Feminism F.A.Q.s: What is “Girlie Feminism”?

by | November 5, 2012
filed under Feminism

Feminism FAQs Title Screenby Jarrah Hodge

Time for another episode of Feminism F.A.Q.s. This one is – I hope – pretty straightforward. It defines “girlie feminism”, which is closely related to the ideas of “cupcake feminism” and “lipstick feminism” and takes a quick look at the related debate among feminists.

Overall, it’s one thing to celebrate the hobbies you love to do and to bring feminism into that, but on the whole, expressing feminism through crafting or baking isn’t a substitute for key feminist struggles such as those for reproductive rights or against the gender binary, poverty and the wage gap. That doesn’t mean that individual feminists should feel bad about honestly liking and valuing traditionally feminine activities.

Transcript after the jump:


Hi. I’m Jarrah Hodge, editor of the Canadian feminist blog Gender Focus. Welcome to Feminism F.A.Q.s, where I try to answer questions and clear up myths about feminism. Today: What is “girlie feminism”? “Girlie Feminism” is a term closely related to “lipstick feminism” or “cupcake feminism”, which was coined by Amy Richards and Jennifer Baumgardner in their 2000 book Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism and the Future to refer to a group of mostly younger women who embrace feminist politics at the same time as traditionally feminine or girlie pastimes.

The authors say that “girlie feminism” is a way of valuing elements of a traditionally female life that have been looked down upon by society in general, such as cooking, crafting, and fashion.

However, some feminists fear that girlie feminism is just “feminism lite”, promoted by some in order to make feminism more palatable to the masses.

For example, Meryl Trussler at The Quietus says the acts and crafts being picked up by cupcake feminists are over-marketed, saying that the retro girlie image comes across as as “more nostalgic than ironic.”

I don’t think of it as that negative necessarily, but I do hope that it’s not seen as the only kind of feminism that’s out there. For one thing, it takes lots time and money to be able to make something like baking or crafting your hobby.

Which means that whatever image is out there of a “girlie feminist” ideal is going to be created mostly by white women with class privilege.

In the interest of transparency, I could probably be considered a “cupcake feminist”. I like crafting, baking, cooking and I even made a cupcake with a marzipan vagina on top at a party in university.

But to me it’s not so much about whether those activities are feminist or not – it’s just that I like doing them and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Feminists – like everyone – fall on a continuum of gender expression and your feminist cred is based on your belief in and support for gender equality, not whether or not you shave your legs or wear lipstick or play football or fix cars or bake cupcakes or knit.


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