Since that dreadful manifesto Brooklyn Tweed Knits put out a few weeks ago, I have been agitated by phrases I’ve heard tossed around lately like, “We will do our best to ensure our prices do not exclude the BIPOCs, Queer, and Houseless communities.” Because, if you’re anything like me, that statement reads, “Only white people can afford our yarns, so we’ll do our best to have cheaper things on hand for you poor helpless, marginalized peopel.”
Or even WORSE! “We’ll offer a premium discount card available ONLY to people of a specific race, sexual orientation, or housing status,” which, by that statement’s very own nature, is one that reflects the minutia of real bigotry in the knitting community.
Can you see me? Ball cap, boots, jeans, middle aged and white, with a Jack Daniel’s belt buckle swaggering into an LYS and the looks I’d get in this current climate? Oh, the looks I’d get.
“May I help you?” You would be able to notice the coldness in the air, the shocking degrees at which the temperature nose dived.
“Looking for sock yarn. Berroco specifically.”
“I’m not sure….” Feigned disinterest never impresses me. I’d rather you be outright rude.
“OH HOORRRRAAAYYYYY!!!!!” Suddenly, balloons fall from the ceiling, confetti is shot from tiny little canons behind skeins, I’m handed a welcome basket full of brie, French bread, Perrier and Prep. “I’m so sorry your people are so marginalized by society. It must be awful for you. So awful….”
Actually, no. Well, allow me to clarify. We don’t ALL have the same experiences. Just because you are (GROUP!) doesn’t mean you’ve had the same experiences that other people that are in that (GROUP!) have had. My life as a gay man has been pretty extraordinary….probably because I never really defined myself to the world as a (GROUP!)
No, you get no “as a (GROUP!)….” terms with me before I start a sentence of praise or complaint.
You get Gregory Patrick. Mad Man Knitting. MY experiences.
So, no. I’ve had no issue being a gay man. Never got beat up, never got bullied. Actually, was bullied once by this overly aggressive, straight man who was so adamant about calling me weak, puny, a pussy, a fag. But, I was smooth enough to know the real psychology of what was happening in his head and….well, slept with him six months later. (Last I heard, he was working on a gay cruise ship….)
And it is always so weird for me, that living in such a big gay town like Orlando, that people would think I’m marginalized. Weird….
“Ma’am, I just want to know if you have any and how much it cost.”
“Oh, to help with your afflictions as being a marginalized Queer person, we can offer it to you for almost nothing. We’ll doing the right thing, helping you to find representation in this community.”
“I don’t care for the term ‘queer,’ because I’d rather be called ‘sir,’ or….well, you don’t need to call me anything, just point me to the yarn. It’s my feet that need representing. Do you have the Berroco or not?”
“‘Sir’ is such a misogynistic term, don’t you-”
“Ma’am….do you have it or not?”
Because, at some point it becomes offensive being labeled a “victim” all the time. “Oh, you can’t get ahead because of the patriarchal system that marginalizes….”
Good grief. Don’t you get it? I AM MY ONLY OPPRESSOR. My successes have been by my own hand. And my FAILURES, as well. NO ONE has kept me from success, my OWN life choices have.
I think it shameful that LYS’s have reached the point where they are pulpits of some kind ideology, where “terms of service” equate to “manifestos,” where you start designating some of your customers as second class, and calling your fellow knitters “comrade,” because the word is gender neutral, isn’t racially charged, and doesn’t merit the slightest mention of someone’s sexual preference. Yes, I have started hearing the term, “My comrade in knitting” thrown about like a soft pillow that lands on my heart like a cement block.
Because, you know I’m a little old school. We used to call those people our “friends.”
First, best, most original description of your fellow crafters ever: FRIENDS.
It isn’t gender neutral, isn’t racially charged, and doesn’t merit the slightest mention of someone’s sexual preference. Because we weren’t thinking about all of your status points on the victim scale, we liked you for who YOU are…..not whatever inter sectional cosplay you’re coming up with to hide yourself behind.
I would love to walk into an LYS and say, “Looking for sock yarn,” to which the owner would reply, “Got some gorgeous, smooth, delicious Berroco with some fun color ways as they self stripe.”
“AWESOME! Let’s take a look!”
“Oh, by the way, I love sock knitters, I’m one, too….so I’m going to offer you a 30% discount if you buy at least two skeins. Oh! And they have some really fun British names so I’ll remember what you bought the last time you were here….”
You see? You see that scenario right there? That is Utopia. That is two people bonding over yarn, recognizing each other for their interests and not their skin tone, gender, or sexual preference, and not placating a moment of victimization that needs reparation. This scenario went quickly to two people becoming friends for a solid love of the great joy in knitting socks.
THAT is what this craft is about. Making friends….
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