One of my words for the year is going to be ‘inclusivity’. I want to be more inclusive towards people. Towards people of colour. Towards people with differing abilities. Towards transgender people. Towards people with different views. Towards people with different body types. I wish to be more understanding and inclusive, and treat all people fairly and equally. Through very recent events in the knitting world, I’ve come to see that the best thing I can do to take a step in that direction, is to speak up. To let others hear my thoughts and more importantly, for me to share voices of those not easily heard. However, I can’t talk about all of those topics in one blogpost and do them all justice, so I’m going to start with Women.
Photoshoot by Liz Wilson with Positively Glittered
I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of months now, especially after hearing Janelle Monáe’s song ‘PYNK’, which is basically a celebration of all women. If you haven’t heard this song yet, let me tell you, it’s such. A. Good. Song. And the music video is totally mesmerizing (posted in this blogpost). I’ve talked briefly about this song and it’s meaning to me before on one of my podcast episodes, I’ll link it here. I’m still not completely sure how to even begin explaining the magnificence of this song and the influence it has had on me, and I’m afraid this whole blogpost will be kind of jumbled and chaotic, but I felt like it was about time I wrote about this, so here goes.
OK, first of all, some of the lyrics:
“Deep inside, we’re all just pink”
It doesn’t matter what you look like on the outside, inside we’re all the same.
“Boy it’s cool if you got the blue, we got the pink.”
Boys can have their blue colour, we have the PINK! I love how this sentence emphasizes that ‘pink’ isn’t a dainty, fragile colour, it’s a powerful colour! Also, I like to think that ‘the pink’ is the opposite of ‘the blues’, meaning that pink is the most awesome feeling in the world!
“Some like that, (yeah) some like that.”
Some are into women, some are into men, and that’s all fine just the way it is.
One of the most prominent themes in this song is female sexuality. And not in the way that women are over-sexualized in most music videos by male singers, but in the way that women are in control of their own sexuality. And that’s really refreshing to see.
Each time I listen to the song I uncover another meaning. If you’re familiar with the music video, you’ll probably know some of the dancers wear pants resembling female private parts, and some don’t, which symbolizes that transgender women are just as female as other women.
In a different shot, you’ll see a women swinging a pink bat, symbolizing a woman who still has male parts is just as worthy of being a woman.
There’s also a woman wearing panties with the text ‘I grab back’, which is clearly a response to Trumps ‘grab them by the pussy’. It means that women are done being harrassed and that we will fight back.
Very much like “Make me feel” by Janelle has been called the bisexual anthem, I think we can call “PYNK” the female anthem, a true celebration of women. But still in the world we live in today, there are women who don’t feel celebrated. Who feel like they have to justify their existence everyday. Who have to fight prejudice among their co-workers, their friends, people who they meet at the grocery store, just ALL THE TIME. And that is exhausting. I’m talking about women of colour. At the top of this blogpost, I linked a hurtful and ignorant post written by a white woman who is very prominent in the knitting community and has a lot of influence. As a response, women of colour have taken to Instagram Stories to speak up and defend themselves. I cannot speak for them, but I can share their voices. The knitting community is dominated by white women, and we need to stand up for women of colour, who are just as worthy of being here.
Please take the time to visit these Instagram accounts and read their stories, most are saved in their highlights. These women have said what I mean to explain much more eloquently than I could ever do.
Image by @ocean_bythesea
To my fellow white women of the knitting community, we need to acknowledge that we are part of the problem. We are being silent way too often, while we should only be silent when listening to people of colour. We can do better, and we should do better. I found this quote shared by @soundslikeawin very clear: “It is the ‘white moderate’ that is the ‘great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom’, as ‘shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.” Read that again. And again.
SUPPORT people of colour in this community. Follow more makers of colour on Instagram for a start. In addition to the ones mentioned above, you could (should!) follow:
Image by @knitandcroshay
Follow the hashtag #diversknitty to discover new makers of colour every day <3 Please, also share your favourite makers of colour below, share the love! Special request to people of colour: I am still on a huge learning curve, if there’s anything I can improve in my blogpost, please let me know.