*** For quite a long time I've wanted to add some opinion pieces to this blog, I loved writing articles at school and have really missed it, so I have decided to start posting an opinion piece every other Friday. These will always be about something relating to the craft/fashion world and I hope you enjoy them, please leave feedback as to whether you like the idea! So here is my first opinion piece on this blog, the first ever "I'd Just Like To Say..."***
... why is picking on other women suddenly feminist?
|Kirstie Allsopp (Source)|
Recently I have read a few rather biting articles online about TV presenter Kirstie Allsopp. I know that there are others around the blogosphere who won’t share my opinion, but I am quite a big fan of Kirstie. I have always enjoyed her no nonsense, blunt turn of phrase, and I’ve enjoyed watching her even more since she started all her homemade/handmade programs.
For my international readers and those of you who haven’t caught these programs, over the past three years Kirstie Allsopp has released a string of different crafting type shows, ranging from learning new crafts herself, to bringing crafts into the lives of others and, most recently, taking the skills she has learnt and entering her handmade offerings in various competitive events (“Kirstie’s Handmade Britain”).
I know that there are mixed opinions out there about some of the crafts that Kirstie tackles on these shows, as to how useful or stylish they may actually be, but as far as I’m concerned she’s a woman who enjoys making something from nothing, a woman after my own heart, and for that she has my respect and admiration. She’s like all of us who choose to blog about our crafting exploits, sharing our love of creating with the world, although of course she does so on a much more public platform. I think it’s these similarities that caused me to feel a bit disgruntled after reading the recent articles of Liz Jones and Janet Street Porter. Although their comments were directed at Kirstie, I couldn’t help but sense the general negativity that was being sent towards women who craft as a whole. I hope you’ll indulge me as I felt a real urge to put my opinions on this subject forward.
Liz Jones - who declares “I want a life, not a homemade beeswax candle” - takes a very dim view on people like myself, i.e. people who enjoy crafts and baking, calling us “passive aggressive nightmares” who seek praise for our “icing-sugar-dusted self-flagellation”. And here was me thinking that I just enjoyed making and eating cakes! She makes some really quite petulant comments about private education, polka dot aprons (shock horror!) oh and also did you know that most women who indulge in home crafting have high-earning husbands who all have affairs and get drunk? I know, me neither, I must inform my Sweetheart...
|Lorraine Pascale (Source)|
I honestly don’t know where all this negativity comes from, other than that Liz Jones has some hidden issues that she is trying to deal with by getting at crafty folk in general, with particular venom being aimed at Kirstie Allsopp, Lorraine Pascale and Nigella Lawson (and I own cook books by both of the latter, so I suppose I’m well and truly doomed in Liz’s eyes!). She goes on to say that women like her “who care about personal grooming (say, the female cat of The Only Way is Essex) get a lot of flak from these rotund baking types with their blue striped milk jugs” (even the milk jugs are getting blamed! Poor old milk jugs...)
|Nigella Lawson (Source)|
Well, firstly, rotund? How rude. But more to the point, I have watched all of the above women in their various programs and not once have I heard any of them make reference to anything other than the task at hand, which is most probably just making a cake of some kind. I have never been watching Lorraine or Nigella whip up a sponge to then hear them berating anyone who chooses to fake tan and wear hair extensions a la TOWIE, and to be honest if they did I probably wouldn’t watch them or buy their books. After all, if a woman decides that dressing in that way makes her feel happy and confident then that is entirely her own choice and nothing to do with anyone else. I personally would look ridiculous with a fake tan (I would pretty much be the same colour as my hair all over!) but that doesn’t mean that I look down on anyone who does just because I choose not to. And anyway, who says that the cast of TOWIE can’t get their crafty on once in while? The way you look or your “personal grooming” habits do not determine what you choose to do with your personal life.
I can honestly say, hand on heart, that I don’t feel that crafting or cooking shows like Kirstie’s Handmade Britain or the Great British Bake Off are designed in order to make the viewer feel some how inferior or less of a woman if they don’t take part in these types of activities too. Surely if you’re not interested in the subject matter you just wouldn’t watch the show!
Janet Street Porter is known for her biting remarks and her strong feministic viewpoint, but I think that in her recent article she’s rather missed the point a bit. She berates Kirstie Allsopp for her “empire” which sells us weak minded members of the public the “dangerous myth” that “women will be happy and fulfilled if they spend every spare moment busily making jam, repainting furniture and sewing cushions”. Now, forgive me for saying so, but that doesn’t sound half bad to me, not really all that dangerous but actually quite fun. Of course that may be just me... She then goes on to ask, in my opinion, an unbelievable question: “If she’s (Kirstie’s) such a relationship expert, how come her chap (and the father of her two children) hasn’t popped the question?” Excuse me, but in an article in which you put someone down for being “pre-feminist” are you going to then to make an argument based on the fact that the woman in question is not married? Now who’s giving an archaic point of view to the female public.
This is my point. Why should any of us feel that our way of living our own lives is in any way inferior or superior to another’s? I was once asked by an acquaintance if I ever felt guilty about knitting because I was playing up to a female stereotype that was anti-feminist. At the time I was quite taken aback and didn’t know how to reply, but given my chance again I would say that the most feminist weapon in my artillery is my right to choose. I choose to sew, to make my own clothes, to bake cakes, to knit because it makes me happy. Crafting and making things brings me a lot of joy which in turn, whilst trying not to sound too cliche, allows me to give more joy to others. People may look at the way I live my life and think “I would NEVER do that. Not in a million years. Not if you PAID me” and that’s an opinion that they have every right to have, but the point is I don’t feel that in doing the things that make me happy I’m pressurizing others into living the same way. Maybe I’m naive but I really do think that when Lorraine Pascale, Nigella Lawson and Kirstie Allsopp started their shows they wanted to take something that they loved, something that they had a passion for and pass it on to a wider audience. That’s it, no strings attached, no hidden agenda. And yes, they capitalize on their passions and loves, but surely that’s something to be admired, after all who wouldn’t do the thing they adored for a living if they could?
I am a woman who believes in women’s rights, and I believe in a woman’s right to choose to live in whatever way that makes her happy and fulfilled (as long as that life doesn’t involve mass murder or something like that...). I promise you that I won’t judge you if you look like you’ve stepped off the set of TOWIE (quite a few of my good friends do and my goodness they are beautiful!) and I trust that you’ll look beyond my second hand, handmade attire and maybe we could be friends. I'll bring cake :)
Now if you’ll excuse me I have a sudden urge to run and buy myself a nice blue striped milk jug...