Why doesn't knitting get the respect it deserves?
Firstly, we might consider why it deserves respect? (We know the answer to that, but others don't, so let's just do a tally here.)
- It clothes us.
- It keeps us calm.
- It lowers blood pressure and stimulates the immune system.
- It slows dementia and prevents depression.
- It encourages math skills, hand-eye coordination, and the ability to focus.
- It is recession-proof in its support of locally-owned businesses.
- Its traditions express and contribute to our culture (especially relevant if culture is given Brian Eno's definition of the making of something we don't have to make).
- It feeds the innate human need to create for those we love: the hand makes what the heart needs to express.
We could go on, and we could elaborate, but let us move on to the question of why folks who don't knit don't get this? Why do they ask Why would you make that when you could buy it? Why do they, therefore, see what we do as a waste of time? What would they prefer us to be doing?
Despite the fact that we spend a lot of money and derive a lot of benefit, why are we relegated to the stereotype of a non-active, elderly, usually female, person-without-anything-better-to-do.
A woman in an interview recently asked me if I thought this was changing, and I responded "Not quickly enough." She wondered what would make it change? When will knitting get the respect it deserves?
There are lots of answers to this, but my immediate answer was The men need to do it.
When an activity is associated with only one sex, and isn't tagged to a huge amount of money, it doesn't get a lot of respect. And, yes, this most often happens when the activity is female. Nursing and child-care readily come to mind. Never mind that they are essential human activities that add inestimable value to our world! The world respects the jobs that are higher-paying and shared by both men and women.
But it can work in reverse: I, for example, don't give stock car racing much respect.
We all make judgments about how people spend their time, don't we? What are yours?