Monday

Craft Thoughts

Recently, I’ve been seeing posts on other sites about men crafting. It seems that the authors of such posts think it’s “cute” that men would like to work with their hands and even “cuter” that we’ve taken up crafts like knitting and sewing. Either that, or people assign to men what they think are hilarious crossover crafts like knitted condoms or crocheted gun holsters. Which is fine. It’s all good. I’m not here to rant or write manifestos. I’ve simply been thinking about what my take is on craft and how it fits into the craft-o-sphere at large.

There is a phrase that I started using during the mail-art project I launched on Dude Craft that has recently come to represent my feelings about the act of creation. “Making something changes everything.” The more I think about it, the more I like it and, subsequently, the more it informs what Dude Craft is about. On a personal level, making something changes your attitude, your relationship to consumption, your self-esteem, and your coordination. On a local level, it increases profits for local businesses, creates community, and can keep tons of otherwise useful things from ending up in your landfill. Finally, on a global level, I believe in craft as an act of diplomacy. Though sharing what we make, inspiring each other, and putting beautiful, useful things into the world, we gain a deeper understanding of who we are, who are neighbors are, and what we have in common. Sending out our love, knowledge, and time through our blogs, our tutorials, and our discussion boards goes a long way toward making a dent in any isolationist feelings we may be harboring. Making something opens us up. It makes us more receptive to new ideas and new relationships. We learn to “listen” to the materials we work with and, more importantly, listen to each other.

In the end, Dude Craft has little to do with gender, and everything to do with people. Making something changes everything.

12 comments:

  1. love it. and agree with you wholeheartedly.

    and personally, i don't think it's CUTE that a dude is knitting or crafting. i think it's simply awesome. and inspiring to see people create with their hands.

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  2. As a female, I'd smirk if someone said "How cute - you spin yarn/make jewelry/knit things" so I can't imagine how a guy would feel.

    Cute is for babies and kittens, rockin' is for people who craft! :)

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  3. Excellent point, agree with all the above. And craft doesn't mean 'cute' whether you're male or female. It's the same with me as a twenty-something girl knitter forever being called a grandma. They don't really see the wider possibilities that come from making stuff.

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  4. On a side note, people that just see my crafts and don't look around my website think I'm a dude. Apparently if it's video game related, a dude did it. Simple brains use stereotypes to keep everything nice and easy. Oh well.

    Dudes making stuff is HOT. I think it's just the act of creation that makes people attractive. Working with your hands and not just watching football. Making a chair, working on a car, writing a book, etc. But I will say that when I see a dude knitting or something, I think it's even sexier. Not because he's doing a "girl" craft or whatever, but the fact that he doesn't give a flying rats ass about what people will think of him, he just wants to create something. So he has drive AND a strong personality. Super awesome.

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  5. Great point and observation.

    For me, cute as a description of craft (male or female) is insulting and rather annoying and I won't begin to tell you what I think of knit items such as the condom. Insulting because it appears the diminish the work, time and effort that I (or you) have put into something you created.

    I do find a bit of solace in that over the years, I have noticed a trend towards sincere appreciation of hand-made and craft items from the non-crafting community.

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  6. I worked as an engineer for a few years (I'm female), and the condescension some people expressed--and, here, I'll note gladly that those people were the minority!--was disgusting. Now I'm a[lmost a] librarian, and the gender ratios are backwards from engineering. But I find being in the majority almost more frustrating, because people say "guybrarian" and other supposed-to-be-funny things about men who choose to be librarians and just don't get why I find that upsetting.

    Anyway, this is an inelegant way of drawing a parallel, I guess, between crafting and librarianship. Somehow, it's considered OK to be condescending to a guy who is doing something deemed "feminine," even more than it is considered OK to harass a woman for being good at math or science.

    But to your attitude, I say right on! Crafting IS about making the world better and one's community better and even, yes, oneself better. I love that.

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  7. Oh, man. Thanks for all the brilliant comments, people!

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  8. Excellent post. I have a lot of make friends in the printmaking, design and poster world who also do craft shows and make things that are more 'craft' oriented. This really hits the nail on the head.

    Sexism, no matter which direction, and stereotypes are stupid.

    I love the openess of craft, and I really love to read about others who shre that same deomocratic outlook. Cheers!

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  9. I personally think it is bizarre to even consider gender when crafting. Crafting is expression pure and simple. It is a need and desire to, in the end, learn a little bit more about ourselves through the process, and how our craft really touches other people. I have become a huge believer of the process and how it really changes you and your art and the people you meet through time. What is cooler than that?

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  10. Cute? What a bizarre adjective to use. I'll go with the Renee: "hot." Unless you're making, I dunno, tiny fluffy bunnies or something, in which case I might say "Cute. And hot."

    (I find women who craft more cool than hot, but I just don't find women hot, to my occasional regret.)

    I've been on the receiving ends of "oh just like my grandmother" comments, clearly not intended as compliments, but y'know? I take 'em as compliments anyway. Because my grandmother was one of the coolest people EVER and I would be delighted to accomplish half what she did.

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  11. I've been thinking about this off and on for most of the day.

    Its tough sometimes to be scrutinized. Stereotypes are not all bad. They are a tool like many things, they just happen to be a dangerous one which is often misused. They are a collection of the limited knowledge we have about something. Remember that you are dealing with limited knowledge and being open and they really can be useful.

    Cute has a lot of connotations for guys. Its generally un-masculine and if you weren't kitting bunnies or the like, I can only assume that it was an attempt to cover up surprise and confusion. You were messing with their head. Breaking their stereotype.

    Craft and craftsmen used to be more masculine. Now in popular culture its very feminine. Men knitting and crocheting is newer. This to some extinct explains the persons surprise and confusion.

    So the most important question how will you react. Smile and say thank you? Explain to them that you appreciate the interest but dislike the term "cute" and find it offensive. Explain about the revolution that is beginning. Simply ignore them. There are many choices. Most of us will only be able to come up with a few in the moment and not always the ones we want. Other environmental factors can certainly affect ones reaction.

    I wear kilts most days. I get all kinds of reactions. Some days I can say "I don't care." Some days I ride high on the compliments. Then there are the days I just get pissed off. Different days, different reactions. But I do try, on the better days to answer honestly, joke with people, educate or placate depending on what the situation calls for and what my day has been like.

    I think its cool that people are breaking down the barriers and simply creating, crafting and making what they want. I love the sentiments in you statement "making something changes everything."

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  12. I think many of the people who say it's "cute" when men participate in traditionally feminine crafts are the same people who struggle with traditionally masculine crafts -- metalwork, electronics, woodwork, etc. The role reversal is refreshing to them, and it's validating to see others struggle to learn what they already know how to do. Sometimes they're also frustrated that traditionally feminine crafts are not always taken seriously.

    A less charitable way of looking at it is that even in this day and age, people just can't handle it when others ignore gender roles, and that comes out as condescension at best.

    I say this as a short, round-faced, young-looking female who likes dudely crafts and math and physics. Believe me, I've spent a lot of time getting all miffed at the people who call me cute in that condescending sort of way.

    In the end, the best thing to do is just ignore them and keep on doing your thing. Sooner or later they'll come around and ask you what cool thing you're working on -- and that's just another way that making something changes everything.

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