still livid

December 8, 2010

i got home today and found that sarah had left me an interesting comment on my fuel for the fire post:

Just wanted to chime in to say that while I agree the gross generalizations are incorrect and possibly offensive, when read in addition to the stories included in the book (a woman getting upset that the fancy cabled and colorwork sweater was going to goodwill, and that the simple dressy sweater was used to rake leaves), there is a bit of “tongue-in-cheek” humor to go along with it. However, that is a difficult thing to get across in writing.

Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the beautiful and wonderfully produced patterns in this book get overshadowed by the commentary and writing around it, that seem to upset some people.

I found the little anecdotes of men using cashmere hats to wipe up cat vomit humorous, and I plan on knitting more than a few of the patterns, because I like that I can choose my yarn, choose my gauge, and all the math and guesswork is done for me. And I choose not to get offended by generalizations, because really, everyone does it…all the time…and if that’s what got someone’s pattern published so I can use it, then so what.

i personally found no humor in any of the anecdotes.
i didn’t find any humor in men being portrayed as oblivious, unfeeling, neanderthals.

at first i thought,
“maybe it’s a gay thing?”
maybe it’s because i know so many queer folk who have suffered because they were unable to fit into these stereotypes that makes me extra sensitive.

maybe things like rampant anorexia and gay kids offing themselves left an right has nothing at all to do with being bombarded by messages about gender.

maybe i’m overreacting,
and men really can’t change
and women must do the changing in order to be happy with them
and with their knitting.

maybe sarah is right and everyone generalizes so there’s no point in getting worked up even when those generalizations cause me and people i care about pain.

she is right that the patterns were good.
but the book is marketed as a guide for women to understand men so they can tailor their knitting to them.

there had to be other,
more effective ways to market those patterns.

this is my blog,
my little corner of the internet.
if i’m offended, i’m probably going to write about it.
and while i still encourage people to ask their lys to remove that book from their shelves, it’s just my opinion.

thanks for sharing yours with me sarah.
you have an interesting worldview.

edit: i took down sarah’s email on the advice of my friend, the editor of the world. *sigh* maturity sucks.

15 Responses to “still livid”

  1. Faye Says:

    Women lose out as well when we let men get stereotyped like this–we miss out on all the great men our peers of that gender could have grown up to be if they weren’t pressured to live in those boxed-in roles. I consider myself lucky to have a guy who is wonderfully oblivious to this kind of thing. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt him sometimes, but he is himself and it is beautiful to see!

    Nothing wrong with knitting a pattern from the book if you like it, but the book itself? There’s definitely some issues with it.

  2. Megan Says:

    You crack my shit up. Into the volcano?

  3. Sarah V. Says:

    Nope… I totally, 100% agree with you. Generalizations about gender are not funny. They’re not cute anecdotes, and saying “oh everyone does it, so it’s not worth getting upset about” is the same as saying “it doesn’t matter if it’s upsetting to you because you’re in the minority”.

    Both women and men are hurt by these kinds of stereotypes. Most of the men I know would be enraged at the suggestion that they’re too stupid or emotionally challenged to understand the value of a handmade item.

    Anyway… I’m livid, too. It’s really, really not okay to give these kinds of generalizations a pass as humour. You were right in the first place!

  4. Donna Schulte Says:

    I haven’t seen the book but, based on your comments,it appears the author was trying to be “cute” to sell his book. It is always disappointing to hear/see these kinds of things. Even more disappointing when people who know better just let it go. Good for you for speaking up.

  5. Beth Says:

    Steven, I am 100% with you on this. Any rampant sexism, in the knitting world or the world in general, is not cool. I don’t care whether it is in a book of patterns with sexist anecdotes or when my boyfriend walks into our local LYS to meet me and discuss a spinning wheel purchase and is told “clearly you don’t belong here – who are you looking for?” – it is NOT OK. (And I have to tell you – I currently give no custom to any of my LYS’s except when I feel I can’t get the item I’m looking for anywhere else, or I need the item immediately, and I bought a spinning wheel online, because of this very issue. He doesn’t deserve to be treated like a 2nd class citizen because he happens to have testicles when he walks into our LYS.)

    I wish the world would wise up about gender roles, gender identification, and just being kind to your fellow human beings regardless of age, race, religion, sexual orientation, or yes, gender.

    I suppose everyone is entitled to their opinions, but this is YOUR space to do so, so opine away! Just wanted to give a “Hear hear!”

  6. kris Says:

    Livid,That woman acts like she doesn’t have a brain in her head ,letting a “man” figure out the math in a pattern, good golly, where is the adventure in that, sounds like the two of them belong back in the 50’s.Who says men can’t wear color,my aunt fanny ‘s girdle, color is great for everyone, I can’t believe a fellow knitter would endorse such rubbish, Hrrmp! I’ll feed that book to the fire too!

  7. Kim Says:

    Oh well just ignore offensive shit and don’t try to change thing, just laugh it off. Fuck that shit. I already ranted out the wazoo on twitter so I will end with these words. If we don’t speak up and try to change things, then nothing will change!

  8. clairelynow Says:

    Word up. I thought about getting that book for the patterns and then, y’know, noticed the content last year. I figured buying a pattern book so sexist is a lot like buying Playboy for the articles. I’m glad other people are horrified by using antiquated paradigms of gender to sell men’s patterns.

    It’s so odd too, when we live in a modern era where lots of men knit – and knit well. Franklin Habit is an excellent example.

  9. I’m a librarian, so the image of the burning book caused a bit of involuntary pearl clutching, then cheered, “Right ON!”

    My man-counterpart is not any of those things, and yet somehow still manly – the knitting, kilt-wearing, opera-going, beer-brewing, non-sports-watching kind of manly that would get pissed right the fuck off by that book, too.

  10. Janice Says:

    WTF! Generalizations . . . everyone does it . . . so what ?!? I repeat, WTF! I’m much more offended by her comments than I am by the book (and it offends me plenty.) Oh, well, my non-neanderthal husband and I have done our best to raise young adult children with a better world view — that is, a view toward making the world better. Thanks for helping, Sarah. Our next donation to the It Gets Better Project will be in your name.

  11. wanabelle100 Says:

    Yah, this is why I went to the bookstore three times to maybe get this book, but then turned around and walked out. The designs are good but not inspiring. And I’m PRETTY sure, all the men in my life that I think worth knitting for, appreciate any knitting. Yes, even cables. Cashmere hats? ESPECIALLY.

  12. Sunnyknitter Says:

    I don’t think your being offended has anything to do with being gay, it has to do with being an intelligent, caring person. Generalizations may be commonplace, but it doesn’t make them right. And sexism is NEVER right, now matter which direction it’s going and who’s doing it.

  13. Gina Says:

    My boyfriend BEGS me to knit for him. You are absolutely right! Hearing about this book’s blatant sexism makes me more than a little sad.

    PS. I totally made my boyfriend a cable hat. He fracking loves that thing.

    PPS. I love that your blog is being snowed in.

  14. Elsa Says:

    Hola! I just wanted to say that after I got linked to your blog, that post on the utter opposite of righteousness that was The Book We Shall Not Name got me to subscribe to your feed. You get +100 kudos for your response, for standing up for everyone, men and women and both and neither and saying “Fuck that shit!” +love

  15. Josie Says:

    First of all I want to say how happy I am that someone has criticised this stupid book- I feel intimidated into keeping my mouth shut when people rave about it, except in the Feminist Knitters group on Rav.

    It’s despicably patronising and infantilising to both men and women, and I’m touched that a sole man in the blogosphere has the wit to stand up and call out its’ stupidity. If more people thought like you the world would be a better place.


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