Slate has discovered that one of its suggested coping mechanisms for living in Donald Trump’s America may in fact have contributed to the rise of racism and xenophobia. The culprit? Colorful socks.
The Danish cultural phenomenon of hygge has invaded the west, leaving a trail of comfy socks, knit sweaters, and scented candles in its wake. The gospel of hygge—no one agrees on its pronunciation—centers on comfortable living and coziness designed to inspire contentment and, as one evangelist put it, mimic “how we felt when we lived in the uterus,” though this uterus comes equipped with a $55 adult coloring book.
Hygge has been the hottest property in lifestyle literature over the past year—Amazon features 104 books on hygge published in 2016 alone. The Oxford English Dictionary shortlisted it for its 2016 word of the year alongside alt-right, Brexiteer, and woke, while Collins Dictionary named it a finalist alongside Brexit and Trumpism.
Slate’s feminist vertical, the XX Factor: What Women Really Think, suggested in October that hygge may serve as an escapist paradise amid the dizziness of the campaign trail. The site noted that Denmark is “the world’s happiest country,” and hygge gurus link that sense of satisfaction to candlelight. The data backs up the causal link, as “Denmark burns more candles per capita than any other nation on the continent and more than twice as much as the No. 2 country on the list (Austria)”
“The U.S., in the throes of the Trumpocalypse, and Britain, fresh off a Brexit vote—are starved for the kind of peace and comfort Denmark, with its hyggelig cafés and firmly-affixed social safety net, apparently enjoys in spades,” XX Factor said. “A cozy evening on a fluffy settee, full of hot beverage and some sort of pie or equally buttery pastry, sounds like just the antidote for the past few months of watching a human cigarette and his puppetmaster chip away at the few wobbling buttresses our democracy’s got left.”
President-elect Donald Trump’s upset victory, however, has changed the tenor of Slate’s appreciation for Denmark’s “firmly-affixed social safety net” and “copious cups of calming teas.”
On Monday, hygge joined fake news, white people writ large, white women in particular, and the sexist, white supremacist electoral college as a reason that Hillary Clinton lost the election. Slate has realized that “Denmark’s Hygge Aesthetic Is Comfy, Cozy, and Complicit With the Rise of Xenophobic Populism.”
The article, written by a London-based male writer and published in XX Factor: What Women Really Think, revealed that there is a “sinister edge” to the trend that is partly responsible the “bilious mess of daddy-didn’t-love-me assuming the U.S. presidency.” The socks, comfy sweaters, and cozy fire come with a price: “closed doors [that] suggests a conservative undercurrent.”
“Poured into hygge’s candlelit sweetness, like a cloying cream filling, are inevitable and explicit cases of xenophobia and racism,” Slate said, citing that an anonymous person in a closed chatroom made a racist joke while having hygge in his username. “This little hygge anecdote should raise doubts about just how apolitical hygge can claim to be.”
The article said that liberals should avoid the temptation to retreat to cozy bubbles, which would only further contribute to hygge’s ultimate goal of excluding foreigners. Slate, which argued that There’s No Such Thing as a Good Trump Voter in November, urged readers to begin “engaging with other people, not just those we feel comfortable with.”