Where do snark, Jell-O fit into the feminist conversation?

Firstly, in light of what happened in Connecticut yesterday, a lot of this post seems trivial, but outside a tragedy that unites us in our grief, it remains an interesting discussion of feminism and food, therefore relevant to this space.

When I read the food stories in this month’s Bust magazine, I skipped over the lead homemade Thin Mint piece and went straight to the boozy gelatin recipe from Austin blogger Casey Grim, who writes Modern Gelatina, a blog dedicated to cocktail-inspired gelatin dishes. I’ve never actually made one of her projects, but I’ve been a fan since stumbling across her site back in 2010. In the Bust bios this month, I read that she scored a book deal, so I wanted to see what she wrote so I could post something here to congratulate her on both the publication of the recipe in Bust and the book.

But before I got around to that, Casey (and those chocolate-covered Ritz “Thin Mints”) were the focus of a Twitter spat-turned-discussion between Kate Payne, a local author whom I’ve befriended over the years, and Bust editor Debbie Stoller. (I don’t know that Debbie was behind every single tweet, but I think most of them were hers.)

This tweet from Payne started it all:


She blogged about the exchange a few days later, but the conversation continued into this past week. It touched on the anti-feminist values of Big Food, whether or not we as feminists should be promoting quick-fix foods of the 50s and 60s and which “traditional” food/foodways/recipes/techniques are worth reviving in today’s DIY world.

I sent a few tweets early in the week, mostly trying to remind everyone involved that just because we’re not going to agree on everything doesn’t mean that we have to be snarky or rude when we express dissent.

Kate apologized for her initial tone, but Bust never expressed any remorse for their sarcastic retort.

This post isn’t an attempt to choose sides and say whether one person/side was “right” or “wrong” but merely to acknowledge that there are significantly different opinions over what kinds of food feminists should celebrate and that I don’t think these differences should create such a divide among an already splintered community.

Just imagine if every meat-hating feminist was actively combative to every meat-eating feminist simply because the carnivorous one refused to get behind the tenets of a book like “The Sexual Politics of Meat.” What if a canning, chicken-raising, stay-at-home homesteader refused to befriend a company executive just because the career-focused woman didn’t have any interest in putting up her own applesauce?

These scenarios extend beyond food, of course — I recently discovered that a new friend, who is also a baker in town, teaches (and blogs about) pole dancing — but there has to be a way to say, “I disagree with you, but I respect your values and perspective.”

That’s not nearly as fun (or cathartic or provocative) as tweeting or saying something a little more off the cuff, but there’s enough drama in this world already. (See note at the top of this post.)

When so many women refuse to even identify as feminists, we shouldn’t spend so much of our time getting defensive when we could simply blog/tweet/say our constructive criticism and get on with our work. I still think Bust should have apologized to Kate for its unnecessarily rude response, but I also think that Bust has done a lot of good work for our generation of feminists. I’m not inclined to pull my support of them over a Ritz cracker and a few poorly thought-out tweets.

We still live in a world where Anne Hathaway has to field ridiculous slut-shaming questions about some dick photographer’s decision to sell a photo of her crotch and where girls on a softball team go to celebrate the game at Hooters.

I guess it’s just my (perhaps naive) nature to be the one to say, “Can’t we all just get along?” but it’s important to take a step back and recognize that we have some very big fish to fry and perhaps we shouldn’t use too much salt along the way.

3 responses to “Where do snark, Jell-O fit into the feminist conversation?

  1. Loved this post. It reminds me of a comment I sometimes get on my work – it’s not “feminist enough” because it focuses on soft news. There should not be shades or levels of feminism. And, Anne Hathaway’s response simply rocked.

  2. Thank you Addie for your thoughtful response to the jello/feminism debate – my respect for you continues to grow. As a vocal and proud feminist, I was surprised my recipe in a feminist magazine would have this result, but I see where other people are coming from. Gelatin continues to be a divisive food.

  3. I think you make good points Addie; there are so many types of feminists out there and I think it’s important that we try not to attack each other over differences of opinion. Thanks for weighing in here and on Twitter during the conversation.

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