Knitting and gender.

August 30, 2006 at 9:38 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

If there’s one thing I dislike about knitting as a social thing it’s the emphasis that’s placed on gender. You’re either a woman who’s knitting because it’s a womanly thing, because you’re chanbelling your nurturing energies into a craft, because you’re feminine. The women are the ones that pay attention to accessories and colours and what goes well in what season, etc etc etc. To be a female knitter, it seems to be ‘understood’ that you are feminine.

Then there are the male knitters, the ones who people consider ‘brave’ for being manly and yet taking a leap into womanly arts.

It’s as though a person has to knit to be a gender, or has to embody some gender in order to be able to knit. One must be a knitting man, or a knitting woman. One cannot be a knitting person.

Mine may be a singular complaint due to personal circumstance. I consider myself agendered. The long and short of that is that I don’t feel connected to any gender. I may exist in a female body, but I am very unfeminine. I am not, however, a man trapped in a woman’s body. I’m neither. And because of that, I feel a bit of resentment to the stigma that comes with being a knitter. People who knit seem to be grouped off into male or female, but never just ‘people’.

I do not like nor want kids, so I’m not channeling any nurturing urges into my knitting. I like to give gifts and keep people safe and comfy, but that’s not to reason I knit. I knit because I enjoy the motions, enjoy the creative making of things, enjoy having something to do with my time when I’m bored and can’t think of anything I want to read. I don’t knit shawls and scarves because I think that the people I know will have cold necks if I don’t. I knit them because I enjoy knitting them. The finished product is just a bonus.

Why did I choose ‘Ms. Knitter’ as a name if I don’t feel connected to femininity? It was a small injoke with a couple of friends, just for kicks. It doesn’t mean much beyond that. I’m not that fond of gender-based titles either, honestly, but for all intents and purposes, I am, to the world, a “ms”. Short of surgery, I can’t change that.

But that’s not really the point of this little rant. I just can’t help but wonder why knitting is split down such gender-specific lines. Woman knitter, or man knitter. Not person knitter. I have yet to see a knitter who doesn’t give a crap about the body they’re stuck in as it relates to their view of the world. The knitters I talk to are mostly female, yes, and they all seem to have typically female things on their minds. Boys/men. Children. Fashion.

I have yet to see a knitblog that mentions video games instead of kids. Books instead of dating. Nature walks that don’t involve coordinated lace scarves. Going on vacation without worrying about whether x skirt will be appropriate.

Not that I’m slagging the people who do talk about this. That’s all well and good, if that’s what they want to talk about and that’s what they think about. I’d just love to meet some knitters that don’t have gender on the brain. Knitters that knit for knitting’s sake, without worrying about being feminine or masculine. I’m sure there  are others out there besides myself . . . I can’t be that much of a statistical anomaly, can I?

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  1. I knit and understand exactly what you are talking about – except that I do want to have kids. But I don’t feel female, not in the social gender way at least. I’m sexually female and want to carry a child – but socially I feel alienated from most other women – like they’re on a different planet with all the shopping, ‘looking at hot guys’ and keeping up with the celebrities etc…

    I do ‘girly’ things like knitting, sewing etc.. but I do it for the problem solving and the creative technique.

    And not to say I don’t have interest in guys – I am totally ‘straight’ – I just don’t have interest in every guy that walks by like the girls I used to work with. I love my husband’s mind, and he is also physically beautiful – just amazing that he brings out the woman I didn’t think was in there while still letting me be the slightly dominant technical geek I am. I feel so lucky to have a guy that understands this, and wish there were more women of our type instead of the bubbly fashionable shopping queens that make up greater # of the population.


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