How to Make Feminist Gingerbread
This recipe is adapted from my book Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break and is intended to help you smash the patriarchy this holiday season. If you want to use a vegan and gluten-free version instead, you can find those ingredients here.
5 tablespoons (2.5 ounces, 71 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup (3.5 ounces, 99 grams) organic, natural cane sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons cardamom seeds, crushed
1 tablespoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups (5 ounces/141 grams to 6 ounces/170 grams) organic white whole wheat flour + more for rolling out
1/4 (60 milliliters) cup water
Get a mixing bowl out. Put the butter, sugar and molasses in it.
Think about a moment in the last few weeks when you have experienced some form of sexism/racism/xenophobia/transphobia. If you are a white male, ask someone who is not a white male how they have experienced one of these things in the last few weeks. And also, thank you for being a male that’s on our team. Remember: feminism is for everyone, feminism is freedom.
Use your rage to vigorously cream together the butter, sugar and molasses. Add the spices and baking soda and keep stirring until creamy and well blended.
Go put on some Beyonce or Lizzo and turn it up so loud that your neighbors start to wonder what you’re up to. If you’re in more of a holiday music kind of mood, put on the Feminist Approved “Baby it’s Cold Outside.”
Mix in the flour, a half cup at a time. When you have added half the flour, blend in the water, then add the rest of the flour and work together until it turns into a dough and you can form it into a log. Cover in plastic wrap, or a washed out plastic bag (because you know, you’re concerned about the environment and you don’t toss those out) and let it sit in the refrigerator over night.
Now that the dough is made, pour yourself a stiff drink, or make a nice soothing cup of tea, and take out Gloria Steinem’s My Life on the Road and start reading. If this book isn’t in your home yet, go online to your favorite independent book retailer (not the one that starts with an A) and order it. Here’s a passage to ponder while you wait for it to show up in a few days:
“Patriarchy evolved as a way of giving men control over women’s bodies and reproduction. It seems more hopeful to talk about what came before patriarchy – and could show us a way beyond it. So I talk about the presence of god in all living things – including women. Only in the last five hundred to five thousand years – depending on where we live in the world – has godliness been withdrawn from nature, withdrawn from females, and withdrawn from particular races of men, all in order to allow the conquering of nature, females, and certain races of men. Though patriarchal cultures and religions have made hierarchy seem inevitable, humans for 95% of history have been more likely to see the circle as our natural paradigm. Indeed, millions still do, from traditional Native Americans here to original culture around the world. The simple right to reproductive freedom – to sexuality as an expression that is separable from reproduction – is basic to restoring women’s power, the balance between women and men, and a balance between humans and nature.” – Gloria Steinem, My Life on the Road, pg. 204
Go to bed still feeling enraged, but now feeling moderately more emboldened to smash the patriarchy, since you have been reminded that patriarchy isn’t natural or inevitable at all. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to dismantle it.
Wake up. Make some coffee. Pour it in your favorite feisty mug. Call a friend, tell them why you appreciate them. Turn on your computer and go donate $10 to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. Call your elected officials and tell them about the issues that you care about and would like them to fight for. Remind yourself that your voice and your opinion matters.
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Grease a baking sheet.
If at this point you’re thinking, “fuck it, I don’t want to be baking cookies,” then stop. You don’t have to be in the kitchen if you don’t want to, just like you don’t have to behave in a feminine way that society has deemed acceptable. You do you.
If you’re still wanting to bake out the cookies – only because you want to, not because society is telling you that you’re responsible for care labor and you have to do the holiday baking – cut off a section of the dough from the log and roll it out on a flat, generously floured surface. To keep the dough from sticking to the countertop (just like fat old white men keep sticking to the idea that they know what’s best for women’s bodies), roll the dough a little, flip it, roll the dough some more and flip again. Repeat until you have rolled the dough as thin as you can get it. In this case, thin makes for better cookies, but don’t use that as a metaphor for the value of women, who come in all shapes and sizes.
Cut out the dough with cookie cutters, or go rogue and make your own. Place on the baking sheet and bake for 5 to 8 minutes, keeping an eye on them because they can burn quickly. Remove from the oven and let them sit for a minute or two. Transfer them to the counter to cool. Once cool, place them in an airtight container.
Make some icing by mixing together powdered sugar and a tiny bit of water. Decorate your cookies in whatever way you want to that says to the world “hey patriarchy, I’m coming for you.”
When a neighbor drops by later, offer them one. “What are these?” they might ask.
“Feminist gingerbread,” you respond matter of factly.
In the event that they are one of those people who still thinks feminism is a dirty word, remind them of this Rebecca West quote: “I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.”
Share your gingerbread far and wide. Never stop stop standing up for what you believe in.
Let us elevate our voices and be a part of the change that we wish to see.
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