Hem. I have been slack. This is due to many factors, but I put most of the blame squarely on knitting, which I have been doing a lot of. Also hanging out on ravelry, because that is what us knitters do, nowadays, apparently. (If you don’t know about ravelry, it’s like Facebook for people who knit, except that it has actual, useful applications. Also, I am sorry to tell you, if you don’t know about ravelry, you are tragically non-hip.)
I learned to knit in my teens, when it totally wasn’t cool, out of a book my mother gave me which had nice, clear instructions for how to make more hideous garments than you would ever care to shake a stick at. She did this because she already, at that age, had me pegged as “crafty”; better at womanly pursuits like cooking and sewing (I was making my own clothes by the time I was 12) than she was. Which was a slight contradiction, because, in fact, she was the one who taught me to sew, but I committed the cardinal sin of apparently enjoying it, rather than seeing sewing as a chore, or a frugal duty. My mother was a pretty strong feminist, you see; not that I am not, but she definitely had that whole doing things that are gendered female is bad thing going on. At least in some areas. One day I will tell you all about her 3 husbands. But I digress.
Well, not entirely, because I kind of wanted to write about this tension between craftiness and intellect, clearly exemplified by Stephanie in this post. Stephanie is quite possibly the most intellectual person I know, and her blog is smart and funny and highbrow and sometimes very moving (and again, if you don’t read it: tragically non-hip), and yet it made me really uneasy to see her expressing that idea that somehow talking about crafting objects is inappropriate; like somehow admissions that you are good with your hands maybe means you are less good with your brain. Or maybe that’s just my issue showing.
The other side of the coin, which really doesn’t help with the whole “smart feminists can’t also be knitters” meme, is that conversations on ravelry’s forums show a tendency (horribly common in female-dominant communities) to succumb to pressure not to express unpopular opinions, because, however civilly they are expressed, saying contentious things is “not nice”. And heaven forbid that women utter any words that are “not nice”, because of course that opens them up to being labelled as bitchy.
Unfortunately, I cannot point you to the discussion to see for yourself, because ravelry discussions are only visible to members. The discussion was about Yarn Harlot, and whether her humour is gendered, but it rapidly descended into a whole bunch of shrill “You can’t talk about her! She’s a member here! You are not nice!” hysteria. Even though the discussion was exceedingly civil, and in some cases quite literary critical, rather than personally critical (my opinons were of the milder sort, but unpopular – I don’t think she’s very entertaining, but for god’s sake don’t tell anyone). You’ll notice the strong strain of anti-intellectualism mixed in with the whole “be nice” directive here, too, dear reader.
Having managed to alienate another mostly female community by (according to my adversaries) “overthinking and bringing feminism and literary criticism into everything,” I felt I knew where this was going, but at the same time, I don’t want to leave it alone. It bugs me that I cannot be a smart woman who thinks about stuff, and at the same time, a woman who is good at traditionally female activities like knitting or sewing, or who has an interest in Boarding School Stories for girls, or a Nintendo obsession.
I don’t have an answer, or a pearl of wisdom, here. Apologies if you were looking for closure.
Also, we made some kick-ass Easter Eggs.