Wednesday, April 28, 2010

And Even More on Knitting

The picture is made by me. It's reverse applique and applique and embroidery. Click on it to see the details.

What a wonderful discussion below in my first knitting post! Thank you, all. Just when I think I can't take the arguing anymore something like that happens and blogging is, once again, fun.

Reading the comments, while keeping in mind that 'knitting' here means any pink-smelling handicraft, I noticed one reason why I have ambiguous feelings about the idea of reclaiming them:

Feminists are not reclaiming something like a dead language here, but reclaiming something which is still very much a living language (in some cultures in the U.S. and in many cultures abroad), and often one forced on little girls, whether they wish to learn it or not, because doing certain crafts is part and parcel of the female gender role. That the reclaiming and this no-choice-world are taking place at the same time is what causes my worry.

The analogy might be to the use of the slur "cunt." Some feminists have tried to reclaim the word, to use it in a different and positive meaning. But given the widespread use of the term in the general society, that reclaiming really does not work. Instead, it may give "cunt" more power as an insult, because even feminists use it!

Using that analogy, reclaiming knitting and other crafts might be used to support patriarchal gender roles in general. I don't think that is actually going to happen, mostly because feminists are not powerful enough to have that effect in the groups which bring up girls all ready for an inferior life as women. But this is the theoretical aspect which sticks in my craw.

But note that all of this has to do with the question: "Is knitting feminist?" It has nothing to do with related questions of whether knitting is fun and creative and useful and psychologically helpful and so on. Of course knitting and other similar crafts are awesome! So is cabinet-making, book-binding, pottery and so on.

I guess the real question I'm asking, once again, is about how to define feminism. How wide is the definition? How specific? What is it that drives it? Do we start from concepts or from women or both?
Added later: Lindsay's take on this topic is a good one.