This is not a political or issue-oriented blog in the least, but sometimes you see something so ridiculous that it requires good rant. First, familiarize yourself with the following:
Now, THAT is one inspirational piece of performance “crafting” — so much so that my own muse has struck! I am now taking orders for my own very personal crafting statement, sweaters quite literally pulled from my own ass.
Some pedestrian minds might judge this art h-arse-ly, thinking it among the crappier of my ideas, butt I shit you not, this is the end-all, be-all statement of my personal philosophy. I’m lettin’ it all hang out! And not to be too anal about it, but what is that philosophy exactly? Just that writers, like performance artists, are often completely full of it.
Sophomoric? Indeed, and proudly so. Okay, disclosure time: I’m just a regularish guy. I understand art, feminism, and knitting all to the same abysmal degree. I don’t get it, and I’m probably not the intended audience for this young womyn’s statement, but I do have a nicely uninformed opinion about it. (After all, like assholes, everybody’s got ’em.) In my opinion her performance piece and all its bloody, scratchy, and not-very-sanitary excess is ludicrous, unnecessary, and quite likely obscures the very issues she is trying to call attention to.
I am not a feminist. That doesn’t mean I don’t understand or empathize with the issues feminists rally around — they just don’t hit me to the point where I would label myself that way or form my life around that label. And that is said as a proud and involved husband and father of two girls (and a son).
The equality of women in the home, workplace, society, and in leadership positions is an important issue still today. The struggle to achieve all the growth we have made in the US and worldwide has been a long and noble one, and my wife and daughters have benefited greatly from the efforts of almost all the self-identified feminists that have come before.
But not all.
I think most would agree that there is a profound difference between feminists who daily battle to eliminate artificially unfair barriers to achievement placed before women — and “feminists” who demonize men, see everything in terms of oppressive patriarchy, or insist that anyone who disagrees with their more extreme views is somehow bewildered or afraid of their lady-parts.
Congratulations, Ms. Jenkins, you have a vagina, similar to approximately half the planet. Your performance art is akin to the proud announcement of my neighbor’s 4 and 5 year-old daughters when they very publicly proclaimed their discovery of the difference between boys and girls. Yes, the vulva is not to be feared. Yes, wondrous, miraculous things can come from your uterus. Yes, menstruation is both a huge imposition no man could comprehend and completely normal at the same time.
But we kinda already knew all that before you turned your va-jay-jay into a yarn cozy.
I’ll grant that your piece (of art) is unique, in that most folks just haven’t thought it a good idea to cram spun sheep hair up their nethers in order to make the world’s worst Christmas gift, but it is also neither profound or revelatory. You obviously have a great creative flair, but you seemed to have squandered your (possibly) only 15 minutes of fame on either pointing out something completely trite or by combating a straw-man argument against all you deem to be non-feminist. There are actual injustices committed against women and girls around the world, and there still are real, unfair gender biases against women in our own, more progressive countries, but none of those are because the patriarchs in power don’t understand or fear your plumbing. By going forward in this manner, you’ve turned a real issue into an object of bafflement, derision, and scorn, hurting her compatriots and giving those who pigeonhole feminism into the crazy femi-nazi stereotype more reasons to stick by their stereotype. This project is more about you as a shock-jock than about advancing the real cause of feminism. I would recommend you aim higher on your next “craftivist” project.
Of course, this leads to a more general warning about the labels we wear and the labels we cast upon others. Anytime you employ a label as a shortcut to refer to either “us” or “them,” you begin circumventing reason. Whether the labels you employ are “conservative” or “liberal,” “feminist” or “masculist,” you risk allowing the label to define you and those you disagree with rather than their actual words or actions. Think about this next time you feel compelled to use those labels: is the term just a convenient verbal shortcut to show a difference in ways of thinking, or is it being used as a filter to disregard any and all arguments employed by the opposite side of the dichotomy (if, in fact, such a dichotomy truly exists).
Hmmm, this sweater’s a lot less brown than I anticipated. Maybe I’m not completely full of shit.