May 22, 2019

Cynthia Nixon's Bagel-Gate Scandal

“So it was no wonder that when Cynthia Nixon, the actor who’s running against Andrew Cuomo in the New York Democratic gubernatorial primary on Thursday, made a decision, at Zabar’s the other day, to order a Nova with cream cheese on a cinnamon-raisin bagel, it got more attention than you’d think such an inoffensive-seeming issue could get. Opinions about the cinnamon-bagel incident vary. Some think that it sullies her New York credentials—no one who knows bagels or Nova would put those things together (with capers and onions, no less). Others insist, tongue in cheek, that it’s a sign of latent anti-Semitism—she was deliberately slighting good bagel-ordering practices, and on the eve of the High Holidays, too. Still others think that it shows how sexism creeps into even the cream-cheesed corners of our world. That last claim, which resembles the one offered on the pumpkin-spice latte, goes like this: when women like things, particularly things that are sweeter than things men often like, or are taught to like, then those things are instantly downgraded and mocked as unworthy of serious taste-attention. If a woman likes it, it’s marginalized as infantile by the men who control the discourse. Men like strong whiskey, goes the stereotype, and women like sweet liqueurs—so the sweet liqueur is immediately made less “serious” than the Scotch. What’s wrong with a cinnamon-raisin bagel for Nova purposes, except that dead white dudes didn’t eat it? In any case, the pro-Nixon argument goes on, as a lifelong New Yorker and a longtime Upper West Sider, she knows perfectly well what goes on a bagel. Her rejection of bagel-normative discourse was not ignorance but a creative violation, in the interests of a significantly transgressive and actually delicious sweet-and-salty taste.”

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