Our Right to Bake

The day that the women’s rights movement bars a girls’ dorm from baking cookies for a boys’ dorm is the day that it ceases to advocate for gender equality. Women fought hard for the rights to choose their own occupations and pastimes. Thus, we choose to bake. It’s our right. Temperature: 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Time: too early. Manual Labor: unpleasant. Snow shoveling duty? We Day Hall girls wished to evade it with a price. That price is cookies. With our newly elected Snow Czar, the Day Hall dorm community made the democratic decision to strike a deal with the nearby men of Newman House. The Snow Czar and proctors of both dorms came to the agreement that for the charge of weekly baked goods, the sweet-toothed men of Newman House would shovel our stoops and fire hydrants. Both dorms embraced this compromise – for Bio folks, it was what could be considered a symbiotic relationship. Little did we know that by making such a deal, we were allegedly encouraging stereotypes, or, in the words of a Day Hall house counselor, “implicitly reinforcing traditional gender stereotypes.” Weeks after pooling donations of baking ingredients and time, the cluster dean and the Day Hall House Counseling team decided that this relationship was inappropriate. According to the e-mail expressing this concern, the team felt we were also disregarding our community responsibilities and depriving ourselves of valuable dorm bonding time (which, by the way, can well be enjoyed within the warmth of a building, licking brownie bowls and spoons). Our right to bake has been revoked. Moreover, are our personal community responsibilities really limited to waking ourselves to shovel before eight o’clock? We would think something so minute would be inconsequential, and in fact, be encouraging of inter-dormitory relations, a far more important aspect of community. According to Newman House resident Matt Renner, “we think that the tradeoff is enjoyable for both dorms, and we are forging a good relationship with Day Hall.” We like baking. Does that mean we are not feminists? According to a Day Hall house counselor, “We are a dorm full of strong, independent, smart women, and yet we are giving baked goods for men in exchange for a manual task. It doesn’t feel quite right.” It would make all the difference if we were using our strength and intelligence to re-tile their bathroom floor or help them with their homework in exchange for shoveling. Or would it be acceptable for Newman House to bake Day Hall brownies and cookies in exchange for shoveling their stoops? A fine line exists between epitomizing gender stereotypes by baking and the choice to wear skirts and dresses instead of pants; wardrobe is a far less subtle expression of gender roles… is this right the next to go? The question remains: how can we come to terms with the sensitivity of the administration, and our headstrong will to fight for our right to bake? We hate to accuse anyone of injustice, but quite frankly, trying to prevent the exchange of baked goods between friends and the generous actions of one community member towards another is unreasonable. With our lives almost completely scheduled down to the last minute, does this one little thing that helps us get through our days just a little bit easier really matter? This micromanagement is getting a bit old. Let’s bake—and we will even do it wearing aprons. Kerry Lanzo is a two-year Upper from Towson, MD. Lucy Arnold a four-year Senior from Strafford, MA.