Primark 1

Crafty cock-up

OK, so who’s up for the thorny issue of screwing up with a piece of craftivism? Ooop, is that my hand in the air? Why, yes it is. You see, a few weeks ago a story swept across social media that made me leap for my aida and embroidery thread. It was the tale of a woman who claimed to have breastfed her child in Primark only for a security guard to rip her baby from her before demanding she left the store.  It was a tale so in keeping with thousands of others from breastfeeding women that I, not to mention entire swathes of social media, demanded to know what Primark was playing at. The result was me embroidering the image below. That’s when things went, well, tits up.

Primark final

You see, it turns out that this story allegedly wasn’t true. In fact a few days ago it was reported that the woman involved is now being charged with perverting the course of justice as a result of her claim. (You can find the details here:  http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jul/28/woman-charged-over-primark-breastfeeding-claim). It means that all of those people, including me, who believed her story were barking up the wrong feeding bra. That’s why I took a scissors to my embroidery, admitting that I made something of a fuck-up with one of my craftivist creations.

Primark 1

Yet here’s the thing. While I’ve been given some stick for the fact that I had acted so quickly in response to this woman’s story, I’d happily sew the same mistake again. In fact, as someone who believes in the impact that craftivism can have on social change my needle is sharp, gleaming and loaded with thread in readiness for developments in any of the other issues about which I’m passionate. People who have criticised me have done so with the attitude that us apparently lank-haired leftie feminists have been taught a lesson but if they’re expecting me to retreat into my sewing shed they are even more inaccurate than their ideas that politically active women are hairy and ugly.

You see, when this story broke it sounded like so many other true tales of breastfeeding horrors that it actually was believable. More than that, in a post-Saville world, victims of all types of abuse are being listened to more than ever and I, for one, am happy to listen to them. I mean, the world in which lived when we didn’t listen to victims was about as fucked up as it’s possible to get without Katie Hopkins becoming a family counsellor. Ok, so I acted quickly in responding with my thread (I can give you the DMC number if you like. I matched the thread to the Primark logo) and perhaps I should have waited for the story to develop but come on! You’re talking to a woman who is so quick to act that I make spontaneous combustion look like a slow burn. I was simply wrong this time.

Hairy legged

Look at it this way: Imagine this story had been true, as are the thousands of other stories from breastfeeding women. Imagine the difference that craftivism could have made in that instance, and still can in all of the genuine stories of woman being insulted, criticised, asked to cover up or told to feed in a toilet when they feed their baby? And I’m not alone either. When the Charlie Hebdo shootings occurred I was asked to sew and embroider Je Suis Charlie placards. In the run up to the general election I was asked to sew and embroider slogans for all sorts of social issues. I’m currently working on a piece for an auction at a women’s centre for the prevention of domestic abuse and my current commissions include embroidery about the idiocy of mansplaining  (yes, it includes the word ‘cock’).

manspliners3

All of these pieces of work have gone to people who want to help make the world a fairer place and yes, I know, I know, that sounds deeply earnest. In fact it sounds so earnest that I feel slightly icky at myself. But you know what? I’d rather indulge in craftivism, even the premature what-a-fuck-up kind, than indulge in an attitude that accepts social inequality because it’s easier than getting of your arse to do something about it.

So you need to gird yourselves because this does anything but mark the end of my craftivist days. In fact, my craftivist itch needs scratching more than ever. The treatment of migrants, Ched Evans, poverty, sexism, Ched Evans, the Labour party leadership battle, Ched Evans, the endless debates about Europe, foodbanks, Ched Evans, the demonization of benefits claimants… I could sew the shit out of all of them and that’s what I intend to do, one French knot or satin stitch at a time. Now, pass me that DMC thread. I have something to say…

Gentle happy to annoy