Pumpkin spice and sexism

Pumpkin spice and sexism

To many people, nothing screams “autumn is here” quite like the season’s famous scent: pumpkin spice. No matter what you do, you can’t escape the iconic cinnamon fragrance, it encapsulates craft stores, swells up in malls and is packed into every seasonal scented candle on the shelves. 


As this well known scent arrives each year, so does the stigma behind it. Unfortunately, pumpkin spice is packaged with gender roles as well as it is made into candles and lattes.


With teenagers especially, a Starbucks order consisting of a grande pumpkin spice latte isn’t something that comes without teasing, especially if you’re male. Boys tend to stray away from the cinnamon and nutmegs of the season, or at least try to make it a little less obvious, especially when they know their friends will be around.


Although a pumpkin spice latte is famous for its seasonal appeal, its mainly female demographic seems overwhelming, which is why you often think a boy wouldn’t be caught dead drinking one.


This sexist debate is not unheard of as multiple sources have done studies on the argument. Matters highlighted in a Vice article point out, “The hot drink, it seems, is inexorably coded as feminine—two separate college newspapers have argued that Pumpkin Spice hate is sexist, prompting actual national debate.” 


Adding to their previous acknowledgement, they describe the dilemma that arises when asking a man his thoughts on the subject, Vice predicts a response: “Any man who orders the autumnal treat loses ownership of his ‘MANcard.’”


Pretty ignorant, right?


But getting to the bottom of this coffee quirrel, an Op-ED from, The Phoenix, writer Min Cheng gets to the root of the gendered debate. She explains, “The PSL hate seems to me like a symptom of a larger problem: girls don’t get to have valid emotions (‘You’re being irrational. Is it your time of the month?’) or likes/dislikes, especially if they’re considered ‘basic.’ Even when they like something that guys like too, they’re accused of faking it to get male attention.” What Ming is getting at, is that no matter what a girl’s interests entail, they will always be scrutinized by society’s misogynistic standards. The toxic definition of what is “cool” and what isn’t, is not very inclusive of examples that are on the feminine side, or that are so called- “girly.”


Aside from the intolerance, pumpkin spice has been around for a long time, and expecting people to drop it so naturally isn’t a reasonable thought. This debate will probably continue on longer than it should, yet it really isn’t as big of a deal as some might think. But if you’re still worried about the pumpkin spice latte (PSL) stigma and the teasing, just order a pumpkin cold brew instead! 


What are your thoughts on a pumpkin spice latte, and who’s safe to drink one in public?