Is it sexist to call women cupcake?

We are sitting at one of our naive collective meetings. We talk about our experiences with adultism (see box below). I look around. And when I look into the many lovely faces, I notice that we are all female read people. And wonder if there is a connection.

Is feminism out?

I am sitting at a tram stop and reading Simone de Beauvoir when I see a group of wildly painted female read people who cackle loudly and whistle in pink champagne. "Girls, photo!" Calls out one of them and they all pose in front of a glittering smartphone. 69 years after the publication of the book I am holding in my hands.

And I think of hipster housewives who bake pink cupcakes and the 21% women * still earn less than men *.

I get on the train, hold on to the top of the bar so that you can see the head of hair under my armpits. Some female read young people sit in front of me, look at me in horror, and start giggling and whispering. "Really disgusting," snorts one and it takes me a few moments to understand what exactly is meant.

The child woman

On the train there is also a person sitting in a carriage, dressed in lots of glitter and pink. She is quite frustrated and aggressive. Your caregiver is quite annoyed: "We don't want angry girls". You might say to a boy: "So much assertiveness, it will turn out great", but this little person quickly forgets to be resistant, to recognize aggression as a source of strength and to allow anger.

At the age of 12 I started to put on make-up, to shave, paid more attention to my clothes and enjoyed it. It was an expression of what I was sold under "growing up" and I hoped that this would give me more self-determination. But what kind of "being a woman" is that many girls are taught today? And why do so many adult women still call themselves "girls"?

Women are kept small as much and for as long as possible by continuing to attribute childlike characteristics to them. Women are not allowed to have hair where women have hair to look like girls.

Women who take small steps, who have a bright voice, big eyes, who are nice and nice and a bit stupid are considered attractive. Women should also remain as untouched as possible, i.e. have sex with a few men in order to remain as innocent as a child. We all know depictions of "nannies" / "lolitas" (1), which are becoming increasingly popular.

Women were and still are perceived as underage, unreasonable, irresponsible and incompetent.

The same attributes are still ascribed to children.

The strong man

Male socialized people, on the other hand, are not allowed to show any weakness. "Don't act like that", "Isn't that bad", "Indians don't know pain" (doubly stupid!), Are sayings that especially little boys get said. Terrifyingly few male socialized people can cry, make mistakes or talk about fears just like that.

Studies show that even small boys are touched and comforted less because of their gender. In many circles, people who are read as men cannot even hug each other without being referred to as "gay" or "girls". Apparently both terrible ideas.

Adultism as a form of discrimination

People are divided into groups for all forms of discrimination, including sexism and adultism: women and men, children and adults. Both groups are then assigned certain properties and rights. Women are tender, empathetic and, due to their genetic makeup, are well suited to caring activities. Men, on the other hand, are unemotional, sensible and can park well. Children are cute, like to play with dolls and cars, and are pulse controlled. Adults are responsible, able to control their emotions and impulses, and always make the right decisions.

All of these attributions are often backed up with arguments from biology. We no longer take people seriously because they are in the defiance phase, puberty or menopause, are menstruating at the moment or are pregnant or otherwise in some way not allowing themselves to be efficient in our understanding. These arguments then justify that one group exercises power over the other, that resources are unevenly distributed, decisions are made in favor of the ruling group, and the needs, skills and perspectives of the ruled group are ignored.

Authentic encounter based on needs and abilities

All people are different and have different skills and needs.

Instead of assigning a person to a certain group on the basis of their appearance and applying accordingly learned behavioral patterns, we can ask ourselves again and again: What is currently alive in this person? What does he need? What are his skills? Then, in coordination with our own needs and abilities, we can bring an authentic encounter between people to life and not between roles.

I am not my age, I am not my gender, I am me.

When I understood that the division into the two sexes is socially constructed, it felt incredibly liberating to me. No longer having to live the role of "woman" and imagine who I could be without gender, without this label, feels great.

I can freely experiment with what is alive in me and there is quite a lot of life there. I had a similar feeling now when I understood how much "old age" is socially constructed. To ask myself "who could I be without my age?" made me meddle more, take on more responsibility, do more of what I feel like doing, and take my own needs and feelings more seriously.

Adultism paves the way for sexism

With adultism as the first form of discrimination experienced, we learn from the beginning of our life that relationships of domination are normal. This makes it possible that later on we tend to accept sexist and racist behavior and first have to sensitize ourselves to it again.

Sharp differences are made between boys and girls at an early age, so that everyone's individual development is curtailed. I think of my horror when at some point I was forbidden to run through our garden shirtless, to sit with spread legs and to wear short hair. Such a blatant encroachment on human freedom and self-determination would not be possible without adultism.

We also lose the connection to our feelings and needs through adultism, which is why it is easier to convince us later of the needs that are good for maintaining the system. We wonder why a third of 11 to 15 year old girls have some forms of eating disorder, while we constantly force young people to eat things they don't like, whenever we want. We force people to sit still and then wonder when they lose their fun in exercise. Everyone is born with a really great body, what do we do to make so many people start fighting their own?

"Sexy woman, sweet child"

I ride my bike through the city and see blonde skinny women everywhere laughing at me and pretending to be happy or horny. And I see children.

In addition to women, children make up the largest part in advertising. While women read people are used as desirable objects, children are used as cute objects. Young people are always portrayed as happy, cheeky and clumsy and never as strong, self-determined and serious.


Different forms of discrimination do not just work as a sum. Adultism and sexism are interwoven, do not compete with one another and have an intersectional effect.

I get particularly dizzy in my head because adultism is a form of discrimination that we all experience once, but out of which we grow and suddenly find ourselves on the other side. With the effects in your pocket.

When I add other forms of discrimination to the network, I really start to ponder how is adultism related to racism? And first with classicism? More and more questions open up in my head, I take off into cloudy theoretical worlds.

Down to earth

What do I do with all of these terms? I am a little overwhelmed. Then I remember that we are all human beings of equal value. It is so true that I can find this truth in every encounter when I look people in the eye. And it is also much truer than the many prejudices and discriminatory structures that waft in front of it like a thick, heavy fog. We just have to keep reminding ourselves of it.


(1) See:


What is adultism?

Introduce yourself ...
you are not allowed to eat or drink in your office and only go to the bathroom if you ask your boss for permission.

Introduce yourself,
other people have the right to decide at any moment where you are and what you are doing.

Introduce yourself,
you don't want to be touched, but when you utter this people laugh or say you are cute.

Now imagine this is your reality (because you're young)

At school, children may be denied access to their basic rights, such as eating and drinking, fresh air and using the toilet.

By law, their legal guardians are allowed to decide where they are staying - when moving, for example, the wellbeing of adults is often much more in the foreground.

Children's physical needs and limitations are taken less seriously. It is considered normal to kiss or pat small children, even if they have previously expressed their disapproval.
Why are younger people treated differently than older people?

The discriminatory behavior towards children and young people is called adultism, adultism is structurally supported by conventions, laws and social institutions.

Older people are often considered to be more competent, responsible, qualified and intellectual only because of their age and often ignore or ignore the needs, feelings, perspectives and skills.

As with other forms of discrimination, adultism is divided into two groups, with one exercising power over the other. "Age" is socially constructed in a similar way to "gender". All people are affected by this construct because we were all seen as children at one point or another. So we learn from the start that power relationships are normal.

This later makes it easier to accept and reproduce other forms of discrimination such as sexism or racism.

Our life is often divided into successive phases (childhood, adolescence, adulthood and old age) to which we assign certain rights and qualities. That makes us blind to complex individual learning and life paths.

Because the daily rhythm of young people is determined by older people, they unlearn to listen to their needs and feelings and also to express them. Due to coercion and given learning content, young people lose their enthusiasm and their intrinsic motivation.

They are rarely allowed to make independent decisions and take responsibility for themselves and the world, which can lead to frustration and depression.

Since young people are often told that their perspective and their work are of less value, many young people feel inferior and, for example, do not dare to express their opinion in discussions.

Older people also conform to their role model as adults. They stop playing or crying and feel that they have to make sensible decisions and live a regular life at all times. If older people do not adapt to this role model, they are referred to as "senile", "naive" or "incompetent".

Being young is very controversial in society. At the same time as discrimination against young people, there is a social ideal of "being young, free and beautiful". This triggers pressure to perform in many people.

What can you do?

First of all, it is important to recognize adultism as a form of discrimination. You can talk to your fellow human beings about it and jointly set up need-oriented rules for everyday life. You can start questioning our language and simplifications. How does it feel to say "person" instead of "child"? What do you really mean when you call someone "childish"? Always ask yourself in contact with younger people: "Would I treat someone my age in the same way?"

Adultism affects us all!

The naive collective

We are a network of anti-adultists who all do research on this topic. We exchange experiences, write articles, make videos, give lectures and workshops, do and give interviews and try to bring adultism into society. We look forward to your feedback at [email protected]

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