Lesson 1514 – The sexism of cookies

I’ve never been accused of being overly sensitive with regard to words, but I recently had an interaction online that caused me to take notice. I read the following Peter Daou tweet:

“Trump spent the campaign insulting people. Hillary spent the campaign being insulted. Only she got OBSESSIVE negative coverage.”

The discussion was about the news coverage during the Presidential campaign and how when the news stories were compiled into word clouds, those words used for Trump were mostly positive and those used for Hillary were mostly negative.

Again this was not based on personal perception but instead on published news articles from a supposedly unbiased press. It implied that the news was actually very biased when reporting about Hillary.

I replied that I thought it was unbelievably sad.

Someone replied to me that “That’s the way the cookie crumbles, as they say.”

That’s the way the cookie crumbles. For a “die-hard Republican troll” (you can always tell when they have 12K tweets but only 67 followers)  to use that *specific* phrase with regard to Hillary’s defeat felt sexist. It was jarring. It was the first time I really listened to that phrase.

Yeah, I know, before you read on, I’m not a snowflake (unless you count me as part of the blizzard that resists) but it *felt* like this guy (male) was making a sexist statement. Recently  I am noticing a lot of things that I had simply taken for granted before the election. This is one.

Last night at dinner, I discussed the cookie phrase with three of the boys and Marc.

“It’s not sexist, I say it all the time. It’s like saying “Shit Happens.”“

Well just because someone who doesn’t think *they* are sexist, says a phrase often doesn’t mean *it’s* not sexist. I continued. “So why didn’t he just say “Shit Happens?”

“Because maybe he was trying to be polite.” (Note – from personal experience online trolls are rarely polite.)

“Well if you were talking about a man’s defeat would you be more like to say “Shit Happens” or “That’s the way the cookie crumbles?””

It was agreed that they would use “Shit Happens.”

Only one son asked me why I thought it was sexist.

“It goes back to a time when men routinely called women sweetheart, darling, and cookie.” I told him. “It was a way to exert dominance over women and to make them appear infantile.”

“Hmm, in this case I could see that and understand why you would think its sexist.” (Note – that’s my boy.)

So what if “that’s the way the cookie crumbles” actually implies “that’s the way the woman has a mental breakdown?” Just because we say it often doesn’t mean it’s not a sexist statement when used in a specific instance.

We tried to look up the origin of the phrase but got nowhere. Hear me out – while I admit that cookies do crumble and that it’s a vivid image, in this *specific* case it felt like this man was denigrating Hillary and taking away her power by equating and calling her a (cute and non-powerful) cookie.

“Mom, sometimes you think too much.”

Well maybe I do, but as a writer words and the context in which they are used matter. Mark Twain used the word nigger in his writing, at the time it was an accurate and an appropriate word for his stories.

Now, if I call a person of color  a nigger that’s highly offensive. I simply wouldn’t do it.

And if I liken a distinguished , hard-working and accomplished, woman’s career and Presidential defeat to a “cookie crumbling” isn’t that also highly offensive?

Sometimes it’s the thinking too much that brings awareness and change.

I’d be very interested in your views on this.


Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

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Filed under Inspiration, Personal, Points to ponder, The Family

10 responses to “Lesson 1514 – The sexism of cookies

  1. Pam Ladds

    Right on. And just had a similar discussion in my small town where the language of power is always male. Councilman, alderman, etc and the assumption is that candidates are male! Women are written out of so much by the use of cutesy language! Trivialized. And it is more than that. Words are used to enhance or diminish power all the time. And we can change that. Obamacare has been used to denigrate the ACA – hence the conversation with another local genius about his happiness that Obamacare was going down the tubes and his belief that he and his family would be ok because they were covered by the ACA!! I kid you not! I am consistently saying Trumpcare for obvious reasons. We also talk about Health Insurance when what we really mean is Health Care. And until we make that verbal switch we will consistently find insurance companies front and center.

    • Wendy Thomas

      Thanks for your comment Pam. My eyes have opened and what I thought was status quo is actually a heavily biased view of one side. I hear men (I don’t know) who call me sweetheart and I bristle. I see comments made online to my daughters and I rage.

      How dare they? How dare they?

      We have a long way to go and I intend to be as vocal as I can about it.


      On Mon, Mar 13, 2017 at 10:22 AM, Lessons Learned from the Flock wrote:


  2. First thing I thought was opening a package of cookies and having a broken one fall out.
    But then again, I consider those pink knitted hats badly chosen and sexist …that phrase “woman keep to your knitting” used to be so common. And pink = society’s designated color for little girls. UGH.
    Realistically, phrases once common and full of meaning become obsolete/ not know as they aren’t used any more.
    We were taught that “niggers come in all colors – you need to sit and watch and listen carefully to what is said and done before making up your mind as to whether that person is one you should be associated with.” (But it was a rude “mean” word and impolite to use it with ANYONE.)
    That and the word in older British literature means something entirely different so don’t get your ruff up when you see it there. Context is important – and era – as you said.
    Would be nice if words kept their meanings clear – and people were nice, too.

    • Pam Ladds

      Women were the point of the hats and the march. And it was in response to sexism.

      • Wendy Thomas

        As a wearer of a pink hat I love the image. The photos taken of the women’s marches showing a sea of pink were powerful.


        On Tue, Mar 14, 2017 at 8:02 AM, Lessons Learned from the Flock wrote:


      • except they fell into the trap. No little girl stuff any more.
        and sadly not all women were welcomed…women will never make real progress unless we come together with a broad umbrella of all the concerns/issues we have in common (and the are legion)….and stop being used as numbers by other groups. (Seriously? Men leading the march with bull horns leading the chants? Like women still need “help” from men. Seriously. I’ve fought too long and hard to let men shove women aside and take the lead)
        Unite or lose. 🙂

    • Wendy Thomas

      It’s no so much that I’m getting my ruff up (which, by the way is a fabulous phrase) as it is I’m aware of something that I hadn’t been aware of before. Just because we use something (in this case a “benign phrase”) doesn’t mean that we are unintentionally maligning someone.

      I’m not sure the phrase is sexist as much as the way in which it was used appears to be.

      It leaves me going forward with new awareness.


      On Mon, Mar 13, 2017 at 6:04 PM, Lessons Learned from the Flock wrote:


  3. Debra Fewell

    I personally don’t put so much effort in trying to find the “offensive” in peoples comments. I would walk around being offended all day if I did. I just take peoples comments and their opinions with a grain of salt (as THEY say) and know we all have freedom of speech and that is what makes our nation so special.

    • Wendy Thomas

      It’s not so much that I’m offended in that I am aware of implications. As a writer I’m a firm believer in freedom of speech, but (also as a writer) I am well aware that words have power and you must be careful in how they are used.


      On Mon, Mar 13, 2017 at 11:23 PM, Lessons Learned from the Flock wrote:


  4. Pam Ladds

    Tried to email this to you but apparently you don’t exist at that address!
    https://www.nyu.edu/about/news-publications/news/2017/march/trump-clinton-debates-gender-reversal.html Validates what you are suggesting.

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