Why I’m Not Wearing My Pussy Hat This Year

Last year, hundreds of thousands of people came together to march against Trump. Unfortunately, I had some sort of plague-like cold, so I was not among them, but I watched the events unfold from under a fuzzy blanket on social media.

One of the symbols of the Women’s March was the pussy hat. You’ve certainly seen it — hot pink, squarish knit or crocheted hats that resemble cat ears, worn by participants, which made the marches a sea of pink.

Photo from Ravelry

It was kind of cool to see people using crafts as an activist tool. The optics of the sea of pink felt good. And the idea came from Trump’s comments about grabbing women by the pussy, so the name made sense last year.

But as time wears on, it starts to feel less comfortable. Trans women and nonbinary people have said that they feel excluded by them because they don’t have vaginas. Women of color have said they feel excluded because of the pink (since pink genitalia is more likely to appear on white people). Whether or not I personally agree with these sentiments is irrelevant. If people who are more marginalized than I am — which trans/nb people and people of color are — say something is oppressive, my only job is to listen, and to take action to reduce that oppression.

There’s a quote in the Detroit Free Press that sums it up perfectly for me:

“I personally won’t wear one because if it hurts even a few people’s feelings, then I don’t feel like it’s unifying,” said Phoebe Hopps, founder and president of Women’s March Michigan and organizer of anniversary marches Jan. 21 in Lansing and Marquette.

If your activism harms other marginalized groups, it’s not really activism.

I like the idea of a unifying item, and someone who knits and crochets I love using crafts for activism. However, if people are feeling oppressed or alienated by it those of us with privilege have a duty to make some changes.

I think the shape has some benefits. There’s a very low barrier to entry because of it — it’s easy to make a square and sew it up if you’re just learning to knit or crochet. And since you can make them with a single skein of yarn or less it keeps the cost as low as possible.

But the pink is potentially problematic as is the name, for the reasons already mentioned.

So I am taking off my pussy hat for the 2018 march. I don’t want to have any role in making others feel alienated or marginalized.

I’ve decided to make the Resist Hat instead. It’s a bit more advanced, but it doesn’t carry the same weight.

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