Kraken lovers, if you thought my musing about feminism and crafting was over you were being ever so previous. You see, while writing last week about whether my feminist principles have been compromised by my sewing I realised that I’m just not done with the subject. Yup, like Jeremy Clarkson in an empty dining room there is still one more punch I have to throw. Thing is, it’s a punch that will probably earn me more enemies than it will monkey-like petitioners calling for the BBC to hire even more misogynist, racist, ignorant pigs. That’s because today I’m revealing exactly how I feel about those crafters who insist that girls love pink and only pink. OK then. You’ve been warned. Ready? Good.
You see, when I opened Kraken Kreations it was mostly in response to the high street’s insistence that women love pink. As I explained last week’s post I recall standing in Boots the Chemist and wondering why it didn’t have a single toiletry case that appealed to those of us women who love graphic prints, geometric patterns, blues, reds, yellows, greens or anything else that eschewed the colour. So when I started to create products for women who have been ignored by the high street I expected to enter a world of handcrafting that was boggling, inspirational, exciting, colourful, original and covering every eclectic taste and preference known to humanity. I joined online crafting groups with the excitement of opening a secret world where unknown delights were to be drooled over. And what did I find? Yet more bloody pink. It was like being promised a spectacular meal only to be offered a dry, cold, chip.
What in the conurbation of wrinkled ballsacks is going on? I genuinely thought that with the rise of women making products from their own homes there would also be a rise in individuality . Yet from where I stand there has simply been a rise in pink bunting. I am at a loss as to why there are so many wonderfully talented women out there, so many women who are able to sew, knit, crochet, paint, make jewellery, blow glass, woodwork or sculpt, yet all many choose to do is compound the festering stereotype that the cones and rods of a female’s eyes are incapable of recognising pattern or colour unless it is in pink. Over and again we women rightly rage and weep over the fact that in 2015 we are still not paid an equal wage, that we are still blamed for our own rapes, that we are still expected to clean and that our true purpose is to please men yet what do so many women do when they take up a craft? They reinforce the stereotypes by portraying themselves as home loving, delicate flowers as opposed to human beings who are capable of the economic, social, intellectual, political, artistic and practical complexity of men.
Way to go girls. You were handed a blank canvas with which to offer the globe your unique and vital contribution and all you did was repeat crimes against womankind.
And yes, I know the arguments. That women create pink things for women because pink things sell. And of course we need to make what sells because none of us want to live in freezing, foodless, garrets. Yet stop and think for a second. Why do you think there is a demand for pink? Because socially we women have had it rammed into us that pink is ‘our’ colour. It’s the equivalent of raising a child with Mars Bars as her only food source to, on her 18th birthday, ask her what her favourite food is. What do you think she’ll say? Schezuan chicken? Don’t you think that if women were offered more variety they would take it? Or do you genuinely think that women are happy being fed a diet that’s so worryingly unimaginative?
Worse is the other argument I’ve heard (and I have to take a deep breath before writing this) which is that for women a love of pink is part of their genetic make up. That’s right, that women are actually predisposed to liking the colour pink thanks to, I dunno, a strand of DNA that hollers, “Fuschia! Puce! Rose! Fuschia! Puce! Rose!”. Fact is that people who believe this shouldn’t be allowed to craft at all simply because they shouldn’t be in possession of sharp objects of any kind. They are dangerous not just to themselves but to society in general and women in particular. I’m sure Crick and Watson would have loved to have heard about the pink gene when they were handed the Nobel Prize in 1962. Thing is they didn’t hear about it. That’s because it doesn’t fucking exist.
Look, I’m not saying women shouldn’t like pink. I’m saying that women are not one-colour creatures. Women, like men, enjoy all sorts of colours, sometimes (gasp!) all at once. As I write this I’m wearing an orange t-shirt over a red top with a yellow cardigan. Yesterday I wore a jumper with red, blue, yellow and green stripes. As I look about me in the coffee shop in which I write this I can see a woman wearing a yellow dress, a woman in turquoise blouse, three women clad in black suits, a woman in a green skirt and a woman utterly rocking a red pair of Capri pants. Yet when they go shopping for handcrafted products they are predominantly offered pink. You think me banging on about this is exhausting? Then imagine what it feels like to have spent your life proving that you are a woman of variety and depth only to be told by so many female crafters that really you are a one-dimensional drone. Now THAT’S exhausting.
And if I sound angry at those of us women who insist that other women love pink it’s because I am angry. I’m angry that we have these staggering talents to create whatever lives in our glorious imaginations yet we squander all of that a bizarre race to undermine ourselves. Look at the work of Pink Stinks, Sewing Circus, Interrobang Art, Moon & Sixpence and Holy Flaps. Look at the variety, not just in the colours, designs and patterns but even the language that’s used. Don’t you think it presents a much more honest and rounded picture of who women really are? You know, if aliens came to Earth and saw the world of the aforementioned crafters or the world of the ubiquitously pink, which example would convince them that women are actually more than sniffer dogs trained in the art of identifying just one bloody colour?
So while I know this blog post is going to send a thousand crafters into a rage, a rage where I am vilified, spat at and ripped apart (girls, I have been expecting you) it’s a blog post that needs to be written. Not because I want to tear us women down but because I want us women to realise our power and potential. I want us to look at the needle, paintbrush or chisel in our hand and understand that it can be a tool for creating a world that is more fair, colourful, progressive, exciting and supportive towards women than it is right now. I want crafting women to not just create a product but to create a world where being a woman is an unadulterated joy, where we are regarded as more than cardboard cutouts. If that makes me hateable then so be it. But I’ll be hateable in bright colours while happily making the world a better place for my daughter. You see, I believe in women. I just want you to believe in them too.