The Other Foot

August 19, 2011 - 5:02pm -- swingbug

I know a few people who are all up in arms about this article in the Huffington Post. I read it. It made me laugh a little. When you’re confronted with that kind of ignorance, often the only practical thing to do is to take whatever amusement you can out of it (that being said, if she had linked out to my blog in that piece of rubbish, I would have been pissed too; I’ve totally got your back, Stephanie) and then let it go.

And here I am, not letting it go.

I’m not riled up and spitting venom, so much as I’m standing against the wall smirking. The idea that a woman cannot be bad-ass and also enjoy a cupcake and a pair of knitting needles is too preposterous to truly be taken seriously.

I work a full-time technical job. I’m a wife and mom. I run a literary magazine. I speak several programming languages. I study dance. I enjoy 19th century literature. I can fix your computer, explain plate tectonics to you, and yes, knit you a sweater.

Not that I think you’re worth it.

Lady, while you’re ranting about how the post-feminist values of our society are failing to meet your superhero bra-burning standards, I’m smiling at you from the back of the room because I am wonder woman, and you’re too busy yelling to notice. And I’m standing in a lot of good company.

Look, the women’s rights movement is not about shuffling off cookbooks and needlepoint. It’s about the right to vote, equal pay for equal work, and the right to choose our occupations, professionally and recreationally. It’s gender equality.

And that gender equality thing is a two-way street, incidentally. My husband knows his way around my Viking sewing machine, does the bulk of the cooking, and is an equally involved parent. Just as I can fix the toilet, trouble-shoot the printer, and file our taxes.

A stranger approached me in a pizza place once, gesturing at my kid. “That’s so refreshing,” she said, beaming at me.

I looked at my kid chopping through a rather messy slice of pepperoni and raised an eyebrow at her.

“To see a little girl in a t-shirt with construction gear on it. That’s great.”

“Actually he’s a little boy with long hair.”

“Oh.” She turned away, clearly less impressed with me as a parent.

I see.

Look, I’m bad-ass because I have an education and I use it. Because I vote, and work, and pursue new ideas and new challenges. Because I take care of my family and I let them take care of me.

If baking cupcakes and reading Martha Stewart revokes our status as modern women, if we must take kick-boxing and drink beer to be awesome, then we haven’t shed our shackles, we’ve just taken them off one foot and put them on the other.

The skills of home-making (and they are skills) are still of great value to our society and to our families, and these days those skills can be shared between both men and women. One should be able to tie a quilt or swap recipes with a neighbor without gender judgement of any shape or form. And by and large, people can and do just that.

It does not affect my status as a “tough gal” as Ms. Aloi puts it, because I have more choices of recreational activities and happen to choose to study the same ones as my grandmother.

And Ms. Aloi? I just knit a cabled sweater in stainless steel/silk thread. Whose more bad-ass, me or you?

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Submitted by Emily on

I completely agree! Wow what an impressive sweater! Is it on Ravelry?

Submitted by Lizzy on

I read that article, and thought she pretty much missed the point of feminism, by assuming that knitting, or any of the other activities she mentioned, automatically makes a one-dimensional "girlie" woman. You rebutted it eloquently. Thanks.

Submitted by Kim on

Perfectly said!

Well said! The bra-burning went out with the radicals of the '70's. Now we prove our worth in the boardroom as well as the kitchen. We are great at multitasking. And knitting is a profession as well as a hobby. Shows she isn't keeping up with creative professions because she is stuck in front of the TV thinking that is how life is.

Submitted by mccutcheon on

"If baking cupcakes and reading Martha Stewart revokes our status as modern women, if we must take kick-boxing and drink beer to be awesome, then we haven’t shed our shackles, we just taken them off one foot and put them on the other."

I love this sentence. It's beautiful. perfect image!
(btw I did get a little riled up and commented at huffpost)

Submitted by GeniaKnitz on

Beautiful. Just beautiful.
Thank you.
(And you write way better than she does, too.)

Submitted by Liz on

Fantastic! Well said.

I too was angry, it's cooled to annoyed/ confused/ amused at this point. I had to remind myself that there were women hating on other women during the Suffragette movement; including dissing women who wanted to vote and still knit as somehow holding back others. There were women hating on women during the 60's too. Gloria Steinhem certainly got a fair share of criticism because of her looks; like somehow you can't value equal rights for both genders and wear makeup.

There will always be people who have a very narrow view of what it means to be anything. I'm elated that they appear to be in the minority.

Well written! I found myself nodding and smiling while reading. Also, not to quibble, but Martha Stewart is pretty badass herself, having made a successful empire out of women's work, survived a jail sentence, and come back stronger than ever. She's feminine like it's her job. :)