isn’t equality!
No, it’s not equality. That was the whole point! A demonstration of inequality! Pretty basic, really. However, the outrage some people felt was so huge that it blocked their view of the actual point. All they could see was how awful these bake sale women were being towards men. So they jumped online to give voice to that outrage and engage in valiant discourse.
Some quoted from the Sex Discrimination Act and the Racial Discrimination Act, while others argued that it shouldn’t be allowed because the Gender Pay Gap (that well-documented thing showing that Australian women earn less on average than men for the same work across the country) isn’t even real.In response to this cake stall, men rallied to the fore to fight for their rights. They outlined their complaints, quoted legislation and refused to be oppressed or disadvantaged on the basis of gender. Just like feminists are always doing, right? Women like us are always speaking up about inequalities and injustices they are subjected to.
It’s kind of like the fact that a group of (mostly) men decided (and continues to decide) that women should pay GST on sanitary items. Sanitary items are arguably more essential than a cupcake, in my personal opinion, but by taxing pads and tampons as non-essential luxury items, it is obvious that the government doesn’t think so. We have tried protesting and petitions and letters to politicians and no success so far. When none of that worked for us, we took the next logical step by sending rape and death threats to the relevant politicians, right?
Of course we bloody didn’t.
I have signed petitions to get the GST removed. I have written letters. I have written about it here. But it has never, ever occurred to me that the best way to get the government to listen to me is to threaten them with rape and murder.
However, men who were faced with the prospect of paying a few cents more for a piece of cake did just that. Not content with voicing their disagreement or demonstrating it by simply not attending the bake sale, some took it upon themselves to personally threaten bake sale organisers. Apparently, many of the vitriolic threats came from men who don’t even attend the university. Men who were so outraged at the injustice their uni-going brethren were being exposed to that they
stalked tracked down the email accounts, facebook profiles and (in one instance) even the phone number of the women involved to threaten them with sexual violence and bodily harm.
Yes, you read that correctly. The idea of a man experiencing a tiny sample of life as someone who is disadvantaged due to their gender ignited such anger and outrage that some of them were moved to threaten strangers with rape and murder. The disproportionate anger and vitriol made the bake sale international news because there’s nothing like $1 cupcake to bring out one’s inner raging misogynist, it seems.
Could someone please explain to me why we apparently don’t need feminism?
#FYBF @ With Some Grace.