Double scoop of outrage over Pidapipo’s gendered gelato is plain depressing

Article by Matt Holden /
Sydney Morning Herald /
October 03, 2017  /
Click here to view original  /

Most nights the queues outside Pidapipo gelateria in Lygon Street spill out the door and along the footpath. Even in winter you can expect to wait 10 minutes before you get a chance to shout your order over a pumping soundtrack to one of the young gelato slingers.

Usually the only problem is deciding what to have: a small cup of bacio? Nutella swirl with a sloosh of warm Nutella on top? Maybe the mojito (pronounce the “J” to sound like an Italian).

But this week people have been lining up for a double scoop of outrage, and we’ll have that in a waffle cone, please.

Pidapipo’s Lisa Valmorbida usually enjoys a sanguine relationship with social media, with endless Instas of her delicious flavours doing her marketing for her.

But an Instagram post promoting two ice-cream flavours she’d created for online fashion stores Net-A-Porter and Mr Porter – strawberry rose with white chocolate and raspberry dust for women, salted caramel with milk chocolate and malt crumb for men – has social media users rounding on this blatant gender stereotyping of icy confectionery.

As the University of Melbourne’s Dr Lauren Rosewarne soberly pointed out, gendered gelato is “unnecessary”. It’s also not the first time food has been gendered for marketing purposes, and it won’t be the last.

It must have seemed like a brilliant idea, mixing men’s and women’s fashion with artisan gelato for a spring racing carnival promotion. What could possibly go wrong? Maybe next time they can have the gender studies department vet their campaign before it gets them in the paper.

And before people get their hashtags out, let me say that I’m not here to defend gendered gelato. Of course pink gelato isn’t only for girls and beige isn’t just for boys.

It was a silly idea: pin an “embarrassed” emoji on it and move on.

Assumptions that cause no trouble in some circles – spring carnival would have to be one of the most heavily gendered events on the calendar – can trigger explosions on Instagram and Facebook that’ll take your lower leg off.

You have to wonder whether the people who police this stuff haven’t got anything better to do – and how different a worked-up millennial with an iPhone is from the angry oldsters stoking themselves with daily doses of that legacy media outrage machine, the talkback radio.

Even more depressing is the spectacle of another backdown to a bit of social media white noise, with Pidapipo deleting the post and putting an apology on Instagram. How about standing behind what you say for a change – “Yeah, we did it. The post is there. And so are the ice-creams. Take ’em or leave ’em.”