Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Did anyone read this in the Guardian on Saturday? - The Nigella Effect

A great article I read in the Guardian. 'Is Craft a radicle re-evaluation of women's skills or is it a slap in the face of feminism? Tanis Taylor Unpicks the argument'....

Click here to read the article in full

"Our ancestors may have crafted because they had to; women today craft because they want to" Tanis Taylor

Your thoughts??

7 comments:

alabama whirly said...

mm, well I read all that knitwit and I have to say that knitting is not letting my feminist side down. I am no martha stewart as any of you that have been to my house can say, I think of knitting as a continuation of my artistic practice and because I can do it anywhere.

In fact the argument that we are chipping away at any feminist progress is wrong in the Outcast, we get together, we are stronger as a grou of women (with some men), tere is a sense of community and spirit, we are making things for ourselves, sometimes for frivolity and sometimes too make money or give as gifts but most of all we do it because we love it.

I also feel it fits in with a different kind of ethos, stepping away from the consumer society and making choices, like advocating indie stores and cafes, individuals who make things - like the amazing skeinqueens yarn and supporting young and future knitwear designers like you knitwit.

When my mum knitted for us, it was because of necessity and wealth and being at home because those were the times when the majority of mums stayed at home, my mum did work but she worked at nights when my dad was home. I can have a professional career,, be a mum, have a fantastic group of knitting mates and still have feminist ideals... maybe I have it all?

alabama whirly said...

sorry for long ranty post with spelling errors, I just had to reply right away!!

machi said...

I think that there are a bunch of flaws with the idea that crafting winds back feminism. First of all, how are crafts domestic? That is not a given. I mean, someone who knits 100 pairs of gloves a year, or makes 300 rings a year...how is that domestic? The assumption that it's not a viable business (part time or otherwise) is a big assumption. Surely it's a good thing that skills that women have traditionally had are being valued and it is, potentially, big business (see Etsy). Besides, who said it has to make money to be worth something? The arguments against are framed in a patriarchal way - crafts are not useful to feminism because they are done in the home and don't make money. That's a pretty ridiculous argument against. And not necessarily true, besides. Hm, hope that made sense...

SallyF said...

I think it's more 'post-feminist' (hate that word) - ie that we craft because we can, because we now have a choice about industry, domesticity, labour, handmade, commercialism - all of those things. And because we recognise that crafting can align us with our personal heritages, a direct lineage to our mothers, grandmothers and so on, a nod to their skills and their battles, both personal and political; individual and collaborative.

There are, and always have been, hidden fights against patriarchy in crafting, particularly in group situations so it's wrong to suggest that a return to crafting is stripping away feminism as its a myth that crafting always meant oppression. I could go on but will get off my soapbox for now...

in the meantime you may be interested in some research I'm doing... more *here*

SallyF said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
00Z said...

I think it just boils down to the feminists fear as a result of ignorance, as with most lines of attack. Now, who can help me with my tassels on Thursday? x x

Felix said...

This is an interesting article, though I'm sad it glosses slightly over some of the finer-points surrounding Brocketgate and The Gentle Art of Domesticity. I think there were some issues to do with class, consumerism, art/craft etc. that were very problematic with that book and I think the debate it caused was more problematised and complex than simply 'this book is anti-feminist, craft is anti-feminist,' etc.

...but whatever about Yarnstorm and her book, crafting in itself isn't anti-feminist and a lot of people who objected to the book were crafters themselves, so the backlash wasn't anti-craft. I personally think crafting is immensely empowering. I find my knitting group is certainly not a place where I could easily feel held-back or oppressed! I love the way we talk, share our projects, opinions and viewpoints and make things. It's a very rich environment both for developing skills and sharing support, and I enjoy the sense of collective organising and support I find there. Reading the comments of others here, I think this is a common experience of belonging to a crafty group?

There is a lot still to be said about the relationship between craft and consumerism; the desire to simply live a different way, and to make things ourselves rather than buying everything... I agree with what this journalist says in as much as we still *don't* value craft enough... but in some ways this is more to do with our global economy and our skewed values. It is somewhat insane that one can buy a pair of socks in Primark for under £1 while knitting your own may cost up to £30 (if you go for really lavish yarn!) not to mention the cost of labour. When I knitted a recent commission, I didn't even get minimal wages for the knitting time in terms of what the project cost me to make, but if I had priced according to my time, it would have seemed extortionate because we are so used to buying from the global, sweatshop market. I think in many ways although the value-of-craft model still relates to feminism, the more recent issues of consumerism and production are perhaps more relevant. The slow food movement is something of an equivalent to the crafting thing and it would be interesting to see some comparisons drawn there.

Sorry, a wordy post... but I'm really interested in all these questions surrounding craft/feminism and so on, and intrigued by how important this debate is to all the knitters I know!