The feminist cupcake sale that led to death and rape threats | Madeline Price


It started with male students upset theyd have to pay the full $1 for a cake and ended with the realisation we still desperately need feminism in the 21st century

If someone had told me, one week ago today, that a simple bake sale aiming to educate students about wage disparity in Australia would rile up a university campus to the point of death threats to the organisers, would reach media sources across Australia, the UK and US, and would result in the single most successful bake sale ever to be held on campus, I would have told them not to be silly; no one cares about a bake sale.

I also would have been wrong.

The now infamous Gender Pay Gap Bake Sale was an afterthought, a supplementary event to the panel discussions, workshops and stalls to be held throughout feminist week on the University of Queensland campus. We have hosted bake sales before, we just wanted this one to have an educational catch: why not educate students about wage disparity while feeding them sugar?

The idea was that each baked good would only cost you the proportion of $1 that you earn comparative to men (or, if you identify as a man, all baked goods would cost you $1). For example, for a woman of colour in the legal profession, a baked good at the stall would only cost you 55 cents.

Other university campuses and womens collectives around the world have done it before from campuses in the US charging more for white students than black students, to campuses in the UK only giving students the proportion of a cupcake they would earn in real life. This was not a new idea.

This particular bake sale, however, started something we could never in a million years have foreseen: a spiral into the darkest depths of gender inequality, the online world of cyberbullying and firsthand experiences of what women face every time they raise their voices.

Far from simply starting a discussion about wage disparity in Australia, the online backlash over the Gender Pay Gap Bake Sale brought to light hundreds of other issues of gender inequality, from sexual violence and threats against women, to why we still need feminism in the 21st century. This bake sale did its job and more.

We had students who had previously dismissed the idea of feminism approach us at the bake sale, purchase an item and explain that they didnt believe feminism was still needed until reading the comments posted online.

A post on Facebook advocating violence towards women. This online vitriol was in response to a Gender Pay Gap Bake Sale that the University of Queensland, Australia, held during feminist week. Photograph: Facebook

These comments, posted by anonymous keyboard warriors (those who love to sit behind their computer screens and attack people changing the world) threatened violence against attendees and organisers of the bake sale, with posts including:

  • Im so glad I know this event is on, now I wont have to sort through all the ugly chicks when Im out clubbing cos theyll all be at feminist week instead
  • Kill all women
  • Id punch a chick if she winked at me at the bake sale
  • Females are fucking scum, they should be put down as babies
  • I want to rape these feminist cunts with their fucking baked goods.

These comments were posted on the public event page, on subsequent posts about feminist week and sent directly to the email accounts, personal Facebook accounts and, in one case, via voicemail, of the organisers of feminist week, general members of the UQ Union Womens Collective and to staff members who spoke out in support of the event.

This innocuous bake sale drew a vitriol of negative, derogatory and threatening online comments from people threatened by a discussion about equality and feminism; a discussion that we now, so obviously, need to be having in a public space.

As with all keyboard warriors, however, they never materialise in real life. The actual bake sale event was filled with positivity, support and enthusiasm for starting the conversation about wage disparity, the online behaviours of others, and, most importantly, global gender equality.

But while the keyboard warriors remained behind their screens, the threat to the safety and lives of women, the silencing of women in public spaces, and the wage disparity around the world are still very real issues that impact upon women and other marginalised groups in everyday life. These are the issues that the vitriol of online comments regarding the bake sale brought to light.

The bake sale may be over, but this discussion is just beginning.

And it all started because a couple of male students were upset that they would have to pay $1 for a cupcake.

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Steve Finally Confirms Why He Left ‘Blue’s Clues’


It’s time we all finally got a clue.

After about seven years of hosting Nickelodeon’s “Blue’s Clues,” Steve Burns skidooed on out of there, and the preschool world was turned upside down.

Why, Steve? WHY?

Not much explanation was given for Steve’s departure in 2002, and life went on for everyone. Well, it went on for everyone except Steve.

According to the internet, Burns died. One of the first causes was supposedly a drug overdose, but people also said he was killed in a car crash or met some other unsavory fate. That would at least explain why he wasn’t on the show, anyway.

But, Burns himself is now denying those claims.

“I Googled the conditions of life, and I meet every single one of them, I can assure you,” Burns told The Huffington Post in an interview. “I am certainly alive. I know that for sure.” (Burns’ Twitter handle is @SteveBurnsAlive just in case anyone still doesn’t have a clue.)

In our own research on why Steve left “Blue’s Clues,” a predominant theme was that he exited to pursue a music career. The actor’s changing looks supposedly had something to do with it, too. (In a 10-year anniversary “Blue’s Clues” special, Burns said he didn’t want to go bald on a kids show.) But time and time again, music kept coming up as a main reason for his departure.

In fact, Burns is releasing a new kids album, “Foreverywhere,” along with his friend Steven Drozd of the Flaming Lips (his fellow collaborator on a previous album, “Songs for Dustmites.”) They’ve even released a video for the first song, “The Unicorn And Princess Rainbow.”

So was a music career the real reason Steve left “Blue’s Clues”?

“That’s actually not true,” Burns told us. “No, no, no, no. People think I left the show to pursue a music career. That didn’t happen at all.”

Burns confirmed that getting older and, yes, losing his hair had a lot to do with his decision.

“I left the show because it was just simply time to go. I was pretty much playing a boyish, older-brotherish kind of character on the show. I was getting older; I was losing my hair; a lot of the original gangsters on the show, like the people who created it, were all moving on to other careers. It just felt like time. I just had a gut feeling like it was time to go,” said Burns.

He explained that the music came after his departure. 

“I certainly wasn’t leaving ‘Blue’s Clues’ to pursue a large music career because that never even happened. That was just a wonderful dream come true, [a] hobby thing that happened after ‘Blue’s Clues.’”

I was getting older; I was losing my hair; a lot of the original gangsters on the show, like the people who created it, were all moving on to other careers. Steve Burns

It’s now been 20 years since “Blue’s Clues” debuted, and looking back on the show, Burns described the experience as “surreal.” He expressed his gratitude for being part of it, but admits, “From my perspective, it all feels very small.”

Burns said that acting in front of a green screen was like jumping to the “bottom of a swimming pool” every day. For him, it was very solitary.

“It felt like a dream to wake up and be like, ‘Wait, people watched that all over the world?’ For me, it’s a very different experience than it is for everyone else, but to know that people who watched ‘Blue’s Clues’ now have children that watch ‘Blue’s Clues’ is a real brain-burner, that’s for sure. But it’s all just really cool. Maybe I’m Grover to somebody. That’s awesome. That’s just completely awesome,” he said.

Burns continued chatting on the phone with HuffPost about everything from his new kids album to why “Blue’s Clues” fans don’t believe he’s actually Steve. (He even gets in arguments about it.) Oh, and he did it all from the actual “Blue’s Clues” Thinking Chair, which we would soon find out.

If you weren’t pursuing a music career, what have you been up to?

I’ve been earnestly balding, which takes up a lot more time than people think, and also I’m a voice-over guy. I’ve been a voice-over guy even before and while I was on “Blue’s Clues.” That was kind of my main gig for a lot of it. If you hear a guy on TV that tries to sell you insurance and sounds like the guy from “Blue’s Clues,” that’s me.

Do people still recognize you?

Oh, my God, no. I have to convince people. No, I look much more like Moby if he had a real problem with pad Thai than I do like Steve from “Blue’s Clues.” I really do. I’ve gotten into arguments with people about it.


They just don’t believe that it’s me. I don’t believe that it’s me.

No way. You sound exactly the same.

But, first of all, I am much shorter than anyone expects me to be. I’m bald now. I was rail thin on that show,and I was a child, basically. I’m 43 years old now. I look nothing like that, which I think is kind of fun.

This winsome, simpering selfie is lying to you. #notphotoshopped #oldschoolsfx #deceit

A photo posted by Steve Burns (@steveburnsalive) on Dec 28, 2015 at 10:23am PST

What inspired the new album, “Foreverywhere”?

Nickelodeon, years ago, asked me to write a song about a groundhog, and I happened to be on the phone with Steven [Drozd] when I was reading the email, and I said, “Hey, dude. Is this something you’d want to work on with me? Because when I write songs they’re 40 percent good, and when you help me they’re a million times better.” And he’s like, “Yeah, that sounds really fun.” I went down to Oklahoma, and we wrote that song in no time and had a blast. I think while we were writing the song, we stopped at one point and looked at each other and said, “We have to do a kids record.” As we were writing that song, we were thinking, “Let’s do this in our spare time.” And we started to, and we did. It took forever. It’s kind of the “Chinese Democracy” for kids records.

You said you never pictured yourself hosting a kids show your whole life, so why make a kids album?

I hosted a children’s TV show for seven years and cared about it deeply, and developed a lot of opinions, a real point of view, and really began to develop an enormous admiration for children’s entertainment as something that’s incredibly fun and creative to do. By the time I left that show, I felt like I had a little more in the tank, and it was just kind of a natural thing. 

One of the songs on the album is “OK Toilet Bowl.” That might be the best title I’ve ever heard.

Wait till you hear the song, man. It’s a song about courage, I will tell you that much. I was just talking to a child development specialist that I know, and I said, “What’s the one thing, the main issue for children? What makes them tick? What are their fears? What are their hopes when they’re really young?” And they said it’s the toilet bowl. That is their No. 1 fear and concern and aspiration.

More than monsters under the bed?

I think it’s all kind of the same. I think it all goes back to that.

One of the first comments on the video was that you’re in front of a green screen again, and people questioned if you are real or just CGI.

[Laughs] Brilliant. Love it. Well, I directed and shot that in a day in Oklahoma City with my friends and their kids using all the outdated technology I learned while on “Blue’s Clues” in the mid-’90s. That really is just shot on a green screen. I’m probably more comfortable than most people are in that environment at this point, but it felt very natural to jump in front of a green screen again. That’s certainly true.

What is it like seeing all those death hoaxes?

I think the last one I saw was that I wrecked a Dodge Charger, which in a way was the cruelest one because I would never drive a Charger. No real serious offense to Charger drivers, but like, come on. Seriously?

It is great to finally confirm you’re alive. 

Yeah, sometimes I wonder [Laughs]. I read those things, and I’m like, “Oh, God, is this all some sort of surreal extradimensional existence that I’m in? Am I somehow undead?”

You once told the The Moth a crazy story about going out with a Playboy model. Was that all true? You got a lap dance in the Thinking Chair?

Things didnot progress that far, but The Moth only wants true stories. They are a really great organization … I compressed a little bit of time, but they want dinner party stories. They want it to be real.

In “Blue’s Clues,” Steve supposedly goes to college and joins the hopscotch team. Did you come up with that?

Oh, we all sat around and thought that would be hilarious.

Joe (Donovan Patton) replaced you on the show. Do you still keep in touch with your brother, Joe?

Not as much as I’d like to. He has a habit of moving to LA. He’s an awesome guy, and he’s so much fun. I loved the couple times we got to work together on “Blue’s Clues.” Those were some of my best memories of the show. I know him. I know his wife. We are definitely friends. I wish I saw him more, but he tends to be in LA a lot.

Before this, I was arguing with my roommates. Could you clear something up? Blue is a girl, right? Is Magenta a guy?

Blue is a girl. Magenta is a girl. In a lot of ways, I was the only male figure on that show. There weren’t many male figures. It was me and the salt shaker and, I think, the shovel [Laughs].

Was that part of the research — why the show included so many female role models?

In many ways, I consider “Blue’s Clues” to be an educational endeavor, first and foremost. I was really facilitating the incredible, brilliant curriculum that the researchers and creators came up with. Every bit of that show was researched and carefully considered to brilliant effect. As funny and wacky and weird as “Blue’s Clues” was, it was so educational, and I’m so proud to be a part of that. 

Do you still have one of the Handy Dandy Notebooks?

I’m looking at it right now.

No, you’re not.

I actually am. And I’m sitting in the Thinking Chair. I have the original one. They gave it to me on my 25th birthday, and it sits in my study.

And you’re sitting in it now …

I’m not kidding you. It sits in my study. It’s a great chair. I still use it all the time.

Do you think in it?

I use it to read books. It’s where I read.

OK, you’re not solving mysteries or anything?

Not typically.

Unless they’re mystery novels.

Yeah, it’s where I read [laugh].

You tweeted that you’re less excited about getting the mail now.

I mean, you get mail, right? Is it ever super exciting? It’s usually stuff you didn’t feel like opening, or homework. It’s essentiallypeople sending you homework. There’s almost no mail I receive in the adult 3-D world that wouldn’t be better sent to me digitally. In the real world, mail is kind of a drag. In “Blue’s Clues,” mail was beyond exciting. It was so exciting that I leapt into the air and screamed.

So you’re not singing the song anymore?

No, but the reason for the big scream at the end is because I couldn’t hit the note, so I just kind of channeled Pee-wee Herman and Grover at the same time.

That’s the best part of the whole thing.

Yeah, we just kind of left it. Actually, the guys who did the music were Mr. Salt and Mailbox, Michael Rubin and Nick Balaban. I think the legend is I just did that as a joke and they’re like, “Nope, we’re keeping it.”

You also tweeted that you’re still upset about the pants.

They were very extreme. I’ve never seen pleats like that outside of an MC Hammer video. They were legitimately extreme pleats. I don’t think “Blue’s Clues” gets enough credit for its innovative work in pant-pleating.

Were they custom-made?

I think they were. I think they were store-bought, but don’t know. Maybe someone that I didn’t see spent a lot of time adding extra pleats to them. The shirts were all handmade.


Yeah, and they were made out of the itchiest wool that any person could find. They were super-duper itchy. I still have a couple of those, too. They’re much cooler in person, too, because they’re much brighter than you think.

When’s the last time you wore the outfit? 

I did [a Make-A-Wish event] maybe three or four years ago, and it was challenging because I had to lose a bunch of weight, and I’m bald, but I did it. I got down to fighting weight for it and managed to squeeze back into the shirt. It was what it always was, man. That puts everything into perspective. It’s the most humbling thing ever.

I can’t even imagine.

It’s ostensibly about this child’s wish, but underneath it all, it’s always the child’s wish to make the parents happy. It’s just the most incredible thing.

I was one of the wish granters of the year in 1999, which is the thing that I’m most proud of in my life, and I got an award from David Hasselhoff.

[Laugh] That’s awesome. So what is Steve from “Blue’s Clues” doing today?

Right now, just really focused and excited about releasing “Foreverywhere.” It’s a labor of love and we’re really excited to release it to the world. 

Would you ever go back to a kids show? Possibly a “Blue’s Clue’s” revival?

I don’t know how that would work. That’s such a fun idea, though. How would that work? Steve has gone to college and he majors in shapes and colors and he’s in the middle of doing his thesis on shapes and colors and he’s come back very professorial [Laughs].

Why not? When we use our minds and take a step at a time, we can do anything …

You can check out “Foreverywhere” on iTunes. The full album arrives in February 2017.

This interview has been edited and condensed.


Hit Backspace for a regular dose of pop culture nostalgia.

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Professor’s artwork uses US flags to stimulate KKK-style hoods


( CNN) A University of Miami assistant professor is eliciting plenty of dispute and debate with an artwork that mixes the Stars and Stripes with a KKK symbol — and she says that was exactly the idea.

Three American flags sewed into Ku Klux Klan-style hoods stand in the window of a faculty art exhibit in Miami’s historic Wynwood Art District. Visible from outside the gallery, they nabbed headlines even before the show opened October 23.

And the titled “American Mask” piece by Billie Grace Lynn still stands in the window — where it will remain until the exhibit’s end on November 12.

United Airline on Brink of Labor Peace Six Years After Merger


United Continental Holding Inc. won approval for a new contract with flight attendant and reached an agreement in principle with mechanics, defining the stage for labor peace for the first time since the 2010 merger that created the airline.

The Association of Flight Attendants voted 53 percent in favor of a five-year pact that raises top pay rates as much as 31 percent, according to a joint statement with the carrier Friday. United also reached a proposed deal with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters encompassing 9,000 technicians and related employees, which will be voted on once the language is finished.

The results bolster Chief Executive Officer Oscar Munozs strategy of winning over a disgruntled workforce, even if it entails accepting higher costs. United reached new agreements or extensions of existing ones with pilots, ground workers and dispatchers during the past year.

Upon ratification, this will be the first time in almost a decade that all United work groups will have labor contracts in place, Munoz said in a joint statement with the Teamsters.

When I took this job last year, I promised to turn the page and write a new chapter in our approach to labor and management relations at United, he said in the statement with flight attendants.

Flexible Scheduling

Maximum pay for flight attendant with at the least 13 years of experience will be set at $62 an hour, according to the contract ratified by the 25,000 -member union.

United had failed to reach a joint flight-attendant contract since its October 2010 consolidation with Continental Airline. The new deal will allow the carrier to put attendants from United and Continental on the same aircrafts for the first time.

A blended group of flight attendants should give United more flexibility in scheduling, especially when a cabin crew runs up against federally mandated allowable work hours and must be replaced. Until now, for example, a Continental crew could only be replaced by another from the same predecessor airline.

Attendants were farther divide by plane type. For example, Continental employees worked on Boeing Co. 737 jets, while United crews staffed jumbo 747 s. Both camps got a piece of the 787 Dreamliner, with former Continental crews working on the first 25 to join the companys fleet and United the next 25.

Cost Increase

Mechanics overwhelmingly repudiated an earlier bargain that would have given them a 25 percent create, an average bonus check of $9,000 and other benefits, with 93 percent of voters resisting the companys contract offer.

While many analysts see the labor pacts generally as positive, the deals will boost costs significantly. JPMorgan Chase analyst Jamie Baker in June estimated that the new agreements would increase Uniteds expenses by about $900 million annually. Those expenditures could hinder Munozs plan to find $3.1 billion in extra revenue or savings by 2018, analysts have said.

Leaders of the flight attendant union overcome significant opposition over the past six weeks to get members to support the deal. Some from the Continental camp complained that the contract was more generous to United attendants because Continental employees have had a slightly higher wage scale in recent years. Other attendants wanted a signing bonus. The union countered that the airline would have offset any such provision with lower wages.

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Supreme Court Rejects Texas Case On Same-Sex Marriage Benefits


WASHINGTON( Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme court on Monday refused to hear Houston’s appeal of a lower court ruling that hurled into doubt the city’s spousal benefits to gay married municipal employees, allowing a occurrence that tests the reach of the landmark 2015 decision decriminalize same-sex marriage nationwide to proceed.

The justices left intact a June ruling by the Republican-dominated Texas Supreme Court that resuscitated a lawsuit backed by a conservative group that advocates “biblical, Judeo-Christian values” aimed at blocking Houston from offering such benefits.

The high court’s action defined no nationwide precedent but may give a boost to conservative legal efforts to limit the effects of its decision in the case Obergefell v. Hodges that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to gay couples under the U.S. Constitution.

The case will now proceed in a Texas state court, which could decide to stop the benefits offered by the fourth most populous U.S. city. Such a ruling again could be appealed to the nation’s top court.

In another case involving the scope of protections provided by the Obergefell decision, the Supreme Court in June overruled a state court ruling that had allowed Arkansas to refuse to list both same-sex spouses on birth certificates.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday will hear another important lawsuit involving lesbian rights, a conservative Christian baker’s assertion that the Constitution protected his right to refuse to make a cake for a lesbian married couple in violation of his religious beliefs.

The Houston case began in 2013 when Jack Pidgeon, a local Christian pastor, and Larry Hicks, an accountant, sued the city after Annise Parker, a Democrat who was its first openly lesbian mayor, gave municipal spousal benefits such as health insurance and life insurance to same-sex married couples.

Pidgeon and Hicks argued that the benefits infringed the state’s constitution and country and local statutes against same-sex matrimony. They are backed by Texas state Republican leaders and the conservative advocacy group Texas Values. The humen had urged state’s highest court to “save Texas from unchecked ideological rulings from the federal judiciary.”

A state trial court initially sided with the two challengers, but after the 2015 Obergefell decision, an appeals court reversed that ruling.

Lawyers for Pidgeon and Hicks told the state Supreme court that the Obergefell ruling should be interpreted narrowly and did not require states to give taxpayer subsidies to same-sex couples any more than the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion necessitated states to subsidize abortions.

“It is clear that the current Supreme Court will continue to use its power to advance the ideology of the sexual revolution until there is a change of membership, ” their lawyers added.

In June, the Texas Supreme Court threw out the ruling favoring Houston, agreeing that the Obergefell decision “did not hold that states must provide the same publicly funded benefits to all married persons, ” and remanded the suit back to the trial court to allow the men to plead their arguments again.

The city and current Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, also a Democrat, appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, saying the dispute had already been determined because the Obergefell ruling extended to married same-sex couples the “constellation of benefits that the states have linked to marriage.”

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