Knitting While Feminist

I just read an interview with Nora Gaughan the other day that I unfortunately now can’t find where she discusses her feelings about having studied the hard sciences yet choosing knitting as a career. She touches on this issue of feeling uncertain or even guilty for choosing a traditionally feminine career path and the pressure of having to choose a field where women are traditionally underrepresented (such as biology).

It’s an interesting problem that I completely identify with. Feminism (to me) is supposed to be about choice, about eliminating socially constructed gender roles. Yet I personally feel this pressure to be respected by taking on what are supposed to be male roles and by rejecting things that are traditionally assigned to females. The thing is it just puts women into a different constrained box, instead of opening up all the choices possible (not that men don’t have similar gender constraints…). Not to mention the belittlement of those “feminine” activities, which can often be huge accomplishments.

It’s the loss of choice. Like the mommy wars–where now we have women fighting with each other over each other’s choices (which in that case I think is more of an unwillingness on both ends to accept these choices have trade-offs, but that’s another discussion).

The reality of it is that things like knitting and sewing represent the things I most respect in anyone: cultivating a truly technical skill and creating beautiful and inherently useful things with one’s own hands. I think both of those things transcend gender and are just accepted as human efforts worthy of admiration because they engender so many honorable qualities: diligence, patience, and hopefully some talent…

Maybe that’s why I’ve been able to embrace them so fully…despite my warped sense of feminism.

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One Response to “Knitting While Feminist”

  1. shopgirl Says:

    love your post on feminism. I harbor the same guilty feelings for choosing a career in fashion after being a math and science star during my years in school.

    I would love to see you knit the Phildar cardi. I modified it in ways that completely ruined it. I think if it was knit according to pattern, it would be totally great!

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