It has come to my attention that I am doing a lot of things lately that I never used to. I have attempted (and failed) to learn to crochet. I have taken a liking to shopping, handbags, shoes, nail varnish and homemade patchwork quilts (I have all my patches cut out!) I also bake a fair bit. I even found myself looking up local Women’s Institutes recently, and I own an India Knight book.
It was only a few years ago I was studying PE and thought I’d have a career teaching school kids how to play hockey, getting covered in mud in the process. Not that I was a tomboy, I’ve just never been a ‘girly’ girl. Now it seems that has changed. The thing is, I’m not the only one. Crocheting, knitting, baking, crafting of all sorts and shades of pink are IN right now, and those cottoning on to the once necessary skills of our grandmothers are taking part in these things for enjoyment, and not because we have to.
Some are suggesting this is a backwards move for feminism; that we are creating the housewife fantasy for ourselves, only without the husband for most of us. But as I’ve learned, anything concerning feminism can be a bit blurred around the edges. Are we going against what we have built up for ourselves in recent decades and defying our demand for a place in an equal society where we are taken as seriously as men, or are we part of a new wave, post-feminist group that has more girl power than ever before and is displaying it with a tray of freshly-baked cupcakes?
These days, everything comes back to the economy, and we are seeing shops like Cath Kidston grow in popularity by the week. But that’s not the whole picture. We laugh about what women in their 20s look like with a pair of knitting needles, but in reality things like knitting aren’t just a hobby, they genuinely are money saving techniques. When it is possible to pay in the region of £30 for a high street scarf, and a ball of wool costing a pound or two can make the same product, home crafting is a sensible choice.
They say women are taking part in these activities and fitting into a housewife role because they are not at work, and it’s true. I have been part of the ever-growing cut back club myself, and since finishing my last job have naturally found more time on my hands. Since then I’ve gained part time work, but I still have time left over to dedicate to other things, hence the balls of discarded wool around my feet and the crochet hook angrily lodged in the pot of a nearby spider plant. So the choices of activity may be a little feminine, but does that really mean anti-feminist? I don’t believe crafting and liking the colour pink makes a bad feminist. I still believe in equal pay and think Jeremy Hunt is an idiotic twat, but I don’t believe this means I need to shun the washing up and take up plumbing instead.
While some women are finding more traditionally female hobbies enjoyable, there are others who are using their redundancies to make up some hours on the X Box and finish tiling the bathroom too, just as there are men who are using theirs to get the ironing done and cook for their female partners in the evening as she gets home from work. We don’t need our feminist beliefs to be defined by the hobbies we choose to have or the household activities we make ourselves responsible for, but by our beliefs themselves. And if we do feel the need to display our beliefs through our aesthetic choices, well, Cath Kidston products come in blue too.