Thursday, March 27, 2003

An open letter to Tonya Jameson of the Charlotte Observer

Dear Ms. (Miss? Mrs.? Titles matter to you, don't they?) Jameson:

You. Must. Be. Joking. Oh, if only. I have never before written a formal letter to any publication, any journalist, or any website. And know that I cast no aspersions on any woman who chooses to pursue "nesting" activities of any kind for the reasons that you have attributed to all of us crafters; I will not criticize any woman for pursuing any activity that makes her heart soar, which feels good, or which she just picks up on a whim. What I object to is NOT women knitting or practicing any other so-called 'domestic' art; no, what I object to is your objectification of those pursuits, your attribution of motivations to myself and others whom you do not know, cannot know, because you did not ask any of us why we knit, crochet, or sew. You did not cite any interviews with women, young or otherwise, as to why they craft, or if they increased their output or interest following the attacks of Septmeber 11, 2001. I did not read any Gallup poll data in your polemic. So you choose not to participate in these activities which we find such enjoyment in; that is your right, which I staunchly defend. You are not less of a woman for not being a knitter, any more than am I more of a woman for being one. Who do you think is being 'condescending' towards you for choosing shooting hoops over stitching hats? Quite the contrary, I feel that your attitude was quite condescending when you claimed that my enjoyment of knitting is not my 'choice' but a result of 'peer pressure.' And who, I wonder, do you think pressured me to become a knitter?

You made only one point I found of value in your 'article,' but one from which I came away with a radically divergent conclusion than you did: there is, as you say, "an undercurrent of conservatism" flowing dangerously through our culture in this era of pro-war rhetoric, economic elitism, and repressive attitudes towards women and other disenfranchised groups, BUT, women who exercise their right to choose what they spend their free time pursuing -- be it basketball in your case or knitting in mine -- are advancing women's rights, not giving up the power that women before us fought for and "becoming Aunt Bee." Your implication that knitters are a bunch of Pollyanna Purlers is ridiculous. In my knitting circle -- yes, there are such things, and we prefer to be called 'Stitch and Bitch,' thank you very much -- there are 5 geologists, 3 biologists, 2 botanists, a forester, a professional potter, an NGO media specialist, a radiologist, a teacher, and a yoga instructor. Doesn't sound like a bunch of women tied to "aprons and mops" to me. And Martha Stewart? She's a multimillionaire. Are you?

How dare you say I am hiding in my home, fearful! In fact, I knit in public as often as in my home. The park, my favorite coffee shop, the waiting room of my dentist, in the bar where my Stitch and Bitch "sisters" meet: anywhere I want. "Creating something with my hands" makes me feel powerful, and talented, and sought-after for my knowledge and artistry, and, well, creative! That feeling is control, control over who I choose to be and how I choose to express her essence. And, I beg your pardon, but you don't even exhibit good logic when you assume that because I knit, I must not fight for "real control" for women, or lobby my legislators. This may be my first letter to a wanna-be 'cultural expert' like yourself, but I damn well take the time to make my views known to my congresspersons.

So keep your uninformed, stereo-typing, and divisive OPINIONS to yourself from now on, please. And might I suggest, for your next treatise on why some group you know nothing about does something, you might consider actually ASKING one of them.


Velma Belchik

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