Feminist kitchen accessories – an oxymoron?

With Father’s Day approaching this Sunday 15th, it seems the perfect time to have a discussion about the ‘feminist’ nature (or not) of what the Radical Tea Towel Company does. Occasionally, we receive comments on our facebook page about whether the kitchen accessories on our website simply encourage stereotypes of women working in the kitchen. Here are a couple of examples:

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We don’t actually believe our stuff has to be seen in an ironic light at all: we have a range of figures and concepts on the tea towels, and the suffragette movement just happens to be one of these.

There’s nothing about a suffragette tea towel that says it’s only for use by women, or that a man can’t appreciate the finer stylistic points of a Keep Left apron. Which is why we offer you feminist gift ideas for Father’s Day as well as Mother’s Day 😉

Meanwhile, what’s to say that a modern feminist can’t appreciate a good tea cosy? Should a woman feel guilty just for enjoying the colour coordination of an oven glove?!

The Radical Tea Towel Company wasn’t founded as a political pollster, but we suspect that most feminists want equality between the sexes, rather than a total reversal of ‘roles’. That means that women – and men – should be able to feel comfortable drying the dishes, if that’s what they choose to do!

But yes, we do recognise that you can interpret a certain irony in being able to do the washing up with marching suffragettes in hand. And the whole idea of tea cosies and working with a kitchen apron at all – isn’t that the sort of domestic slavery that the march of socialism was meant to free us from?

Only if you appreciate cold tea, flour over your shirt and burnt hands. Or microwaved meals every night.

If you’re going to point out the irony in a feminist tea towel, at least appreciate it. If anything, we’re trying to reclaim kitchen accessories by replacing boring cat designs with something more thought-provoking (no offence, Top Cat).

Just as a hammer and sickle became symbols of an oppressed working class, so oven gloves and aprons can equally become the symbolic tools of modern feminists!

What do you think – can a tea towel be a tribute or an insult to Emily Davison’s ideals?

Author: radicalteatowel

This is the blog of The Radical Tea Towel Company. We'll be writing about politics, inspiration and tea. Check out our website, www.radicalteatowel.com , when you get a moment, for some unique political gift ideas.

3 thoughts on “Feminist kitchen accessories – an oxymoron?”

  1. Just wondering though about the issue of buying presents for mothers/fathers day.
    In my day, my parents got cards, maybe breakfast in bed, or maybe we went out for lunch. When I moved away from their home, I made sure I visited, or phoned if I coudn’t go in person.
    Neither parent expected a gift.
    I don’t expect a gift from my daughter. A cuddle and a cup of tea is fine.
    I know, you want to sell your goods. But for mothers/fathers days? No, capitalism gone mad!

    1. That’s a fair enough point, Claire. Certainly there should never be any expectation of a gift! But for those who do want to send something memorable and actually functionable, we’re happy to get in the way of Amazon or any of the others out there touting for business.

  2. Spare Rib gave away a tea towel with one of thier early issues. Purple (one of the Suffrage colours) reading ‘It starts when you sink in his arms, and ends with your arms in the sink’. I’m not sure if that was intended ironically either…

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