I’ve been toying with the idea of writing this blog post for well over a week – initially in the run up to the inauguration of President Donald Trump on Friday and then in the aftermath of the global Women’s March the following day.
If you’re a small business like Baa Baa Brighouse or self-employed like many are in the craft industry, both in the UK and in the United States, it can be very frustrating to keep personal and political views from spilling over into your work environment.
I can’t begin to count the number of times last week I heard knitwear designers and craftspeople vent their anger at being told that their readers, customers, followers and fans only wanted yarn content from these people and they could keep their political opinions to themselves “thank you very much”.
Fair enough, maybe you don’t follow an indie dyer on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to hear what their world view is and you only want to look at the pretty colours, but that doesn’t mean that they are not entitled to hold those opinions or share them.
If you don’t like what they say, scroll past – we’re all adults here, right?
For example, a friend shared a picture of her cat wearing a pussyhat on her Facebook page but almost immediately took it down. When I asked why, she said it was “too political”. I shared the same picture on my own Facebook page and immediately lost four followers. My point is, it’s a cat wearing a hat – who could ever be offended by a cat wearing a hat?
I have seen instances of crafters being berated as “unprofessional” simply for sharing a mildly political news item through their business social media accounts. Well, if that’s the case, you’re not going to like what’s coming next. Not one little bit.
I’ve never made a point of keeping my personal views, political or otherwise, off my business pages. For me the lines are blurred. People who follow Baa Baa Brighouse are customers but many are also friends or colleagues within the textile and craft industry. Just because I don’t agree with President Trump, that doesn’t mean my customers, friends or colleagues have to follow suit.
Similarly, when there were Build Bridges Not Walls gatherings on Friday, followed by the global Women’s March on Saturday, I was astounded by the many negative and apathetic comments made by people on reports of those events on international, national and local news sites. Some were just downright rude and disrespectful.
Other commentators directed their anger at musicians, authors or artists who dared to show support for demonstrations through their social media pages. For example, Soundgarden put up a picture of themselves performing when Barack Obama became president on their Facebook page and were met with a deluge of negative comments from disgruntled Republican and Trump supporters. The same happened when Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam played at Obama’s farewell ceremony and when REM published pictures of themselves following the Women’s March. They are celebrities, yes. They are public figures, yes. But they are still just human beings and entitled to their opinions like anybody else. Pearl Jam and REM have always been political activists which made me wonder if those commenting had ever really listened to their music at all? It should certainly have come as no big surprise.
The world is experiencing phenomenal upheaval at the moment and understandably people’s emotions are running high but there is not need to be disrespectful. Debate, discuss, be constructive but don’t bully, don’t be unnecessarily aggressive, don’t call people names. Those tactics belong to someone else at the moment and they are not you.
The Pussyhat Project, co-founded by Krista Suh and Jayna Zweiman, was not just a demonstration against President Trump and his patriarchal policies but for the rights of women around the world, whoever they are.
The Pussy Power Hat pattern was designed by Kat Cole of The Little Knittery in Atwater Village, California. Seeing the pictures of the millions of pink hats that were on display, it’s amazing to think that whole movement came about with just some yarn and knitting needles.
So, to those brave enough to voice their opinions I say this – keep on knitting and keep on marching. From small acorns, mighty oaks grow.