Bake sales for women’s rights?

Planned Parenthood is benefiting from bake sales to protect women’s reproductive healthcare. A wine bar in Somerville is offering $12 glasses of rose to underwrite abortions in Alabama, where the uterus is apparently now in the public domain.

Am I supposed to celebrate or pull out my hair? The answer is … yes.

It’s crazy that we’re resorting to nickel-and-dime (now $5-and-$10) schemes to insure a basic right. It smacks of the outrage I feel about teachers paying for school supplies out of their own pockets.

And yet, it’s all hands on deck. All contributions are welcome if we want to support pro-choice candidates in 2020 and pay the army of civil rights lawyers required to fight the encroaching threat to life and liberty for half the population. We may need to cover medical and travel costs for women whose zip codes now deny them the right to choose. Some are already stockpiling supplies of Plan B, the morning-after contraceptive.

There’s nothing wrong with having fun. In fact, it’s essential. As radical feminist Emma Goldman once said, “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be in your revolution.” Happy hours and bake sales build community and provide a safety valve in a 24-hour news cycle that delivers a whole lot of terrifying news.

Eating and drinking, baking and serving: this wave of retro solidarity expresses a proud and self-aware appropriation of things once deemed trivial because women did them. Sisters unite! Why settle for hot dogs and beer when you can have brownies and French wine? My palate, my wine selection.

Radical domesticity — power to the spatula — honors the invisible and trivialized work of the mothers and grandmothers who kept us alive. It also celebrates the talent, creativity and entrepreneurship of women who carry those traditions forward at home and in the marketplace.

It would be easy enough to dismiss all this cake and pink wine as “cute.” Cute is not always an insult. I use “cute” without irony to describe, for example, my friend’s cool new shoes and babies. (Also, have you seen a picture of my dog?)

But when applied to grown women, cute equals powerless. Would you call Serena Williams cute? Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg? Beyoncé? I dare you.

It would be similarly unwise to use “cute” to describe the pussy hat, which made its debut in the protest marches after Trump’s election.

When worn by infants and toddlers, pussy hats are genuinely and sweetly cute. But on grown women, they said, “Hell no. My pussy hat, my lady body.”

Those little hats smacked the smirk off the P word.

Most of those hats were homemade — a nod to an ancient feminine art and a grassroots symbol. Patterns were shared online. Those who knew how to knit whipped up scores for friends who did not. Solidarity forever.

Choosing pink reclaimed a lovely shade that flatters many skin tones, and gave muscle to a soft, not to say flaccid, hue. In hindsight, women would have been better served and represented had we made those hats in a rainbow of colors. As one protest sign said, “60% of white women voted for Trump.”

’m not sure how I’d feel about a Manicure Marathon for Choice. But I’d probably buy a ticket for a fashion show featuring the best in statement t-shirts. Like this one from a Planned Parenthood chapter in Kansas:

If you raise your hand
to my sister, you will feel
the weight of us all.

In case you missed it, that little haiku contains a threat: Mess with my sisters in Louisiana, or anywhere, and you risk the wrath of us here in Massachusetts (et al.).

Nancy Pelosi has been so angry for so long, she’s like a tempered steel sword. And she is a loving grandmother and a Catholic who prays for the president. Emotional multi-tasking is a skill that women mastered long ago.

Hell hath no fury like the heat that’s currently rising from a nation brimming with scorned, smart and smart-mouthed women.

We carry everything we need wherever we go: tissues, cough drops, a copy of the Constitution, tampons, lipstick, cell phones and voter registration forms.

Ready and set.

Posted June 4, 2019 on Cognoscenti

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