Tuesday

Of Course I'm a Feminist

This post has been brewing in my mind for a few weeks now, it started one morning over a lovely metropolitan breakfast and has ended with a sign on a noticeboard.

On Sunday I was accused of being a feminist. Why was I accused? Well I am not foolish enough to start bad mouthing my employer on the internet but there was a thing, it made me feel uncomfortable, I objected. What happened next? I was accused of being a feminist. Accused. Now before you start throwing copies of The Female Eunuch and How to Be a Woman at me let me clarify I am 100% feminist through and through*. I was brought up to believe that equality is important and relevant in my life. I don't think the fact that we have the vote and jobs means that the fight for equality is over. It isn't. If you're not sure of this follow @everydaysexism on twitter for a day and you'll see exactly how much there is still left to be done. So why then am I annoyed to be called a feminist. Well I'm not. It was the fact that I was accused of such and that the rest of the sentence involved the words 'get all militant' that really got me riled and has left me seething for days now. A friend and I discussed the etiquette of 'coming out' on your blog as a feminist, and trying to figure out what we had to add to the debate. Today I am finally taking the plunge and adding feminist debate to my list of things I will talk about on my blog.

Traditionally female crafts are at the root of my practice as an artist and as a crafter. I haven't got this far in my creative journey without having to think about the way these two ideals - traditional female pastimes (which could be argued were used as a way of subjugating women) vs my core feminist beliefs - make me question if my participating in a traditional role of femininity perpetuates a patriarchy I disagree with. I have even had this debate with my mother who watched in horror as I sat knitting a pair of socks for my husband one day, lamenting my betrayal of the feminist sisterhood. For me this conversation does belong on craft blogs, and does belong on a blog about my student experiences. It is a debate I find myself having almost every week with someone or other, intellectually stimulating, challenging debates about the nature of what I spend my days doing and the beliefs that I hold. From now on you can expect a little more discourse on this blog, some of it will be academic and based on the things I am reading or the discussions I am having, some of it will be frustration at the inherent sexism which sadly seems to be on the rise not on the decline, some of it will be anecdotes of sexism in action in 2012 - probably including the famous seminar where I had a 20 minute fight with my cultural studies lecturer who felt that feminism was 'a discussion that just isn't relevant any more' and later illustrated his argument by uttering the words 'boys don't knit in the same way girls don't drive ambulances'.**

I don't think any of you will be surprised or offended by this new addition to my blog and if you are brilliant - leave a comment and we can have a discussion about it! So here I am out of the feminist closet, off to sit in a pub, drinking wine, eating curly fries and knitting some socks.


*If you are unsure if you are a feminist I encourage you to use Caitlin Moran's handy check list taken from How To Be a Woman:

“But, of course, you might be asking yourself, 'Am I a feminist? I might not be. I don't know! I still don't know what it is! I'm too knackered and confused to work it out. That curtain pole really still isn't up! I don't have time to work out if I am a women's libber! There seems to be a lot to it. WHAT DOES IT MEAN?'
I understand. 
So here is the quick way of working out if you're a feminist. Put your hand in your pants.

a) Do you have a vagina? and
b) Do you want to be in charge of it?

If you said 'yes' to both, then congratulations! You're a feminist.” 

**I did of course win this argument by getting a first on the essay in question!

4 comments:

Katherine Harris said...

The part about using feminine crafts still perpetuating towards patriachy is really interesting! Kate and I talked about this in my tutorial today. Do you have any must read books on this all? I need to deepen my understanding of it all.

Penny said...

Have you read The Subversive Stitch:Embroidery and the making of the feminine by Rozsika Parker? They have it in the library and it is the classic work about these issues. I also have a couple of books/articles I can give you copies of that you might find useful.

Caramel Latte Kiss said...

Welcome out of the closet. Blogging about feminism is fun!

People are idiots about feminism make me very, very angry. If you crack a joke with me about my views, I slightly want to stab you in the eyes. Just sayin'

I think people (yes, people, not women) are wary of the term feminist because it has so many negative connotations. The stereotype of man-hating, bra-burning loons has tainted a lot of people's idea of what a feminist is. To me, if you've more got more than a handful of brain-cells, you ought to be a feminist. It's just common sense. Women aren't lesser beings. Therefore, feminist. Easy.

And of course crafting isn't anti-feminist. If you were knitting the socks because your husband was saying, "Woman! Knit me socks!" there'd be a problem, but as you're knitting them because you LIKE knitting, then where's the trouble there?

Feminism is about everyone being allowed to live their lives as they please. Simple as.

Kate Selene said...

sooooo glad to have read your post, especially after the chats we have had about craft and its role in our lives!cant wait to hear more!!

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