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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bake Sales are a feminist issue.

Not once during our marriage has anyone expected my husband to bake something for a damn bake sale. The fact that I enjoy baking is beside the point. Sort of. I mean, I'm sure if he did enjoy baking he would gladly do it in my place, because we believe, more or less, in gender equality. On a good day*. But he would never be asked and it would definitely be a bit odd, even if no one said anything, if he did, wouldn't it? You can lie and tell me, in a superior tone of voice bien sûr, "Oh. no! Hahahahaaaa...my husband is known for his Gooey Pecan Bars! Hahahahaaaa..." Go on, lie to yourself. Pretend that the person organizing the bake sale has no pre-conceived notion about who will be doing the baking. I lie to myself all the time, so I'll give you that one.

To be honest, my main problem with the bake sale concept is the dubious economic feasibility. I spent roughly 30% more on ingredients than my goods netted in a recent bake sale. I could have written a check, saved myself the time and my darling son's choir would have earned (roughly) 30% more. Sure, it's a little cold, but what about the bottom line? I suspect the bake sale is the sort of thing Betty Friedan railed against in The Feminine Mystique. Published thirty five years ago, this book is still relevant as hell, so read it if you haven't. Also, read Nora Ephron's** Crazy Salad, a collection of her essays from Esquire. Those two books, among others, shaped my beliefs. I read Ephron's when I was ten. As an aside, what kind of parents let their ten year old read that kind of thing? Answer: Good parents, like mine,although I bet their Republican a**es are sorry now. That's what they get for teaching us how to make thoughtful decisions instead of toeing the party line. Oops! I think I read Friedan after reading Ephron's take on it. But I digress, big time. The bake sale seems like a classic opportunity for mommies to show off their economically unrewarded skills.

Is all his bitterness necessary, given that I like to cook? I think it is. To quote another favorite feminist, Ani Difranco:

"If you're not angry, you're just stupid. You don't care.
How else can you react when you know something's so unfair.
"

Here I go again, showing my age. I know where I was when I found out River Phoenix died, too. And I cried about it. Now you can probably guess my age, to the year. But let's get back to Ani, as she says two albums earlier...

"...if you're not trying
to make something better
then as far as I'm concerned,
you are just in the way."

Also true. And I'm not doing a darn thing, am I? No time, unfortunately. Too busy with the minutiae of being a lowly mommy baking. It would take far more time to stand over my husband and tell him how to bake. And it would be way too mean to rail against the inadequacy and sexism of the bake sale. Oh wait. I kind of did.

May I propose a temporary solution? Let's take the pressure down a notch. Tell people it's okay to write a check instead and mean it. Or have a father/child bake sale. I remember fondly a lopsided cake my father and I made for the Father Daughter Brownie Valentine's Party one year. Although my mother never claimed to be a feminist, she was pretty good at avoiding stuff she hated, like baking and icing heart-shaped cakes. She also had money that was only in her name. Wonder if there was a correlation...

Namasté, y'all!

* Do we really? I'm not sure. I think we do believe in gender equality, but don't believe in salary equality. He is the boss, even if only by a slim margin, of our finances, because - and this may come as a shock to you - I don't make a great deal of money. The difference is subtle. If he wants to pay extra on our mortgage, he just does it. If I want to, I have to tell/ask him to do it. Is it telling or asking? That is the question. I wonder if I would behave the same way in the breadwinner position. I wonder if I would contribute to a retirement account in his name or just pat him on the head and assure him he could share mine. For the curious, please don't worry, this one is in the process of being corrected. But I had to ask. I hate asking. interestingly, I have no qualms whatsoever about enjoying the fruits of my husband's education and labor. And I assure you that, with my education and lack of motivation, I most certainly could not make the same amount he does. And, to be really honest, I would be a controlling b*tch if I made more money.

** I love you, Nora!!!!

4 comments:

*~Dani~* said...

Ani DiFranco is my favorite feminist. Other than my cousin, I did not realize anyone still knew of her, let alone could quote her. Kudos to you. And your brownies or whatever it was that you were baking. I kinda got sidetracked by Ani.

Marianne Thomas said...

I vote for the write a check option.

I love baking because I love eating; those cookies will have a far more loving (albeit short-lived) home with me.

;)

Jane @ What About Mom? said...

There was an interesting article in NYTimes about bake sales being phased out over obesity concerns, and I thought that was sad. But then I probably just don't expect enough of my sorry excuse for a non-baking husband. (kidding, honey!!! if you're reading this!).

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/10/us/10bake.html

alex said...

if the pecan bars sound yum, that's cause they were! Thanks