The SFWeekly Dislikes Cake

The SF Weekly has a very long article on the Cake movement… and bits of it have me shaking my head. Overall, it gives a negative view of the Cake women, and suggests that they’re not “real” feminists.

Having just written a huge post about the way some feminists make assumptions about other women’s motivations and intelligence, I now see a fine example of this mindset in that article.

Take for example this comment by Pamela Paul, author of Pornified:

“I think it’s a very twisted way of looking at women’s liberation to assume that every step towards aping men is a step forward,” Paul says. “I think women are kidding themselves. They talk about owning something, empowering yourself. You can talk about all of that, but if I go out and eat 20,000 Big Macs, am I owning McDonald’s? Am I empowering my body by co-opting it myself? It doesn’t make any sense.”

Erm, Pamela… has it ever occurred to you that women might be doing something off their own bat? That they may not necessarily be “aping men” – or if they are, it’s done in a very self-aware, possibly ironic way? Again, we see this awfully condescending attitude, this “academic feminist knows best” platform.


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And I’m kind of disturbed by this statement from author Rebecca Whisnant:

“Feminism is not necessarily about doing what’s good for you — hopefully it will be good for you. But it’s about considering the implications of your choices and everybody’s choices for women in general.”

Wow, I can’t wait until the anti-abortionists get hold of that one.

So… feminism is all about choice – unless its a choice that conservative feminists don’t consider to be truly feminist.

What next? All feminists are equal, unless of course you don’t really know your own mind, are “aping men” and aren’t following the official script as to what constitutes correct female sexuality.

There’s also this parting shot by the article’s author:

“…It may be that we’re not as far along in the story as Gallagher thinks, and that when real female sexual empowerment comes along, it will look quite different.”

Ah yes. REAL female sexual empowerment.

As decided by whom?

Violet Blue had this to say:

“The article wasn’t really about Cake, but was instead a grandstand for the writer to promote her views on women and porn, her extremely negative perceptions about sex workers, and make some seriously sweeping judgments about women who go to (and enjoy) events like Cake parties.”

And Rachel Kramer Bussel said this:

“The way this writer and Ariel Levy make it sound, you can’t have your CAKE and be a feminist too; it’s one or the other, stripper or President, as opposed to viewing a little more accurately how our sexuality and sexual self-esteem can actually empower us in other areas of our lives. Even if they don’t, we’re all entitled to a healthy, fulfilling sex life, and the idea that there’s some way “feminist sex” should or shouldn’t be is outdated and ludicrious and almost always close-minded.”

The SFWeekly article hints at a new war among feminists about porn and female sexuality, and it is a discussion that’s worth having. The unfortunate thing is that I think we could be covering old ground. Books like Rene Denfield’s The New Victorians successfully pointed out this puritanical, rigid way of thinking among the old guard of anti-porn feminists, and the arguments I see in that article look wearily familiar.

In any case, the best response to this article is from Cake founder Emily Kramer in SFist. It’s all worth reading, but I really liked this comment:

“If you only see “raunch” in this new generation of sexually expressive women — you give credence to conservatives who believe that women shouldn’t have access to the HPV vaccine because female sexuality is a dangerous thing to promote.”

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