fuel for the fire

November 25, 2010

let me just say how thrilled i was to see so many of you guess the book.
it is,
knits men want:
the 10 rules every woman should know before knitting for a man

by the stupendously sexist bruce weinstein.

all of you will be getting yarn.
a promise is a promise.
my poor stash!

this book made me so angry so often,
i found it nearly unbearable to get through.
i was constantly shouting things like,
“oh my god! that is so offensive!”
“who the fuck is this guy?!”
“are you kidding me?!”
or simply a high-pitched “AHHHHHHH!!!!”

i know i know.
if something is bad in the knitting world,
we’re supposed to shut up and smile.

fuck that noise!
there’s no way i can keep my mouth shut for this one.
but since eviscerating this book line by line would take too long,
let’s just look at some highlights.

i shall call it, the 10 most offensive excerpts from “knits men want”

1. “When men don’t wear what women make them, they’re just being men−with their own quirky likes and dislikes and an inability to express them. When they abuse the garments knitters make them, they’re still just being men−hardwired not to think about feelings, not to think about how much work went into making them, and not to understand why their behavior is so upsetting. Women can’t expect to change these make characteristics, but they can change what they choose to make for the men in their lives.”

i can’t believe in the new millennium people are allowed to make sweeping, generalized, essentialized statements like this.

2. “Men and women behave differently; we all know this to be true. In general, women cry and men don’t. Women share their feelings and men don’t. And women try on clothes and men don’t.”

sneaky bruce! using “we” as a rhetorical tool in an attempt to put the reader on your side by including them grammatically in your argument. unfortunately all i did was scream, “HOW ARE PEOPLE STILL ALLOWED TO WRITE THINGS LIKE THIS?!”

3. “Ideally, he’ll also try on the sweater you’re making as you go, though this can sometimes take some convincing. Here are a few tricks: […].
• Never ask him while he’s watching TV, reading the paper, or engaged in some other activity that’s important to him. Instead, ask him to try on the sweater in the morning as he’s getting dressed or in the evening as he’s getting ready for bed. With his clothes off already, he may be more willing.
• Bribe him. If you’re dealing with a romantic partner, tell him you’ll take something off for every piece he puts on.”

yes women, use your sexuality to get what you want.
make sure you teach your daughters this lesson as well.
and honestly. how important can watching tv or reading the paper be? do people even still read the paper?

4. “Rule #6: Men don’t want anything cute−except you.”

got that women?
if you’re not cute, men won’t want you!
so make it a priority.
just not in his sweater.

5. “Women often suffer for fashion−eyebrow tweezing, bikini waxing, chemical peel, stiletto heels−the list goes on and on. […]. Most men, on the other hand, won’t put up with discomfort for any reason. Dare we call them babies? […]. For men, comfort trumps fashion and all sentimentality. So what does this tell you? […]. No matter how much you like a yarn (or how much you paid for it), your guy isn’t going to be interesting in wearing it−no on his back, his feet, or even his hands−if it doesn’t feel good next to his skin. Despite his five-o-clock shadow, calloused palms, and disinterest in romantic comedies, this is one way in which men are sensitive.”

yes women, men are babies. make sure to mother them!
it’s the best way to get what you want
and i hear it’s quite the turn on!

get real bruce!

i think every single woman on what not to wear is guilty of choosing comfort over style. it is SO not exclusively a male trait.

i have worn 7″ platform pumps for an eight-hour stretch. yes by the end of the night, my feet were in agony. but the same is true of my prada loafers. and every day when i came home from my job in the business world, i took off my dress shoes with a loud sigh of release from another day of discomfort.

uncomfortable shit hurts, and we all wear it because it’s socially required of us. when we don’t, we forfeit social rewards for choosing our own comfort over fashion.

6. “Men can’t fake it. Not in bed, or anywhere else. Take him to the ballet on the night of a championship basketball game and he won’t even pretend to enjoy himself. Same story if you knit him a sweater he doesn’t like−he may put it on once or twice to please you, but ultimately, it’s destined for the back of the drawer or the charity pile.”

i have no words.

7. “Men aren’t dainty. Therefore, they need manly buttonholes, which are stronger than standard buttonholes and able to withstand some bullish abuse.

so if you’re male and dainty, you’re not a man.

8. “Women love to impress, stand out in a crowd. Men love to blend in, not call attention to themselves.”

how about theses stereotypes: all those men with fast cars, flashy suits, trophy wives, and all the men of jersey shore. yup. just trying to blend in.

and to give a knitterly example, i’m reminded of the fact that adrienne martini’s husband has requested that she knit him the the henry viii sweater by alice starmore. clearly a wallflower sweater.

9. “[…] men don’t communicate as well as women do, so you’ll rarely get him to tell you up front what he likes. But if women want to succeed at knitting for men, they’re going to have to find a way to extract this information from the male brain.”

that’s right, i have all these thoughts and feelings and no idea how to tell you. don’t bother asking me. just use subterfuge and elaborate stratagems to figure me out.


to me this cover says, “behind every good man is a good woman”
trained by a bruce weinstein to bend over backwards to change who they are to meet his every knitterly need

some things this book taught me:
• everyone is straight.
there is no room for anyone who isn’t, even in the knitting world.
• women will find fulfillment by spending a lot of time figuring out the needs of their uncommunicative men and then spending hours and hours knitting them something. if they do everything right, they will be rewarded by the men wearing the garment. if not, expect heartache.
• you don’t need a degree in neuropsychology, genetics, human behavior, human biology, gender studies or any other qualification to speak about the complexity that is gender. nor do you have to provide any hard evidence to back up your work. you simply need the y chromosome to speak accurately about male behavior. this will also be all you need to teach women to behave properly.

the thing that is actually so dangerous about this book,
or any book that talks about gender in this way,
is that it is never merely descriptive,
but also prescriptive.

by saying, this is how men are,
you are teaching them how to be.
you are saying, if you want to be a man, you must behave this way.
hearing this over and over makes people believe it to be true.
even if everything he writes describes every man in your life,
it is dangerous and irresponsible to think all men are the same.

if you expect a man to be uncommunicative,
he will be.
if you expect a man to know nothing about fashion,
he won’t.

the sad part is,
there are some nice patterns in this book.
it is well put together, and lovely to look at.
(quelle supris, jared flood did the photography. shame!)
why then must it be coupled with some of the most sexist writing ever?

seriously, i could go on and on.
i won’t because my readers, as few as they might be in number,
have proved they are intelligent.
you don’t need me to point out how outdated thinking like this is.

here’s my final two sense on the subject:
if you found this book as offensive as i did,
ask the owner of your lys to take it off the shelf.
i did.

and if anyone in your life doesn’t appreciate your knitting,
man, woman, child, or other,
fuck ’em.

finally, we have a FO: nancy in her vest:

pattern: dr. g’s memory vest
yarn: wool from isis, a sheep nancy helped to sheer,
spun up by stonehedge fiber mill
a pattern written by a woman for men
knitted by a man for a woman.
how’s that for a knitting gender fuck?

nancy loved it,
and it will keep her warm on thanksgiving day.


i prefer an old fashioned fire.