Craft is a feminist issue

embroidered uterus

Set of Anatomical Uterus napkins by Hey Paul Studios (at Etsy)


This week. Oh, this week.

We’ve had the continued harassment of women in gaming. The news that the so-called ‘Roast Busters’ are being let off with absolutely no charges laid. A “pick-up artist” who grabs women in choke holds and forces their faces up against his crotch being allowed to come and speak in Australia (too close for comfort- but then even on the other side of the world someone that disgusting would be too close for comfort).

It’s all made me angry. But the straw that broke the feminist camel’s back? A comment on a photo on Facebook. A friend of mine had put up a picture of his wife (who is expecting their baby) baking. And a misogynist acquaintance congratulated him on “doing it right”.

That got me. The idea that of all the things a woman can be, wife and mother are the only ones with real value, is one of many elements of patriarchy that I find distasteful. The pregnant wife in question is an intelligent woman in a demanding job. She’s got a lot of other accomplishments, and yet the only ones that seem to matter to Mr Sogynist and others like him are the ring on her finger and the baby in her belly.

I struggle a lot with these ideas, because as a crafter I worry I’m perpetuating a stereotype.  Crafts- at least sewing, knitting, crochet, cross-stitch and paper craft, are seen as ‘women’s stuff’ by a lot of people. I learned to do these things from the women in my family. I’ve met the odd guy who sews or knits etc, but they’re few and far between.

I love my textile crafts and scrapbooking. But I worry that I’m contributing to a tradition that both ring fences women and excludes men.

I can see how this same issue would put a lot of people- women AND men- off trying the kinds of crafts that I do. I wish it wouldn’t.

Because in the end, the only way we’re going to break these stereotypes down is by not letting them stop us doing what we love in a way that makes sense to us. Embroidered lady parts.  Knitted merkins. Making whatever the hell we want, because we want to, because it makes us happy and fuck anyone who doesn’t accept it. Molly Crabapple said in an article I saw today “I didn’t have a big break, I’ve just had tiny cracks in this wall of indifference until finally the wall wasn’t there any more”- doing our crafts, our way, regardless of gender- I think that’s how we start chipping away at the preconceived ideas about women and craft, and eventually, I hope, we’ll find that those ideas are so out-of-date as to seem ridiculous to everyone.

I think that’s the kind of crafting I can get down with.

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