Saturday, March 11, 2006

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  • I Knit and I Vote

    There never will be complete equality until women
    themselves help to make laws and elect lawmakers.
    -Susan B. Anthony

    I do not believe that women are better than men.
    We have not wrecked railroads, nor corrupted legislature,
    nor done many unholy things that men have done;
    but then we must remember that we have not had the chance.
    -Jane Addams, 1931 Nobel Peace Prize recipient

    I knit and I vote. So what is it that has my ire? Sknitty and Knit'n Lit Jenn pointed me in the directin of this article by the political director of NOW (National Organization for Women):

    Why Not Take Up Knitting? Looking Ahead to the 2006 Elections

    By Linda Berg, Political Director

    Are you tired of complaining about corrupt, unprincipled members of Congress? Do you cringe every time you hear George W. Bush or Dick Cheney's voice on the radio? Have you taken a new interest in the crossword puzzle since the front page news seems to deteriorate daily? With George Bush in the White House, Congress controlled by the right wing, and the Supreme Court possibly lost for a generation, why not take up knitting?

    Do I somehow lose the ability to stay abreast of current events because I'm knitting as I'm reading my newspaper and listening to NPR? I don't think so. I'd argue quite the opposite: That knitting - as both a creative, expressive act and as a communal activity - actually increases my social capital. It makes me more - not less - involved in my community, a community that is local, national, virtual, and global. It gives me a community that spans lines of class, race, national origin, education, religion, and fiber preferences. I'm not knitting to avoid the political-social-economic realities of my day. I'm knitting to engage them. If the assertion of the 20th c. feminist movement is correct - that the personal is political - then I'm knitting as a political act, as a statement as to the worth of the human person and the work one woman can create with her hands. And if feminism, that radical notion that women are as equal as men, is about choice, then I choose to knit. Because I like it.

    The only way for a woman, as for a man, to find herself,
    to know herself as a person, is by creative work of her own.
    There is no other way.
    -Betty Freidan, 20th c.


    And for the extended entry (except that I can't do that in Blogger):

    A historical note to read if you're interested in some great links, and because I've been reading a lot of 19th c. American history this semester:

    The American women's suffrage movement spent a lot of time claiming that granting women the franchise would fundamentally change politics, make it cleaner and more genteel and a better forum for reforming the vices of a degraded industrial capitalist society. (And their opponents agreed, and thus opposed them.) Time and time again, first in the Western states, then on a national level, this proved not to be the case. (Especially interesting in then-polygamous Utah which granted female suffrage in the 1870s.) Women vote, it turns out, just like men. (In fact, for several reasons, they vote more than men.) Women tend to vote not as bloc of women voters, but as church-goers, Southerners, African-Americans, liberal-listeners-of-NPR, environmentalists, and especially, given the feminization of poverty, wage earners.

    I resent the assertion that only women should be concerned for women's rights or "women's issues." If women as workers brings down the average wage to below a living wage, it lowers the average wage for men as well. This was as true in 1836 when the seamstresses went on strike as it is today. Reproductive issues - in the absence of ground-breaking new modes of conception I have not yet heard of - clearly involve men as well as women. Women serving in the military and whether they serve in combat or non-combat roles and their safety in military institutions - clearly, these are not simply women's issues. Even something as apparently self-evident as the Equal Rights Amendment was opposed by feminists who contended that it would subject women to the draft.

    16 Comments:

    Blogger Chris said...

    Great post, Theresa. Thank you - you definitely got my brain going!!

    3/11/2006 10:24 AM  
    Blogger Carrie K said...

    What the heck is that supposed to mean? I knit and therefore I've magically been transformed into a Stepford Wife? I can no longer form opinions? Because I knit?? WTH? What a terrible misognynistic thing to say.

    Thanks for the article, Theresa!

    3/11/2006 1:47 PM  
    Blogger Liz K. said...

    Great post, Theresa. We can knit and think at the same time. Maybe we need to have bumper stickers that say, "I knit and I vote!"

    3/12/2006 7:01 AM  
    Anonymous Wonderland Knitter said...

    Yes, bumper sticker - I knit and I vote! I just hate it when everyone tries to put people in boxes. It's shows such a narrow world view!
    Great food for thought!

    3/12/2006 7:07 AM  
    Anonymous antje said...

    Theresa, thanks for that post!

    3/12/2006 7:20 AM  
    Blogger Marina said...

    Sheesh, why do women do that to other women?

    3/12/2006 8:11 AM  
    Anonymous Leah said...

    Hear, Hear!

    My only question: How did you generate such eloquence in your sleep deprived state?

    Quite impressive.

    3/12/2006 8:43 AM  
    Blogger Charleen said...

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    3/12/2006 8:58 AM  
    Blogger Charleen said...

    Very well written post, Theresa, along with some great links. Thanks. I'm starting a unit on social stratification, including the feminization of poverty, tomorrow with my classes.

    I know what you mean, Marina, why do some women have to bash each other?

    3/12/2006 8:59 AM  
    Blogger Engineer Anonymous said...

    Excellent post! Yes, I knit and I vote. I vote in every election.

    3/12/2006 10:28 AM  
    Anonymous Rachel said...

    I'm sorry dearie, but my brain just can't understand these complicated political thingies you're talking about. I don't understand why a nice knitter like you wants to get all involved in these complicated issues. I think I'm more cut out for arts and crafts, myself, and I'll leave this thinking thing to the menfolk -- I'd advise you to do the same and get back to your sock darning.

    3/12/2006 10:56 AM  
    Anonymous jillian said...

    Very well said - that was a joy to read. Oh shoot- I just read Rachel's comment. He!

    Anywho, at my heart I have never considered myself a "feminist". I consider myself a human. Of course I agree women should have equal rights. But separating everything into "women's issues", especially by left-wing groups like NOW, serves to forward the perception that women are in a different and separate group. We are not. We can do anything a man can do.

    These thoughts were percolating in the back of my head since yesterday. But your post so eloquently and clearly described this aspect of the issues much better than anything I had been thinking!

    3/12/2006 2:28 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Terri, I find it amusing that "feminist" has become almost a four letter word. It has turned into a generational thing. "When I was your age..." few women had the opportunities and choices that you now enjoy and can take for granted, this is a great thing. Now all the old "feminists" are dying. I figure the next generation will re-discover the word and again, it will be a badge of honor/rallying cry and not just an antiquated, outdated, and"negative" term. It will be interesting to see. Reading Citizen Girl--lots about women's rights and young women today--food for my thoughts. Love, Aunt Carol

    3/12/2006 5:13 PM  
    Blogger Jenn said...

    Great post - thanks for all the resources!

    3/12/2006 8:19 PM  
    Anonymous Katja said...

    Why am I not surprised you've once again contributed to broadening my horizons. I googled some of the stuff and read about the inception of the NAACP. I learned something today - just like you said, 25 is not too late.
    I'm gonna miss having you around. You're so educational. For other reasons too though :)

    3/12/2006 9:46 PM  
    Anonymous JayJay said...

    I completely agree, Theresa!

    Wasn't the whole point of the women's movement that we should be able to choose to work or to stay at home, to knit our socks or to buy them, and that we should respect each woman's choices?

    Also, you can knit while poll watching during elections. Perhaps if more people in Florida had done this, things would be different now....

    3/13/2006 6:57 AM  

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