Today's post is brought to you by the letter F, as in What The F---?
The prolonged silence since my last post should suggest to you that I've been away, which I have. I have spent 2 of the last 3 weeks in the US, teaching a Master Spinner Program class in Las Cruces, NM. But that will not be the subject of today's post. Today, I am going to get political. If I step on your toes or offend your personal sensibilites, I apologise, but this is a Big Deal to me.
The first F-Word is Feminism. Women's rights are under seige.
When the US Congress convened an all male panel to explore whether or not contraception should be covered, I was taken aback, but not really surprised. President Obama had made changes to the health care act, requiring employers to provided insurance that includes covering the cost of contraception (aka birth control pills). Religious groups objected on the grounds that their religious freedoms were being overridden by this act. And in the ever more Divided States of America, this was a perfect political opportunity. So, in an election year, what better opportunity to draw attention to our defence of American decency than a panel on the rights to control birth control.
(Image stolen from democraticunderground.com)
The nonsense that has followed would seem ludicrous if not for the fact that there are men vying for the leadership of that great nation who are jumping on the bandwagon. The media is attacking women who use contraception as "whore" and "sluts", and male commentators are showing their total ignorance of women's bodies and how they function by describing, in excruciatingly incorrect detail, the methods under question. The misinformation and blatant hate speech that has flowed out of the American media lately has been apalling to those of us watching from the outside. I cannot imagine how it feels to be an American woman right now.
Surely, 50 years after The Female Eunich and bra-burning, women should be treated as equals by the men in their government. Given a say in their own health, reproductive and otherwise. Or, at least, invited to the table and allowed to speak freely.
Our second F-Word is Fibre. Or Fiber, for those of you south of the 49th who are taking a stand.
You see, a group of fibre artists in the US, led by knitters Donna Druchunas and Annie Modesitt, are embarking on a campaign to deluge their representatives in Congress and the Senate with, well, female naughty bits. They have formed a Ravelry group called Government Free V-JJ and are providing information to help knitters find patterns for uteruses and vaginas (there are a surprising number of them, too!). They are helping knitters find the addresses for their government representatives, and some members have even offered to hand deliver loads of uteri.
The very idea of knitters rising up in revolt may seem ludicrous, but it is actually part of a long history of subversive messages appearing in textiles. Stories have been woven into kilim rugs for centuries-including the modern and rather disturbing War Rugs. The Bayeux tapestry is alleged to contain coded messages of rebellion. World War II prisoners of war embroidered "Fuck Hitler" in Morse Code around the edges of samplers.
Never underestimate the power of a woman with knitting needles.
The final F-Word is Freedom.
In North America, it's pretty easy to assume that we are a free society. But freedom comes with responsibility. We have freedom of speech, but that does not mean we can say hateful, hurtful things without repercussions. We have freedom of religion, but that does not mean that we may impose our beliefs on someone who does not share them. We have freedom, but we must work to ensure that that freedom is equally available for everyone. We are only free as long as we are prepared to stand up against what we know is wrong.
Like removing a woman's freedom to control her own reproductive health. Or to just be treated with dignity.
If you want to send a uterus, or just knit one in support, you can go to Government Free V-JJ on Ravelry and you can find free patterns at Knitty and The Anti-Craft.