If you were concerned with pressing political issues this week (like, you know, a huge change to the way we do health care in America), you may have missed a watershed wonk moment: The battle between Michelle Obama and Ann Romney for who could bake the better cookie. Yup, it’s time again for Family Circle‘s traditional Presidential Cookie Bake-Off . Because, you know, as a Presidential spouse, you’re only as good as your ability to follow a recipe, right? Sigh. Let’s talk this one through.
Here’s the thing: I don’t hate cookies. I love cookies. Cookies are wonderful. I also don’t hate women who bake cookies. Each woman can decide if she wants to bake cookies or not. That’s kind of one of the cornerstones of the Third Wave: bake your damn cookies if you want, but don’t be a jerk if other women don’t want to bake damn cookies. Every woman can choose to bake, or not to bake. However, I do take offense at the fact that this is kind of the first time we get to see the FLOTUS and the presumptive nominee’s wife actually competing in anything…and it’s cookies. Because, what, it’s 1955 and Michelle Obama and Ann Romney are the country’s mothers?
There are more than a few things wrong with this picture. First, let us not forget that Mitt Romney is not actually technically the confirmed contender yet. He is only the presumptive nominee. Additionally, allow me to point out that this contest is called the “Presidential” Cookie Bake-Off so…shouldn’t the Presidents be competing? But no! Of course not, because they are men, silly. And men have more important things to do and talk about, like the economy! And immigration! And anything but cookies.
But the real issue with the Presidential Cookie Bake-Off is, I think, that a.) cookies are not a particularly great yardstick for excellence in a country where we are dying from our own love of cookies, and b.) Both of these women have better things to do than bake freaking cookies for the amusement of the American people, who will be voting for their favorite recipe using Facebook, because that’s how we do it these days.
Ann Romney is, contrary to popular belief, not a useless Stepford Wife. She speaks excellent French, has battled with multiple sclerosis and breast cancer, and loves animals, like horses. While Mitt was the Governor of Massachusetts, she was busy working with numerous charities, because she is generally a nice person.
Michelle Obama is an accomplished, educated, awesome woman in her own right. She went to Princeton, and then to Harvard Law. Her official First Lady campaign is one that is near and dear to my heart. She is tough and she is smart. She could probably beat you up with her big, strong, fit arms, but she won’t, because she’d rather use her muscles for gardening.
Speaking of healthy endeavors, Obama’s expected participation in this contest is especially irksome, because of the aforementioned initiative, the Let’s Move! campaign. She is focused on the health of our nation. So making her bake cookies? It feels more than a little demeaning and disingenuous.
Sure, theoretically, she could have opted out (but it would have been terrible and everyone would have called her snobby and generally hated her), or she could have turned this little contest on its head and baked a super-healthy vegan cookie. But let’s be real–it would have probably tasted less good than one made with butter and eggs and candy in it, which wouldn’t have boded very well for her campaign.
This isn’t to say that I don’t love the idea of a little bit of competition before the First Lady and the presumptive hopeful. I just think that asking them engage in a bake off is a little…old-timey. Like America’s political landscape is a barn-raising in 1834, and, while the men do the important stuff, the ladies just shuffle into the kitchen and come out with a wonderful treat for all those hard-working fellas. What’s next, a lemonade tasting contest? An apron-wearing fashion show?
Here are a few things I’d rather have seen:
- A foot race.
- A push-up contest.
- A competition for who could come up with the most inventive salad.
- A complimentary cookie contest between Barack and Mitt, just to show that all genders can bake cookies.
- A battle of wits, including but not limited to a few rounds of Jeopardy!.
- A healthy cookie contest, wherein the contestants use apple sauce instead of oil.
- A debate. Because, you know, women can do that, too.
Any of those would have made me slightly less irritated. But instead, it’s just a cookie bake-off between two women whose husbands are vying for the same very powerful job.
Family Circle, this tradition began in 1992. 20 years later, it’s time to retire it. Let’s have this year be the last one where important, smart, inspirational women are reduced to M&Ms versus white chocolate chips, and move on to something healthier and less antiquated.
Image via Facebook