I Knit and I Vote
themselves help to make laws and elect lawmakers.
-Susan B. Anthony
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 DirectorAre 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.
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.