Why is Knitting a Woman Thing?

Me, Myself, and Some Knitting Needles

Every since I could pick up a crayon I have always been creative and artistic. I love to paint, draw, sew, knit, craft, pretty much anything that I can get my hands on and create something. One thing that I always wondered was, why was being artistic a woman thing? I seldom come across a man who loves to paint or knit. I know that they are out there because I’ve seen so much art made by men (Hello, the entirety of the Renaissance) but there is still a stigma around art being a practice that women participate in.

Photo by Caroline Feelgood from Pexels

Recently, I have started knitting, since we are stuck inside. When I started telling people I was knitting their response was almost always, “Isn’t that an old lady thing?” I’m not going to lie, I viewed it as such. To validate that idea, my dad told me he had memories of his grandma knitting away in her chair while watching television. Then I took a good look at my house and saw that many pass downs in my family are afghans that were crocheted by women on my mom’s side.

When I sat down to knit I felt pretty domestic. I don’t quite know why but it seemed like a domestic lady thing to do and I wasn’t sure I liked that. I wanted to know why it felt like a womanly thing to knit. Objectively, knitting is the weaving together of yarn with two straight needles. Things that are often knitted are items of clothing like hats, scarfs, sweaters, socks, etc. Everyone wears these items, and last time I checked you didn’t have to have to identify a certain gender to purchase yarn and needles. So what’s the deal ?

Photo by charan sai from Pexels

In the Beginning…

If I remember anything from my elementary education, the Native Americans delegated tasks by gender. The men had the task to hunt while the woman were the artisans and gatherers. So this art being a womanly practice dates back pretty far. More recently, I would imagine during the Great Depression a person who could make clothes rather than purchasing them would be saving money. With the men off at war in the 1940s, who else was going to knit the clothes? And if we are talking war time, women were the ones who went into the textile industry working in factories.

So, I understand the association and the stigma. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. There are plenty of men who are creative, who are in hiding (please come out) and are making great art.

Photo by Giulia Bertelli on Unsplash

Are Men Scared of Femininity?

However, why can’t we break the stigma? Are men just not willing to do things that associate them with femininity? The answer to that question is probably- definitely. Everything seems to come back to male fragility. But dudes, you can knit at home, no one is going to see you! Maybe that’s another answer to the question. Women were bound to the private sphere for so long as housewives, they had to find other things to do than housework. But any type of art can be done in the comfort of your own home so why didn’t men try out knitting?

So men, stop being so scared of knitting. The only thing that makes it feminine is that you aren’t doing it. And if you think about it objectively you’re just knotting up some string and if you have shoes, you knit everyday. And that’s the tea. 

Photo by Anastasia Zhenina from Pexels

A fun challenge for the comments: Name one feminine thing about the picture above, bet you can’t.

Check out this related post about women artists on campus from 2010! https://shoutoutjmu.com/2010/04/06/women-artists-on-campus-jmu’s-artworks-and-sawhill-galleries/


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