The annual pumpkin spice controversy is the perfect example of the internet’s capacity to take some benign, objectively lovely, perennial favorite thing and transfigure it into a bucket of problems. How do we do this over and over? Usually through sales fuckery coupled with an -ism, in this case classic sexism.
It goes like this:
A thing is pretty excellent.
Humans like the excellent thing because it’s excellent, and we have fine taste.
Humans spend money to procure more of the excellent thing, which we all like.
Mass-marketers decide they can sell even more of the excellent thing if they rebrand it as a ladies’ excellent thing (because lady-folk do the shopping, obviously).
Humans continue to buy the excellent thing, which we all liked before it was a thing thing.
But now it’s a thing, and it’s everywhere.
Some people get annoyed at the thing, either because they’re sick of being over-sold, or because the thing is “girly” now, and “girly” things strike some jerks as annoying and gross.
So the jerks blame women for their personal annoyance with mass-marketers, and shame femme folx for liking the thing that we all liked before it was a thing thing.
Now ladies and femmes feel like they have to defend themselves for liking a likable thing.
And this is why we can’t have nice things for long.
This is silly.
I’m only part-time femme, myself, but I appreciate women and femmes every day. You should like whatever you like in peace, whether or not your tastes align with marketing campaigns and stereotypically feminine things. There’s nothing wrong with sparkles, unicorns, sweet foods, pleasant scents, seasonal spices, twee woodland decor, or vibrant colors. Like what you like.
People of all genders and expressions should be allowed to like stuff marketed predominantly to women and femmes, because what the fuck does the combo of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg have to do with gender identity? Fucking nothing. The branding and the drama are lies. Like what you like.
The Unabashed Pumpkin Trash Tarot Spread is on the case!
You can point this spread toward maximal autumn enjoyment, toward detangling internalized shame and femme-phobia in any situation, or a combination of both. Here goes:
2. Spice: when/where to be brutally honest even if it makes people uncomfortable
3. Everything nice: something to enjoy with greater gusto and zero fucks.
4. Haters Can Go Suck a Pumpkin: strategies for boundary-setting with baseless critics, fun-suckers, and (femme-phobic) pleasure police.
Notes & Variations:
Try drawing an extra card in each place to examine how vs. when to be sweet, brutally honest, enjoy a thing, and tune out jerks. “How” cards will dish on strategies, and “when” cards will suggest projects, situations, and applications.
Card 2, Spice, may point inward and remind you to be spicy-honest with yourself. Card 4 can likewise point to an internalized criticism or falsehood to release. You’ll know if your cards call you out as your own worst critic!
Remember that some criticism is valid. Receiving criticism for behavior that harms is very different from receiving criticism for behavior the does no harm, and provides comfort and joy. Card 4 is not an excuse to tune out constructive and valid criticism. If your hobbies and favorites include something appropriative or destructive, it’s worth hearing and learning from your friends’ critiques and suggestions. In those cases, they’re probably not shaming you for having harmless fun, but doing the social equivalent of letting you know you’ve got something gross stuck in your teeth. If you’re unsure where your likes fall, draw an extra card for criticism worth accepting, and maybe seek some input from trusted friends who would be open to a potentially awkward, educational conversation. Follow through with humility, respect, and consideration.
Have fun savoring this glorious autumn, and stay tuned for more shameless autumn trash spreads on the horizon!