The power of craftivism

craftivism

Crocheting pink hats as symbols of protest or creating mini fashion statements: Craftivism is the new form of campaigning. Journalist Liddie Austin delves into the world of positive protests.   

I remember watching the Women’s Marches when they first took place, and—as well as the sheer amount of people that had taken to the streets all around the world—what really struck me was how many of them were wearing a pink knitted hat, with two little points sticking up like cat’s ears. These were called ‘pussyhats’, I was told, a playful form of protest against a man who bragged that he liked to ‘grab them by the pussy’. I wanted one too!

It turned out they weren’t for sale anywhere: these were homemade crafts, and part of something people are calling ‘craftivism’, a new term born from the words ‘craft’ and ‘activism’. The pussyhat is the brainchild of Krista Suh and Jayna Zweiman, two women from the US who shared the knitting pattern for the hat online.

A lot of thought went into its design: the shape is easy to knit or crochet; the name is an intentional pun; the color is pink, which is traditionally associated with ‘good girls’. And last but not least: it’s a DIY project. ‘Anything handmade shows a level of care, and we care about women’s rights, so it is appropriate to symbolize this march with a handmade item, one made with a skill that has been passed down from woman to woman for generations’, the Pussyhat Project women say on their website about creating the hats for the Women’s Marches.

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Everyone who knitted, crocheted or sewed their own pussyhat would be connecting to a long line of women in the past and also be making a bold and visible statement of solidarity for women’s rights. It worked: The campaign spread like wildfire over social media, in pictures as well as illustrations (more about that later). Women (and men) from all possible backgrounds and of all ages proudly wore their self-made pussyhats in a popping range of pinks.

The pussyhat is a great example of a new type of activism that is currently spreading around the world. Instead of taking to the streets in droves, people are getting together in their homes and knitting or crafting in small groups. Instead of throwing eggs at their opponents, prettily giftwrapped packages containing the salient message are presented; instead of making demands, questions are being asked in a constructive manner. A ‘craftivist’ will employ all of their creativity, attention and empathy to fight for a better world, and that fight is brought in a gentle but persevering way.

  • The full story ‘The gentle power of craftivism’ can be found in Issue 25.

Text Liddie Austin Photography Debby Hudson/Unsplash.com

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