Feminism and the Craft

I ran across this article this morning and it really made me consider the reasons I do crafty things. I’ve always been fascinated by art and art-like things. I remember as a kid, sewing my own Barbie clothes and molding candle wax into tiny sculptures (horribly ugly). In my teens and twenties, I had more time but less interest. Now that I am older, I have more of an interest in doing crafty things but less time. It’s such a vicious circle.

When we moved to Portland, I worked with this horrible woman. I can’t remember the name that we called her behind her back, but I think it was something similar to She-beast. She was loud, abrasive, rude, racist and homophobic. She was utterly unapologetic about her attitude because she was from New York City. She was a New Yorker! That’s how it’s done in New York! That’s how we act in New York!  (Yeah, I’m sure every New Yorker loves to be represented by a walking stereotype like her.)

But another woman in the office had a birthday and as a token of appreciation for her coming out to train me, I knitted up a little scarf for her in her favorite color. It was a simple lace scarf that took me a couple of hours.  Nothing major. She-beast takes one look at the scarf and condescendingly and dripping with disdain says, “How very domestic of you. Aren’t you the perfect little wifey!” It offended her sensibility that I would dare knit something for someone. I was a traitor to modern women for daring to do something that she consider old-fashioned and it was a strike to the plight of feminism. Why I didn’t punch her in the face is beyond me but it really gnawed at me.  Over the coming weeks, she told me how you can’t be a good employee or have a career if you have children, that women make the worst bosses, yadda cubed. And that was the least offensive stuff she said. Again, why I didn’t punch this woman or take it as a premonition that this job would suck…

Anywho, where was I going with the story…Yeah, that article. It’s a fascinating read. I thought about that horrible woman and my own motives for crafting. Is the current DIY movement/culture due to a lack of fulfillment of career or because of the desire to reclaim traditional engendered role in the household due to nostalgia of a past that we didn’t live because life seemed so simple? For me, it is a creative outlet. I see something and I have to make it. I don’t like to make things just because I can or things that don’t serve a purpose. And I try to take on creative projects that I can actually finish–Husband, please ignore the bags of fabric and unspun wool, the loom in the basement, the spinning wheel in the crawlspace and the other crafty crap I have that gotten around to messing with. I’m getting there!

I don’t see my arts and crafts as an escape to domesticity or a slight to feminism. Yes, there is always a desire to make shit and sell it in an Etsy shop but I tend to err on the side realism. It’s extremely hard to make a living off of handmade goods and I don’t want to turn the things I love doing in my spare time into a soul-sucking career that may or may not be sustainable. And before you say, “it doesn’t have to be that way!” Trust me, I know myself. I get bored doing the same thing for an extended amount of time. So for now, I’ll keep having fun and blogging about janky crafts. But read the article, it’s a very interesting read!