One is not born, but rather one becomes a woman – Simone de Beauvoir, 1953
This well-known assertion of Simone de Beauvoir, pointing toward the social and cultural mores that form and regulate an individual as a ‘woman’, is especially apt in light of the controversy surrounding the finalists of BBC2’s Great British Bake Off. The three female finalists have been variously castigated for being too miserable, too opinionated, too confident and too feminine. The repeated characterisations of the women in terms of inflexible, binary gender roles, alongside the criticisms of them for either failing to live up to these or – bizarrely – for adhering to them too closely, invites further analysis of the presentation of womanliness and femininity in the media. Moreover, the presence in the criticism of underlying suspicions regarding the race and class status of the women finalists demonstrates the increasing need for more fine-grained examinations of how we approach the still-troubling and troublesome category of ‘woman’. In this co-authored blog post, CelebYouth’s Kim and guest blogger Sarah Burton discuss the relationship between the structural context of GBBO and the individual presentations of gender therein, with a particular focus on the interactions between media, Britishness and public space.