I’ve been taking a deep dive into cottagecore – an aesthetic I have appreciated for years but something I haven’t explored fully. I want to consider different viewpoints surrounding cottagecore and solarpunk ideologies, looking at the implication they have for queer communities. I will be utilising the InferKit AI to generate parts of this blog so my writing style may seem a bit different.
While both cottagecore and solarpunk ideologies and aesthetics have emerged in response to the hopelessness presented by the cyberpunk genre, they’ve done so in vastly different ways. Aesthetics are a key part of each genre, as they are often what draws people into the niche. Cottagecore presents a romanticised ideal of cottage life that smooths out the rough edges of society, imagining a simpler and less technological world where humans exist alongside nature. Meanwhile, solarpunk works towards a more realistic future and explores practical solutions to environmental issues that have been ignored for too long.
Cottagecore – Moving beyond escapism
Cottagecore has become a gentle form of escapism, growing exponentiality in response to lockdown and giving people needed a break from the harshness of reality. It presents an idealised world where humanity is more in touch with nature, allowing marginalised groups to form new communities away from a society based on patriarchal and heteronormative norms.
The cottagecore aesthetic encompasses a queer sensibility, allowing LGBTQIA+ people to imagine a space without homophobia, fear or judgment. Feminine elements are respected and powerful – contrasting to modern society where they are often frowned upon. The genre promotes a more utopian version of a modern world where humanity can heal, evolve and collaborate.
To look more into how this aesthetic has influenced my own experiences, I compared a Pinterest search for cottagecore with my regular feed and the Pinterest board I curated for my DA.
Cottagecore doesn’t have a unifying voice or manifesto, making it something easily adaptable that can be utilised by anyone across varying political spectrums. It has 3 major readings:
As a form of communal living outside of the pressures of commercialization. Motivating people towards change rather than idealising a reality seen by the privileged
Celebrating the archaic nature of the women’s place in the home with an emphasis on returning to past ideals – however this link is mainly created by people looking in on the niche
Climate change & sustainability
Tied to the climate crisis and ways in which people might live more sustainable lives to make the world a better place for humanity. As a way to empower young people, making them feel like they’re making a difference in their everyday lives.
Cottagecore can be viewed in a negative light due to its escapist nature, it is often seen to ignore bigger environmental issues and instead prioritising small acts that can make individuals feel good. However, a major part of the genre’s appeal is the knowledge that it is a romanticised view of the world. Those partaking in the cottagecore experience appreciate this dreamy imagery that presents marginalised life in a way the mainstream never does – they aren’t ignoring the harsh outside world, but rather working to make this dream a possible reality.
Solarpunk – Working towards a utopian reality
Solarpunk presents a more achievable future where humanity has found a balance between transforming technologies and sustainable living, Solarpunks believe in the possibility of sustainability for society and ecology as a whole. As opposed to escapism, it presents realistic solutions where humanity has won a climate fight – or is on the way there. This basis grounds it in modern and emerging future technologies, rather than magical solutions, it ties closely with design fiction in presenting a creative response to the challenges we face today. At its core, solarpunk is a type of design fiction, just with a unique aesthetic and specific goals.
There are 4 main requirements for a solution to be truly solarpunk; devices need to be made to work, be user-friendly, be upgradable and not come at a premium.
The solarpunk ideology blends aesthetics and politics, questioning what world will emerge when humanity finally transitions into renewables? It does have a distinct political lean, with the ‘punk’ in solarpunk representing rebellion, counterculture, and post-capitalism. It challenges greenwashing and instead works towards truly sustainable goals.
Queer people have always congregated together and formed communities, this solarpunk utopia creates new possibilities. Here we can explore queer liberation as a model for LGBTQIA+ rights, where queer people are not integrated into existing societal structures but set free of them. Solarpunks draw from different people, with unique views and ideologies – in this emerging world queer communities can have more of a voice and be present in a sharing economy.